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?
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons – Monroe has been mentioned as a trade candidate since the offseason, when he decided to turn down a long-term deal from the Pistons and sign the one-year qualifying offer instead. He will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Because Monroe signed for the qualifying offer, he can veto any trade involving him. However, he could also allow a trade to go through and play out the final months of his deal with a new team. It’s possible that Monroe could re-sign with Detroit this summer, but there’s no guarantee that will occur and the Pistons could look to move him if they feel like he’s poised to leave. There was a report over the summer from Grantland’s Zach Lowe that Monroe wanted the team to get rid of Josh Smith, which they did recently by waiving the veteran forward. The Pistons have played much better since parting ways with Smith, going 6-0, and Monroe is playing well. It remains to be seen if that move and other factors will keep Monroe in Detroit long-term.
Jordan Hill, Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers may be looking to trade away some veterans to clear cap room and improve their lottery odds. L.A. has more incentive to do this than other teams, since their first-round pick will go to the Phoenix Suns if it falls outside of the top five. Hill has been one of the Lakers’ best players this season, averaging career-highs across the board, and they may look to trade him while his value is high. They could likely land an attractive asset for Hill, and removing him from the roster would likely lead to some more losses, which would benefit the team even if the front office insists they’re not tanking. The 27-year-old is making $9 million this year and will be paid the same next year (which is a team option). Keep an eye on this situation.
Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder – Nobody was too surprised when Jackson’s name surfaced in early reports related to Monday’s talks between the Thunder, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s because Jackson will be a restricted free agent after this season and it remains to be seen if he’s within OKC’s price range. With Dion Waiters now possibly emerging as the team’s sixth man and third option (as well as being someone else they have to pay down the road, if he pans out), they may decide to move on from Jackson and see what assets he could return. The move for Waiters puts Oklahoma City in the luxury tax too, and paying that has never seemed like an option for the organization. Moving Jackson before his big payday could solve that problem and get them below the tax. It may also be the best-case scenario for Jackson, who has made it clear that he wants to start and have a big role, too. There have already been reports that the Knicks will pursue Jackson again as the deadline approaches, and other teams may come calling too. Nothing is imminent, obviously, and the Thunder will want a nice return for Jackson, but don’t rule out the possibility of a trade just because he wasn’t involved in this week’s three-way deal.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets – Of the three Nets players who have been mentioned in trade rumors – Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson – Lopez likely has the highest trade value since he’s the youngest of the group and has shown the most upside. His injuries may scare some teams off – it’s worth noting that the Orlando Magic weren’t interested in him back when they were moving Dwight Howard for this very reason – but plenty of teams will want a 26-year-old center who has shown he can be a top option on offense and average over 20 points per game. The Nets obviously won’t trade Lopez just to trade him, and they’ll want quite a bit back in return for their talented big man. It remains to be seen what they’re looking for, but the fact that he has been mentioned in trade reports hints that Brooklyn is open to moving him and may consider a trade if the right offer presents itself before the deadline.
Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies – Koufos is an attractive piece who has been mentioned in trade rumors because of his limited role in Memphis. He averages 4.4 rebounds and one block (3.1 blocks per 48 minute, which is 14th in the NBA) despite playing only 15.4 minutes per game on the Grizzlies. Because he plays behind Marc Gasol, Koufos doesn’t get many minutes, and his camp has reportedly voiced their displeasure with his diminished role. Ideally, he’d probably like to play more, especially because he’s in a contract year. The Cleveland Cavaliers were pursuing him, but landed Timofey Mozgov instead. At only 25 years old, it’s possible that Koufos’ best basketball may still be ahead of him and an increased role could allow him to take his game to another level. Koufos is making just $3 million this season, so he’s an excellent bargain. While teams would love to acquire Koufos, Memphis hasn’t shown a willingness to part ways with him, as he’s the only backup center on their roster and there’s really no reason for them make any drastic changes considering they’re one of the best teams in the NBA.
Maurice Harkless, Orlando Magic – Harkless has gone from being a significant part of Orlando’s rotation (even starting many games) to appearing in just 17 of the Magic’s 37 games this season. He was deactivated for last week’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, even though he was completely healthy. Head coach Jacque Vaughn, for some reason, has decided to bury Harkless on the depth chart and has said that he wants to see more effort and defensive focus from the 21-year-old. This seems strange, as Harkless is widely regarded as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders and has done everything asked of him by the team, including putting in extra work in the offseason, befriending everyone in the locker room and trying to play minutes at shooting guard to fit with the team’s personnel. For awhile, it seemed that Harkless was a key member of Orlando’s young core, but Vaughn seems to have other plans and has opted to play others, such as 33-year-old veteran Willie Green, in his place. This is a situation worth monitoring, as plenty of executives view Harkless as a talented two-way player with a lot of potential. It’s unclear if Orlando wants to move Harkless or what they would ask in return for him, but the situation has taken a strange turn this season and it’s unclear if he has a future with the Magic.
Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings – Thompson’s name came up recently when the Kings and Nets were having negotiations and Sacramento was reportedly trying to acquire Deron Williams and Mason Plumlee. The Kings have been very aggressive in recent years, trading for Rudy Gay and Derrick Williams, and they are looking to make more moves. It’s clear that the team wants to win now as evidenced by their recent decision to fire head coach Mike Malone for failing to live up to ownership’s lofty expectations, and they could be looking to bolster the roster. If a trade is made, there’s a decent chance that Thompson will be included since he’s somewhat expendable and he’s earning $6,037,500 this year and around $13 million combined over the next two years (with only $2.65 guaranteed in his final season). Sacramento has been linked to everyone from Rajon Rondo (before he was traded) to Deron Williams to Josh Smith (before he was waived) so don’t be surprised if they make a move before the deadline.
Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics – Bass has come up in trade rumors in the past, with numerous reports suggesting that Boston has put him on the block or listened to offers for the big man. This could be the year he’s finally traded, because like Jeff Green he’s in the final year of his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The 29-year-old is making $6.9 million this season, and he may want to play for a winning team rather than stick around as Boston continues to rebuild. It’s possible he gets moved before Feb. 19.
Ed Davis, Los Angeles Lakers – As previously mentioned in the Jordan Hill paragraph, the Lakers may move some of their veterans before the deadline. Davis is another player who could be dealt, as it seems likely that he will opt out of his contract this offseason to become an unrestricted free agent. It was a surprise that he wasn’t able to ink a deal larger than the one he signed with the Lakers, which paid him $981,084 this season and has a player option worth $1.1 million for next year. When players sign those kind of small deals with a player option for the second year, it’s typically so that they can opt out and re-test free agency one year later. If the Lakers fear that Davis will sign elsewhere, they may look to move him now to get something back for him.
Jose Calderon, New York Knicks – This season is essentially over for the Knicks and now their goal is to clear as much cap space as possible. The veteran point guard has two more years remaining on his contract after this season, as he’s set to earn $7,402,812 next year and $7,708,427 the following year. Getting that money off of the books will likely be Phil Jackson’s No. 1 task as the deadline approaches, so that he’ll have as much cap space as possible entering the summers of 2015 and 2016. We’ll see if he can find a taker for the 33-year-old floor general.
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