Head To Head: It’s Time For a Trade
Which players need a trade? Basketball Insiders’ writers discuss.
Each season there are players who, for whatever reason, no longer fit well with their respective teams. Whether it is an aging star on a big contract or a player who simply has a poor relationship with his respective franchise, these players often need a fresh start with a new squad. In today’s head to head, Cody Taylor, Jessica Camerato and Susan Bible discuss which players they believe need to be traded.
It should come as no surprise that the player who averaged the fewest minutes per game on a playoff team could probably use a change of scenery. The Boston Celtics exceeded everyone’s expectations this season, but did so for the most part without their highest-paid player in Gerald Wallace. The 13-year veteran played in just 32 games while averaging less than nine minutes per game when he did play. The notion that Wallace played sparingly this season shouldn’t really shock anyone as the team is progressing along nicely in their current rebuild and have no use for him. At this point, it might best serve both parties involved to execute a trade.
Our own Steve Kyler wrote last month following the Celtics’ exit from the playoffs that the team would like to trade Wallace and is even willing to throw in one of their seven future first-round draft picks to help expedite the process. The Celtics have a ton of young talent on the team in Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder (restricted free agent), Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, all of whom play big roles in head coach Brad Stevens’ rotations. The team is particularly heavy at the forward position with Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko, Luigi Datome, Crowder and Brandon Bass all ahead of Wallace at the position.
The Celtics are said to be interested in making a splashy move this offseason through free agency. The team has been linked to potential free agents like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol and figure to want to clear as much cap space as possible to have an opportunity to go after one of those top names. Clearing the $10.1 million owed to Wallace next season would certainly help the Celtics in that route. While the chances of potentially landing one of those free agents remains to be seen, the team will be active in talks nonetheless. As the team is currently constructed, they’ll have roughly $21 million in cap space this summer and could have even more if Wallace is out of the picture.
Moving that $10 million owed to Wallace could be easier than it looks. Next season is the final season on Wallace’s contract and could look attractive for a team looking to pick up an expiring deal. Factor in the reported decision to include a first-round pick and the Celtics might be able to find a potential suitor for Wallace. The decision to trade Wallace would benefit the Celtics in the long-term and would allow Wallace to find a role off of the bench on another team. The relationship between the two seems to be healthy as Wallace mentored some of the younger players on the team throughout the playoffs, so the decision to trade him would be strictly about business.
– Cody Taylor
Pick a Net, any Net.
The Brooklyn Nets have been bogged down by hefty salaries that have resulted in more disappointments than successes. Not only is it time for a trade, it has been time for a while. The hang up is, these salaries are so monstrous they are hard to move.
Deron Williams is under contract for next season, in which he will make $21,042,800, and has an early termination option in 2016-17 ($22,331,135). The point guard averaged 13.0 points this season, the fewest since his rookie year. He came off the bench in 13 games.
His production has dropped off so much that his 35-point postseason performance against the Atlanta Hawks was considered an anomaly. He had scored a total of 5 points (2-15 FG) in the previous two games.
The approach of having individual players with enormous contracts isn’t working for the Nets. Even though the salaries of Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez’s totaled over $58 million this season, the team finished 38-44 and didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
Williams hasn’t done himself any favors to boost his trade value, but if the team can move him and acquire multiple pieces or much-needed draft picks in return, they will put themselves in a better position to improve their roster.
– Jessica Camerato
It’s difficult to imagine any scenario in which Roy Hibbert of the Indiana Pacers does not exercise his $15,514,031 player option for the 2015-16 NBA season. That’s an incredible amount of money to leave on the table in favor of gambling in a free agency situation with other talented centers (like Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan and Tyson Chandler, just to name a few). Even though Hibbert’s agent says no decision will be made until the end of June, we expect he will pick up his option and move toward an eighth and final season in Indiana. In such case, it’s an ideal time for the Pacers to trade Hibbert. It makes sense for both sides.
For Hibbert, he would likely support a trade in light of the surprising words Larry Bird, Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations, and Frank Vogel, Pacers’ head coach, shared during the team’s end-of-season press conference last month. They were united in their commitment to begin playing in an up-tempo system and playing small for long stretches. This had to have been alarming news for the 7’2 rim protector. For the Pacers, trading Hibbert could yield the player or players they need to play at a quicker pace.
“We’ll assume he’s going to be back,” said Bird about Hibbert. “If he comes back, we’re probably going to play another style, and I can’t guarantee him anything. He’s going to have to earn it.”
In addition, Bird was brutally frank when recapping his starting center’s 2014-15 season.
“I didn’t think he played that well, to be honest. I thought he always played hard. He’s very durable, but I don’t think he had a great year.”
Last year Hibbert averaged 10.6 points (lowest since his rookie season), 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks (lowest rate in the past five seasons) in 25.3 minutes per game (also the lowest in the past five seasons). Not bad numbers, but they certainly do not align with his salary scale. Overall, Hibbert hasn’t sealed that anticipated star status or necessarily impressed when given an opportunity to do so with teammates Paul George, David West and George Hill missing significant chunks of games this season.
Vogel admitted Hibbert will “potentially” be benched with a diminished role next year. Perhaps this explains why he is training at a jiu-jitsu academy during the offseason – maybe he’s trying to prepare for this upcoming quick-pace style and maybe it’s a reflection of being cognizant of maximizing his effort in a contract year.
As for trade partners, there are several teams that, i) covet a true center, ii) haven’t adopted an up-tempo style, and iii) would have interest in a low-risk expiring deal. A Hibbert trade would allow the Pacers to acquire another expiring contract for a better-fitting player and/or gain a future draft pick, while being able to give more minutes to Pacers’ 6’11 center Ian Mahinmi and 6’9 power forward Lavoy Allen, as Bird desires. A team like the New Orleans Pelicans might prefer Hibbert playing alongside Anthony Davis over Omer Asik. Or the Boston Celtics, who need a player with Hibbert’s specific talents, may be interested. Even the Portland Trail Blazers, who may prefer paying Hibbert in the short term over an expensive Robin Lopez extension, could be an option.
– Susan Bible
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