On Dec. 15, most players in the NBA became eligible for trades, so we here at Today’s Fastbreak talked about possible trade candidates and what teams should be looking to make moves.
Jason Patt: IT’S TRADE SEASON!!! It may not be as fun as wedding season, but it’s close. If you had to bet your life on it, what one player do you think will definitely get moved before the deadline?
Jake Weiner: Markieff Morris? Phoenix is going nowhere fast — though the bottom of the West is crazy wide open — and already dropping DNP-CDs on ‘kieff. After last offseason’s dramatics, I’m pretty certain Phoenix’s remaining Morrii twin is gone.
Joseph Nardone: Joakim Noah. Heresy to those who value his leadership and run with the Bulls, but Chicago is a team that struggles offensively. Loyalty is overrated anyway.
They also have so many big men on their roster that it’s humorous. Somehow, someway they need to get better offensively. The only way to do so is by way of moving a few players. Noah’s older, in the near-toast portion of his career, yet still has value. If — and that’s a big if — there’s willing takers, Chicago needs to listen. Plus, you know, #FreeBobbyPortis.
Kelly Scaletta: Sheesh. Logically, Noah makes the most sense. But is GarPax going to do that? I mean actually make a major midseason trade?
I’m gonna go Ty Lawson. Someone will be willing to gamble that his upside is worth it.
Jason: I’d be STUNNED if the Bulls traded Noah, even though he’s about to be an unrestricted free agent. I wouldn’t bet on the Bulls making a trade just because they don’t often do it (they’re the only team in the last year to NOT make a trade), but if they actually did it, I’d guess Pau Gasol or Taj Gibson. Then #FreeBobbyPortis can still happen.
Anyway, I’m with Jake on this one. I don’t know how Markieff Morris is still on the Suns past the deadline. Between the trade demands in the summer, his poor play/attitude this year and now his subsequent benching, it’s just time to cut the cord. Not to mention his ongoing legal issues. Obviously those red flags may depress the value they get in return, but they have to get him out of Phoenix.
Lawson is an interesting case as well. He’s been so bad with Houston (stunningly bad, really), but the fact his contract for next year is non-guaranteed still makes him intriguing. Would Philly dare take a chance on him?
Jake: I agree that Lawson is a very intriguing candidate, but I can’t see Philly taking a gamble. For them to accelerate The Process, I think it would take a higher-tier star locked up to a below-market deal, like Paul George (not that he’s in any way available). What’s Philly’s upside with Lawson? They won’t be good enough to take advantage of his (presumed still existent) talent next year, and then he’s a free agent. Otherwise, they’re just letting him walk. Could a team like Utah maybe bite?
Jason: The ONLY reason I mentioned Philly was because of the Jerry Colangelo hire (and maybe Mike D’Antoni hire?) and the pressure to “improve.” I agree that it’s a move they shouldn’t look to make and that they should mostly stay the course.
Utah is interesting. They’re scuffling right now without Gobert and could definitely use an upgrade at point guard with Dante Exum out. Their wings all have some ball handling chops, but it’s not enough and Trey Burke is just a guy.
Joseph: Well, I’m glad you all loved my Noah take.
Regardless, I’m with you guys on the Lawson idea. Not too sure how much teams value him anymore or what it would take to acquire him, but there’s not exactly a plethora of guys who are as good as him who will be on the market. Not sure I love the Jazz fit, but if it takes little to grab him, then it’s worth the risk.
Jason: I agree. He’s not as bad as he’s shown thus far, and the risk isn’t too bad if a team isn’t giving up much because of that aforementioned NG contract for next year.
Kelly: I think the trade deadline will be affected by the big TV boon next year and the Durant UFA. A lot of teams can make space to sign him, but I’m not sure he even goes anywhere. I don’t think that will prevent teams from trying, though.
But the other weird thing is how competitive everyone is. Who’s going to be buyers and who’s going to be sellers? It’s going to be crazy. It could be lots of movement or hardly any. But RUMORS WILL FLY!
Jason: To that point about KD, are you saying you think there will be MORE trades or less? Teams may look to salary dump, but then other teams may not want to take on that salary in order to preserve cap space.
Jake: In my opinion, the salary cap increase makes trades less likely. Clearing the books with expiring contracts used to be a key aspect of in-season trades, but virtually every team looking to make a trade this season will have enough cap space coming. I’m also not sure anyone outside OKC, Washington and Golden State will make a serious run at Durant. Seems to be no indication he has interest in going somewhere where winning will be more difficult than in OKC.
Kelly: I think both are right, depending on the team and situation. There could be teams trying to position themselves to be the best “fit” for Durant as well. The Durant free agency will be key to how a lot of teams handle the trade deadline.
To Jake’s point, I don’t think he leaves OKC. But that doesn’t mean front offices are going to shape their offseason that way.
Joseph: To the best fit scenarios, does that mean Washington makes any attempts to alter its roster? They’re the long rumored “realistic” landing spot for Durant. I echo everyone’s statements, though. I don’t think he leaves the Thunder.
I feel like, as Kelly mentioned, we’re going to see mostly ho-hum maneuvers by the time trading season is over. There’s too many teams at play to make moves, and the ones who aren’t mostly have young players they’ll be unwilling to part with.
Jason: Booooooo. I want MOAR trades.
On that note, what’s the one trade you’d LOVE to see happen?
Joseph: Absolute not happening, dream scenario: Byron Scott and Kobe Bryant to the Galaxy in exchange for a good Prometheus 2 movie.
Somewhat realistic trade I’d enjoy seeing: Eric Gordon to any team that could use offense. Blow up that abomination in New Orleans, and put Gordon in a place where he could be of some relevance. Not sure what partners are out there or would be willing, but there’s plenty of teams who can use an Eric Gordon type.
Kelly: Taj Gibson and parts for Stephen Curry? But that’s probably not very realistic.
Setting aside dubious dreams, maybe an actual Howard trade somewhere? Something that just changes up the landscape and gives everyone something to talk about for a while?
Jason: Maybe the Warriors would take Tony Snell instead.
In a similar vein as a Howard trade, I’d love a Boogie trade. There have been so many Boogie rumors over the last few years, so it’d be great if it just actually happened. But for right now, it seems as if the Kings are going to do the prudent thing and hold on to him. They’ve actually been pretty alright when he’s been in the lineup!
Kelly: Bang bang, the Boogie to the Boogie, Say up jump the Boogie to the bang bang Boogie, Let’s rock, you don’t stop…
Jake: I’m wondering if Miami makes a move. Bosh and Whiteside don’t seem to be a good fit, so perhaps they move Hassan before he hits UFA.
Jason: The Whiteside thing is tricky because he’s making such little money this season, and any team he’s traded to won’t have Bird Rights on him. So you wonder what kind of value you’d get back.
Taking this in another direction, what team or teams do you think NEED to make a trade? Whether that’s to “tank,” or just shake it up, or because they need it to make them a more legitimate contender.
Kelly: I think the Timberwolves need to do something, but mostly because they’re headed in the RIGHT direction. With Kevin Martin and Nik Pekovic, they have a couple of players they CAN move who aren’t fitting with their current model. I understand they’re trying to. It would be really interesting to see what they could bring back for them.
Jake: The Timberwolves have spare parts they should surely unload, but at this point I’d rather see them change coaches before making a trade. They’ve been super depressing lately.
I think Houston needs to do something. Whether Dwight is actually on the block or not, a team with this much talent and expectations will have to shake it up sooner than later. You can’t exactly fire the interim coach as the next fix.
Joseph: Minnesota certainly has guys to build around. But part of me wonders if they dump a slew of veterans and go even younger if people would bash them in the same way they do the Sixers. Obviously, most sane people would take their core two studs (and Rubio, I guess?) over what Philly has, and it would unlikely be considered tanking, but keeping guys around who are older isn’t a horrible thing. Especially when they’re a year or two from mattering anyway.
Jake: I think keeping KG and Tayshaun as mentors for Towns and Wiggins is one thing, but letting guys like Kevin Martin and eventually Pekovic steal minutes from your other young pups is eventually going to be a problem. They have a surplus of veteran leadership.
Kelly: They’d still have KG and Rubio so there’s a pretty big difference there.
And Prince. I always forget about Prince.
Joseph: Is Rubio that much of a difference? Some really handsome Today’s Fastbreak writer admits they’re far better with him on the court, but he isn’t exactly all that special. Don’t get me started on KG, either. Plus, if I’m right about them being a year or two off from being good, would KG be there during that time or in a retirement home — yelling at kids to get off his lawn?
Jason: Prince is getting starts these days! Or at least he started again yesterday. The Wolves are making me said now, too, though. They had such an exciting start, and now they’re just losing all the time again. And judging from Twitter, there’s a lot of Wolves fans done with Sam Mitchell. Although, imagine them adding ANOTHER high draft pick to go along with Towns and Wiggins.
Jake: I’m okay starting KG and Prince if you’re only going to play them 10-15 minutes to start halves. Mitchell has drawn an incredible amount of ire from Wolves fans for the way he’s handling his rotations, though. Aside from trade chips like K-Mart, seems like it makes more sense to change the coach than ship out the vets. Also, #FreeShabazz.
Kelly: I think in terms of play they aren’t much of a difference, but that’s not what they’re there for.
In terms of locker-room presence, it’s night and day between the Sixers and Wolves. The maturity and experience that guys like Prince and KG bring are things sorely missing from The Process.
And yeah, it doesn’t sound like Mitchell is the most popular man in Minnesota right now.
Joseph: I’m always confused about this, though. What are they tangibly bringing to the roster that Philly is missing? Had Philly had a vet, it isn’t as if Okafor wouldn’t have been going clubbing. If you mean development, then I suppose I can see that.
Jake: Yes, Joseph, I think the idea is more along the lines of overall development. Tayshaun and KG can spend hours explaining NBA defense to the young guys, even if they can’t execute it perfectly anymore. There’s also a lot of value to learning how to carry yourself in the league. We all remember what it was like going to college or away from home and being independent for the first time, so now imagine being a millionaire with a TON of pressure on you to succeed? It helps to have an older player to look up to – -pretty much every NBA player has their veteran who they fondly remember from their early days. Philly’s is Kendall Marshall. (Though shout out to Carl Landry.)
Joseph: I can totally agree with your first point. Believe the second part, about learning how to be a professional, is mostly a thing we use as a way to explain away iffy behaviors. Like I said, if Philly had Kevin Garnett, Okafor would’ve still gone to the club. Young folks tend to do dumb stuff no matter who’s around. In the long game, sure, he might help. Either way, I think we put far too much value on vets making young kids better people. I mean, it can definitely help a little, but those vets will never help define a young player as a person.
Jake: I agree. Everyone has a responsibility to be their own man or woman, and I’m not trying to make any case about Okafor. I do think there’s undeniable value to learning from someone who’s been there though. Even if it’s just stuff like, “what’s the best restaurant in Atlanta, man?”
Kelly: I’m not sure it’s so much about vets making rookies “better people” as teaching them how to navigate certain situations and off-court life. How many times have you heard players talk about who “their vet” was when they were rookies? Being suddenly put into a star status with millions of dollars requires some direction. It helps if there’s someone with the wisdom of experience to guide you through the process.
Joseph: Fair. And by no means was I trying to diminish the point or say there’s no value at all. Plus, I mean, it’s important to know where the fine foods can be found.
Back to the topic a bit; I think Orlando can use a trade. They’re pretty good. If they want to move a guy or two, it might help. At the same time, maybe not. This goes back to Kelly’s point about the possible lack of moves this trade season for a variety of reasons.
Their roster in full is a mystery to me, as they’re better sooner than I thought they’d be (a me problem), but more good players never hurt. That’s like saying eating healthy is healthy…Brilliant, I know.
Jason: You wonder if they could potentially cash in a promising young player for a veteran who could maybe help them make some noise in the playoffs? It’s an interesting balance there. They’ve been so bad since the Dwight trade that getting into the playoffs and maybe even winning a series would be great, but do they want to give up on a talented young player in order to maybe get to the second round? Or just get in at all?
Jake: The idea certainly has merit. They’re already finding that Payton, Fournier and Oladipo might be too many cooks in the kitchen. Oladipo? He’s already been relegated to bench duty, though he’s thriving. Fournier is a wonderful breakout story, but he’s also an impending free agent bound to get paid big time. And of course, Payton might not be good! Point guards who can’t shoot are major problems in the modern NBA, and he hasn’t shown much improvement there.
None of that even mentions Tobias Harris, who Orlando basically had to re-sign because they could afford to. If he’s not ultimately a long-term #guy for them, his contract still looks pretty solid for other teams that are interested.
Kelly: Orlando could be the type of team that could benefit in free agency by adding talent. If you’re a veteran in your prime, there would be something enticing about a ready-made roster that’s young and has everything but “THAT GUY” on it which could offer you a max contract. Instant legacy.
For example, Fournier and Frye to Chicago for Taj would make sense. They’d have a defensive presence inside who could play with either Vuce or Gordon, and the team would be more attractive to free agents next season. Better now and in the future.
Jason: Kelly, I remember you mentioned Orlando as a “dark horse” for KD awhile back. That almost CERTAINLY won’t happen, but wouldn’t it be fun if it did? Then maybe the Magic could trade one of Harris/Gordon/Mario for some guard help! Okay, I’ll stop now.
Kelly: Yeah. I still ponder that possibility. If I’m Durant, I think about it.
Jake: Kelly, do NOT tease me like that. SWOON.
Joseph: I’m a Hoiberg stan/caper/possible dangerously too much in love with the idea of him (not like I wrote fan-fiction him about him or anything, though…) person, so yeah…let’s get Fournier to Chicago now.
Jason: Anything to get Tony Snell out of the lineup would be just fine with me, but again, I’m not counting on it.
But even if the Bulls don’t make a trade, hopefully we get some other fun stuff. Happy Trade Season!