6 NBA Players Who Would Thrive with a Change of Scenery Heading into 2013-14
It's very difficult to establish a player's value in a vacuum.
Even pure scorers need the ball in the right places and the right amount of space, and great distributors need capable spot-up shooters. Everything except for free-throw shooting depends on outside factors. It's all connected.
Some of these players just aren't getting enough opportunities. Others aren't meshing with their teammates, franchise direction or overall style of play. But what they have in common is that each could use a change of scenery and a chance to make it work somewhere else.
Omer Asik, C, Houston Rockets
Contract Details: Two years, $8.37 Million Per Year.
Let's clear something up before we begin: A lot of people mistakenly believe that Omer Asik's deal with the Houston Rockets will cause his cap number to grow to $14.8 million next season. This isn't true.
Asik will technically be paid that much ($5.2 million this season, $14.8 next season), but regardless of whether he's traded or stays in Houston, his cap number, which is what will be used for the sake of the salary cap and trading, will be set at $8.37 million.
That's an important note, mainly because Asik should be considered one of the very best players available for trade this year. As the trigger man for Houston's transition attack, Asik provided excellent rebounding, outlet passing and rim protection. To get an idea of Asik's defensive impact, Houston was nearly six points worse per 100 possessions without Asik on the floor.
Asik's defense alone should have teams lining up for his services, especially since he won't be able to play the 30 minutes a night he received last season with Dwight Howard in town.
Asik is simply too good not to receive a starter's load. The Rockets may play the two big men together occasionally, but an overlapping of skills could make it a clunky frontcourt fit. Asik has earned the right to anchor his own defense.
Favorite Hypothetical Trade: To New Orleans for Ryan Anderson.
Rodney Stuckey, G, Detroit Pistons
Contract Details: One Year, $8.5 Million.
Once considered the long-term answer at point guard and a future star in the league, Rodney Stuckey has struggled with the transition from pure scorer to distributor and has never quite found the proper balance. As a result, Stuckey's points per game, minutes and role have declined each of the last four seasons.
In a way, Stuckey is a reminder of an era of Detroit Pistons basketball most want to forget. His skill set is beginning to become extinct, and the Pistons have already started to move on a bit by drafting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, re-signing point guard Will Bynum and bringing back Chauncey Billups to siphon a few minutes away.
With the anti-stretch movement happening in Detroit's frontcourt thanks to the addition of Josh Smith, the Pistons simply can't survive with a shooting guard who has shot 28.8 percent from behind the arc on his career. They're already too starved for space as is.
Stuckey is in a crucial contract year, but the writing is on the wall in Detroit. The market is as bad as ever for shooting guards who can't stretch the floor, but Stuckey's abilities would lend well to a team in need of a sixth man who could shoulder the scoring load, get to the line and back up both guard spots.
Favorite Hypothetical Trade: To the Washington Wizards for Trevor Ariza.
Marcin Gortat, C, Phoenix Suns
Contract Details: One year, $7.7 Million.
Marcin Gortat probably isn't thrilled to still be with the Phoenix Suns. Per Comcast Sportsnet, he said last year that it would be "hard to leave this sinking boat" when talking about a potential trade. So something tells me the Phoenix Suns drafting center Alex Len might push Gortat overboard. Sorry.
Gortat is still a very capable offensive player, and he's only a year removed from averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds. Those numbers may have been a little inflated by Steve Nash's presence, but at 29 years old, there is still plenty left in the tank for the Polish big man.
It's extremely unlikely that the new regime in Phoenix has any intentions of trying to bring Gortat back while they shift to a youth movement, so there's no time like the present to try and sell Gortat and get some future value back.
A contender with a hole in the middle that could stand to add another scoring option would make for a great home for Gortat. At this point in his career, Gortat needs to be placed next to an athletic, shot-blocking 4 with a good defense in front of him, and that's not happening during Phoenix's rebuilding period this season.
Favorite Hypothetical Trade: To Oklahoma City along with Gerald Green for Kendrick Perkins, Perry Jones III, Daniel Orton and Andre Roberson.
Arron Afflalo, G, Orlando Magic
Contract Details: Three Year, $7.5 Million Per.
When it comes to "3 and D" guys, Afflalo is right at the top of the list. The six-year pro can guard every wing position, and he's absolutely deadly from the corner three. Afflalo's career 38.3 percent clip from behind the arc is one of the best in the entire league.
With all that said, Afflalo is not a shot creator. Although he averaged a career-high 16.5 points per game last season as a primary option for the Orlando Magic, Afflalo's efficiency took a nose dive in the process. Ideally, he'd find a way to be placed with a distributing point guard that could put him in the right spots.
That's not happening in Orlando anytime soon. Jameer Nelson is on his last legs, and Victor Oladipo might get a decent amount of burn at point guard. Based on his college passing numbers, that could be a certified disaster.
Simply put, Afflalo doesn't fit with Orlando's youth movement, and he's out of place as a top scoring option. You worry that playing meaningless basketball may sap the joy and intensity out of Afflalo's game, which would be a shame.
When he's engaged defensively, there aren't many stoppers as capable as him. He deserves to play for a contender. Orlando could be very active this season, as they'll likely look to shed Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson or Hedo Turkoglu in the right deal.
Jason Thompson, F/C, Sacramento Kings
Contract Details: Four Years, $6.2 Million Per.
Out of all the players in the NBA who could really use a trade, Jason Thompson might be at the top of the list.
Thompson just hasn't meshed with DeMarcus Cousins, and now the Sacramento Kings are suddenly loaded in the frontcourt after signing Carl Landry and Luc Mbah a Moute in addition to trading for Patrick Patterson last season.
Ideally, Thompson would be paired with a shot-blocking, post-oriented big man that he could offset with his glass cleaning and excellent mid-range shooting. That frontcourt match just doesn't exist in Sacramento.
Even as the first big off the bench who could spell both the 4 and the 5, Thompson would be in much better shape than he is in Sacramento. His development has stagnated a bit, and playing with different players might better accentuate his skills.
Favorite Hypothetical Trade: To Utah Jazz along with Jimmer Fredette for Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush.
Derrick Williams, F, Minnesota Timberwolves
Contract Details: $5 Million this season with a $6.3 million team option next season.
Derrick Williams lives in "tweener" land right now. He hasn't shot t it well enough to play the 3, and he hasn't proven to be enough of a presence inside to play the 4.
That said, it seems hasty to write the book on Williams after just two short years. He still has a ton of athleticism, but he needs the freedom to experiment with his game instead of trying to fit exactly into what Minnesota needs him to be.
With Kevin Love blocking his path to big minutes as a small-ball 4, which seems like the best fit at this point, Williams could seriously benefit from playing big minutes elsewhere for a team that can afford to be patient.
Favorite Hypothetical Trade: To Philadelphia with Alexey Shved for Thaddeus Young.