These are the dog days of the NBA summer. Free agency money has dried up, rosters are essentially locked in headed to training camp and there is little to no activity on the trade front. Most executives won’t make a deal until after getting a firsthand view of how their rebuilt rosters look in action.
This is why the vast majority of NBA trade activity occurs deeper into the regular season. Executives are content at this stage of the process to see if their retooling efforts from the summer play out. It also gives them a chance to evaluate other situations around the league that may not be working out and formulate a more strategic approach to obtaining talent.
But even though all is quiet on the trade front headed into the season, this doesn’t mean there aren’t multiple potential trade scenarios worth keeping track of over the next few months.
Today we’ll go over some players who may hear their names on the trade rumor mill at some point during the 2016-17 campaign:
Ricky Rubio, Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are shaping up to be an exciting up-and-coming team to watch moving forward, led by former first overall draft picks Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The youth movement is in full effect but keep an eye on the future of Ricky Rubio with the organization. Minnesota selected promising guard Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick this past June and speculation immediately centered on Rubio’s long term future in Minnesota.
Let’s be clear, the Timberwolves are in a position of strength. Rubio is an accomplished floor general and is still only 25 years old, so jumping at the first deal offered for his services wouldn’t be wise. However, Dunn could very well be the future at point guard for Minnesota and Rubio is a nice security blanket in the event the youngster needs more time.
We’ve seen situations like this play out around the league where a team drafts the heir apparent at a certain position. You can reference how the Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder situation played out in Atlanta. The Hawks took longer to pull the trigger on Teague since the team has been a contender in the Eastern Conference the past few seasons. But the Timberwolves are clearly rebuilding and can move a bit quicker, so this is a situation to keep an eye on.
Nerlens Noel, Power Forward/Center, Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers have been the laughingstocks of the league over the past few seasons, but the team is absolutely loaded with young talent headed into the 2016-17 season. Most of this talent is in the team’s frontcourt with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric all in the fold.
The good news for Philadelphia is that those guys are still on rookie deals so there isn’t financial pressure to make a trade in order to free up minutes or cap-space. The team will likely take their time evaluating the best fits moving forward, but Noel could be the odd man out.
Noel’s name was frequently heard in trade rumors last season and with the arrival of Embiid, Simmons and Saric you can expect more of the same over the next few months. In fact, with so much talent in the Philadelphia frontcourt, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear more than just Noel’s name showing up in trade rumors throughout the course of next season.
Brook Lopez, Center, Brooklyn Nets
Here’s the deal: The Nets have been overly public in their comments regarding Lopez and how he fits with the organization long term. Lopez is the team’s best player, a former All-Star and a nightly 20-point threat. He is a strong foundational building block for a team looking to get back into relevance.
But the Nets are in a rough spot. Based on the current talent level, the team is seemingly destined for another draft lottery, only the club doesn’t have first round draft picks in 2017 and 2018 to acquire fresh talent.
The team tried to compensate for this by signing restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe to offer sheets totaling a combined $125 million this summer. But the Miami HEAT and Portland Trail Blazers matched the deals and left Brooklyn empty handed and devoid of a much needed free agency splash.
While the team may have every hope of holding onto Lopez long term there will be more than a few clubs that believe they are ready for the next step, and as a result willing to give up future assets for a guy like him via trade. Future assets are key to any rebuilding project and you can expect the Nets to seriously evaluate all offers that float across their desk involving the talented Lopez.
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