The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching on February 6th and unfortunately for us in the NBA community who love theoretical trades it doesn’t seem many actual trades will be made. Last summer 40% of the league was available in free agency and teams aren’t looking to change rosters drastically. Even then the “available” players can be hard to find trade partners because their contracts aren’t always easy to trade.
In this article, I explore the three different types of players who will be available at the trade deadline. There are usually these different types of guys available around this time of the year they are the big name, big contract guys who are max players. There are players who are available for one reason or another whether it be fit, contract or chemistry these guys are available to the other 29 GMs. Then there are buyout candidates who are players that teams are looking to trade but can’t find a trade partner for and then get bought out after the NBA trade deadline.
Big Name, Big Contract
- 16.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 37 3P%
- Remaining contract- 4 years $120 million, $30.5 million yearly average
Kevin Love should not be on this iteration of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It has been widely reported since December that Love is available. If a contender thinks they’re a Kevin Love away from a ring they should go after him, but otherwise, I would caution trepidation. At this point in his career, Love is far from an elite defender. For some teams, he can be the perfect floor spacer and small-ball five that contending teams covet.
But if you acquire him, at some point you have to pay 34-year-old Kevin Love, $28 million. Seeing that figure I wouldn’t want to go after Love unless I was a contender in a small market. The Cavaliers won’t be asking for expiring contracts since cap space won’t help out a team who won’t sign anyone. I expect picks and young players on cheap deals to be Cleveland’s biggest target. With a quiet trade market, Cleveland may have to settle, but that’s the reality of paying a power forward $30 million a year just as he enters his 30’s.
- Possible destinations: Portland, Miami, Denver, Phoenix
- How Tradable: 6 out of 10
- 16.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 36.9 3P%, 47.2 FG%
- Remaining Contract- 4 years $160 million, $40 million yearly average
Chris Paul is and has been available since being traded to OKC this past summer. He is a declining guard in his mid 30’s making $40 million, for that reason alone he has been available. The only way teams should take on his contract is if you had some kind of guarantee that Paul would decline his $44 million player option (but I highly doubt he would do that since he is the president of the players association).
The only teams who should be interested in Paul must have no ability to draft or sign players. Because there is no other good reason to acquire a pricey aging guard. While there are a few teams who have been interested (Miami and others) no deal has been made. I could see him still being on this roster going into the offseason to and then the Thunder attempt to offload him. While he has been a great mentor for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander he belongs on a contending team as he finishes his illustrious career.
- Possible destinations: Milwaukee, Miami, Philadelphia
- How Tradable: 3 out of 10
- 17.6 points, 15.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 blocks per game
- Remaining Contract: 2 years $55 million, $27.5 million yearly average, second year is player option
Detroit and Drummond seem destined to split before February’s trade deadline. After starting the season 14-24 and with Blake Griffin is reportedly out indefinitely, everyone is available in Detroit. ESPN is reporting that the Pistons and Hawks have already discussed a deal centered around Brooklyn’s 2020 1st-round pick and expiring contracts.
With a lacking free agent class in 2020, teams may take big swings for max-contract level players. So instead of waiting to see who will be there to spend money on, teams can get potential all-stars like Drummond now and have a better chance of re-signing. Drummond will help any team that is rebound-needy or lacking on defense and is still 26 so he can grow with a young center-needy team.
- Possible destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas
- How Tradable: 7 out of 10
Bogdan Bodanović is going to be a restricted free agent this summer meaning the team who he’s with entering free agency can match any contract he gets offered. With less max players or even young players available in free agency, teams can acquire future restricted free agents and skip-free agency altogether.
The Kings do not have enough minutes to go around right now with Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes ahead of Bogdanović. They cannot pay him the money he will command and he is in an overqualified for the role he has. Contenders looking for shooting should target the 27-year-old, even if he’s not dealt before the NBA trade deadline Sacramento could even sign and trade him in the summer.
- Possible destinations: LA Lakers, Philadelphia, Dallas
- How Tradable: 9 out of 10
F- Jae Crowder
- 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals
- 1 year $7.8 million, last year of 5year $35 million deal
Ever since Jae Crowder signed with the Celtics for 5 years $35 million I cannot remember him not being in trade discussions. This is his 3rd team is 5 years and I suspect he will soon be on his 4th.
Crowder is known in the league as a 3 and D guy but hasn’t shot that well recently (29%). He hasn’t shot over 33% from 3 since 2016 when he shot 39%. But due to his moveable contract and Memphis trying to offload Iguodala, he could be thrown into a trade as a valuable salary filler.
- Possible destinations: LA Clippers, Boston, Houston, LA Lakers
- How Tradable: 7 out of 10
Similar to Bogdanović, Kuzma is an upcoming restricted free agent and his team will have the option to match any offer he gets in free agency. While Kuzma has been playing better and a lot more recently, I’d be surprised to see him stay. Especially after the with Kyle Kuzma’s trainer, who said on his IG story that LeBron didn’t show up on Christmas day vs Kawhi.
Kuzma is also just an awkward fit next to Davis and LeBron. You cannot play all three of those guys effectively in a lineup and the Lakers have bigger needs at other positions. The problem here will be finding a trade partner considering he has a small salary. There have been reports that Kuzma was already offered to the Sacramento Kings.
- Possible destinations: Sacramento, NY Knicks, Phoenix, Cleveland
- How Tradable: 6 out of 10
Andre Iguodala did not report to the Memphis Grizzlies this season, after the team failed to trade him in the summer. Memphis also attempted to buy him out of his contract then, but they couldn’t come to an agreement. Iguodala could be monumental in deciding the championship, he would add the defensive presence playmaking and experience that either of the LA teams desperately wants. While it is expected that he will be dealt with one of the LA teams I wouldn’t just assume that.
Most players on the trade market are either earning $25+ million a year or $7 million, so it’s hard to make contracts match. I could see a team like Dallas or Philadelphia who could really use his skill set attempting to trade for him. But what is most likely to happen is the NBA trade deadline will come and go and no one will trade for him. Memphis and Iguodala will come to a buy-out agreement and then one of the LA teams will likely rent him for a year until he goes back to the Warriors.
- Possible destinations: LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Dallas, Miami
- How Tradable: 5 out of 10
C- Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson’s situation is almost identical to Iguodala’s in that it’s hard to trade him because of his contract and he will likely be bought out after the NBA trade deadline. He’s on a losing young Cleveland team that just doesn’t fit with his timeline and the teams timeline. Thompson is having his best rebounding and scoring season yet, he can add size to a top team and hopefully push them over the top.
While I wouldn’t go as far as to say, “With Tristan Thompson, the Celtics are a true finals contender” like Bill Simmons, he can add a dynamic that Boston desperately needs. He also makes a lot of sense there because I don’t believe that Boston has the bigs to beat Philly (and I don’t think Danny Ainge does either). Any contending team that needs size should be going after the big men’s services.
- Possible Destinations: Celtics, Raptors, Portland
- How Tradable: 5 out of 10
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