The NBA season officially started yesterday, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to talk about which players could, or are likely to be traded at some point this season. After taking a look at the players most likely to be traded in the Southeast Division and Central Division, we take a look at the Northwest Division.
Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder: NBA teams have until Friday to agree to extensions with first-round picks from the 2011 NBA Draft. This includes point guard Reggie Jackson, who was selected 24th overall in 2011 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jackson proved last season that he is worth making a significant investment in as he averaged 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 80 games and filled in effectively for Russell Westbrook, who missed significant time last season because of a recurring knee injury. But the fact that the Thunder has yet to extend Jackson raises concerns that stem back to 2012, when the Thunder refused to give superstar James Harden a max deal, and instead traded him to the Houston Rockets.
Part of the issue for the Thunder is that Jackson is a point guard and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to overpay him when Westbrook is already under a multi-year contract. This is the same problem that forced the Los Angeles Clippers to trade Eric Bledsoe last year for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Jackson is unlikely to require the same sort of contract that Bledsoe eventually got as a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Thunder, as a small-market team, are especially concerned about maintaining financial flexibility. But after sending Harden to Houston in 2012, and subsequently failing to win a championship, the Thunder are at risk of sending away another impact player, and raising questions of whether they care more about their bottom line than winning a championship. Jackson may still be extended before Friday, but if he isn’t, the Thunder may look to acquire assets in exchange for him at some point this season.
Jackson has a qualifying offer for $3.2 million next season.
Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: This offseason, the Denver Nuggets traded guard Evan Fournier and a second round draft pick to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Arron Afflalo. Afflalo is one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league, and is still relatively young at just 29 years old.
The addition of Afflalo makes Randy Foye expendable and a trade candidate this season. At age 31, Foye is still a solid scorer, good three-point shooter and underrated playmaker. A team looking for a guard that can knock down three-pointers, and occasionally initiate an offense could look to Foye for help. Earlier this month, Zach Lowe of Grantland tweeted that the Washington Wizards could look to acquire Foye to fill in for Bradley Beal, who is out for several weeks with a broken wrist.
Foye was acquired by the Nuggets in July of last year in a three-team deal that sent Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors. Last season, in 81 games, Foye averaged 13.2 points, 3.5 assists. 2.9 rebounds, and shot 38 percent from beyond the arc. He is under contract for $3 millionthis season, and $3.13 million next season (non-guaranteed).
Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves: Earlier this month, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves are shopping Chase Budinger, but at this point, no trade is considered imminent .
Like Foye, Budinger is a veteran wing player who can help teams that are looking for additional shooting. However, Budinger has struggled with injuries the last few seasons, which is cause for concern. But, at just age 26, Budinger still has the potential to add new elements to his game, and be an impact player moving forward.
Budinger is set to make $5 million this season, and has a player option for next season at $5 million as well. Wojnarowski reported that the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets have shown interest in Budinger, but that Houston is reluctant to move forward with any deal for Budinger because of his player option for next season.
Last season, in 41 games, Budinger averaged 6.7 points and 2.5 rebounds, and shot 35 percent from three-point range.
Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves: Just last August the Timberwolves re-signed center Nikola Pekovic to a five-year, $60 million deal. Timberwolves president, and now also head coach, Flip Saunders announced the signing by stating “We envision Pek and Kevin Love being the ‘Bruise Brothers’ and forming one of the best frontcourts in the NBA for a long time to come.” Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, they missed the playoffs last season, and Love leveraged the team into trading him or risk losing him for nothing in free agency. Love is now in Cleveland and the Timberwolves are now building around a core of young talent, including most notably this year’s first overall draft pick, Andrew Wiggins.
With players like Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson and even Ricky Rubio all 24 or younger, and the likelihood that the Timberwolves will play more up-tempo with so many athletes, Pekovic is no longer a good long-term fit in Minnesota. This is especially true considering that Gorgui Dieng showed flashes of serious potential last season (on March 20, Dieng logged 22 points, 21 rebounds, 4 assists and made 10-of-11 from the free throw line and four days later, he registered 15 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and one block). Dieng is a better rim protector than Pekovic, is less expensive, and is a better long-term fit for the Timberwolves, making Pekovic expendable.
One thing that could prevent teams from pursuing Pekovic is the fact that he is under contract until the 2017-18 NBA season and has struggled with foot injuries in the past. However, despite injuries last season, Pekovic is still one of the best offensive centers in the league, and at 28 years old (and just four seasons in the NBA), he still has a lot of basketball ahead of him.
Last season, in 54 games, Pekovic averaged 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game.
Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz: The Utah Jazz drafted Enes Kanter third overall in the 2011 Draft. Back then, the Jazz believed that Kanter and Derrick Favors would be the long-term frontcourt pairing in Utah. However, the pairing proved to be ineffective last season (1-14 record start to the season), which forced Kanter to come off the bench.
Kanter, like Reggie Jackson, is eligible for an extension until Friday. However, as Basketball Insiders’ Nate Duncan details in this article, there are concerns about Kanter’s overall value considering his defensive limitations, which calls into question how much the Jazz should offer in extension negotiations. On Tuesday news broke that the Jazz and Kanter have ended contract talks.
Also complicating Kanter’s future in Utah is 22 year old center Rudy Gobert. Gobert made a great showing in this summer’s FIBA World Cup Tournament, helping France upset Spain, and recently had some solid preseason performances. He is extremely long and athletic, and if he proves capable of starting next to Favors, could be part of a strong defensive frontcourt for Utah. Utah may eventually look to move Kanter in exchange for assets if they are not convinced he is worth the money he is asking for.
Last season, in 80 games, Kanter averaged 12.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game.
These are just a few players that could be mentioned in trade discussions at some point this year. Expect trade rumors to really pick up as we get closer to December 15, when players acquired this offseason become trade eligible.
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