20 best players who could be available at NBA trade deadline
There is usually not a lot of activity heading into the NBA trade deadline, but here are 20 big name players that could be moved before Thursday, Feb. 23.
Given how difficult the collective bargaining agreement makes it for NBA teams to trade, having to match salaries and all, don’t expect an absurd number of moves heading into the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, Feb. 23.
That being said, at least one or two big names will be switching teams in the next few weeks. Some teams are very much out of contention in their respective conference’s playoff races. Others are looking for that one piece or two to better contend for a deep playoff run.
With the 2016-17 NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, here are 20 notable players that could be moved in the coming weeks. Name recognition and likelihood of being traded are the two components that set this score of players apart from the rest.
Small Forward, Brooklyn Nets
There Brooklyn Nets are living in hard times. They will be last team in the NBA to get to 10 wins on the year, still looking for double-digits entering the middle of February. While they seem to be in good space with the salary cap and have potentially a good front office partnership between head coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks, Brooklyn won’t even have its much-needed draft lottery pick this spring.
That pick belongs to the Boston Celtics via an ill-advised pick swap with the Nets only a handful of years ago. Needless to stay, Marks and the Nets front office will need see if it can’t land any more future assets with the handful of veterans on its lackluster roster.
One player that Marks and Atkinson could conceivably part ways with is small forward Bojan Bogdanovic. The Bosnian jump shooter is a fixture in Atkinson’s starting lineup. Bogdanovic is shooting 36.2 percent on 3-pointers, averaging 14.3 points per game on a terrible team.
Since Atkinson’s speciality is player development, the Nets can afford to part ways with their soon-to-be free agent small forward. Bogdanovic could help space the floor a playoff team in need of efficient jump shooting. Brooklyn could land a second-round pick or a younger player that Atkinson can develop in the coming seasons.
Point Guard, San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are humming, so why would general manager R.C. Buford consider trading a important rotational piece? Well, the Spurs have a staff keen on player development and should have no problem bringing somebody else along in the pipeline.
In all likelihood, the Spurs will be quiet heading into the NBA trade deadline. That being said, if any player could be moved from this championship caliber team in San Antonio, it might end up being backup point guard Patty Mills.
Mills is hitting free agency this summer, expecting to get a bump in pay. He has emerged as one of the more viable backup point guards in the NBA. With starter Tony Parker rapidly declining in recent years, Mills has been all the more valuable in San Antonio for head coach Gregg Popovich.
Ultimately, San Antonio is not going to part with Mills for cheap. However, he will garner major interest on a trade block for a team in need of backcourt depth. If he proves to be too expensive for small market San Antonio to bring back into the fold next season, Buford could make a deal for future assets with a team in need of a point guard.
Point Guard, Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics go on and on about how many interesting assets they have to potentially make deals with. However, the Boston brass has to realize that they’ll have to give up something to get something good. If the Celtics make a trade before the deadline, expect backup point guard Marcus Smart to be one of the guys on the way out of Beantown.
Smart was a former lottery pick by the Celtics out of Oklahoma State in 2014. While he still projects as a strong perimeter defender, he may never become the shooter that Boston hoped to get coming out of Stillwater.
This season, Smart is shooting 31.2 percent on 3-pointers. That’s terrible, as is his field goal percentage of 36.7. Add in that starting point guard Isaiah Thomas is an emerging superstar and shooting guard Avery Bradley is an All-NBA defensive player, it’s easy to see how Smart still isn’t a starter in his third year in the league.
For whatever reason, Stevens has not been able to fully tap into Smart’s potential coming out of college. That being said, there is certainly some team that would want Smart as a prominent return piece in exchange for another superstar going Boston’s way.
Point Guard, Denver Nuggets
Though the Denver Nuggets are in position to push for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, it would not be all that shocking if general manager Tim Connelly traded away just enough pieces to cost his team a chance at getting boat raced by the Golden State Warriors in round one.
Connelly loves accumulating assets and might actually be able to get something for his aging backup point guard Jameer Nelson. While the NBA is very much a point guard driven league, there can never be enough ball handlers on a team chasing a championship.
Given that Nelson is still ringless, he could have interest in being traded to a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers to be Kyrie Irving’s backup this spring. Nelson is a competitor, a solid backcourt mentor, and above all, an adult. His veteran presence would make most contending teams better from a morale standpoint alone.
These next few games are particularly crucial for the Connelly and the Nuggets. If the Denver front office doesn’t think it can make the playoffs, don’t be surprised if the Nuggets executives punt the second half and trade away interesting pieces like Nelson for future assets.
Point Guard, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are the laughing-stock of the NBA in mid-February. Jame Dolan, Phil Jackson, and Carmelo Anthony are in the news for all the wrong reasons. While there is little hope that the dysfunctional Knicks will get it together, they could be one of the more active teams heading into the NBA trade deadline.
Though Jackson is doing a fantastic job of ensuring that no top-tier free agents will ever sign with the Dolan Knicks, he does have many assets on his team that could make a playoff contending team better. One of those players is backup point guard Brandon Jennings.
Unlike starting point guard Derrick Rose, Jennings would be an amazing get for a playoff team in need of a sixth man or a spark coming off their bench. Sixth man could be the role that helps Jennings have tremendous staying power in the NBA, barring injuries of course.
While Jennings is not one of the players that Jackson probably wants to move, he does offer great intrigue on an expiring contract. Since he might sign elsewhere this summer, Jackson may need to see what he can get for a player of Jennings caliber before walks a way for nothing in July.
Power Forward, Chicago Bulls
Power forward Taj Gibson has spent his entire career with the Chicago Bulls. He has worked his tail off to become an important frontcourt starter for the only NBA team he has ever played with. That being said, the 2017 NBA trade deadline could be the time Gibson begins the next chapter of his NBA career.
Gibson offers rim protection, a low-post presence, and would be a great locker room guy for a playoff team in need of frontcourt depth. Whether that be as a a starter or as a three big man in the rotation, Gibson would be a great building block to have on a championship-caliber team.
The problem is that the Bulls don’t know really know what they are doing in the front office. Are they going in to rebuilding mode or are they going to push for the Eastern Conference Playoffs? Regardless of their convoluted intentions, the Bulls need jump shooting and have too many cooks in their frontcourt kitchen.
Gibson will be hitting free agency this summer and may look to come back to Chicago anyway. However, a change of scenery could be good for him. With all the intangible he brings to a basketball team, Gibson could fetch quite the offer in a proposed trade for the Bulls.
Center, New Orleans Pelicans
In a similar situation with Smart and the Celtics, if the New Orleans Pelicans want to make a trade before the deadline, it will have to involve veteran center Omer Asik. Though valuable in the right system, Asik has proven to be an offensive liability for the Pelicans the last few years. However when he leaves the court, their defense implodes.
In short, the Pelicans are looking for a better fit at center to play alongside star power forward Anthony Davis. Ideally, the Pelicans are looking for a rim protector with a little more giddy-up down the court in transition offense. Asik certainly isn’t that.
All that aside, Asik does have some trade value, though not as much as he did when he previously played for the Houston Rockets. If a playoff team wants to get a physical rim protector either as a starter or coming off the bench, Asik would not be a bad fit.
He’d be like a Timofey Mozgov type of player that Cleveland needed two years ago in their trade with the Nuggets. When the games slows down, Asik becomes increasingly more valuable. Fortunately for him, a slower pace is synonymous with playoff basketball. He would be a better player if he finds the right situation for him. Asik clearly doesn’t fit with the pace-and-space Pelicans.
Power Forward, Milwaukee Bucks
Greg Monroe is too much of a proven commodity in the frontcourt to be coming off the bench exclusively. Yet, that has been the story for the big man since he joined the Milwaukee Bucks two offseasons ago.
Now that starting power forward for the Bucks Jabari Parker has torn his ACL and will be out for the next year, that could force Monroe back into the starting lineup in Milwaukee. Or that could signify it is time for the Bucks to part ways with their less than fortuitous frontcourt investment in Monroe.
After playing well for most of the first half of the season, the Bucks look to be one of the handful of teams fighting for the No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs race. Unfortunately, it seems increasingly likely that the Bucks will be on the outside looking in at a potential playoff berth in June.
General manager John Hammond could consider flipping the high-priced Monroe for a shooter at the deadline. Monroe does have a player option built into his three-year deal he signed with the Bucks two summers ago worth $17,900,000. Regardless, Monroe’s high price tag will be an issue should he be moved by the Bucks this February.
Center, Philadelphia 76ers
When the Philadelphia 76ers began The Process under former general manager Sam Hinkie, they opted to take the best player available with their lottery picks. While that was great in theory, the problem for Philadelphia was that the best player available at the time of the selection of most of their drafts all played the same position: center.
The emergence of a budding superstar in rookie center Joel Embiid, has made second-year center Jahlil Okaforexpendable for new 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo. Philadelphia doesn’t want to have three starting centers in their frontcourt, so that means either Okafor or Nerlens Noel will have to go.
Fortunately for the 76ers, these two big men offer differing skill sets in the low post. Okafor is the more polished player of the two when it comes to offense. He doesn’t have a ton of range as a shooter, but there is an expanded role for his back-to-the-basket offensive game somewhere in the NBA.
Though he has not improved much as a defensive player, it’s really more about effort than anything. A change of scenery could do wonders for Okafor in his development. Since he is still on his rookie contract, Philadelphia could get something good for him in a trade deadline deal.
Shooting Guard, Detroit Pistons
Even though the Detroit Pistons are among the handful of teams in the Eastern Conference that could make the playoffs, there could be some trade action going on in the Motor City this February. Though they could use a boost for their own roster, head coach Stan Van Gundy could get a good offer for shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Caldwell-Pope looks to be one of the better sharp-shooters playing on an expiring deal this season. He is in the final year of his rookie contract with the Pistons and is about to get paid this summer when he does hit free agency.
Caldwell-Pope is shooting 38.6 percent of his 3-pointers and averaging 14.1 points per game this season for the Pistons. Jump shooting of his caliber for only part of his $3,678,319 season salary would be a steal for a contending team in need of scoring from the two at the deadline. Caldwell-Pope has also become a very good perimeter defender.
Van Gundy could very well decide to bring back Caldwell-Pope in free agency, but will have to break the bank to keep his sharp-shooter in town. He’s not likely to trade him, but for the right offer Van Gundy could be willing to part ways with Caldwell-Pope should the Pistons start to sour in mid-February.
Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers should be a top-five team in the Western Conference this season, all things equal. However, that isn’t good enough for a basketball team in win-now mode that has never gotten past the Western Conference Semifinals in franchise history.
While the Clippers could choose to bring the band back for yet another season next year, it might be time for owner Steve Ballmer and head coach Doc Rivers to consider seeing what one of their stars could command on the trade market. The most obvious trade piece for them to dangle this February is shooting guard J.J. Redick.
Redick has been an elite 3-point shooter for his entire 10-year NBA career with three different franchises. He has made the NBA Playoffs every year, but has yet to win a championship. Since coming to the Clippers, Redick’s game has evolved much more than his smooth stroke on 3-pointers. Redick has improved defensively and is an all-around great player.
Since he is in the final year of his contract with the Clippers, Redick could be the piece Rivers is willing to part with. Contending teams outside of Los Angeles would welcome a cup of coffee from Redick before he hits free agency again this summer. Redick might be the best pure shooter potentially on the market this trade deadline.
Small Forward, Boston Celtics
Do the Celtics want to trade Jae Crowder? No, but he is the piece that general manager Danny Ainge will have to surrender should he want to land a superstar before the trade deadline. Ainge first gained Crowder in a deal with the Dallas Mavericks two years ago for disgruntled point guard Rajon Rondo.
Crowder has proven to be a key starter for a contending team at the small forward. Rondo is on his third team since the Mavericks trade and might be on his way out of the league. What makes Crowder so compelling to so many general managers is his inherent versatility.
Crowder has the lateral quickness to guard most players out on the perimeter, as well as having the physicality to bang in the low post if he has to. Add in that Crowder is a strong offensive player and he is the best trade asset the Celtics have currently on their roster.
Ainge won’t want to part ways with Crowder, but he does have to realize that Crowder is the key. If Ainge makes a trade for a star player, Crowder is absolutely going the other way in a blockbuster trade as the featured player.
Power Forward, Philadephia 76ers
We’ve mentioned it before, but the same holds true about 76ers center Noel: He and Okafor are on the trading block. One of them is getting moved here very soon. The Process is in phase two: The liquidation of promising assets that just don’t quite fit the 76ers puzzle.
Despite not playing as much as Okafor, perhaps Noel has the higher trade value over his frontcourt teammate. In his three years of playing ball for the 76ers, Noel has shown that he can be a very good defender. Though he may never become a stud on the offensive end, Noel can at least be a solid rim-runner on the pick-and-roll.
Agility and defensive versatility could help Colangelo land a better return for Noel than he could with Okafor. What could be the hold-up is that Colangelo not so secretly prefers Noel to Okafor. If we can read between the lines, so can every general manager in basketball.
Noel is playing on an expiring contract. Keep in mind that he didn’t play in 2013-14 after wrecking his knee in college with the Kentucky Wildcats. Noel is the better defensive player over Okafor, but is a year older and has a history of getting hurt. He is still one of the better rim protectors available for trade this season. It’s possible as well that the 76ers end up moving both players.
Power Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Wait, what? The Cavaliers are going to trade Kevin Love? Well, let’s hope not because he is playing very well in Cleveland this season and the Big Three in Northeast Ohio should stay put for yet another run at an NBA Championship.
That being said, something is off with the Cavaliers in recent weeks. They don’t seem to care defensively on the second of back-to-backs and they have not proven to be a consistently competitive road team this season.
The biggest name that could be moved from Cleveland this February is Love. Keep in mind that he has absurd trade value at the four, but he and LeBron James essentially play the same position. If Cleveland wants to get James another superstar, it is going to cost the Cavaliers organization another one in Love.
Maybe this is all part of the plan for James? Creating a news ruckus to hopefully ignite his Eastern Conference power at the right time: the NBA Finals. Moving Love would be ludicrous for Cleveland, but we’ve seen the Cavaliers organization do stranger things for decades. Staying or going, Love needs to be part of the equation for happiness in Cleveland.
Center, Dallas Mavericks
Though he is currently injured, Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut should be good to go sometime after the All-Star Break. Dallas traded a second-round pick to the Golden State Warriors to pry their former starting center in July.
Bogut offers less and less as an offensive player with each passing season. However, he is still an elite rim protector and an outstanding offensive facilitator with the basketball in his hands. So what if he gets hurt a lot and can’t shoot? Bogut is the type of center contending teams will need to win championships.
The market for Bogut could be a fickle one. How many contending teams are in need of a throwback, back-to-the-basket starting center? Either way, Bogut’s value only increases in the NBA Playoffs once the game slows down to a crawl.
If Dallas can’t hang around the No. 8 seed, it is in the Mavericks’ best interests to see what they can get for Bogut in a trade. He will be hitting free agency this summer any way, so it is wise to see if a contending team in need of a frontcourt piece wouldn’t part ways with a second-round pick for the aging veteran center.
Power Forward, Orlando Magic
In one of the stranger deals of the offseason, the Orlando Magic traded for power forward Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder, for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and a pick that became Domantas Sabonis. Keep in mind that the Magic already had two frontcourt starters in Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.
Add in that the Magic signed center Bismack Biyombo to a multi-year deal and there is no spacing for head coach Frank Vogel to find on the court. Magic general manager Rob Hennigan should be on the hot seat for whatever he’s trying to do in Orlando. To salvage his failing team, he might need to trade Ibaka by Feb. 23.
Ibaka is the best shot-blocking force at power forward in the NBA. He is a strong outside shooter for a guy of his size. Ibaka has ample experience in the NBA Playoffs from his days starting for the Thunder. Despite being on an expiring contract, Ibaka is the type of player that could command a big return this NBA trade deadline.
He’s not the biggest name that could be on the trading block, but Ibaka could be the best player moved at the deadline this year. Orlando needs to act fast before potentially losing Ibaka for nothing this July once he hits free agency.
Center, Orlando Magic
The Magic have not one, but two marquee big men that could be on the trading block. While Ibaka could be the apple of every general manager’s eye for his shot-blocking and t3-point shooting, Vucevic might be the best player potentially traded this season.
Spacing issues are robbing us of the best parts of Vucevic’s awesome offensive game. He has a smoother stroke in the paint than Van Gogh. If he can just get on a team that will adore his offensive skill set, we might finally see Vucevic achieve his All-Star potential.
Trading away Vucevic would be foolish for Orlando, but then again, so was trading for Ibaka and signing Biyombo in the same offseason while retaining Vucevic and Gordon. Since he has another year left on his contract with the Magic, Orlando could get a great return for the former center out of USC.
Vucevic is still on the trading block, but not as moveable as Ibaka. However, since Vucevic is under contract for next season as well, he will be able to get the pieces Vogel will need to get this Eastern Conference cellar dweller out of the catacombs.
Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
Simply put, the Minnesota Timberwolves did not live up to the hype this season. Many felt this teams was poised to win 50 games and finally get back into the Western Conference Playoffs. Once again, Minnesota looks to be in the bottom half of the West.
This team was apparently far too young to get everything veteran head coach Tom Thibodeau was teaching. With wing Zach LaVine out of the season with a torn ACL, it might be time for the Timberwolves to be sellers at the NBA trade deadline.
Their best tradeable asset is veteran point guard Ricky Rubio. Though he is not a great shooter, Rubio is a great on-ball defender and an elite distributor of the basketball. He may be extremely loyal to his second home in the Twin Cities, but it’s time for him to begin the next chapter of his American basketball journey.
There will not be a better point guard available on the trade market this year than Rubio. Minnesota won’t let him go for cheap, but perhaps it is time for the Kris Dunn era at the point in Minneapolis? Maybe Rubio finally gets to taste what it is like to make the NBA Playoffs. It certainly won’t be this year in the Twin Cities.
Center, Brooklyn Nets
Since coming into the league in 2008, center Brook Lopez has been the fixture of so many trades that didn’t happen for the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn is the worst team in the NBA and they don’t even get their lottery pick this summer. It belongs to the Celtics. Rights to pick swaps are brutal.
While Brooklyn has good leadership in-house in Atkinson and Marks, they may need to seriously blow the whole thing up and completely start from scratch. That endeavor would absolutely mean that Lopez will finally get traded.
Now that health isn’t a concern for Lopez, he will be the best center on the trade market this year. He will be under contract next year for over $20 million. If an NBA team feels that it is a traditional center away from contention, Lopez could be that club’s panacea.
Under Atkinson, Lopez has proven to be a better shooter than expected from 3-point land. He’s always had a smooth offensive game and seems to be getting better on the defensive end, too. Could this be the year that Lopez finally leaves The Five Boroughs? We’ll see.
Small Forward, New York Knicks
It does not matter that he is extremely reluctant to waive his no-trade clause, acrimony is in the air in Madison Square Garden and general manager Phil Jackson wants to trade his star small forward Carmelo Anthony.
The multi-year New York experiment has not gone over well for Anthony. His Knicks have been good for one season since he forced a trade away from the Denver Nuggets in 2011. Though still highly skilled offensively, Anthony is reluctant to change his game. He believes that he can be the best player on a championship level team.
In all honesty, he’d have to be the No. 3 option on a title contender. Is he even up for that type of bruising to his ego? Given that he is the greatest olympic champion in Team USA history, he’ll have to agree to a trade this February should he want out of New York.
Teams like Boston, Cleveland, and the Clippers seem like the only teams that Anthony could waive his no-trade clause for. The Anthony/Jackson divorce has been anything but under the radar. Maybe the Charles Oakley incident was the perfect cover-up to squash the Anthony trade rumors before a deal actually goes down?