NBA PM: Which Players Could Be Traded?

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Plan C Not Bad for Free Agency Spenders

Earlier this week, the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings both agreed to deals that would dump a ton of salary for very little in return simply to make room for potential free agents. The Suns still have their eyes set on LaMarcus Aldridge, while the Kings at this point seem willing to pay gobs of cash to any semi-respectable free agent who will agree to come and play for them. Yet even if both teams strike out on their desired targets, these trades have been an interesting byproduct of this summer’s free agency period. In short, the teams on the receiving ends of those trades are bringing in assets without really having to give up much.

Assuming these trades do go through, the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons will end up with some really nice assets that didn’t cost them anything of value. The Sixers, for example, are getting more quality bigs in Jason Thompson and Carl Landry along with a lottery pick one year removed in Nik Stauskas (not to mention a future first-round draft pick and the right to swap two future first-rounders) for helping Sacramento clear cap space, while Detroit nabs Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger from Phoenix for the same reason.

These moves should give other organizations hope, as there are still more players that teams could shed for a number of reasons. In other words, just because all the top free agents are flying off the board doesn’t mean there aren’t still a handful of effective starter-quality guys out there for the taking.

Here’s a look at five players who could be acquired on the cheap in the coming weeks:

Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers – Not only did Roy Hibbert fail to attend a charity softball event in Indianapolis that he has participated in for years, but he also disbanded “Area 55,” a rambunctious fan section in the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse that has been around since the year after Hibbert made the All-Star team. Despite all this, Hibbert did pick up his $15.5 million option for next season, which makes him the epitome of a “lame duck” for 2015-16, and Larry Bird already has said their style of play will not really accommodate Hibbert much moving forward.

Knowing all this, it’s no wonder there are teams interested in trading for the 7’2 big man, who certainly has had his struggles the last couple of seasons. Dallas has been rumored as a landing spot if DeAndre Jordan doesn’t work out, perhaps as part of a sign-and-trade with Monta Ellis, who already is headed to Indiana. Even if that falls short, the Pacers would almost certainly dump Hibbert for little more than relief of having to pay his checks. He’s available, and since there’s only one year left on his deal, it’s a fairly low-risk proposition, particularly for a team that needs a rim protector with no better way to spend their money after having struck out on free agents.

Nene, Washington Wizards – It appears as though talks are heating up between the Wizards and free agent power forward David West, which frankly is an attractive pairing that would give Washington a tough veteran presence on the court and in the locker room. As a young team looking to make the leap, that’s exactly what they need, and considering West would probably come pretty cheap (he’s looking for wins, not a massive payday), it makes the fit all the better.

Of course, he’s not all that different from Nene, who would immediately become expendable following a potential West signing. If that does happen, all those teams with frontcourt needs that whiffed on DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge have a backup plan. While Nene is often hurt, his $13 million deal only lasts through the end of the year, so he’s exactly the same kind of Plan C as Hibbert is.

David Lee, Golden State Warriors – The world champion Warriors don’t have to trade Lee, a very good player who was marginalized this past year because of Draymond Green’s breakout campaign, but they want to give the guy an opportunity to play somewhere and Lee, for his part, surely wouldn’t mind a bigger role for another squad. Also, it doesn’t make much sense to pay $15,493,680 to someone who isn’t playing a significant role.

For those reasons, there have been plenty of rumblings over the course of the last few days that teams like the New York Knicks and L.A. Lakers could be interested in adding Lee by simply absorbing his contract into existing cap space, but at this point, with Robin Lopez agreeing to terms with the Knicks, New York no longer can simply absorb Lee’s salary, though they could still pull off a trade involving some players. L.A., meanwhile, could use a win after having struck out on everybody so far. Lee would help fortify a pretty sad frontcourt situation in L.A.

Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets – Long before the Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay, there were rumblings that they were interested in moving Ty Lawson (who reportedly would like to be dealt), so acquiring a potentially elite young point guard like that puts the exclamation point on Lawson’s alleged availability.

Maybe Mike Malone wants to keep both guys, but if teams with space are left with nothing to show for their frugality following the last of the top-tier free agents agreeing to deals, Lawson sure would look like an interesting piece moving forward. The Nuggets need to get younger and accept that they’re entering a rebuilding phase. Giving Mudiay full control of the team and shipping off Lawson would be a great way to do that.

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls – Just because John Paxson and Gar Forman drafted Bobby Portis doesn’t mean that Gibson is expendable, mostly because he’s the only big man on the team at this point with the ability to do real damage on both ends of the floor, but he is coming off a serious ankle surgery and he’s really the only player in that crowded frontcourt right now that anybody would have much interest in. Shedding Gibson’s $17.5 million owed over the next two seasons would help Chicago avoid the luxury tax (which they hate paying) following the Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. deals.

Gibson is a good player on a team-friendly deal, but his age and recent injuries make him a bit of a risky acquisition. Still, if it was Gibson or the bottom half of the free agency pool, it’s hard to imagine teams wouldn’t show massive interest in the Bulls’ athletic and talented power forward.

Obviously a trade is not as ideal as a signing because even a minute asset surrendered in a swap is still an asset. The other way is just a matter of money, but the point here is that the field of available players extends beyond just free agents, and that’s a good thing for teams struggling to bring aboard anybody new this offseason.