Tuesday, May 24 2022
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Two weeks from the 2022 NBA trade deadline, Ben Simmons is still (technically) a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are still teammates and, as far as anyone can tell, the teams that employ Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and James Harden are wholly uninterested in trading them. 

Will any of these things change by 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 10? Maybe! But there are all sorts of other situations to monitor: Teams looking for a shake-up, players about to hit free agency, positional logjams to sort out. Here are 65 players who could be traded before the deadline.

The most prominent trade candidates

Not all of these players are certified stars, but, of the players who are reportedly available, they’re the biggest names.

Considering how many stories have been written about him, it’s remarkable how little has changed since Simmons asked out. He and the Sixers have been at a standstill because they have refused to trade him for a bunch of non-stars. In a radio interview on Jan. 20, team president Daryl Morey said that they “are looking for a deal that makes us a championship contender” and they “absolutely need to get an impact player.” The Athletic recently reported that Sacramento, Charlotte and Atlanta have talked to Philadelphia about Simmons and that, given how these discussions have gone, the Sixers would rather wait this out and try to trade for James Harden in the summer. 

The Pistons don’t have to trade Grant right now, but if they can get contenders bidding against each other, they’d be smart to do so. Grant is not a rental, and he’d plug obvious holes for teams like Chicago and Utah. The complicating factors: He wants a featured role on offense and a long-term extension wherever he winds up, per Bleacher Report. In other words, while he’s not going to be the go-to guy on his next team, do not trade for Grant if you’re going to use him the way Denver did. 

Wood’s situation is similar to Grant’s, but he’s a year younger, on a smaller contract and a different kind of player. The list of bigs who can both roll and pop like Wood is small. The Rockets have been awful this season, but they’ve actually had an elite offense in the minutes he’s played at center. The other end is trickier, but perhaps a change of scenery would help. The Athletic reported that Miami has made numerous inquiries about Wood, and the Rockets are waiting for an offer that blows them away. 

After years of trade rumors, the Pacers might finally break up their big frontcourt. If Turner is the one to go, it will be to a team that is in need of an elite rim protector and is willing to play him — and, presumably, pay him — like a star. He is eligible for an extension in the offseason, and he has been clear about the kind of role he wants. Turner is sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot and is not likely to be back in the lineup before the deadline. Since he can anchor a defense and stretch the floor, everyone on the internet has wanted him to wind up playing with Zion Williamson for some time. Along those lines, if any team trades for Simmons, it should try to get Turner, too. 

Sabonis might make his third All-Star team this season, despite playing less of a featured role under Rick Carlisle. Like Turner, he’s 25 years old and on a team-friendly contract. Unlike Turner, he can be the hub of a team’s offense, a facilitator from the high post who turns into a power player (with soft touch) in the restricted area. He’s not a terrible defender, but not a versatile one, either, and not the kind of rim protector most teams are looking for at the 5 spot. All sorts of teams would love to have Sabonis, but that doesn’t mean they’d be willing to offer a deal that the Pacers would deem acceptable. 

Barnes is a win-now player on a team that hasn’t won like it hoped. If the Kings decide they don’t care about chasing the last spot in the play-in, they should move him to a contender. Barnes turns 30 in May, and he has quietly improved in Sacramento — this season he’s shooting a career-high 41.8 percent from deep and getting to the free throw line more than ever before. 

The Hawks have been actively shopping Collins, according to Bleacher Report, even though he’s in the first season of a five-year, $125 million contract. Collins was a crucial part of the team that went to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals, and on an individual level he has essentially picked up where he left off. As a team, though, the Hawks have been a big bummer for most of the season, and the Cam Reddish deal might not be the only move they make. I’m not convinced that trading Collins is the way to go, but he definitely has value and maybe there’s somebody out there who would improve their dismal defense. 

The idea is simple: Move Harris, along with his max contract, in a Simmons trade. Making it happen, however, is complicated. The Hawks are reportedly unwilling to take him, and, while the Kings are reportedly open to it, they’d also need to send the right combination of players and picks to Philadelphia (and probably get a third team involved). 

So, Simmons is the biggest name? No Dame, no Beal, no Russ? 

Aside from Simmons and Sabonis, I couldn’t justify putting any recent All-Stars in the first section. It still feels like I should address those guys, though, and the same goes for the Nets‘ backcourt. 

On a recent ESPN podcast, Beal reiterated that he wants to win in Washington: “If I have the chance to create my own legacy and make it work here with the team that drafted me, then why not give it a shot? It it works, it works. If it doesn’t, I can say, ‘At least I tried.'” This followed Wizards president Tommy Sheppard telling The Athletic that their “goal is to continue to build a team around him.” The max extension they offered him in October is still on the table, but Beal can make more money by re-signing as a free agent in the summer. While Beal, 28, has not committed to the franchise long-term, it does not appear the team is worried that he’s about to walk, either. Washington could be a buyer rather than a seller at the deadline. 

Lillard is out after having surgery to address his abdominal injury, and it’s not clear if he’ll be back on the court before 2022-23. Even if the Blazers decide to tank, though, they’re reportedly going to try to change the pieces around Lillard, rather than trading him and starting over. Lillard will be 32 in the summer, hasn’t requested a trade and did not look like himself in most of the 29 games he played this season. Portland might be better off waiting until next season to explore its options. 

On a new team for the third straight season after spending his first 11 in Oklahoma City, Westbrook has been both a cause and victim of Los Angeles’ shoddy spacing. If his salary were half as high as it is, I’d say that the Lakers need to recognize that this is a poor fit and send him to any team that can give them a couple of two-way players to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The salary is what it is, though, so a deal seems highly unlikely, if not outright unthinkable. Imagine if he gets traded for John Wall again. 

Who wants to trade for Irving? On one hand, the price shouldn’t be as high as it normally would be — the Nets can’t play him in home games unless he gets vaccinated, and he maintains that he will not get vaccinated. On the other hand, though, now would be a pretty weird time to get into the Irving business. Even if you don’t have to worry about him being ineligible to play in your city, you would have to be comfortable trading real stuff for a star who might not have any interest in playing for your team and can walk in a few months. 

Harden didn’t sign a contract extension before the regular season started, leaving the door open for the Sixers whispers that have been growing louder lately. Harden has had an uneven season, in part because of conditioning issues after a hamstring injury and in part because of the Nets’ poor spacing. It’s not his fault or Brooklyn’s fault that Irving won’t get vaccinated, Joe Harris got injured and then Kevin Durant got injured, but the reality is that these things have made Harden look worse. It remains hard to imagine him actually being traded before Feb. 10, though, unless he directly tells management he wants out, like he did in Houston. Harden is interested in exploring his options in free agency, but does not plan to request a trade, per Bleacher Report, and the Nets aren’t even listening to offers, per ESPN.   

What about the rest of the Blazers, Rockets, Pacers and Kings?

The play-in tournament and adjusted lottery odds have softened the incentive to tank, but the incentive is still there. Portland, Houston, Indiana and Sacramento are among the teams widely considered to be sellers. 

Is Sacramento committed to pairing Fox with Tyrese Haliburton for the long haul? That’s the message it has been sending, despite Fox’s disappointing shooting and continued difficulties on defense (and Haliburton’s growth as a creator). Fox is only 24, but he’s already on his third coach and, after an encouraging 39-43 season in 2018-19, Sacramento has regressed a bit every year. It’s not hard to figure out why his name has surfaced in rumors about Sabonis and Simmons. 

Bagley has been productive lately, and he’s in some ways an ideal second-draft candidate: burdened by expectations, perpetually stuck in a logjam, set back by numerous injuries and undeniably talented as a scorer. This is a former No. 2 pick who is starting at the moment but spent a big chunk of the season out of the rotation. I don’t know if he’s going to develop as a shooter or a defender, but I’m sure there are a few teams willing to give him a shot. The question is how much those teams will be willing to pay to get started with him immediately and have matching rights in the summer, as opposed to simply trying to sign him in free agency. 

LeVert is a crafty player who can make plays out of the pick-and-roll, and he has been on something of a tear since mid-December. On the season, however, his efficiency numbers are as underwhelming as they’ve always been, which is not good news if you’re thinking about trading for him and giving him the ball. For Indiana, LeVert isn’t exactly superfluous next to Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Duarte, but he isn’t essential, either. If the front office wants a shake-up, he’s a natural trade candidate. (Brogdon can’t be traded because he signed an extension just before the regular season started.)

Holmes was on this list last year because it seemed like it would be difficult for the Kings to retain him. It is a credit to their front office that he ended up staying on a four-year, $55 million deal, but now they must ask themselves if they should trade him just a few months into it. Sacramento has reportedly made him available, and he should command a better return now that he’s signed long-term. Charlotte has always seemed like a logical landing spot for Holmes, and he fits Toronto’s vibe, too. 

Hield is also reportedly available, which makes sense because the Kings came about as close as you can get to trading him to the Lakers last summer before Westbrook barged in like the Kool-Aid Man and the whole thing fell apart. Hield is not a particularly well-rounded player, but he has shot around 40 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s his entire career and takes them on the move. You can run offense for a player like that. 

Upon returning to the court after missing six weeks because of a collapsed lung — and becoming a father while he was recovering — McCollum said that this is the “most happy and at peace I’ve ever been in my life.” This feels like an awkward time to bring up that he might be traded, but here’s the rationale: If Portland wants to give Lillard a bigger, longer, more defensive-oriented supporting cast, it is possible that its longtime backcourt duo has already played its last game together. Moving McCollum could also help the Blazers’ lottery odds, if they decide that’s the way they want to go. 

Powell has been exactly as advertised since the Blazers acquired him at last year’s deadline — he puts pressure on the rim, is deadly on catch-and-shoot 3s and can create something out of nothing when needed. Defensively, however, playing Powell next to Lillard and McCollum is not at all the same as playing him next to Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Portland has an even more crowded backcourt now that Anfernee Simons has broken out, and if it keeps everybody past the deadline, then it’ll presumably address this logjam in the offseason. 

The Blazers traded two first-round picks for Covington before the 2020-21 season. As a rental, he won’t return anything like that this time. Covington, 31, is still averaging about one block and one steal per game, and he is still among the league leaders in deflections, but he lost his starting spot for a while and might have lost a step. Portland is reportedly making him and the next player on this list available. 

It is possible that Nurkic is playing himself out of Portland. In the four-wins-in-five-games stretch that started on Jan. 15 in Washington, he averaged 20.4 points, 15.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks. Overall this might not have been the big bounceback season that he was hoping for, but he’s never been more efficient as a scorer and he’s had some high-assist games in the last few weeks. 

Nance, 29, seems like the kind of guy Portland’s front office would want on the next iteration of the team. He can guard bigger and smaller players, pass on the move and shoot better than he has shown this season, plus he’ll be underpaid until he becomes a free agent in 2023. These are also the reasons, however, that contending teams might be willing to offer the Blazers real stuff for him. 

Holiday is getting up almost nine 3-point attempts per 36 minutes this season, a career high, and he’s making about 37 percent of them. You know how almost every playoff team could use another 3-and-D guy? This is that guy, and I’m still not sure how the Pacers got him on a contract this cheap in the first place. 

On his own, Lamb is likely not as appealing to contenders as, say, Holiday, since he has been shooting the ball poorly, his value is directly tied to his scoring and he has missed games recently with left knee soreness. (He tore his left ACL in February 2020.) He could wind up being part of a bigger trade, though, particularly if he has a good stretch leading up to the deadline. 

Warren hasn’t played since December of 2020 because of a stress fracture in his left foot, so I can’t tell you much about how much he can help a team win basketball games in the short term. He’s on an expiring contract, though, and he’s supposed to come back at some point this season. (On Jan. 9, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said that, while it would be weeks until Warren could return, there had been real progress.) If he returns soonish and looks anything at all like he did in the bubble, the Pacers will get some calls. 

In terms of rehabilitating his trade value, it’s hard to imagine this season going any better for Gordon. He has missed a negligible amount of time, made about 45 percent of his 3s and shown that he can still defend across multiple positions and bowling-ball his way to the basket. The contract isn’t ideal, but he can help teams win now and it effectively expires after next season. 

Well, this is uncomfortable. Wall hasn’t played at all this season, doesn’t want a buyout and could not reach an agreement with the Rockets on a return to the lineup. There is not an obvious solution here, unless the Westbrook stuff actually gets serious. 

Theis has not fit with the Rockets, and in retrospect it’s confusing that a rebuilding team was so enthusiastic about signing him. Playoff teams seeking a bench big — and not content to wait for the buyout market — should inquire. 

What other vets could be up for grabs?

Looking for a proven player to be the missing piece or at least strengthen your playoff rotation? Here are some potential options. 

Kenny Hustle is your nerdiest friend’s favorite plus-minus monster. He says he wants to retire with the Thunder, and there’s a good argument that, at 27, he’s young enough that they should keep him beyond this contract, not just this deadline. A couple of questions to ponder here: If Sam Presti does envision Williams being on the roster when they next make the playoffs, what would a win-now team have to offer for him to change its mind? And given how many future picks Oklahoma City has stockpiled, how much does it value additional ones?  

It has been jarring to see Young reduced to a third-stringer so soon after playing some of the best basketball of his career. It just hasn’t worked out in San Antonio, but in a different situation he might be able to recapture the magic he had as a point-center in Chicago. (A note to contenders, particularly those in the Eastern Conference: Young has historically defended Giannis Antetokounmpo well.) 

Harrell had a scorching start to the season, and he’s still doing all his normal Harrell stuff as the Wizards flail around near the .500 mark. Moving him might be bad for their chances of making the play-in, but it would also free up time for stretch 5 Thomas Bryant, who recently returned from a knee injury. 

Since Dec. 6, Harris has averaged 15 points on 46-40-86 shooting splits. On a per-minute basis, this isn’t far from what he did in Denver in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Are prospective trade partners confident that he has found his form again? Are they concerned that he’s had a few rough shooting games lately and missed a game with back spasms? Hmm! 

Millsap, who turns 37 on deadline day hasn’t played in 2022 — the Nets have too many bigs, and he ended up being the odd man out. Steve Nash called it “an unfortunate situation,” and the front office is trying to find him a new home. Chicago is a logical destination, if Brooklyn doesn’t mind moving him to another team near the top of the East. 

Williams and Delon Wright have shared playmaking duties on Atlanta’s second unit, but they’re both on expiring contracts, Wright has thrived lately and Bogdan Bogadnovic is back now. If the Hawks trade Williams, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re concerned about how poorly he has shot on pull-up jumpers; it could just be a way to simplify the rotation and improve the defense. 

Bogdanovic’s right knee has continued to be an issue, and his efficiency has declined in a major way this season. Trading him now might constitute selling low, but the Hawks are open to it, per The Action Network.

The Celtics signed Schroder to a below-market contract, but since it was only for one year,  they don’t have his Bird rights and can only offer him a new deal starting at about $7 million in the offseason. If they’re likely going to lose him anyway, they might decide a second-round pick is enough to move on. He is one of their few sources of rim pressure, though.  

Finney-Smith is having the best season of his career despite the fact that his 3-point percentage has dipped. The Mavericks have empowered him to push the ball in transition and step outside of his 3-and-D role in the halfcourt. He’s a huge part of Dallas’ surprisingly stingy defense, and the flashes he’s shown on the other end have him in line for a significant raise. The team that signed him as an undrafted rookie in 2016 now has to decide between giving him that raise or selling high. 

Anderson isn’t taking or making as many 3s and free throws (even on a per-minute basis) as he did last season, and he’s not quite as important to the Grizzlies now that Jaren Jackson is healthy. If they don’t think they will be willing to pay Anderson what he wants in free agency, they could try to get something back for him before the deadline. Memphis has gotten so good, though, that these decisions have become more complicated. Including Anderson in a deal for an impact player still makes sense; dumping him for a pick might not. 

Derrick Rose will be back at some point, and Walker has not been able to put his knee issues behind him. The Knicks hoped this would be a much more heartwarming homecoming story, but if there’s a team that wants to bet on its training staff, they should probably trade Walker rather than shelving him again. 

Fournier has been fine as a 3-point shooter this season, but the Knicks have gotten almost nothing from him as a playmaker and he’s played a role in their defensive decline. Moving him would open up minutes for Cam Reddish and Quentin Grimes, and it might help them regain the identity they had last season. 

Some of us thought Ingles, not teammate Jordan Clarkson, should have won Sixth Man of the Year last season. This year has been different. The Jazz are barely using him as a pick-and-roll guy anymore, and he’s been a far less accurate spot-up shooter. I’m not convinced he’s fallen off as much as the numbers suggest, but, if they’re going to try to make an upgrade on the wing, his mid-tier salary opens up all sorts of possibilities — and the contract is expiring. 

If one player personifies Utah’s gradual shift into an offensive powerhouse with questions to answer about its defense, it’s Bogdanovic. He’s right at home in the Jazz’s system and one of the main reasons it works so well, but their roster construction dictates that he often finds himself defending star scorers. I’d be surprised if he goes anywhere, but if there’s a move that could balance things out, they should at least consider it. 

Gallinari is effectively on an expiring contract because of his partial guarantee next season, and, while he is far from the only person to blame for the Hawks’ difficulties on defense, he’s one of the main culprits. If they’re going to pursue Simmons or any other kind of blockbuster, he could be a part of it. 

After a rough start, Boucher has completely turned his season around in Toronto. On a team that has recently used a six-to-seven-man rotation, he is providing real production off the bench. This does not, however, necessarily mean that the 29-year-old Boucher has played his way into the front office’s long-term plans. 

Dragic, 35, can make plays and will be well-rested, and many teams would jump at the chance to get him on the buyout market. Trading for him on this salary is a different story, but the Raptors will surely try to turn his expiring contract — plus a pick or another player — into another piece. 

Olynyk has missed most of this season with a knee injury and he entered health and safety protocols shortly after returning. He had a 22-9-5 line in just 22 minutes in his first game back, though, and his 27-game stint in Houston last season was kind of incredible. His ability to stretch the floor and facilitate has value in Detroit, but it might be worth more to a better team. 

The longest-tenured Magic man has dealt with a knee injury this season and has not shot well from deep. He would look better, though, if he were on a better offensive team. Ross has been on this list for years. 

Did you know Muscala is making about 43 percent of his 3s this season? Did you know that, per 36 minutes, he’s averaging about 22 points, eight boards and three stocks (i.e. steals + blocks)? I bet you didn’t, and that’s only because he plays for the Thunder. Any playoff team in need of a stretch 5, however, is surely aware of this. 

McGruder played his three best games as a Piston directly after the rescinded trade that was supposed to send him to Denver. If Detroit has traded him once …

You know what you’re getting with Lopez: rim protection, hook shots and goofy stuff. He has provided exactly that in Orlando, but the frontcourt also has Wendell Carter Jr., Mo Bamba and Moe Wagner in it, so opportunities have been limited. 

He’s out for the season, sadly, but the Cavs could trade his expiring contract. That this isn’t a foregone conclusion speaks to how well Rubio played this season — Cleveland might prefer to keep his Bird rights and bring him back. 

What about younger guys? Are there more Reddishes out there?

Here are some players 26 and younger who are potentially available. Some of them are on this list precisely because they’ve established themselves and are about to get paid; others, not so much. 

When you find a guy like this in the second round, you typically don’t trade him. Brunson has always been a crafty playmaker, and he has gradually developed into one of the Mavericks’ most important players. As he approaches free agency, though, Dallas’ front office must ask itself if it’s willing to be the team that signs Brunson to his first big, long-term deal. Offensively he pairs well with Luka Doncic, but on defense you’d like to surround Doncic with as much length, athleticism and versatility as possible. 

Want a 23-year-old guard who wreaks havoc on defense, rebounds like he’s six inches taller, pushes the pace, moves the ball and rarely turns it over? You might actually be able to get Melton, if only because there aren’t that many backcourt minutes to go around as long as Morant, Desmond Bane and Tyus Jones are on the team. Since he is signed for two more seasons after this one on a team-friendly contract, he’s a good trade chip for the Grizzlies. 

Jones is making more than 40 percent of his spot-up 3s this season, and the Grizzlies are annihilating everybody when he shares the floor with Ja Morant. These are reasons not to trade Jones, but they are also reasons why his trade value and the price he’ll command in free agency have increased. How much does Memphis want to pay another point guard? Could he be moved in a deal that brings back another core player on the same timeline as Morant and Jackson? 

Robinson is an elite lob threat and offensive rebounder. You’ve seen his highlight blocks and you know that he has the potential to be a defensive anchor. He turns 24 in April, and, since he and the Knicks couldn’t work out a contract extension before the season started, he could walk in July. It remains unclear whether or not New York sees him as part of its core.  

Martin’s 3-point percentage jumped from the 20s to the 40s this season, and he’s still bringing all the same stuff to the table defensively. This is an incredible development for the Hornets, and they absolutely do not need to shop him around. If the right offer comes along, though, they might have to consider it — Martin has played so well that he could be too expensive for Charlotte to re-sign him comfortably. (Miles Bridges is also a restricted free agent in July.)

If you catch Walker on the right night, you might come away thinking he’s a potential star. He can make spectacular plays on both ends, and, every once in a while, he’ll drop 20-something on good efficiency. Walker is near the end of his rookie contract, though, and he has a sub-50 percent true shooting percentage. San Antonio rarely makes in-season trades, but, if Walker isn’t in its plans, it could make an exception.

The Warriors‘ messaging has been pretty consistent: Wiseman isn’t going anywhere, unless they can get a transformative player in return, and the same is true of rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. I wonder if Golden State’s outlook has changed at all, though, now that it has hit a rough stretch, Wiseman has had a second procedure on his injured knee and the deadline is getting closer. Most teams in the Warriors’ position would try to cash in their 20-year-old project big. 

It’s not Horton-Tucker’s fault that he is at the center of an increasingly desperate situation in Los Angeles. He’s a 21-year-old former second-round pick who showed enough promise in his first couple of seasons to get a three-year, $30.8 million contract from the Lakers, and it just so happened that they decided to make a high-risk trade for Russell Westbrook and let Alex Caruso walk around the same time. Now they have a roster of ill-fitting parts, and in an effort to salvage the season, they’re stuck shopping Horton-Tucker, the next guy on this list and a 2027 first-round pick. Not sure how far that is going to go. 

Nunn still hasn’t played this season because of a knee injury. His salary dictates that he’ll be in trade talks, as the Lakers will have a difficult time acquiring anyone making much more than the mid-level exception without including him. 

Holiday has fallen out of the Wizards’ rotation, so it’s not much of a leap to assume he’s not in their long-term plans. He has always been a creative finisher, but this season he has been much more efficient in and around the paint. 

Bryant is competing with Daniel Gafford and Harrell for minutes, and you’d think management would want to address this logjam one way or another. There’s upside here, if he can ever become a decent pick-and-roll defender. 

Flynn had a nice game against the Hornets on Jan. 25, but that followed about a month in which he didn’t get extended playing time. Is there any chance he can become the Raptors’ every-night backup point guard? Is he just not suited for the Raptors’ chaotic style of play? It sure feels like he’d welcome a fresh start. 

Culver turns 23 in February and was the No. 6 pick in the 2019 draft, but it feels as if he’s completely vanished. In reality, he’s had a couple of solid games for the Grizzlies, but he has spent most of the season out of the rotation because they’re insanely deep. Teams that want to spend a few months with Culver before he hits free agency might want to throw a second-round pick their way.

Source: CBSSports.com

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