NBA Trades: 5 Players In Need Of A Change Of Scenery

NBA Trades

December 30, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) dunks the basketball against Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline approaches, here’s a look at five big-name players who could be realistic trade candidates and would benefit from a change of scenery.

With the calendar officially flipping to 2017, it’s officially NBA trade season. With the possibility of NBA trades always looming to change the league’s landscape, there are plenty of rumors circulating about which major players could be on the move soon.

This season is no different, with a few superstars and solid role players being mentioned as possible trade candidates. Though a blockbuster move seems unlikely before the Feb. 27 trade deadline, teams with assets like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns could be teams to watch moving forward.

With about two months on the clock, there’s plenty of time for these current trade rumors to gain traction and develop into something more substantial. From players in bad fits to unsatisfied stars, there are quite a few major names who could really benefit from a change of scenery.

Without further ado, here’s a look at five big-name players who are not only realistic trade candidates, but who could also thrive in the event of a move to another team.

NBA Trades

Dec 23, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans (1) handles the ball defended by Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) at the Smoothie King Center. New Orleans won 91-87. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

5. Tyreke Evans

There are plenty of reasons Tyreke Evans won’t be traded before the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline. He’s only got one year left on his contract, which means he could very easily be a two- or three-month rental, and the New Orleans Pelicans need all the help they can get in their desperate playoff chase.

Evans’ value has never been lower either, after missing 57 games due to injury last season and all but seven games so far in 2016-17. He’s currently averaging only 7.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range — a far cry from the 17-7-5 stat line he put up just two seasons ago.

With Evans currently on a minutes restriction of 18 per game, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to boost his trade value in the next month and a half. If he does, however, his $10.2 million deal wouldn’t be impossible to move, especially to a playoff team seeking extra playmaking and versatility off the bench.

The return is where it gets tricky, since the Pellies would be looking for something to help them in their own pursuit of a playoff spot — something teams trading for Evans would obviously avoid surrendering since they’d be trading for him for the same reason. But with the playoff picture so knotted in the East and at the bottom of the West, it wouldn’t be impossible if Evans can prove he’s not washed up.

Just last season, ‘Reke shot 38.8 percent from three-point range and put up a 15-7-5 stat line. He’s never panned out as the star everyone thought he’d be after his 20-5-5 rookie season in Sacramento, but if he can shake off the rust over the next few weeks, he could be worth a gamble for the right playoff team.

NBA Trades

Nov 25, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) runs down court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards at Amway Center. The Wizards won 94-91. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

4. Nikola Vucevic

Like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Orlando Magic have a well-documented frontcourt logjam. With Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon, Jeff Green and Nikola Vucevic all on the front lines, Vucevic seems like the most logical trade candidate.

Ibaka and Biyombo are new arrivals who form an imposing defensive line for head coach Frank Vogel, and the Magic surrendered quite a bit of money and resources to bring them to Orlando. Aaron Gordon is now the closest thing this team has to a franchise player, and Green and his one-year contract are not valuable enough to entice other teams.

That leaves Vucevic, who has played very well for Orlando since being demoted to bench duty. Just take a look at his numbers in 15 games as a starter compared to his 16 games off the pine:

  • Starter:  11.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 43.7 FG%,-1.3
  • Bench:  14.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 47.2 FG%, -0.4

Despite Vucevic putting up better numbers with the second unit, he believes he should starting, and has basically said as much. The Magic need to alleviate their frontcourt logjam somehow, and trading Vucevic would probably net them the backcourt help they need. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Magic are “kind of done” with Vucevic.

On the season, Vucci Mane is averaging 13.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game on 45.5 percent shooting. Just last year, he posted 18.2 points and 8.9 boards per game, so it’s clear he has value for a team in need of frontcourt scoring, especially as a big with a solid midrange touch.

Vucevic is not a great interior defender, which is part of the reason he was demoted to bench duty on Vogel’s squad. But this 26-year-old has plenty to offer another, more competitive team, whether he’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.

Not long ago, the future looked bright for the developing Magic. Now their youngsters are practically being run out of town, and it might not be long before Vucevic’s day comes as well.

NBA Trades

Dec 31, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts to a call against the Memphis Grizzlies during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

3. DeMarcus Cousins

It probably won’t happen, since the Sacramento Kings are somehow in contention for a playoff spot. But although their paltry 14-19 record currently has them situated eighth in the West, DeMarcus Cousins and company are only on pace for a 35-win season and first round playoff exit at best.

That’s probably not what Boogie and the Kings had in mind for Cousins’ prime. Try as they might, the front office can’t stop tripping over its own feet, trying in vain to add long-term talent through the draft (all failures aside from Cousins) and quickly assemble a playoff-caliber roster through shortsighted free agency blunders.

With Cousins now 26 and his contract expiring at the end of the 2017-18 season, the clock is ticking. The Kings are in serious danger of wasting away his entire prime, and though that’s not reason enough for Sacramento to deal him, another lost season without a playoff appearance to show for it could very easily be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

It’d be more likely to see the Kings consider trading him next season, when they’ll be in danger of losing him for nothing in free agency, but Boogie’s trade value has never been higher. The big man is averaging a career-high 29.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals per game — all while shooting 38 percent from three-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.

Boogie is a legitimate stretch-5 superstar who would net Sacramento a king’s ransom (get it?). With their inability to attract major free agents to assemble a contender and their constant failures to put long-term talent around Cousins through the draft, it’s getting close to time for the franchise to commit to the next era of Kings basketball through another full-scale rebuild.

But they’re as close as they’ve ever been to the playoffs! And? All that means is a first round sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs. Maybe that’d keep Cousins in Sacramento for the long-term, but it could very well leave the Kings empty-handed when 2018 free agency rolls around and it still wouldn’t salvage this franchise’s reputation or its inability to acquire complementary talent.

To that end, every day that passes — and every new DeMarcus Cousins incident that invites questions about his attitude and leadership — could be hurting his trade value. Cuz deserves better than this, and the Kings would be wise to prematurely end a lost era of Kings basketball and jumpstart the beginning of a new one.

NBA Trades

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

2. Brandon Knight

The Brandon Knight trade made little sense for the Phoenix Suns the day they made it, and it’s only gotten worse by the day. He and Eric Bledsoe have failed to mesh, being outscored by a total of 187 points in their 1,380 minutes together over 75 games together (compiling a 25-50 record).

Both Bledsoe and Knight are ball-dominant, score-first guards, which is why the Suns rank at the bottom of the league in nearly every assist category. Knight hasn’t developed into the spot-up shooter Phoenix envisioned at the 2, and now he’s been demoted to bench duty behind Devin Booker, a 20-year-old franchise cornerstone in the making.

Knight has struggled with his sixth man role, and though he’s averaging 12.7 points in 23.0 minutes per game off the bench, he’s shooting 39.5 percent from the field and he’s ranked dead last out of 446 NBA players this season in total point differential (-267).

Those are damning numbers, but perhaps what Knight needs is a fresh start. After all, before he came to Phoenix, he was having a borderline All-Star season with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 17.8 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on .435/.409/.881 shooting splits.

Less competitive teams in need of a point guard should at least consider Knight — warts and all — since he might just need the ball back in his hands to be more effective. He’s shooting a reasonable 35.7 percent from three-point range on the season, and has found his stride off the bench in December.

Teams in a rebuilding state or in need of point guard help like the Sacramento Kings (who ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said have already discussed a Knight trade with Phoenix), Philadelphia 76ers or Chicago Bulls should at least consider a 25-year-old who can score despite his poor shot selection and lackluster defense. Perhaps a change of scenery would do wonders for him.

NBA Trades

Dec 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) takes the court against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Pelicans won 108-93. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1. Nerlens Noel

No secret here: The Philadelphia 76ers and Nerlens Noel are heading toward a messy breakup, and it’d be in the interest of both parties to just agree to a clean break. Now they just need someone to facilitate the divorce.

From the Sixers’ point of view, there aren’t enough minutes to go around between Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes in the same frontcourt.

Of their three young centers, Noel has been pegged as the most likely to be moved, not only because he’s on the fringe of Brett Brown’s rotation after coming into the season injured, but also because Embiid is the crown jewel and Okafor is younger (giving him that attractive “potential” label) and harder to deal (his defensive flaws have been well covered by now).

That leaves Noel, a player whose potential as a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate has been largely overlooked by Embiid’s immediate success and Noel’s lack of a jump shot.

Noel’s 2016-17 numbers — 6.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.6 minutes per game over seven games — are atrocious, but he’s still 22 years old and has been hindered by injuries and a frontcourt logjam. Put him in the right system, at his true position, and he’ll start looking like the guy who put up 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game last year.

The return might not be great on Noel at this point, but the Sixers desperately need help in the backcourt. Noel’s value is only going to continue to depreciate the longer he remains out of Brown’s rotation, and Noel is right — he’s more than an eight minutes per game player.

There should be league-wide interest in a defensive stud like Noel, and though teams may try to lowball Philly, the sooner a deal is reached, the sooner both sides can move on. It’s for the best, it needs to happen this year, and there should be plenty of suitors to choose from.

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