Biggest Names Guaranteed to Hit the NBA Trading Block Next Season
With free agency largely in the rearview mirror, teams across the NBA are primed to start evaluating which assets they can offload throughout the course of next season.
While Kevin Love continues to own the label of "league's most coveted trade chip," there are several other players who could realistically be on the move throughout the 2014-15 campaign.
So how did we forecast which players were likely to hit the trade block?
A few factors came into play: First, we examined reports regarding certain players' availability that had circulated in the past. Then contractual figures were considered, namely to see if trades involving certain players would be feasible from monetary and logistical standpoints.
Lastly, players' statistical efforts over the course of the past season were investigated as grounds for an eventual trade.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.
All contract information courtesy of ShamSports.com unless noted otherwise.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Love
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 26.9 PER
Kevin Love clocks in as an honorable mention because trade rumors involving the league's king of stretch 4s have already been substantiated to such a significant degree.
And while it remains to be seen if Love will be dealt before the season tips off, it's well established that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls have expressed interest in acquiring his services.
While Love's name has seemingly been on the block for months now, it's important to remember that it behooves the Minnesota Timberwolves to make a trade sooner rather than later. Love reportedly told the team he plans to opt out of his contract should he stick in the Land of 10,000 Lakes through the conclusion of next season, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne.
With the clock ticking on Flip Saunders' ability to obtain valuable assets in return for Love, it would seem to be a matter of when—not if—a deal will come to fruition.
Team: Boston Celtics
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, 13.1 PER
Last season, the thought of acquiring Jeff Green in a trade could have been tough for prospective buyers to stomach.
But now, with Green due $9.2 million this season and possibly $9.2 million the following year in the form of a player option, the resulting cap hit wouldn't be as substantial or lengthy.
Just this past January, NBA.com's Sam Smith noted Green's name was on the block, although a trade at the February deadline never materialized.
For the Celtics, shedding Green's remaining salary and inefficient wing play should be a top priority.
Sure, he averaged a career-high 16.9 points while starting all 82 games a season ago. But he did so on a career-worst 41.2 percent shooting from the field, which represented a 5.5 percent decline from the year prior.
As a result, Green's player efficiency rating dipped to 13.1, which, coincidentally, is now his career average in the revealing advanced statistical measure.
Additionally, Green mustered just 1.3 offensive win shares, fewer than Jordan Crawford, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries, among others.
Green's win share total (3.3) also graded out fourth overall on a lackluster Celtics team, behind players like Humphries, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger.
Since he's clearly not the long-term answer to Boston's scoring woes on the wing, Green figures to be a prime trade candidate when the winter months descend upon the Association.
Team: Boston Celtics
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, 15.3 PER
Rajon Rondo's status as an impending unrestricted free agent figures to make him one of the hotter names as trade season gets underway.
Although he's due $12.9 million this season, Rondo isn't committed to the Celtics financially beyond the conclusion of the upcoming season.
Which is what makes his situation so fascinating, according to The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes:
He has said that he would like to stay in Boston long term, but that he’s also intrigued by free agency.
And though much can happen between now and next summer, Rondo was asked if he could envision himself being a free agent who, like Anthony, toured the country to be wined and dined by several teams.
“It just depends,” Rondo said. “I don’t know if I’m going to do 10 teams. I may do a lot. I don’t know. It’s kind of like college all over again, with recruiting, only times 50 because they have a ton of money to throw at the guys and they don’t have any restrictions on what they can do. No [NCAA] rules.
Of course, Rondo's name has been floated in potential trade packages before, according to Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears, but talks with the Sacramento Kings ultimately amounted to nothing more than low-grade rumor mill fodder.
Given the glut of viable backcourt options and ball-handlers the Celtics have accrued and retained in Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner, it can't hurt Danny Ainge to explore the state of Rondo's market as the termination of his contract nears.
Team: New York Knicks
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 6.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, 9.6 PER
As you've likely noticed by now, the Atlantic Division has the potential to be rife with tradable assets as the 2014-15 season gets underway.
The New York Knicks' Iman Shumpert represents another intriguing backcourt option, one who may already be on the block, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley:
Working to clear the logjam in the backcourt, the Knicks are discussing their potential trade options with guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, a league source said Sunday.
“They’re working on trying to make a move in the backcourt,” the NBA source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking said Sunday.
The logic behind the Knicks' thinking isn't hard to grasp.
Following a strong inaugural campaign that saw Tim Hardaway Jr. capture All-Rookie First Team honors, the former Michigan Wolverine has the makings of a potentially explosive scorer, one whose offensive prowess already trumps Shumpert's by a mile.
Consider Shumpert has mustered shooting splits of .391/.342/.775 through three seasons, and his upside on that end of the floor appears to be capped.
However, the flat-topped swingman is still a willing defender and excellent athlete capable of matching up with some of the league's scoring alpha dogs, qualities which figure to pad his trade value moving forward.
Team: Detroit Pistons
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks, 14.1 PER
While Stan Van Gundy has reportedly assured Josh Smith he'll be joining the Detroit Pistons for training camp in the fall, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, there are no guarantees the combo forward will thrive under new leadership.
Should the Pistons bring back restricted free agent Greg Monroe on a new deal, the team's frontcourt will remain overcrowded, which might not be good news for a team that's looking to spread the floor more this season.
Remember, Van Gundy is renowned for employing a potent spread attack dating back to his days with the Orlando Magic.
However, such a scheme may encourage Smith to continue playing beyond the free-throw line.
Which could be catastrophic.
After all, Smith became just the third player in league history to shoot worse than 27 percent from three while hoisting at least 250 shots from beyond the arc last season and his mark of 36 percent shooting between 16 feet and the three-point line was particularly discouraging, as well.
Factor in the Sacramento Kings' reported pursuit of Smith that has temporarily died, and a messy start to the season for the Pistons could result in a newfound desire for Detroit to offload its $56 million man.
Team: New York Knicks
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.3 blocks, 14.0 PER
As mentioned previously, ESPN New York's Ian Begley reports the New York Knicks have been exploring trade possibilities involving former Sixth Man of the Year award winner J.R. Smith.
And it's not hard to see why.
Following his 18.1-point-per-game explosion during the 2012-13 season, Smith flopped last year, shooting a meager 41.5 percent from the field and a career-worst 65.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Yes, Smith's 39.4 percent conversion rate from three graded out as the third-best mark of his career, but it wasn't enough to keep the enigmatic volume scorer from posting his lowest player efficiency rating since 2005-06.
Factor in Smith's admission that he would understand the front office brass at Madison Square Garden trading him, and his spot on the block has seemingly been carved out.
Here's what Smith had to say regarding his problematic play and uncertain future on ESPN's First Take, courtesy of Begley:
"No. Absolutely not. The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there," Smith said. "Not looking as focused as a person should be in that situation that we were, in the trenches. I wouldn’t blame them at all."
With Smith due nearly $6 million this season and $6.4 million via a player option the year after, finding a taker for such a narrow-minded gunner won't be easy.
But with the Knicks possessing a glut of talent on the wing, it can't hurt New York to see if there are cost-effective ways to unload him.
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.5 blocks, 16.6 PER
It's hard not to feel for Thaddeus Young.
While he's qualified for the playoffs during four of his seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Young has played for five different coaches (Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, Eddie Jordan, Doug Collins and Brett Brown) during that span, one that can easily be characterized by perpetual mediocrity mixed with downright futility.
And since general manager Sam Hinkie has decided to tear things down and build from the ground up, Young's name has circulated the rumor mill quite a bit over the past 12 months.
That trend should hold steady during the upcoming season, when the struggling Sixers and their young core try to establish some chemistry under Brown's tutelage.
Young owns a $9.9 million player option for the 2015-16 season, but if he's not dealt will likely opt out and test free agency following the 2014-15 regular season, according to Liberty Ballers' Jake Fischer.
With the Sixers' time dwindling to get solid return value for the lengthy and versatile forward, it would behoove Hinkie and Co. to make a deal before the February trade deadline.
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