Trade Candidate

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.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southwest 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.

Southwest trade candidates like Dennis Smith, Wesley Matthews, and Carmelo Anthony have been in the news lately, but we’ve discussed them in previous installments of our Trade Candidate series. Today, we’ll be focusing on a few players who haven’t necessarily been at the center of recent trade rumors, but still could very well be on the move by February 7.

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

Brandon Knight, G
Houston Rockets
$14.63MM cap hit; $15.64MM guaranteed salary in 2019/20; UFA in 2020

Knight has essentially been on the trade block since the Rockets acquired him from Phoenix during the offseason, with a December report suggesting that Houston is dangling Knight in trade talks for a wing.

Knight’s appeal as a trade chip from Houston’s perspective is obvious. Of the team’s six players earning more than $4MM this season, he’s the only one who isn’t a key contributor. His $14.63MM salary is ideal for matching purposes, and getting his $15.64MM salary for 2019/20 off the books could help the Rockets avoid another big tax penalty next season.

Of course, Knight’s appeal to other teams will be… limited. While he has returned from the ACL tear that sidelined him for over a year, he continues to be bothered by knee issues and hasn’t looked good for Houston in the 12 games he has played (3.0 PPG on .234/.156/.818 shooting). If a team agrees to take on Knight’s contract in exchange for a solid rotation player, that team will almost certainly be receiving the Rockets’ 2019 first-round pick as well.

Julius Randle, F/C
New Orleans Pelicans
$8.64MM cap hit; $9.07MM player option for 2019/20

Like the Rockets, the Pelicans are exploring upgrades on the wing and will likely try to attach a first-round pick to an overpriced veteran (Solomon Hill) to accommodate a deal. Still, even though that’s New Orleans’ most obvious trade package, it’s not the team’s only option.

Depending on what sort of player the club is pursuing, making Randle available could make sense. On the surface, trading him doesn’t seem prudent — he’s had a terrific year (20.1 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.9 APG), and is one of a handful of reliable pieces on a Pelicans team that lacks depth.

Still, he’ll likely be a free agent at season’s end, and there’s no guarantee the Pelicans will be able to re-sign him. It’s also unclear if he’ll be able to play at the same time Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic in the postseason, assuming New Orleans makes it — that lineup would be awfully big and wouldn’t match up well against many of the team’s potential opponents.

As such, I think the Pelicans could explore flipping Randle for one or two players who could help the team in the short term, especially if one of those players is a wing who would fit better alongside Davis and Mirotic. New Orleans showed last spring that it can win with that frontcourt duo, so Randle looks to me like the most expendable of the club’s top four or five players.

JaMychal Green, F
Memphis Grizzlies
$7.67MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

It seems hard to believe that the Grizzlies were, briefly, the No. 1 seed in the West less than two months ago. The club now ranks 14th in the conference and while head coach J.B. Bickerstaff says the postseason is still the goal, it seems irresponsible for the club to continue acting as a buyer.

A full-fledged fire sale is probably unrealistic too, since it would be an abrupt change of direction for the franchise in the span of a few weeks. But, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian recently wrote, some smaller-scale “strategic” selling seems possible.

If Memphis takes that route, Green would be an obvious candidate to be dealt. The veteran power forward is in the final year of a mid-level type contract and is putting up career-high numbers in several categories (10.8 PPG, .512 FG%, .397 3PT%). Moving him would also clear a path for the Grizzlies to feature promising rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. in a more prominent role down the stretch.

Green is unlikely to inspire a bidding war, but teams in need of one more frontcourt piece should have some interest if the Grizzlies make him available.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic 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 Atlantic was viewed as one of the NBA’s most top-heavy divisions entering the season, with experts and fans banking on the Celtics, Raptors, and Sixers to be the top three teams in the East. Those teams have – for the most part – delivered on expectations (they’re all on pace for 50+ wins), and now a fourth Atlantic club has unexpectedly entered the playoff picture — the 21-22 Nets currently hold the No. 6 seed. As a result, the division could feature four buyers at the trade deadline next month.

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

Enes Kanter, C
New York Knicks
$18.62MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

As talented as Kanter is as an inside scorer and rebounder, he doesn’t have the versatility necessary to excel as a primary frontcourt option for a contender. Modern NBA big men need to make outside shots and/or protect the rim to make themselves indispensable to teams, and Kanter does neither. He’s also earning more than $18MM.

Still, Kanter’s offensive and rebounding talents have value, and the Knicks likely won’t be asking for much as they seek out a potential trade. New York figures to prioritize player development over winning games during the second half, and Kanter has made it clear he’s not on board with that approach, so the club may be best served to end the relationship sooner rather than later, even if the return is minimal.

The Knicks won’t want to take back any multiyear money for Kanter’s expiring contract, given their 2019 free agency aspirations, which will limit their options. A trade that involves another sizable expiring contract or two would be ideal.

The team has reportedly discussed the possibility of a Kanter/Zach Randolph swap with the Kings, but Sacramento is reluctant to move forward on such a trade without dumping at least one more expiring deal. In that scenario, the Kings would probably have to attach an asset like a draft pick or young prospect to entice the Knicks.

Kenneth Faried, F/C
Brooklyn Nets
$13.76MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

Faried has a pricey expiring contract and has been out of the Nets‘ rotation for most of the season, which seemingly makes him a prime buyout candidate, rather than a trade candidate. Still, if Brooklyn moves on from Faried, the club will explore the trade market before trying to negotiate a buyout (or simply waiving him).

With injuries plaguing the Nets’ roster, Faried got a chance to play 29 minutes in the team’s loss to Boston on Monday. He proved he’s still capable of crashing the boards, racking up a team-high 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. He spent some time as Brooklyn’s primary big man and alongside fellow bigs like Jarrett Allen or Ed Davis. Most intriguingly, he attempted four three-point shots, making one. By comparison, Faried had made 2-of-20 three-pointers in 441 career games entering this season.

If Faried can start knocking down outside shots with regularity, it could change his career trajectory — just ask former Net Brook Lopez. But he probably hasn’t shown enough yet to be a worthwhile gamble for any potential Brooklyn trade partners, unless it’s in a swap for unwanted expiring contracts. Faried remains a more likely buyout candidate than trade chip for now.

Norman Powell, G/F
Toronto Raptors
$9.37MM cap hit; three years, $32.6MM left on deal after this season

After signing a four-year contract extension during the fall of 2017, Powell turned in a dismal 2017/18 performance, averaging just 5.5 PPG with a .401 FG% and .285 3PT% (all career worsts). He has enjoyed a modest bounce-back season so far in 2018/19, the first year of his extension, posting 6.9 PPG with a .467 FG% and .333 3PT% in 21 games.

Still, at $10MM+ per year over four seasons, Powell is overpaid for his current role and production in Toronto. The Raptors are in the luxury tax this season and will remain there if they’re able to convince Kawhi Leonard to re-sign, so moving Powell’s contract would provide some long-term cap relief. It’s also a good size for salary-matching if the Raptors seek out a trade for a veteran play-maker or sharpshooter who could contribute more in the short term.

At age 25, Powell still has room to get better, and could develop into a reliable three-and-D wing with some play-making ability. But he hasn’t shown enough yet to make his long-term deal a positive asset. If Toronto wants to get a player of value back in return for him, the team would likely have to throw in a future draft pick or two as well.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast 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 Southeast continues to be perhaps the NBA’s most confounding division, as the 15-15 Hornets are still in first place, followed closely by sub-.500 clubs in Orlando, Miami, and Washington. By acquiring Trevor Ariza earlier this week, the Wizards signaled that they still consider themselves buyers, not sellers — it will be interesting to see how many other Southeast teams head into the deadline with the same attitude.

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

Wayne Ellington, G
Miami Heat
$6.27MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

Ellington was recently identified as a potential target for the Lakers, but if the Heat make him available, there should be a long lineup of other teams with interest. A career 38.0% three-point shooter, Ellington has made at least 2.4 threes per game in each of the last three seasons despite playing a relatively modest 25.3 MPG over that stretch.

The Cavaliers received a pair of second-round picks and Alec Burks‘ expiring contract when they sent Kyle Korver to the Jazz, so Miami could probably extract a somewhat similar return for a player with a comparable skill set and contract. However, despite an underwhelming 14-16 record, the Heat are tied for the eighth seed in the East. As long as they remain in the playoff picture, they may prefer to hang onto Ellington, especially with injuries sidelining multiple other guards.

Because he re-signed on a one-year contract during the 2018 offseason, Ellington also has the ability to block any trade that involves him. It’s not clear whether he’d exercise that right — if the Heat slip into the lottery and an opportunity arises to join a contender, perhaps he’d sign off on a move. He’d lose his Bird rights in that scenario, however.

Terrence Ross, G/F
Orlando Magic
$10.5MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

Like Ellington, Ross was said last week to be a player the Lakers were eyeing. That report downplayed the idea that Ross would be a realistic option for L.A., but the swingman’s name has come up in multiple reports since then. Marc Stein of The New York Times and Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders both suggested that Ross is generating plenty of interest, and is a popular target for teams in need of help on the wing.

Of course, the Magic are the team tied with Miami for the No. 8 spot in the East, and they’ll need Ross’ help to contend for the postseason. With the 27-year-old headed for unrestricted free agency, Orlando may have to make a tough decision. Is it worth it to hang onto Ross if it just leads to a first-round playoff exit – or a near-miss of a playoff spot – and then he walks in free agency? Or should the club prioritize the long-term view and move Ross for a young player or a pick that could provide value for years to come?

The Magic are reportedly among the teams with interest in Markelle Fultz, and a swap involving Ross and Fultz could make some sense for both sides. Ross would be an ideal fit for a Philadelphia in need of depth, and Orlando’s front office – which has a reputation for rolling the dice on high-upside players – could be willing to take a risk on a former No. 1 overall pick.

Jeremy Lin, G
Atlanta Hawks
$13.77MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

Lin is the sort of player whom the Hawks would likely be happy to keep for the rest of the season if they don’t get any favorable trade offers for him before February 7. He has an expiring contract, so he won’t affect the team’s flexibility going forward, and it probably makes sense to have a veteran point guard like Lin around to help mentor rookie Trae Young.

Still, considering Lin probably isn’t part of Atlanta’s long-term plans, he’d likely be expendable in a deal that returns an asset or two. One report earlier this week indicated that Lin is among the Hawks veterans drawing some interest on the trade market, while another suggested the Hawks were involved in four-team Trevor Ariza trade discussions that would have seen them acquire Brandon Knight and a first-round pick in exchange for Lin (and possibly another asset).

That trade obviously didn’t happen, as the Suns and Wizards completed an Ariza deal on their own, but if the Hawks were on board with the structure, it’s an indication of what they’d be looking for in exchange for Lin — it seems they’d be willing to take on a multiyear contract like Knight’s and giving up some 2019 flexibility if it means acquiring another future first-round pick.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central 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 Central has been the most active division in terms of in-season trades so far in 2018/19, with the Cavaliers participating in two trades so far and the Bucks making one. There’s no indication those will be the last deals made by Central clubs this season, as there are still a number of players who could be on the move by February 7.

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

Jabari Parker, F
Chicago Bulls
$20MM cap hit; $20MM team option for 2019/20

It has been an eventful couple days for Parker, who was pulled from the rotation by the Bulls on Thursday and then became the subject of trade rumors on Friday.

A pair of reports on the Parker trade talks today both suggested that there’s considerable interest around the NBA in the former No. 2 overall pick, which is somewhat hard for me to believe. While there’s sure to be some interest in Parker, who remains a dynamic scorer, the Bulls and agent Mark Bartelstein may be motivated to exaggerate that interest a little. It’s just hard to imagine a bunch of teams driving up the bidding for a player who is on a $20MM contract, will likely be a free agent in a few months, and has admitted to not having much interest in playing defense.

A trade would be particularly challenging if the Bulls are unwilling to take on multiyear money that would cut into their projected 2019 cap room. For instance, if a team like the Trail Blazers pursued Parker, there would be virtually no way to make a deal work without including a player like Meyers Leonard or Maurice Harkless – who are earning more than $11MM apiece in 2019/20 – or someone with an even more expensive ’19/20 salary.

The Kings are one potentially intriguing fit, given their expiring contracts and their cap room — Zach Randolph‘s $11MM expiring deal would be enough to send out for Parker, who could subsequently fit into Sacramento’s cap space. However, the Kings, who have long been seeking their small forward of the future, would have to be confident Parker could play at the three instead of the four, since they already have a number of options up front.

Darren Collison, G
Indiana Pacers
$10MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

A report this week suggested that league executives believe the Pacers may consider trading one of their veteran point guards – Collison or Cory Joseph – in advance of the trade deadline. A move would make some sense, with Victor Oladipo and Tyreke Evans also sharing ball-handling duties for the Pacers, who in turn want to carve out regular minutes for rookie guard Aaron Holiday.

While Collison is Indiana’s starting point guard, Joseph is probably having the stronger season. Joseph’s shooting numbers are better, he’s a stronger defender, and the Pacers have been noticeably better when he’s on the court (+7.4 net rating) than when he’s not (+2.0 net rating). That could make Collison the more expendable of the two guards.

Of course, the Pacers project to be a top-five seed in the East, so they won’t trade a starter in a deal that doesn’t provide an immediate upgrade at another position. They may also want to do right by the veteran Collison by not sending him to an unfavorable situation like, say, Phoenix.

There are some trade scenarios that could be viable though, even if the Pacers limit their scope. The Sixers, Pelicans, Nuggets, Spurs, and Magic are among the many playoff contenders who could benefit from the presence of a veteran guard like Collison.

Rodney Hood, G
Cleveland Cavaliers
$3.47MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

The Cavaliers have already moved Kyle Korver and George Hill, and we profiled J.R. Smith in our last check-in on the Central’s trade candidates. There are still plenty of players who could be on the block in Cleveland, however, with a report this week indicating that Alec Burks and Hood are among them.

Although Hood has seen his stock dip a little over the last year and hasn’t developed into the kind of impact player that many observers expected him to, his .438 FG% is a career-best and he’s knocking down 37.5% of his three-point attempts. At just $3.47MM, he’d be an inexpensive target for a playoff team looking for a second-unit scorer, and he could likely be had for a reasonable return, given his looming unrestricted free agency.

There are just two potential roadblocks in the way of a Hood deal: He’s not trade-eligible until January 15 and he has the power to block a trade, since he’d lose his Bird rights if he’s moved. Still, if the Cavs signal that they don’t plan to re-sign him, losing those Bird rights wouldn’t hurt much, and he may welcome a change of scenery, given Cleveland’s place in the standings.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific 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 Warriors have been one of the NBA’s least active teams in terms of in-season trades over the last several seasons, but the other four Pacific teams all look like good candidates to be active over the next couple months. The Kings may be buyers, the Suns are in the market for a point guard, and the Lakers and Clippers will seek upgrades that don’t compromise their 2019 cap space.

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

Milos Teodosic, G
Los Angeles Clippers
$6.3MM cap hit; restricted free agent in 2019

Last month, in the midst of a 14-game stretch in which he appeared in four games and played less than 24 total minutes, Teodosic expressed some frustration with how his time in the NBA is going, suggesting he’d likely return to the EuroLeague in 2019 — perhaps even before the end of the NBA season.

With Lou Williams on the shelf due to a hamstring injury, Teodosic has had the opportunity to play a bigger role over the Clippers‘ last two games, and he should continue to get regular minutes for at least a couple weeks. However, if he falls out of the rotation again before the trade deadline, Teodosic could become a trade candidate.

The Clippers have no shortage of backcourt options and teams like the Suns or Magic could really benefit from having a veteran point guard setting up their young players for easy baskets. Those clubs would also have an easier time carving out a clear-cut role for the former EuroLeague star.

Zach Randolph, C
Sacramento Kings
$11.69MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

A starter last season for the Kings, Randolph hasn’t played a single minute this season and looks like a buyout candidate. Before they consider negotiating a buyout though, the Kings figure to thoroughly explore the trade market to see if Randolph’s $11.69MM expiring contract might be a useful trade chip.

Combined with Sacramento’s $11MM in cap room, Randolph’s expiring deal could give the club some intriguing options on the trade market. For instance, since the Kings reportedly have interest in Otto Porter, let’s say the Wizards make Porter available for cap relief and draft picks.

Sacramento could attach a future pick to Randolph ($11.69MM) and Ben McLemore ($5.46MM), who is also in the final year of his contract. If both teams were over the cap, those two players wouldn’t be enough to match Porter’s $26MM+ salary, but the under-the-cap Kings aren’t subject to those salary-matching rules and could make it work. The Wizards, meanwhile, would get out of tax territory, pick up a future asset, and significantly increase their 2019 cap flexibility.

There’s no indication that that specific scenario is on the table, but it’s an example of how the Kings could leverage expiring contracts like Randolph’s and their cap room in order to make a major move.

Dragan Bender, F/C
Phoenix Suns
$4.66MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

Typically, a 4-24 team like the Suns would be able to find plenty of minutes for a big man who is just two-and-a-half years removed from being drafted fourth overall. However, Bender’s days in Phoenix appear to be nearing an end. The team declined his 2019/20 option in October and has played him in just 10 games (8.6 MPG) so far this season.

If even the Suns can’t find a role for Bender, perhaps his days in the NBA are numbered too. But the seven-footer knocked down 36.6% of his three-pointers last season and he’s still just 21 years old. If another club wants to roll the dice on Bender’s upside, it seems like Phoenix would be open to making a move.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southwest 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 NBA’s Southwest division continues to defy expectations as the 2018/19 season nears its one-third mark. Dallas and Memphis were expected to sit at the bottom of the Southwest this year, but the Mavericks currently have a better record than their fellow Texas teams in San Antonio and Houston, while the Grizzlies are in first place in their division. The unpredictability has resulted in some unexpected trade candidates.

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

Carmelo Anthony, F
Houston Rockets
$1.51MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

It has been three weeks since the Rockets confirmed they’d be parting ways with Anthony, but the veteran forward remains in limbo. It’s possible that Houston is putting off releasing Anthony because there’s concern he’ll be claimed off waivers by a team he doesn’t want to join — or perhaps the Rockets, who already have one open roster spot, don’t want to have to replace him on their roster, which would increase their projected tax bill.

However, it also seems likely that the Rockets are waiting until December 15 before making any final decisions on Anthony. That’s the date he’ll become eligible to be traded.

It’s not clear whether there are teams in there with immediate interest in acquiring Anthony, but if there are, a trade should be simple enough — because he’s on a minimum-salary contract, the 34-year-old can be acquired using the minimum salary exception, negating the need for salary-matching, and Houston certainly won’t be asking for anything of value in return.

If there has been no resolution on Anthony by December 15, that resolution should come shortly thereafter, as the Rockets assess whether there’s a deal to be made for the 10-time All-Star.

Pau Gasol, C
San Antonio Spurs
$16.8MM cap hit; $16MM salary for 2019/20 partially guaranteed ($6.7MM)

The Spurs are only two games out of a playoff spot in the West, but their 11-14 record places them 14th in the conference. They’ve dropped 12 of their last 17 games, including three recent losses by 30 or more points. If this slump continues, there’s a real possibility that selling will make more sense than buying at the trade deadline.

In that scenario, Gasol could become a trade chip. Typically, a 38-year-old who is earning $16.8MM and recovering from a stress fracture is an albatross, but if Pau gets healthy, he should have some appeal in the right situation.

Gasol’s partial guarantee for next season makes his contract a bit more manageable, and he’s the sort of veteran who could fit into just about any situation, playing 15 minutes or so off the bench. Again though, he has to get back to 100% first before he’ll have any value, and at his age, that’s not necessarily a given.

Dennis Smith Jr., G
Dallas Mavericks
$3.82MM cap hit; on rookie contract; eligible for restricted free agency in 2021

There have been no reports this season suggesting that the Mavericks are mulling the possibility of trading Smith, but Luka Doncic‘s emergence has increased the pressure on Dallas’ 2017 lottery pick. While it may be too early to dub Doncic the Mavs’ next franchise player, the early returns on this year’s No. 3 selection suggest that he should be the team’s primary play-maker for years to come.

If that’s the case, the Mavericks will need to determine whether Smith makes sense alongside Doncic for the long term. If management believes the two youngsters can coexist and thrive together, there’s no reason to do anything with DSJ except look ahead to his next contract. If there are doubts about the pairing, the Mavs should start thinking about a potential deal.

After all, outside of perhaps Wesley Matthews‘ expiring contract and one or two others, the Mavericks don’t have a ton of attractive trade chips. Smith would be a big one, and if moving him allows the franchise to acquire another long-term piece that fits better alongside Doncic, it’s worth considering.

While I don’t expect Smith to go anywhere this season, we’ll be monitoring this situation going forward.

Previously:

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.

When we last checked in on the Northwest, the Timberwolves held the NBA’s top trade candidate in Jimmy Butler. Now that Butler has been moved, there are far fewer obvious trade chips in the division, where teams like the Jazz, Trail Blazers, and Nuggets have doubled down on their current cores within the last year or two.

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

Jerryd Bayless, G
Minnesota Timberwolves
$8.58MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

Bayless was traded by the Sixers before we could profile him as an Atlantic division trade candidate, but the same traits that made him a useful trade chip for Philadelphia will give him some value for the Timberwolves.

Whether or not Bayless will be able to contribute anything on the court in 2018/19 is somewhat irrelevant — it’s his $8.58MM salary and his expiring contract that make him useful in trade talks. That cap hit makes him ideal for matching mid-level type contracts, or packaging him with other pieces (after January 12), as the Sixers did. And the fact that he’ll be a free agent at season’s end could appeal more to a team looking to create 2019 cap space than it will to the Wolves, who will likely remain over the cap even after clearing Bayless from their books.

It’s possible that Minnesota is done dealing for now, in which case Bayless could become a buyout candidate, rather than a trade candidate, assuming he gets healthy later in the season.

Jusuf Nurkic, C
Portland Trail Blazers
$11.11MM cap hit; under contract through 2021/22

Nurkic just re-signed with the Trail Blazers over the summer, securing a lucrative new four-year deal from the club, so he’s not likely to be traded anytime soon — he’s not even eligible to be moved until January 15.

Still, in past years, big men like Blake Griffin and Nene Hilario have been traded just months after signing even longer-term contracts than Nurkic’s. And it’s worth noting that Zach Collins‘ ongoing development has made the idea of a Nurkic trade more viable for Portland, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe observed last month.

The Blazers have been reluctant to break up their core in recent years, and if they decide to do anything drastic, it will probably happen during the offseason rather than at the trade deadline. However, I suspect that if they do take a big swing, they’re more likely to move their veteran center than one of their star guards, given Collins’ potential to fill a similar role at a fraction of the price. If that happens, Nurkic could be the key to helping Portland acquire a much-needed impact player on the wing.

Patrick Patterson, F
Oklahoma City Thunder
$5.45MM cap hit; $5.71MM player option for 2019/20

Like Bayless, Patterson is a trade chip by virtue of his cap hit, which the Thunder might need for salary-matching purposes if they make a deal.

Patterson’s salary is more modest than Bayless’, but of the eight Oklahoma City players earning more than $2.2MM, seven are starters or important rotation players who may not be expendable. The eighth is Patterson, who has struggled mightily since arriving in OKC, making him the club’s most logical chip, even if his contract extends beyond this season and won’t be appealing to trade partners.

If Patterson’s value is too limited to make a deal work, Alex Abrines could be the Thunder trade candidate to watch — he’s earning almost exactly the same salary as Patterson and is on an expiring contract.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast 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 Southeast could be one of the NBA’s most active divisions leading up to this season’s trade deadline. It features a pair of underachieving teams (the Heat and Wizards) who could badly use a trade to shake things up, along with at least one lottery-bound club that looks like an obvious seller (the Hawks). It’s too early to tell which direction the Hornets and Magic will go, but they’re candidates to be active too.

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

Otto Porter Jr., F
Washington Wizards
$26.01MM cap hit; $27.25MM guaranteed salary in 2019/20; $28.49MM player option for 2020/21

As I wrote earlier today when I relayed news of the Kings’ renewed interest in Porter, the young forward looks like the best trade candidate of the Wizards‘ three highly-paid cornerstones. His contract isn’t as scary as John Wall‘s, which will make him easier to move. Conversely, he’s not as valuable an asset as Bradley Beal, meaning Washington won’t be as averse to giving him up.

Although Porter’s contract will make him a somewhat tricky sell, he fits the mold of the three-and-D wing that so many teams around the NBA are seeking. He’ll draw interest, especially from teams that have a little cap flexibility but don’t necessarily expect to be major players in free agency — like the Kings, whose expiring contracts and cap space make them an interesting potential trade partner for Washington.

The Pelicans are also said to have interest in Porter. If they’re willing to include a first-round pick and a mid-sized expiring contract, it might be worth it for the Wizards to take on Solomon Hill‘s contract.

Dewayne Dedmon, C
Atlanta Hawks
$7.2MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

A popular subject of trade speculation last season, Dedmon stayed put at the deadline and ultimately ended up exercising his player option to remain in Atlanta for another year. There are reasons to believe that he’s more likely to be traded this time around.

For one, potential suitors may have been put off by his uncertain contract situation last year. This time, his status is clear — he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so teams won’t have to worry about accounting for him on next year’s books.

Additionally, the Hawks may have some regrets about how they approached last season’s trade deadline, when they kept Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, then bought them out after the deadline passed. Both players ended up with the Sixers, serving as important rotation pieces into the second round of the playoffs. This season, Atlanta may be less inclined to let solid contributors get away for nothing.

While Dedmon doesn’t necessarily have one specific skill that could be a difference-maker for a playoff team like Belinelli’s and Ilyasova’s floor-spacing abilities were, he’s a solid big man who has some previous postseason experience under his belt, and he shouldn’t be overly expensive.

Nikola Vucevic, C
Orlando Magic
$12.75MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

It has been a fascinating season for Vucevic and the Magic so far. Despite a modest 10-12 record, Orlando currently holds the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Vucevic has played a huge part in the club’s early success, recording career highs in PPG (20.8), FG% (.553), 3PT% (.410), and APG (3.9), among other categories.

The 28-year-old is performing like the type of player the Magic should be trying to re-sign and build around, rather than one they should be looking to dump before he reaches free agency — especially if they remain in the playoff mix. So far, there are no indications that Orlando is interested in trading Vucevic.

Still, this is a complicated situation. The Magic drafted Mohamed Bamba earlier this year to be their center of the future, and with Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac in the frontcourt mix too, it looked like Vucevic might not be in the team’s long-term plans.

Could the Magic realistically lock up Vucevic long-term without compromising the development of their younger players? If they commit to the veteran, would the Magic need to trade one of those other young bigs? Would they be willing to keep Vucevic for the full season and risk simply losing him in unrestricted free agency next summer without any compensation? The answers to those questions will determine whether or not Vucevic becomes available before this season’s trade deadline.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic 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.

Since we last examined the Atlantic division, two of the division’s backup point guards have made headlines — one is reportedly unhappy with his role, while another is said to prefer a change of scenery. Both players (or their camps) have publicly denied those reports, but that likely won’t quiet trade speculation.

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

Terry Rozier, G
Boston Celtics
$3.05MM cap hit; restricted free agent in 2019

Rozier and the Celtics continue to say the right things publicly, but speculation persists that the fourth-year point guard is unhappy with his role in Boston, as a report suggested earlier this month.

Rozier, who played a huge role in the postseason for the Celtics last spring, has seen his minutes per game dip to 22.7 this season with Kyrie Irving healthy. If Boston were battling for first place in the conference, that decreased role might be easier to swallow, but the Celtics’ early-season struggles have likely only exacerbated any frustrations Rozier has.

Despite their 9-9 start, the Celtics still have title aspirations, so an in-season trade involving a key contributor like Rozier seems unlikely unless they can get immediate help in return. Still, this is a situation worth watching closely. With Rozier’s restricted free agency looming and no guarantee of a long-term investment from the Celtics, the trade deadline could represent Boston’s best chance to get something of value for the young guard.

Markelle Fultz, G
Philadelphia 76ers
$8.34MM cap hit; guaranteed $9.75MM salary in 2019/20; $12.29MM team option for 2020/21

Fultz’s agent Raymond Brothers denied a report suggesting that his client wants to be traded out of Philadelphia, but it wouldn’t exactly be shocking if the former No. 1 overall pick prefers a fresh start elsewhere. His first 17 months with the Sixers have been disastrous, and it’s not clear where he fits into a long-term core that will likely include Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid.

If you’re the Sixers, you don’t want to sell low on a player like Fultz, who is still just 20 years old and was an extremely highly regarded prospect just a year and a half ago. But the team applied that same thinking to Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, and ended up practically giving those players away for nothing in trades as their stocks dipped even further. If Fultz can get healthy, maybe now is the time to move him, when other teams still believe in his upside.

If Philadelphia does consider dealing Fultz, he’d give the team a mid-level salary-matching chip to shop in trade talks, which could be important. Currently, the only non-core pieces on the roster with cap hits exceeding $2.7MM are Wilson Chandler ($12.8MM), J.J. Redick ($12.25MM), and Mike Muscala ($5MM) — those three are important rotation players that the Sixers would presumably prefer to keep.

It’s also worth noting that clearing Fultz’s $9.75MM guarantee for 2019/20 from their books could put the Sixers in a prime position to go after another top free agent next summer, even after accounting for Butler’s cap hold.

DeMarre Carroll, F
Brooklyn Nets
$15.4MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

During the summer of 2017, when the Raptors needed to cut costs to re-sign Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, the Nets received a pair of draft picks from Toronto and dumped Justin Hamilton‘s unwanted expiring contract as incentive for taking on Carroll. The veteran forward responded with a nice bounce-back season in 2017/18, averaging a career-best 13.5 PPG on .414/.371/.764 shooting.

Carroll’s solid showing last season rebuilt his trade value and even made him a positive asset heading into his contract year, but health problems – which marred his time in Toronto – have slowed him again this season. Limited to eight games so far due to an ankle injury, the 32-year-old has shot just .309/.286/.885.

Unless Carroll can rebound again in a big way, finding a trade partner may be tricky. The Nets would want an asset in return for the veteran, and wouldn’t want to compromise their projected cap space for 2019. That may be too much to ask, but if Carroll plays well leading up to the deadline and there’s a team out there in desperate need of a three-and-D wing, a deal is a possibility.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.