As the trade deadline approaches, there are always names that pop up as it gets closer to that time to wheel and deal. Teams get desperate as they find themselves barely in or out of the playoffs trying to add a piece that puts them in the hunt. Other clubs pack their bags and concede the season as they prepare and strategize for next year by offloading talent and getting picks or younger, underdeveloped players. Basketball Insiders looks at six potential players that could be on the move.
1. Nerlens Noel
The Philadelphia 76ers are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA. Joel Embiid is becoming the face of the franchise and the direction of the process seems to be changing for the better. Noel has made it very clear that he’s not happy with his role and feels that he should be playing more. When he does play, he looks good and could be an asset to almost any team in the league. But the question is what value he has based on his off-the-court comments and frustrations. With Philadelphia’s current situation, it seems almost inevitable that they could trade him to offset the effects of a backlogged frontcourt.
2. Paul Millsap
As much as we want to believe that Atlanta isn’t looking for a trade, if the offer is good enough they’ll look at it. Millsap becomes a free agent in the offseason and is one of the most underrated players in the league. His ability to be both consistent on offense and defense is unique and separates him from 95 percent of the league. He’s a great fit in almost any scenario, but the trouble with him is that he can leave in the offseason. He’s also 32 years old and would command a contract that would keep him around until probably 35, 36 or 37 years of age. But, if a team is willing to do it, they would be getting a perennial All-Star who could immediately help their playoff chances.
3. Lou Williams
Williams has been vastly improved this season and becomes a free agent in 2018, when he will be 33 years of age. Williams has some value, specifically because of how good he’s been this campaign, averaging 17.9 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds per game in about 24 minutes of play. But the Lakers need to play for draft picks as the season has slowly gotten away from them, and they owe Philadelphia a draft choice if it’s outside of the top-three (making more incentive for them to lose and give up aging players like Williams). Offloading Williams to another team close to making the playoffs or already in the playoffs would make logical sense because it would give them a one-year rental off the bench and help immediately. At about $7 million per year, he’s a bargain, and you could make room on nearly every team with that low a salary. Teams like the Kings, Clippers, Bucks, and Wizards come to mind for a guy like Williams just because of the low cap number and the need for an extra scorer on these teams.
4. Andrew Bogut
Bogut is on a Dallas Mavericks team that is playing well without him. They could certainly improve, but at 32, he’s not a player they’re built around currently. His talent is not a question, nor is his locker room presence. The question surrounds his health, and if he can ultimately be a long-term fix for a team. Rumblings in the past few months have been that Bogut’s on the way out, as he’s been injured and could leave after the season is over anyways. Teams like the Trail Blazers, Bucks and Raptors seem to make sense based on each teams’ need for another big man, but it’s all based on Dallas’ value of the Austrailian.
5. Allen Crabbe
Portland’s Allen Crabbe has been the subject of many rumors in recent months because of his lack of minutes. However, moving a guy like Crabbe will be difficult because he’ll have to waive his no-trade clause – not as easy as it sounds. Crabbe is seeing more time on the floor and has excelled in his past few games, averaging 12.2 points in about 28 minutes of action with the Blazers. Part of the reason he’s started to see a jump in minutes is because of Damian Lillard’s recent injury, but even so, it seems like the Blazers are trying to showcase his talents to get a team to bite on his near $19 million per season over the next 4 years. Philadelphia and Brooklyn were both teams that showed interest in him this offseason, and could still have interest before the deadline. The valuation on him seems all over the board, especially with a salary that’s higher than most in the league. But his potential is still high because he’s only 24 years of age.
6. Ricky Rubio
Rubio is one of the most underrated point guards in the league. Sure, he hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations of a top draft pick, but he’s certainly no bust. Rubio is most certainly on the trade market, and Minnesota could use a lot of help on the perimeter. It’s yet to be determined what Rubio gets you in return, but ESPN reported that the Timberwolves and Pistons were in discussions to send Rubio to Detroit with Reggie Jackson going the other way. One of the more elite defensive point guards in the league, Rubio has a lot to offer a team needing backcourt depth and defense. His shooting certainly doesn’t blow anyone away (in fact, it’s almost the opposite) but the ability to pass, defend, and create turnovers is rare in this league. Teams like the Trail Blazers, Celtics, Kings, Pistons and even a team like the Spurs should look at Rubio. He brings a rare and unique skill set that doesn’t fit many teams. But he does add significant value to the teams looking to bolster their defensive options at the point guard position.
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