5 NBA players that need a change of scenery

Not every player in the NBA is happy with his current situation and these are five players that could use a change of scenery.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is in my DraftKings daily picks. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is in my DraftKings daily picks. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

There are many people in society that feel that NBA players are happy because they’re rich. While it’s true that nearly all of them are wealthy, money isn’t everything. Making a lot of money is a byproduct of being a professional athlete, but their main goal is to win. Regardless of how much money someone makes, it’s a sad situation if his NBA team is constantly losing or underperforming with a talented roster.

It can also be frustrating for a player if he’s no longer the right fit for his team. He may be collecting nice paychecks, but if he’s not receiving enough minutes or coming off the bench, then it can be very frustrating.

One obvious player that immediately comes to mind that needs a change of scenery is DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings. He is arguably the best big man in the game and the only thing that his team seems to win are lottery draft picks. Sacramento also isn’t a prime location to lure quality players to surround Cousins with.

This isn’t a knock on guys like Darren Collison and Rudy Gay, but the Kings will need better players than that to keep Boogie happy. Perhaps this is why we’ve seen him have so many negative and distracting outbursts during games and in the locker room towards the media.

Since Cousins is a no-brainer selection for this list, I will focus on five other players that can strongly benefit from a new environment. Let’s take a look at who they are and where a better situation may be waiting for them.

Dec 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) handles the ball during the first quarter of the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

5. Goran Dragic – Miami Heat

It may be hard for Miami to admit the need for rebuilding, but the writing is all over the wall. Dwyane Wade is a Chicago Bull and Chris Bosh’s career appears to be done. This leaves Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside as the only two high-level players on the team. Those two are not enough to lead a team of promising young players to legit contention in the Eastern Conference.

As a matter of fact, the current Miami formula has resulted in a 10-25 record so far. This has them barely ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets for last place in their conference. It’s a frustrating situation and, for the 30-year-old Dragic, is a good reason for a change of address.

Goran is averaging 18.8 points and 6.7 assists per game this season. His type of production shouldn’t be wasted in Miami. The same can be said for Whiteside, but he’s a little bit younger and a slightly better fit for the Heat to build around. They could trade him as well, but let’s keep our focus on Dragic.

His ability to score efficiently and distribute the ball is something that contending teams can use. He is also a reliable defender on most nights and that’s always a bonus in today’s brand of basketball. Dragic can also be the missing piece on a roster with a lot of promise. Sometimes a team with a lot of young and promising players needs a quality veteran to help them evolve. Goran is definitely one of those quality veterans.

One team that Dragic would be a great addition to is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even though Ricky Rubio can get steals and is a good ball distributor, his scoring efficiency is terrible. Additionally, Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones are still developing and may not be ready for starter’s minutes for at least another season.

A player like Dragic could provide a significant upgrade in scoring from the point guard spot. Additionally, Rubio’s defense isn’t as good as people may think. He may get more steals than Dragic, but his overall defensive rating is actually worse. Goran’s rating is 109.4, while Rubio’s rating is 111.1.

A Rubio for Dragic trade is a valid one according to ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, but that doesn’t mean both teams will agree to it. Regardless of where he ends up, it’s clear that Dragic can definitely benefit from a change of scenery. His talents are currently being wasted in South Beach.

Dec 19, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (11) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Timberwolves won 115-108. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

4. Brandon Knight – Phoenix Suns

When it comes to Brandon Knight’s career so far, I always think of a roller coaster. His first two seasons with the Detroit Pistons were rather underwhelming. As a result, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a package deal for Brandon Jennings. In Milwaukee, Knight appeared to figure things out and averaged over 17 points per game during his first two seasons there.

However, just when it seemed like he found a team that he would be with for the long haul, he was traded again. This time, it was to the Phoenix Suns and a much warmer climate. Things started slow at first due to a couple of injuries. However, in his first full season with the Suns last year, Knight registered a career-high 19.6 points per game. He finally seemed to find a home, especially with the guard-heavy system that head coach Jeff Hornacek deployed.

Unfortunately for Knight, things are bit different for the 2016-17 season. Hornacek is now the head coach of the New York Knicks and Earl Watson is Phoenix’s head coach. This means that the system that Knight flourished in was going away. As a matter of fact, Watson has moved Knight to the bench as the Suns’ sixth man. He prefers to start Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in his backcourt, which gives them the bulk of available minutes.

This has resulted in Brandon receiving 23 minutes per game as opposed to his 36 minutes a game under Hornacek’s watch. Knight now seems lost on the team and it’s affecting his scoring. His current PPG of 12.7 is the lowest it’s been since his rookie season in 2011. It’s become quite clear that this former Kentucky Wildcat is in need of a new team yet again.

One of the teams that could be a good fit for him are the Sacramento Kings. An even trade can be made where Rudy Gay gets sent to Phoenix in exchange for Knight.

Other teams that can use Knight’s services are the Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and the Dallas Mavericks. All four of those teams would certainly give him 30+ minutes or close to it. Regardless of where he may end up in the future, it seems like any place other than Phoenix is a step in the right direction for Brandon Knight.

Apr 10, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) dunks during the third quarter of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Wells Fargo Center. The Milwaukee Bucks won 109-108 in OT. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

3. Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers have a wealth of young talent at the power forward and center positions. There’s Joel Embiid, who appears to be a lock for the Rookie of the Year award for this season. He’s averaging 18.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Those numbers are very good and they’re even more impressive when you consider the fact that he’s averaging 24.8 minutes per contest. He is receiving comparisons to a young Hakeem Olajuwon and looks like the Sixers’ franchise center.

Another talented big man on Philadelphia’s roster is Jahlil Okafor. He enjoyed a successful rookie year last season by averaging 17.5 points, seven rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Even though his defensive effort needs major work, his offensive ability is receiving comparisons to Tim Duncan. It’s a stretch to feel that Okafor will mirror the achievements of Duncan, but there’s no denying that he has major upside. He can form a dangerous combination with Embiid for many years to come once they get their chemistry figured out.

This leaves us with Nerlens Noel as the third promising big man on the 76ers’ roster. Unfortunately, he appears to be the odd man out. After averaging 10.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.8 steals per game over his first two seasons, his production has taken a nosedive for this season.

Since returning from an early season injury, Nerlens has played in seven games and is only receiving an average of 11.6 minutes of court time. As one would expect, this situation isn’t sitting well with him and he’s been rather vocal about it. Despite what head coach Brett Brown has said about trying to get him involved, it seems like it might not be enough to regain Noel’s trust. A change of scenery seems like it’s the best move for the former Kentucky standout.

There are quite a few teams that can benefit from Noel’s rebounding prowess and defensive versatility. The Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors are all teams that could benefit from adding Noel. We can debate all day long about the pros and cons of the aforementioned options. However, as far as today is concerned, it’s hard to debate that Nerlens Noel wouldn’t benefit from being on a new team.

Nov 14, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) dribbles the ball in the second half of the game against the Orlando Magic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana Pacers beat the Orlando Magic 88-69. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

2. Paul George – Indiana Pacers

It seems like ages ago, but Paul George and the Indiana Pacers were in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Back in 2013 and 2014 when LeBron James was on the Miami Heat, George led the Pacers against them and it seemed like the Pacers would be contenders for many years to follow.

Unfortunately, “PG-13” suffered a gruesome injury in the summer of 2014 and he missed most of the 2014-15 season. He made a triumphant return last season and had a career year with averages of 23.1 points, seven rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Indiana also returned to the playoffs, but was eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in the first round.

In order to boost their roster for this season, the Pacers acquired Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young. This meant that their starting five was comprised of Teague, Monta Ellis, George, Young and a promising young center with major upside in Myles Turner. The expectation was for Indiana to be right up there with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Raptors and Celtics in the upper tier of their conference.

However, Indiana has grossly underachieved this season with a current record of 17-18. As a result, George has been pretty bummed out about showing up to work. He’s admitted that perhaps he’s still living in the past and that this season hasn’t been a fun one for him. Some might call this premature, but it sounds like Paul can benefit from a new environment. Players usually don’t admit to such a high level of unhappiness and lack of fun to the media.

Although the Pacers have been pretty adamant about George not being on the trading block, there’s no denying the fact that many teams would love to have him. His addition to any team provides a major boost and significantly increases their championship hopes. Perhaps he will find his happiness again before this season is over, but it’s not likely if Indiana continues to under-perform. If they continue to disappoint, then the only cure for his melancholy may be a change of scenery and it will be sooner rather than later.

Dec 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

As a fan of the New York Knicks, it pains me to mention Carmelo Anthony for this list. However, I have to call things how I see it. Before I begin, I will acknowledge that there’s less than a one percent chance for Melo to go anywhere. He is one of three players in the league that has a no-trade clause along with LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki.

Therefore, he controls his own destiny and his goal is to win a championship for his birth state. He is also being paid a max salary playing in one of the biggest markets in the league. There’s almost no reason for him to want to leave the Big Apple, but please take note of the keyword “almost.”

Anthony’s career is full of achievements and accolades that most players can only dream of. He’s a nine-time All-Star, a six-time All-NBA selection and a former scoring champion. Carmelo is also a three-time Olympic gold medalist and widely considered to be one of the most prolific offensive players in league history.

As a result, he is a virtual lock to be in the Hall of Fame when he chooses to retire. However, as is the case with other prolific Hall of Famers such as Charles Barkley, Melo owns zero championship rings. It’s actually a shame that he doesn’t have one since players like him deserve it. Unfortunately, in order for him to win a ring, he may need to leave New York.

Although the Knicks have a future mega-star in Kristaps Porzingis along with the additions of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, it’s not enough to win the East right now. New York can continue to build around the core of Melo, Porzingis and Rose, but it will come at a cost down the road.

At age 32, Anthony only has two to three years of elite level basketball left in him. The Knicks may be closer to being a serious contender at that point, but it’ll likely be too late for Anthony to win a ring. He’s in a “win now” situation and other teams are better equipped to deliver that for him.

Teams in the East such as the Celtics and Raptors give Melo a much better chance of winning now. Additionally, if he somehow ended up in Cleveland with LeBron, then his chances for a ring greatly increase. Even teams in the west like the Los Angeles Clippers provide a better chance for Anthony to win right now before he’s past his prime.

Selfishly, I hope that I never see Melo in any uniform other than the Knicks. However, as a fan of the player, I feel that he deserves to have “NBA champion” written on his resume. In order for that to happen, I fear that it requires a change of scenery for him.

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