Trade Candidate

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Even as the Warriors have fallen off a cliff this season due to injuries and offseason roster changes, the Pacific has remained one of the more competitive divisions in basketball.

The Lakers and Clippers are among the NBA’s best teams and look like legit championship contenders. The Suns and Kings aren’t in that tier, but they’re currently neck-and-neck for the No. 8 seed in the West. It’s possible there could be as many as four buyers in the division at the trade deadline.

After having initially looked last month at three potential trade candidates in the Pacific, we’re singling out three more today. Let’s dive in…

Trevor Ariza, F
Sacramento Kings
$12.2MM cap hit; $1.8MM of $12.8MM salary guaranteed for 2020/21

Ariza has bounced around the league since leaving Houston during the 2018 offseason, playing for the Suns, Wizards, and Kings since then. None of those teams has been a perfect fit for the veteran forward, who has only logged 32 total minutes for Sacramento since November 8 due to a combination of personal reasons, a groin injury, and general ineffectiveness.

The Kings will have a crowded frontcourt rotation when Marvin Bagley III returns, so it’s unclear whether or not Ariza will have an opportunity to play regular, consistent minutes all season. That could make him expendable.

Since Sacramento is a young team pushing for a playoff team, the front office may decide it’s worth keeping Ariza around for his veteran leadership and for depth purposes — especially if he continues his up-and-down play and doesn’t have much value on the trade market. But it’s not a lock that he’s still on the Kings’ roster by February 7.

Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Golden State Warriors
$2.2MM cap hit; $2.3MM player option for 2020/21

Cauley-Stein could have received a more lucrative deal with another team, but opted to join the Warriors for a chance to play with a contender. Unfortunately, that plan has backfired, as Golden State’s 4-18 record puts the club in the running for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, not a title.

In addition to being a down year for the Warriors, it’s been a bit of a slow start for Cauley-Stein, whose scoring average is down to just 7.5 PPG. Still, he has started 18 games at center for the Warriors and is blocking a career-best 1.2 shots per contest. No contender would target him as a potential starter, but he could have some value as a backup option.

If the Warriors believe Cauley-Stein will likely opt out at season’s end and return to the open market, it makes sense to see if they can get anything for him this season. His minimum-salary contract can be dealt without taking any salary back and he could be replaced with a smaller minimum-salary cap hit, freeing up some much-needed flexibility for the Dubs under their hard cap.

Maurice Harkless, F
Los Angeles Clippers
$11MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Harkless, acquired by the Clippers in one of my favorite moves of the summer, has been starting games and playing consistent minutes for a title contender despite being viewed as a salary dump five months ago. It’s still hard to believe that the Clips were able to acquire a first-round pick in the deal that netted them Harkless, who is shooting a career-best 51.0% with a 37.9% three-point rate so far.

As a reliable three-and-D option for the Clippers, Harkless probably isn’t on the trade block. However, he’s also the only mid-level type player on the roster who would realistically be expendable if L.A. wanted to acquire another piece.

Lou Williams ($8MM) and Montrezl Harrell ($6MM) aren’t going anywhere, and it seems relatively safe to assume Patrick Beverley ($12.3MM) and Ivica Zubac ($6.5MM) aren’t either. That leaves Harkless as the only other player on the books with a cap hit between $5MM and 32MM. Throw in the fact that he’s on an expiring contract and he’s the most logical salary-matching piece the Clippers have.

Of course, there’s a decent chance the Clippers simply stand pat at the deadline and hope that possible reinforcements emerge in the following weeks on the buyout market. In that scenario, Harkless is a good bet to finish the season with the club.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

We’re still more than two weeks away from December 15, the date when most of this past offseason’s free agent signees become trade-eligible, so the NBA’s 2019/20 trade season hasn’t really begun yet. But with the regular season nearing the one-quarter mark, we’re getting a better sense of which teams might be buyers and which non-contenders will end up being sellers.

Having gone through all six divisions once as we examine potential trade candidates, we’re starting our second go-round today. Here are three more possible trade candidates from out of the Southeast:

Davis Bertans, PF
Washington Wizards
$7MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Bertans, who would likely still be a Spur if Marcus Morris had never agreed to sign with San Antonio over the summer, has played a crucial role in helping the Wizards post some of the NBA’s best offensive numbers. One of the most dangerous frontcourt shooters in the league, Bertans is making a career-high 44.3% of his three-pointers on 7.6 attempts per game and has increased his scoring average off the bench to 13.3 PPG.

The Wizards might try to lock up Bertans long-term, but the 27-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, giving the club little leverage in contract talks. If Washington falls out of the playoff hunt in the East, Bertans will be one of the team’s best trade chips, based on his affordable cap hit ($7MM), his expiring contract, and his ability to provide instant offense.

One scout who spoke to ESPN’s Bobby Marks earlier this month suggested that it wouldn’t be a surprise if there’s a team willing to surrender a late first-round pick for Bertans at the trade deadline.

Jabari Parker, PF
Atlanta Hawks
$6.5MM cap hit; $6.5MM player option for 2020/21

Like the Wizards, the Hawks probably won’t shift into selling mode until their playoff hopes are all but extinguished. And it may take a while for that to happen in an Eastern Conference where the 8-12 Hornets currently hold onto the No. 8 seed.

Still, at 4-15, the Hawks are already 3.5 games out of the postseason picture, so unless they start winning some games soon, they’ll have to consider shopping some veteran players. Although Parker is only 24, the sixth-year forward qualifies as one such veteran.

With 17.8 PPG on 51.8% shooting through 18 games (28.1 MPG), Parker has been the Hawks’ best scorer not named Trae Young this season. And it’s not as if he’s been putting up numbers against second-stringers — he has been a starter since John Collins was hit with a 25-game suspension early in the season.

With a $6.5MM player option for the 2020/21 season, Parker could be a one-and-done in Atlanta, so if a team in need of frontcourt scoring wants to make a play for him before the deadline, the Hawks would be wise to listen.

Aaron Gordon, F
Orlando Magic
$19.9MM cap hit; descending guaranteed salaries through 2021/22

By all accounts, Gordon isn’t a trade candidate right now. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that teams were monitoring the former No. 4 overall pick in case he becomes available, but said that Orlando has shown no interest in such a move.

Still, the Magic (7-11) have been disappointing so far and their offense has been disastrous. Jonathan Isaac, not exactly a dynamic scorer himself, nonetheless looks like a franchise cornerstone due to his versatility, defensive ability, and upside, and Sean Deveney of Forbes recently suggested there may be some concern within the organization about the long-term fit of an Isaac/Gordon frontcourt.

Gordon is just 24 years old and still has intriguing potential, despite his lack of improvement so far this season. He also has a contract that declines in value each year, eventually dipping to $16.4MM in 2021/22. That makes him a valuable trade chip.

I think the Magic front office will be patient in giving the current group every opportunity to make things work, and a trade for scoring help wouldn’t necessarily have to include Gordon. But moving the young forward is a possibility the team should at least consider if its struggles continue.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019/20 NBA Trade Candidate Series

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

So far, we’ve worked our way through each of the six NBA divisions and we’re ready to circle back through a second time. This season’s trade deadline falls on February 6, so we should have plenty of time to revisit all six divisions at least a couple more times before the deadline passes and teams become ineligible to make in-season deals.

Each installment in our trade candidate series for the 2019/20 season is linked below, along with a description of which players we discuss in each piece. We’ll continue to update this page – which can be found under the “Hoops Rumors Features” sidebar of our desktop page, or in the “Features” section of our mobile site – as we add new entries over the coming weeks and months.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic

Central

Southeast

Western Conference

Northwest

Pacific

Southwest

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Typically, each installment in our Trade Candidate series focuses on a single division and then identifies players from three separate teams as possible trade candidates. However, a number of Atlantic clubs don’t yet have any obvious candidates to be dealt, so today we’re focusing on a single Atlantic roster that does feature plenty of potential trade targets: New York’s.

Here are three Knicks players who could emerge as trade candidates prior to February’s deadline:

Wayne Ellington, SG
New York Knicks
$8MM cap hit; $1MM partial guarantee on $8MM cap hit in 2020/21

A career 37.8% three-point shooter, Ellington was a full-time starter for the Pistons down the stretch last season and averaged 32.8 minutes per game in the playoffs. This season, he’s playing just 13.4 MPG for the lottery-bound Knicks and has received a handful of DNPs.

The Knicks have a crowded rotation, and it’s hard to argue that they shouldn’t be prioritizing young players like RJ Barrett, Damyean Dotson, and Allonzo Trier more than Ellington, especially since the veteran sharpshooter has slumped to start the season. But Ellington, who will turn 32 next Friday, should get hot at some point, and will have more value to a playoff team than he will as a bench player in New York.

Ellington’s contract is team-friendly — a trade partner would only have to send out about $4.52MM in outgoing salary to match his $8MM cap hit, and he could easily be waived in the offseason with a minimal impact on a club’s 2020/21 cap if he doesn’t work out.

Reggie Bullock, SG
New York Knicks
$4MM cap hit; $1MM partial guarantee on $4.2MM cap hit in 2020/21

If the Knicks can’t find regular minutes for Ellington, it seems unlikely that they’ll be there for Bullock once he eventually gets healthy. Bullock provides a similar skill set, including a 39.2% career three-point mark, and has a similar contract structure, at half the price, which should make him an appealing target for a contender in need of shooting.

However, the big question surrounding Bullock is his health. The surgery he underwent in July for a cervical disc herniation is no joke, and it’s unclear when he might be able to get back on the court. Last we heard, he’ll be re-evaluated by the Knicks in early December.

If Bullock can get healthy and gets enough playing time before February 6 to rebuild his value, the Knicks will have to determine whether to shop him or to potentially look toward keeping him for a second year at an affordable price.

Taj Gibson, F/C
New York Knicks
$9MM cap hit; $1MM partial guarantee on $9.45MM cap hit in 2020/21

Outside of Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and maybe one or two other players, the Knicks will probably be willing to discuss just about anyone as the trade deadline nears.

Still, Gibson is among the club’s most logical trade candidates because he’s the sort of veteran whom a playoff team can slot into its rotation without having to worry about getting him a ton of touches or having him adjust to new a scheme. The 34-year-old is in his 11th NBA season and is playing for his fourth team, so he’ll be a quick learner. And you’d be acquiring him for his defense, rebounding, and toughness — not his offense.

Unfortunately, at $9MM, Gibson isn’t really a bargain, so it may be difficult for the Knicks to extract much of value for him. If they’re willing to take on some guaranteed 2020/21 money, that would open up their options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

All five Northwest teams entered the 2019/20 season with playoff aspirations, which could create an interesting situation by the trade deadline. Will several of these clubs be competing with one another for the top trade candidates on the market? Or will a couple Northwest teams fall short of their goals and pivot to selling as the deadline nears?

While it’s too early to make any sweeping judgments on the five Northwest squads, all of whom have won between five and nine games, here are three players who could emerge as trade candidates as the season progresses:

Chris Paul, PG
Oklahoma City Thunder
$38.5MM cap hit; increasing guaranteed cap hits through 2021/22

When the Thunder officially acquired Paul from Houston on July 16, many NBA observers assumed his stint in Oklahoma City would be short-lived. Four months later though, Paul is still on OKC’s roster and has played pretty well in the early going, averaging 16.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, and .462/.426/.873 shooting through 13 games.

It’s still possible that Paul will be part of two consecutive trades – no NBA teams have completed a deal since that July 16 blockbuster – but it has become increasingly obvious that his contract will be a major impediment. Even after this season, CP3 still has another two years and $85MM+ left on his deal, and the fact that it extends into the 2021/22 campaign is problematic. Given how star-studded the 2021 free agent class is expected to be, teams are reluctant to surrender significant cap space in that summer.

While the Heat have been linked to Paul most often, I’d be surprised if Miami and Oklahoma City strike a deal. A team without major free agent aspirations for 2021 would be a better fit, so perhaps a club like the Timberwolves ultimately emerges as a more serious suitor.

Jeff Teague, PG
Minnesota Timberwolves
$19MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Speaking of the Timberwolves, they’ve made it clear that they’re seeking a long-term answer at the point guard spot, which doesn’t bode well for Teague’s long-term future in Minnesota.

Another sign Teague’s days with the Timberwolves may be numbered? When Gersson Rosas took over as the club’s president of basketball operations last summer, nine Wolves were eligible for free agency and a 10th had a non-guaranteed contract. None of those 10 players returned. Rosas will be aggressive in shaping the sort of roster he wants in Minnesota, and so far it doesn’t appear as if his vision overlaps much with that of the team’s previous decision-makers.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Teague is a goner, but his $19MM expiring contract would make him an ideal salary-matching piece if Rosas gets aggressive at this season’s trade deadline, since it’d be easier to move than the pricey multiyear contracts belonging to Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins.

Hassan Whiteside, C
Portland Trail Blazers
$27.1MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

At this point, the Trail Blazers still badly need Whiteside. Jusuf Nurkic remains sidelined for the foreseeable future, Zach Collins figures to miss most of the season with a shoulder injury, and Pau Gasol has yet to make his Portland debut.

However, Whiteside is essentially a temporary placeholder in the middle until Nurkic is able to return. Once Nurkic is healthy, he’ll reclaim his starting spot, relegating Whiteside to a bench role. If Gasol is healthy and Collins is close to returning at that point, there will be even fewer minutes to go around in the frontcourt. And, of course, dissatisfaction with his playing time was what led Whiteside’s stint in Miami to go south.

Whether or not Whiteside ends up on the trade block will hinge in large part on the health of those other three big men. If the Blazers are comfortable with their depth up front, Whiteside’s $27MM+ expiring contract could be a useful trade chip as the club seeks much-needed help at the forward spot. But if Portland is still shorthanded at center when the deadline arrives, moving Whiteside may not be a viable option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Although the Spurs don’t typically make splashy in-season trades, the Southwest could still end up being one of the NBA’s busiest divisions in 2019/20 in terms of trade activity. The Rockets and Mavericks are in position to buyers, while the Pelicans and Grizzlies may seek out deals that position them to better build around the top two picks from the 2019 draft.

Let’s focus on three players out of the Southwest who could emerge as trade candidates before this season’s deadline…

Andre Iguodala, G/F
Memphis Grizzlies
$17.19MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Iguodala is perhaps the most obvious trade candidate in the NBA at the moment. The Grizzlies are so resigned to the fact that the veteran wing has no future in Memphis that they’re not even requiring him to be with the team, having reached an agreement in September allowing him not to report to camp.

While the Grizzlies are holding out hope that a favorable trade emerges for Iguodala, many of his primary suitors don’t have much to offer to match his $17MM+ salary and may rather wait to see if he’s bought out. A recent survey of executives conducted by David Aldridge of The Athletic revealed that most people around the league expect Iguodala to end up with the Lakers, but they have no realistic path to a trade, given the construction of their roster.

It makes sense for the Grizzlies to be patient with this process. Iguodala would fit in well on just about every NBA roster, and more buyers could emerge by January or February, increasing Memphis’ leverage.

Courtney Lee, SG
Dallas Mavericks
$12.76MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Lee had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2017/18, averaging 12.0 PPG on .454/.406/.919 shooting, but he has been slowed by injuries since then and isn’t currently a fixture in the Mavericks‘ rotation.

Although he doesn’t have positive value, Lee’s expiring contract would be Dallas’ best salary-matching piece if the club goes out in search of an upgrade. The team is well below the tax line, so taking on some extra money in a deal involving Lee wouldn’t be an issue.

By way of example, the Mavs could offer Lee and another asset to the Grizzlies for Iguodala (and perhaps already have). Although there’s a gap between their cap charges, the NBA’s trade rules would allow Dallas to take back up to $17.76MM in exchange for Lee alone.

Nene, C
Houston Rockets
$10MM cap hit; $10MM non-guaranteed cap hit for 2020/21

When the Rockets gave Nene an incentive-heavy contract that was only fully guaranteed for $2.56MM (his minimum salary), the idea was to create a trade chip like the one the Mavericks have with Lee. Because the deal featured $7.44MM in incentives deemed “likely,” Nene’s cap hit is technically $10MM, but as long as he doesn’t play more than nine games, he ultimately won’t count for more than $2.56MM against his team’s cap.

Unfortunately for Daryl Morey and the Rockets’ front office, that plan backfired, as the NBA ruled that only the guaranteed portion of Nene’s contract can be counted for salary-matching purposes. That significantly limits his trade value.

Still, it’s not as if Nene now has no value as a trade chip. On his own, he could bring back a player earning up to about $4.59MM. Paired with a little-used player like Isaiah Hartenstein, the Rockets could acquire a player earning up to approximately $7.07MM. That could still come in handy when the deadline rolls around.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Entering the season, the Central Division appeared to feature two contending teams (the Bucks and Pacers) and two more teams with playoff aspirations (the Pistons and Bulls), leaving just one Central club (the Cavaliers) that looked like a lock to be a seller at the trade deadline.

While it’s still possible that will be the case, Cleveland has exceeded expectations in the early going, playing hard for new head coach John Beilein and currently holding the No. 7 seed in the East at 4-5.

As we wait to see whether the Cavs’ early success is sustainable enough to alter their trade-deadline plans, let’s round up a few potential trade candidates from around the division…

Tristan Thompson, C
Cleveland Cavaliers
$18.53MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

One of five Cavaliers veterans on an expiring contract this season, Thompson entered the year looking like a logical trade candidate. After all, he’s a reliable veteran with a championship under his belt, making him a better fit for a contender than a lottery-bound squad.

However, the Cavaliers value Thompson’s locker-room presence and he’s posting some of the best on-court numbers of his career so far in 2019/20. His 16.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.6 BPG would all be career highs over the course of a full season. A solid rebounder and defender, Thompson spoke last month about wanting to make an All-Defensive team, but he has been better than expected on offense, with Beilein having shown a willingness to run plays through him.

A cynic might say that the Cavaliers are putting Thompson in position to increase his trade value ahead of February’s deadline. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team seriously looks into what it would take to keep him around beyond this season before putting him on the trade block.

Langston Galloway, G
Detroit Pistons
$7.33MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

When the Pistons were trying to find a way to keep both Christian Wood and Joe Johnson on their roster at the start of the regular season, Galloway was said to be among the players the team explored trading. In fact, one report suggested Detroit was “very open” to the idea of moving the veteran guard. However, no deal materialized, presumably because teams didn’t view Galloway as a positive asset.

Like Thompson, however, Galloway is off to a great start to the season, averaging 11.6 PPG on .437/.457/.912 shooting through 11 games (24.2 MPG). While the Pistons may not have expected him to have this significant a role, injuries to Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, and Tim Frazier have forced the team’s hand — as has Galloway’s strong play.

Whether or not Galloway re-emerges as a trade candidate may hinge on the Pistons’ ability to remain in the playoff mix in the East. If the club is in position to make a win-now move at the deadline, Galloway’s expiring contract would make a logical salary-matching chip. If not, it may be in the club’s best interest to just let his contract expire at season’s end — unless he plays well enough to gain positive trade value.

Kris Dunn, PG
Chicago Bulls
$5.35MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

Dunn, who has also been the subject of trade rumors before this season, has seen his stock dip drastically since he was acquired by the Bulls in 2017. His offensive numbers this season are especially modest, and his usage rate is down to 15.1 through 10 games, well below the 22.5 mark he posted in his first two years in Chicago.

However, head coach Jim Boylen likes how the former top-five pick has played so far this season, as Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. While he has taken on a more passive role on offense, Dunn has been strong on defense, averaging 2.2 steals in just 20.4 minutes per game. That’s important for a Bulls team that has been up and down on the defensive end so far this season.

Despite a decent start, Dunn could end up back on the trade block within the next few months due to his contract situation and the Bulls’ roster situation. Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono signed three-year contracts with the team in July and Coby White was the seventh overall pick, so Chicago has more invested in its other point guards than in Dunn, who will be a free agent in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

We’re still five and a half weeks away from December 15, the date that most offseason signees become eligible to be dealt and the NBA’s trade season unofficially kicks off. Still, it’s hardly unprecedented for deals to be consummated in November. A year ago, two November trades were made, including the blockbuster that sent Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia.

With that in mind, it’s not too early to start identifying and considering players who could emerge as trade candidates before this year’s deadline. Here are three players who may fit that bill in the Pacific…

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG
Sacramento Kings
$8.53MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

As we relayed last week, one general manager told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com that the Kings aren’t currently fielding trade offers for Bogdanovic, but speculated that the team might eventually have to consider doing so. Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield signed lucrative long-term deals with the Kings this summer, and De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley figure to eventually receive similar – or pricier – extensions, creating some uncertainty about whether the team can afford to retain Bogdanovic too.

Although he’s off to a slow start this season, with a .314 FG% through seven games, Bogdanovic would appeal to a team seeking a wing who can shoot and would certainly have positive trade value. The only concern might be his upcoming restricted free agency.

There aren’t many teams projected to have significant cap space in 2020, but if one of those rebuilding clubs with room is eyeing Bogdanovic, a club that trades for him now might be forced to make a tough decision on an expensive offer sheet in July.

Alec Burks, G
Golden State Warriors
$1.62MM cap hit (minimum salary); UFA in 2020

If the Warriors bottom out this season in the wake of major injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, their focus will be on developing young prospects. In other words, they probably won’t prioritize finding playing time for the veteran role players who signed one-year contracts with the team in the summer hoping to play for a contender.

In an episode of the Hoop Collective podcast earlier this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst speculated that the Warriors could be active before the trade deadline, jettisoning some of those veteran role players. As Mike Moffitt of SFGate.com writes, Windhorst also identified Burks as the Golden State player who is perhaps the most likely to be traded.

Because the Warriors are hard-capped, they can’t really take back any extra 2019/20 salary in any trade involving Burks, but they probably wouldn’t have to. A team with interest in acquiring Burks – and an open roster spot – could take him on using the minimum salary exception without sending a player back to the Dubs.

DeMarcus Cousins, C
Los Angeles Lakers
$3.5MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

The Lakers haven’t ruled out the possibility of Cousins returning in the postseason, so perhaps the team plans to keep him into the spring as he recovers from his torn ACL. Still, having suffered multiple major leg injuries in recent years, Cousins should be playing it very safe with his latest ailment, and I’d be surprised to see him back on the court before the 2020/21 season.

If the Lakers eventually reach the same conclusion, Cousins could make a good salary-matching piece in a modest deadline deal. Los Angeles doesn’t have a lot of players who fit that bill, particularly since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo all have de facto no-trade clauses and likely wouldn’t be eager to leave a contending team like the Lakers.

Cousins can’t block a trade and is on an expiring contract, which could make him a useful trade chip even if the team acquiring him intends to simply waive him. Even without attaching him to another player, the Lakers could use his expiring salary to acquire a player earning up to $6.225MM in 2019/20.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Friday is just the 11th day of the 2019/20 regular season, so trade talks around the NBA haven’t started to heat up yet. In fact, the trade market has been pretty quiet for months — no deal has been completed since the Thunder and Rockets finalized their Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul swap way back on July 16.

Still, based on contract situations and early-season rotations, some potential trade candidates may begin to emerge sooner rather than later. Here’s a look at three Southeast players who could fit that bill…

Dion Waiters, SG
Miami Heat
$12.1MM cap hit; $12.65MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21

Waiters was said to be unhappy with his playing time during the preseason and was suspended for the Heat‘s first game of the season after expressing his displeasure on the sidelines during the club’s final exhibition contest. Since then, he has remained inactive as he works toward meeting Miami’s conditioning requirements.

According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), Waiters was “contrite” when he met with Heat officials this week, so perhaps he’ll eventually return to action, accept a reduced role, and play out the rest of his contract with the team without incident. Still, this feels a little like the situation Miami previously encountered with Hassan Whiteside, who griped about his declining role multiple times and eventually got traded.

With two years still left on his contract, Waiters doesn’t have positive trade value at this point, and the Heat’s hard cap will make it tricky for them to pull off certain deals. A trade may have to wait until 2020/21. But if the team explores the market in search of a major deal in the coming months, Waiters is a good candidate to be included to match salaries and get him a change of scenery.

Willy Hernangomez, C
Charlotte Hornets
$1.68MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

The Hornets almost certainly wouldn’t mind moving big expiring contracts belonging to Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marvin Williams. But it’s hard to imagine the team getting quality assets for any of those players.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer pointed out in a recent mailbag, a trade involving Hernangomez might be more realistic, since his expiring salary is just $1.68MM. If a team is willing to give up a second-round pick for Hernangomez, Charlotte would probably listen, Bonnell writes.

Still, it’s not clear if there will be a team willing to pay even that modest price for Hernangomez, whose stock has dipped in the years since a promising 2016/17 rookie season. He has played in just two of the Hornets’ five games so far, and his trade value will be limited by the fact that he’ll be an unrestricted – rather than restricted – free agent at season’s end.

C.J. Miles, G/F
Washington Wizards
$8.73MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Miles has already been traded twice in 2019, from Toronto to Memphis in February and then to Washington in July. With the Wizards in retooling mode and not expected to contend this season, there’s no reason to think the team wouldn’t move him once more before the deadline if he can rebuild his value.

Although he’s still recovering from offseason foot surgery, Miles is reportedly inching closer to making his Wizards debut. The veteran swingman should fit right in on a squad that has been letting it fly from beyond the arc so far — Washington has attempted the sixth-most three-pointers in the NBA (38.0 3PG) and ranks fourth in three-point percentage (38.2%).

Given the other shooters on their rosters, the Wizards won’t need to lean on Miles to space the floor, but it will be interesting to see whether they give him regular minutes to showcase him for a potential trade. That $8.73MM expiring deal won’t be easy to move, and a buyout may ultimately be more likely, but if Miles looks healthy and is knocking down 40% of his threes, maybe a playoff team in need of shooting help gets desperate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2018/19 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, and Jazz are wild cards, but the Northwest could end up being one of the least active divisions at the trade deadline this season. While the division-leading Nuggets and Thunder hold large trade exceptions and could use reinforcements as they continue their postseason push, they probably lack the financial flexibility and movable assets to do anything too drastic.

Here’s our latest look at a few possible trade candidates from the Northwest…

Anthony Tolliver, F
Minnesota Timberwolves
$5.75MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

After falling out of the rotation earlier this season, Tolliver has once again been a regular since Robert Covington went down at the start of January. Still, Tolliver’s 15.3 minutes per game are the fewest he has played since his rookie year, and most of his other numbers are below his career rates too. It’s also not clear whether he’ll continue to see consistent minutes when Covington returns.

I don’t imagine Tolliver plays a major role in Minnesota’s long-term outlook, and he’s not necessarily doing a lot to help the Wolves in the short term — the team has a -5.8 net rating when he plays and a +1.5 rating when he sits. Even if the Wolves want to remain in the playoff hunt on February 7, it might still make sense to send Tolliver, who has an affordable expiring contract, to a team more in need of a player with his skill set.

A stretch four, Tolliver continues to hit three-pointers at a rate (37.9%) that’s in line with his career percentage (37.6%). That could be valuable to a team seeking more shooting from its frontcourt, such as Oklahoma City or Philadelphia.

Maurice Harkless, F
Portland Trail Blazers
$10.84MM cap hit; $11.51MM guaranteed salary for 2019/20; UFA in 2020

Harkless has shown he can be an effective complementary contributor on the wing when he’s healthy, having shot 50.1% from the floor and 37.5% on three-pointers during the two seasons prior to 2018/19. Knee problems have slowed him down over the last year, however, resulting in multiple stints on the shelf so far in ’18/19.

With Portland in need of a big-bodied wing who can be trusted to stay on the court down the stretch and in the postseason, the club should consider dangling Harkless as a trade chip. A trade partner looking ahead to next season could better afford to play it safe with Harkless, making sure he’s fully healthy for 2019/20 — especially if the Trail Blazers were willing to attach another asset in the deal.

A swap like Terrence Ross for Harkless and a draft pick makes some sense to me, though Orlando may be reluctant to pull the trigger on any trades that weaken this season’s roster, and the Blazers may want to target a player more capable of guarding bigger bodies.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, G/F
Oklahoma City Thunder
$1.54MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

The Thunder currently have an open spot on their 15-man roster. In fact, that spot has been open all season, by design. With the NBA’s most expensive roster, Oklahoma City won’t add another salary to its books and increase its projected tax bill unless the team badly needs reinforcements.

Rather than filling that 15th spot, the Thunder might actually look to reduce their roster count prior to the February 7 deadline. Trading Luwawu-Cabarrot and his $1.54MM cap hit in a money-saving deal similar to the ones Houston has made with Chicago would make some sense for OKC, since TLC doesn’t have a role for the team (he has played 11 total minutes since the start of December) and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

The Thunder aren’t allowed to stay at 13 players all season, but with Luwawu-Cabarrot off the books, they could carry 13 players for up to two weeks at a time, and could potentially address the 14th spot using 10-day contracts or a rest-of-season deal for a veteran on the buyout market. Taking that route would save Oklahoma City a little money and would potentially allow the club to add a player that has a better chance of contributing in the postseason.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.