We continue our Trade Watch series with a look at the Pacific Division and some of the candidates that could potentially be on the move based upon how certain teams begin the year. The Pacific is particularly intriguing, because it features teams that are considered potential contenders (Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers), a team that appears to be on the rise (Phoenix Suns) and several teams either in transition or in a definite rebuilding period (Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings).
Those dynamics could create multiple player movement opportunities throughout the division, especially as we move forward into the season and teams are able to determine what holes or issues need to be addressed before the playoff push in the New Year.
Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers have been searching for an answer at the small forward position for several years, and even though it was just slightly over a year ago when they drafted Bullock with the 25th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, the 6’7 swingman has already has already been involved in trade rumors this past summer. At just 23 years old, Bullock may still be a bit of a project, but could be a favorable piece for a team looking to add young talent with a cost-controlled rookie contract. Speaking of those Clippers, wouldn’t Gerald Green look good on running the wing next to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul?
Derrick Williams, Sacramento Kings:
This may not necessarily be a “now or never” scenario for Williams and the Kings, but the fourth-year power forward is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Williams still hasn’t quite found his groove in the league, and the truth of the matter is, he simply may not ever quite live up to the expectations that come along with being the second-overall pick in the draft (2011). That doesn’t, however, mean Williams cannot continue to develop his game in order to at least stay within a rotation.
Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers:
Yes, we know he is out for the season due to continued injury complications (back/hip), but that doesn’t mean his expiring deal isn’t appealing to teams with assets the Lakers may covet that are looking to get themselves under the cap for next year’s free agency crop. Given the Lakers’ need for contributors all around the court – specifically in the backcourt – the idea that Los Angeles could potentially look to lump his contract into a deal isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. While there are no reports of any such negotiations currently, it wouldn’t surprise us to hear about the Lakers and Suns at least discussing the chances of a Nash return to the Valley of the Sun so that he can retire with the organization he played the bulk of his Hall of Fame career with.
Worth noting on Nash: If the Lakers were to move his deal prior to using the Disabled Player Exception, the exception would then expire. According to Basketball Insiders’ salary cap expert Eric Pincus, once awarded the exception, which allows the team to add a free agent for up to $4.85 million (half Nash’s salary) or receive a player’s contract worth up to $4.95 million via trade, the Lakers would have until March 10 to use it even in the event they ultimately didn’t decide to move his expiring deal.
Jordan Hill, Los Angeles Lakers:
Speaking of packaging Nash, Hill could certainly be a player that is moved at some point this season. In fact, many of us were immediately suspicious of the size and specifics of the deal when the Lakers re-signed the 27-year-old PF/C. Hill has shown several signs and stretches of high productivity, energy and effort over the past couple seasons in Los Angeles, so it actually came as no shock the team looked to re-sign him. That said, at $9 million per season with a team option for the second year, Hill’s contract is both team-friendly and sizeable enough to be in play by the time February’s NBA trade deadline has arrived. The Lakers may not be as eager to move a frontcourt piece now that Julius Randle is lost for the season, but check back with this team after the New Year and see where things stand at this point.
For a team in contention or attempting to distance themselves from the pack, Hill’s size and post presence could be exactly what a team may come asking for. Even within the division, several teams are likely to come searching for frontcourt depth.
Someone from Phoenix’s backcourt mix:
At one point this summer, it appeared Eric Bledsoe would be the odd man out in what has become one of the deepest backcourt rotations around the league. Each day that passed seemed to further indicate the team’s willingness to insert Isaiah Thomas into the void that would come from Bledsoe’s exit. Once the Minnesota Timberwolves were at least reportedly willing to offer Bledsoe the type of money he was in search of, the Suns decided to re-sign the restricted free agent to the tune of $70 million over the next five seasons.
Although it doesn’t appear the organization is looking to move him anytime soon, even Goran Dragic’s name surfaced in several rumors around and following the NBA draft. Having just drafted point guard Tyler Ennis and acquired additional scoring punch in the form of Thomas, the Suns find themselves in a somewhat enviable position of potentially having too much backcourt depth – if such a thing exists – when you consider they also have the high-flying Gerald Green to find minutes and opportunities for. Not that Coach Hornacek would complain about having such a surplus of capable guards, but Green could potentially be seen as expendable at some point this year.
The Suns would likely have multiple suitors for the Green, as the 6’8 swingman is also versatile enough to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions. An absolute terror in the open court and in transition, Green has actually developed into one of the better three-point shooters in the league, having made the fourth-most threes (204) in 2013-14 at 40 percent from that distance. If unable to work himself back into a prominent role within this rotation, how long before Green becomes impatient?
Keep in mind these are only some of the players with the potential to be on the move, and of course there are no certainties. Make sure you take a look at our Northwest, Central and Southwest Division breakdowns as well!
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