Kevin Love, Davis Bertans and big-game hunting in the NBA's trade season
NBA trade season opened on Sunday, when 123 players joined the list of eligible assets. Only about 10 percent of players remain under restriction, most of whom join the fray on Jan. 15, and the league is trade starved. Nobody has swapped players since Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook traded places on July 16.
The Athletic’s John Hollinger recently laid out his case for a relatively quiet transaction wire between now and the Feb. 6 trade deadline, citing the lack of bad contracts, cap space and mid-tier salaries as evidence. The poor 2020 free-agency class could also limit the market, and with all but a handful of teams still eyeing the playoffs, any potential movement may be delayed until the standings sort out the buyers from the sellers.
One reason to be hopeful for an active trade season is the absence of an overwhelming favorite. Almost a third of the league could currently convince themselves they are contenders, and the arms race at the very top could generate some urgency, especially between the two teams battling for Los Angeles supremacy.
Here is a helpful list of potential trade targets, sorted into three categories, over the next few months.
The paradigm shifters
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings: The 27-year-old wing may be the best impending free agent you know the least about. He is a dynamic offensive player, capable of playmaking out of the pick-n-roll and spotting up from distance at a 40-plus percent clip, and he works hard on the other end, albeit less effectively. Currently working as a sixth man in Sacramento, Bogdanovic will be a restricted free agent in July, but he reportedly turned down a four-year, $51.4 million extension offer this past summer, and the Kings may be looking to save some money with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield due big paydays soon.
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich is riding a record 22-year playoff streak, and the Spurs may well stand pat in pursuit of No. 23, but their slow start to this season at least raises questions about whether they will invest fully in a youth movement by shopping multi-time All-Stars DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, either of whom could elevate a borderline challenger to conference finals contention. According to multiple reports, the Orlando Magic have at least kicked the tires on DeRozan’s availability.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets: The 26-year-old former second-round pick has excelled in the absence of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, and he is on a team-friendly contract through next season, so why would Brooklyn ever consider dealing a talented player who could help them contend with Kevin Durant back in the fold for 2020-21? Well, if the Nets could acquire significant pieces that better fit around their top two stars in exchange for a player whose usage and efficiency suffered behind Irving, it might be worth a shot, and he is at least a subject of trade conversation around the league, according to Hollinger.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic: The 24-year-old has been the subject of trade rumors for years now, both before and after he signed a four-year, $80 million extension in 2018. The Magic are oddly constructed, with Nikola Vucevic, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba all vying for frontcourt minutes, and Gordon may be the most attractive trade asset. Orlando is in line for another low playoff seed after their first showing in seven years, but it may be time to consider moving on from a player who has survived for all that middling.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers: The five-time All-Star is available, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and may be the most likely star to be moved. The more than $100 million owed to the 31-year-old through 2023 complicates matters. Still, the Portland Trail Blazers make a lot of sense from a need, timeline, location and salary-matching standpoint, and the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets also have reported Love interest.
Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder: Paul is undoubtedly on the market, what with one of the league’s most cumbersome contracts attached to him, but nobody is buying, according to multiple reports. The Miami Heat are a contender forever in search of stars, but even they are not interested, per NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh. The Heat are already in the East mix, and there is no sense in foregoing future attempts to build around Jimmy Butler by acquiring a 34-year-old who does not necessarily put you over the top.
D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors: The 23-year-old All-Star is among the list of players who just became trade eligible, and his availability has been rumored ever since the Warriors acquired him, mostly because Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are Golden State’s backcourt of the past and future. This season is a lost cause for the Warriors, and they may well move Russell if they can acquire better-fitting pieces to build around their injured core, but a trade is more likely this summer, according to Wojnarowski.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: It’s been a long-held belief that centers Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner cannot coexist, but the Pacers are succeeding despite the awkward fit again this season. Still, per Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, rival executives expect Indiana to eventually deal Turner, whose production has slipped as Sabonis has established himself as an All-Star candidate in the first year of his new deal.
The series swingers
Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns: The Australian center has been a revelation in Phoenix, anchoring their surprising start to the season, but he and Dario Saric are on expiring contracts. Given how they are performing, both could command eight-figure salaries next season, and you wonder if the Suns can commit to the pair. Baynes may be the odd man out, given that he shares a position with recent No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, and the Suns could look to extract some value out of him if they fall out of playoff contention.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards: The Spurs dealt Bertans to make room for Marcus Morris, who never came, and only landed DeMarre Carroll in return. Since then, Bertans has played his way into being one of this summer’s most attractive free agents, a stretch forward who is shooting a blistering 45.7 percent on more than eight 3-point attempts per game. The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent could fetch a first-round pick for the struggling Wizards, who will have to weigh the risk of losing Bertans for nothing in July.
Robert Covington, Minnesota Timberwolves: The 29-year-old is among the few true low-usage 3-and-D wings expected to be available, an ideal complement to a team in need of that missing piece. His expiring $13 million salary fits into most deals big or small, and the Timberwolves may well spin that asset forward in pursuit of a point guard solution, especially if they fall out of the playoff race and anticipate losing him.
Derrick Favors, New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans were popular fringe playoff picks to start the season, but their failure to tread water as No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson recovers from a knee injury has them headed back to the lottery. Favors was acquired to help them stay competitive, but his $17.7 million salary expires at season’s end, and New Orleans may be better served fetching more rebuilding fodder for him.
Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder: The oft-injured veteran came over in the deal that sent Paul George to the L.A. Clippers, and he has both stayed healthy and helped the Thunder remain in the playoff hunt in the early going. But his existence in Oklahoma City has always been as an expiring $22.6 million contract who could help Sam Presti add to his already impressive stash of future assets. He is available, per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, and could be a consolation prize for whichever team misses out on Love.
Andre Iguodala, Memphis Grizzlies: The Clippers and Lakers are both licking their chops at the possibility that the former Finals MVP getting bought out, but the Grizzlies have reportedly made clear their intention of either trading Iguodala by the deadline or letting him remain in limbo for the remainder of the season. Both L.A. teams will be in that trade mix, too, but the Mavericks, Nuggets and Rockets might all help drive up the price. A Dallas deal involving Courtney Lee’s expiring contract and an early second-round pick is intriguing.
Marcus Morris, New York Knicks: Any of the many power forwards the Knicks signed this past summer are reportedly available, including Julius Randle’s three-year deal, but Morris is the most likely trade piece. He is enjoying a career year, albeit as a ball stopper on a terrible team, but he is signed for only this season and looking to cash in at the end of it. He may be consolation for whichever L.A. team fails to land Iguodala.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs are an organization in disarray, and Thompson has finally reached the final season of the five-year, $82 million deal he signed in 2015. The 28-year-old remains a double-double machine and one of the league’s best offensive rebounders. Cleveland may well see him as a positive influence worth re-signing to mentor the franchise’s young core, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Fedor reported earlier this month, but the Cavaliers would surely move him for the right price.
The fringe contributors
D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic: The Magic have long been shallow at point guard, but Markelle Fultz has supplanted Augustin in the starting lineup. The veteran’s expiring $7.25 million salary makes him movable in a larger roster-upgrading package or as bait for a draft asset from a contending team in need of a backup.
Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets: The 23-year-old two guard signed with Klutch Sports ahead of restricted free agency and turned down a three-year, $30 million offer from the Nuggets over the summer, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Already on the back end of a crowded wing depth chart in Denver, Beasley is expected to be made available in an attempt to clear more minutes for rookie Michael Porter Jr., according to Wojnarowski.
Jae Crowder, Memphis Grizzlies: Crowder has been one of the NBA’s most tradable players for the entirety of his expiring five-year, $35 million deal, and he has been dealt three times as a result. While he has embraced the Memphis rebuild, unlike Iguodala, his bruising 3-and-D ability could help a contending team, and the Grizzlies would surely make it a fourth trade in five years if they can add to their young core.
E’Twaun Moore, New Orleans Pelicans: Moore was among the few useful players the Pelicans put around Anthony Davis the past few years, but he has fallen behind younger guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart on the depth chart. The 30-year-old career 39 percent 3-point shooter is also an $8.7 million expiring contract that New Orleans has less use for than a playoff team looking for scoring depth now.
J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans: Same goes for Redick, only he has $13 million owed to him next season and might be more attractive to a contender. He is 35 years old and a detriment on defense, but his combination of playoff experience and gravity-altering marksmanship has the Milwaukee Bucks inquisitive, per Wojnarowski. The Pels have yet to make him available, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic: You’re not going to believe this, but Ross’ production has dipped since the Magic rewarded him with a four-year, $54 million following his career year last season. A number of teams came knocking for his services last season, when he was shooting nearly 40 percent on seven 3-point attempts per game, and Orlando held firm. The money might have changed matters, from all sides.
Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder: Forever a promising but prickly player, the 26-year-old is now the third-best point guard on OKC’s roster. It is hard to imagine a Thunder team often looking to shed salary re-signing him when his four-year, $70 million deal expires at season’s end. Minnesota might fit the mold of a young team who could take Schroder for a test drive now before making a long-term commitment later.
Jeff Teague, Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves are in search of a point guard, but they have been convinced for some time that the 31-year-old Teague is not the long-term answer to their movement-heavy system. He has performed well as a reserve this season, well enough to maybe catch the eye of a team in need of a former All-Star with playoff experience. And he is available, per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.
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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach
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