The calendar has changed to 2015, which means there’s only a month and a half until the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline. Which players may be traded between now and then?
We’ve now a number of notable trades that involved players like Rajon Rondo, Corey Brewer, Dion Waiters, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith among others. Here are some more individuals to keep an eye on as the deadline approaches.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets – With Rajon Rondo already being moved in December, Williams is one of the bigger names being mentioned in trade rumors at the moment. A number of the teams that were pursuing Rondo before he was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks have been linked to Williams as well, including the Sacramento Kings (who were in talks with Brooklyn at one point). Williams had a down year with Brooklyn in the 2013-14 season, but has been a bit more productive during this campaign. That helped his trade value, but the fact that he’s been benched by the Nets in favor of Jarrett Jack and the team has looked better since the change could bring his value back down a bit. Williams isn’t a star anymore, as he has declined significantly in recent years, but he is still a productive player. The issue for Brooklyn is finding a team that will give up attractive assets for his contract, which is paying him $19,754,465 this season and over $43 million over the next two years (assuming he opts into the final year of his contract worth over $22 million). It seems the Kings are willing to take on his deal, just as they were willing to do with Rudy Gay when his value was down, but it remains to be seen what they’d be willing to give up and just how adamant they are about Mason Plumlee being included as well. With so many talented point guards around the league, the market for someone like Williams is somewhat limited too. Reports have indicated that the Nets are open to making big moves prior to the trade deadline, so they’re certainly a team to watch.
Lance Stephenson, Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets already put Stephenson on the block and weighed their trade options, but ultimately decided to keep him since the offers weren’t attractive. This isn’t a big surprise, considering Stephenson’s trade value was at an all-time low due to his early-season struggles and negative impact on the Hornets. With that said, if Stephenson starts to play well and attracts some suitors, it’s very possible that Charlotte could revisit trading him. Also, if Stephenson is having issues with teammates or coaches behind the scenes (as some reports have hinted), the Hornets could look to dump him if they believe it’ll be addition by subtraction. Stephenson is currently averaging 10.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, but he’s shooting just 38.6 percent from the field and 15.1 percent from three-point range. His three-year, $27 million contract may scare some teams off, but the final year is a team option. Stephenson obviously needs to get healthy first and foremost.
Jeff Green, Boston Celtics – Now that the Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo and are clearly rebuilding around their young core, Green may be the next Celtics player traded. Green will turn 29 years old in August and can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason by opting out of the final year of his contract worth $9.2 million (which seems likely). Green is playing very well this year, averaging a career-high 18.5 points, so Boston shouldn’t have any trouble finding potential suitors for him. However, it’ll be tough to get significant assets back for Green since he can sign elsewhere this offseason and may just be a rental. Still, it makes sense for the Celtics trade Green now and get something in return for him rather than risking losing him for nothing this summer. It’s unlikely that he would re-sign with Boston at this point in his career since he likely want to join a team that’s closer to winning.
Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets – Mozgov has proven to be a starting-caliber center in recent years with the Nuggets, and it’s no surprise that plenty of teams want to acquire him. He would be a perfect fit with the Cleveland Cavaliers since they need a rim protector and rebounder, and he’s reportedly atop their wish list as they’ve been calling Denver quite a bit. Denver has a number of other big men (Jusuf Nurkic, JaVale McGee and J.J. Hickson), so Mozgov is more expendable than he would be on most other teams. Also, the Nuggets could look to make some moves and trade away veterans if they continue to struggle and sit outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Mozgov is a good center who could really help a team, and many are interested. (UPDATE: Timofey Mozgov was officially traded to Cleveland this week).
Andrei Kirilenko, Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers acquired Kirilenko from the Brooklyn Nets and initially it seemed like they were going to waive him, as they’ve done with many veterans they’ve acquired who were packaged with draft picks. However, reports have indicated that Philadelphia wants to keep Kirilenko (and possibly play him to raise his trade value), and then flip him before the trade deadline in February. After all, a number of contending teams have shown interest in Kirilenko including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers, so the 76ers are hoping they can get another draft pick in exchange for the veteran forward rather than just waiving him. It’s possible that other teams could call their bluff and hope that Philly just waives him after the trade deadline passes, but a team could choose to trade for him now – rather than wait for free agency – to ensure that they’ll get him. Philadelphia would likely part ways with Kirilenko in exchange for a second-round pick and a filler contract.
Brendan Haywood, Cleveland Cavaliers – Haywood may not seem like an attractive trade chip for the Cavaliers since he’s 34 years old and has struggled to see the floor this year, but it’s the way his contract is structured that makes him an interesting asset. Haywood is being paid $2,213,688 this year, and his salary jumps to $10,522,500 next season and is completely non-guaranteed. That means a team can trade for Haywood and waive him over the summer, creating a ton of cap space. When Haywood signed this contract, he knew that the deal was being structured like this to make him an attractive trade chip. Scotty Hopson signed a similar deal with Cleveland at the end of last season. At one point, Hopson was on four NBA teams in two days because his non-guaranteed deal kept getting traded. Teams used his contract as filler salary in larger trades, and after his deal had served its purpose, he was waived. He is currently playing in the D-League. Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has made it clear that the team is open to making additional trades, even after dealing Dion Waiters last night, and Haywood’s contract is inevitably going to come up in their discussions. At this point in his career, no team would guarantee Haywood’s $10,522,500 for next season. It remains to be seen which team will be the one to ultimately waive him and get the salary cap space.
Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets – The Oklahoma City Thunder have pursued Chandler recently, according to reports, and plenty of other teams will likely try to pry the small forward off of Denver’s roster over the next month and a half. As previously mentioned in the Mozgov section, the Nuggets are failing to live up to expectations and sitting outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, so other executives will inevitably try to acquire their veterans. It’s possible Denver’s front office will consider blowing up the roster and accept some of the offers being put on the table. The Nuggets have a ton of tradable players who could help other teams, and Chandler may be the most attractive. He is a productive player on an excellent contract, making $6,757,913 this season while just $2 million of his $7,171,662 salary is guaranteed next season (which is the final year of his contract). Nothing is imminent and Chandler may not be moved, but it won’t be for a lack of teams expressing interest.
Thaddeus Young, Minnesota Timberwolves – When the Timberwolves traded Kevin Love in a three-team deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers, they reportedly chose to acquire Thaddeus Young instead of the Miami HEAT’s 2015 first-round pick that is top-10 protected. They made this decision because they felt Young and some of the other veterans on their team would allow them to compete for a playoff berth this season, snapping their decade-long postseason drought. This obviously didn’t work out for Minnesota and they likely regret their choice, as injuries and struggles have them sitting at the very bottom of the Western Conference. Minnesota recently traded Corey Brewer to the Houston Rockets for Troy Daniels and future second-round picks, and it’s possible that other veterans could also be moved too. Contending teams will likely circle the Timberwolves’ roster like vultures as the trade deadline nears, trying to land players like Young, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Mo Williams and Chase Budinger since they could contribute on a winning team. Brewer asked to be traded so Flip Saunders agreed to move him, and other players could ask for a similar arrangement to be made. Young is probably the most attractive player of the bunch, so don’t be surprised if his name is mentioned in quite a few trade rumors over the next month and a half.
Brandan Wright, Boston Celtics – Wright has already been traded once this season, as the Boston Celtics just acquired him as part of the Rajon Rondo trade with the Dallas Mavericks. However, reports have suggested that the 27-year-old big man could be dealt again before the trade deadline. The Cleveland Cavaliers are one team that has expressed interest in Wright, and others are likely to follow. Wright leads the league in individual defensive rating and he’s one of the most efficient players in the NBA, shooting a league-best 72.4 percent from the field. Boston is loaded with frontcourt players, which makes Wright somewhat expendable, and it seems that they’re open to flipping the veteran big man to acquire other assets that would help them rebuild. Wright is making $5 million this season, which is a bargain contract for what he provides. The big man will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so don’t expect teams to give up too much for him since he can leave in several months.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two of this list, which includes some more notable players.
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