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Six NBA Players to Watch in Trade Season

A look at six players to watch as the NBA’s trade deadline approaches.

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As we move forward into the New Year, we draw one step closer to what appears to be another very active trade season. Forty-six days, that’s exactly how much time teams have between now and the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline. It’s a time when every general manager in the league takes an honest assessment of their team and makes the decision on whether they should pull the trigger on a deal that could potentially help them. How a team is faring, their cap situation, looming contract extensions or positional logjams are just a few of the reasons why a team may look to make a trade. We’ve already seen one big domino fall with the Rajon Rondo trade that sent him packing from Beantown to Dallas as he joins a Mavericks team that is sure to be a contender in the Western Conference. Let’s take a look at a few other names to keep an eye on as the trade season gets underway.

  1. Deron Williams (Point Guard- Brooklyn Nets)

You know the writing is on the wall when you are a career-long starter in the league and you are relegated to the bench by your head coach in favor of a journeyman backup point guard. That’s exactly what’s happened in Brooklyn as multiple ankle injuries have taken their toll on the once elite point guard. No longer do you hear hotly contested debates over who is the better player between himself and Chris Paul, as you would often see in the early years of their careers. With word out of Brooklyn that no one is untouchable at this point, Williams is a prime candidate to be moved considering the Nets are still on the hook for two more years of his hefty contract. As the team with the highest payroll in the league, look for the Nets to try to find any takers to shed some money off their bloated payroll with the team not in a serious position to contend.

  1. Goran Dragic (Point Guard- Phoenix Suns)

With Goran Dragic saying that he will be looking at all of his options at the end of this season when he has a player option on his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, it has become clear that the Phoenix Suns will have some decisions to make or risk losing him for nothing. After a very promising campaign last season in which the team seemed to be coming together with the duo of Dragic and backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe, the future looked bright for the Suns. However, the team felt the need to get some insurance in the backcourt and signed point guard Isaiah Thomas. That’s three guys who could all make a case to start on most NBA teams, and that’s not including the rest of the back court that includes players like Gerald Green, Archie Goodwin and Zoran Dragic (Goran’s little brother). Needless to say there’s not enough minutes to go around and a plenty of players that deserve minutes.

  1. Brandan Wright (Center- Boston Celtics)

One of the pieces acquired in the Rajon Rondo deal could be on the move once again before it’s all said and done. How is that possible? Timing. Danny Ainge made sure the Rondo deal was finalized with enough time to allow Wright to be traded once again by Feb. 19, which just happens to be the trade deadline. Ainge is always thinking one step ahead to give himself options. While it’s not a guarantee that Wright will be traded as he’s an emerging young big that is very efficient, this does give the Celtics the ability to throw in another asset into a potential blockbuster deal. The Celtics have shown us in the past that they are not afraid to swing for the fences and with a slew of draft picks in their war chest, they may just have the ammunition to pull things off. There will always be teams interested in young talented bigs.

  1. Jeff Green (Forward- Boston Celtics)

Another Celtics player who could be on the move is Jeff Green. He’s had his best year as a pro so his value is at an all-time high, which is usually the best time to sell. It’s been known that both Green and Brandon Bass have been on the trade block for more than a year now and this will only intensify now that the Rajon Rondo deal has been finalized. The Celtics are officially in full rebuild mode and nobody on the team is untouchable. At 28 years old, Green is entering his prime and has a player option at the end of this season. It would make the most sense for him to opt-out and see if he can cash in on a longer deal due to his stellar play. The Celtics may not be prepared to offer Green the kind of deal he’s looking for and may choose to stay the course on their rebuild and keep collecting assets until the right deal comes along for a star player.

  1. Greg Monroe (Power Forward- Detroit Pistons)

After failing to reach an agreement on a long-term contract with the Pistons, Monroe wanted to be in control of his own destiny and chose to sign the qualifying offer for this season, making him an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. With the team failing to meet expectations and no indication that Monroe is looking to re-sign with the team, Pistons head coach and president Stan Van Gundy may look to see if there’s some team out there willing to give them an asset in return for Monroe. It was rumored the asking price was a first-round pick but that may prove to be too steep for someone who can simply bolt in the summer and be signed outright as a free agent instead. Monroe also has veto power over any trade, making the situation a little dicey. Regardless, the Pistons will make every attempt to not lose Monroe with nothing to show for it.

  1. Taj Gibson (Power Forward- Chicago Bulls)

The Bulls are playing like the best team in the East right now so it may seem a bit strange that they would look to move one of their solid frontcourt players. The fact of the matter is that it’s all about the numbers. Once Jimmy Butler decided not to take the contract extension that was offered in order to become a restricted free agent this summer and then proceeded to play like an All-Star this season, it became evident that hard decisions would have to be made. There’s only so much money to go around and with new players Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic both excelling in the frontcourt this season there’s a log jam at the forward spot. Gibson has done everything he’s been asked and is a favorite in Chicago, but even the most avid Bulls can see that something has got to give. He’s on a very reasonable and tradable contract that should not be difficult to move if the Bulls decide they need to free up some cash to retain Butler.

 

While there tends to be a lot of smoke leading up to the deadline as teams look to leverage deals, we will be covering all of it as some of that smoke reveals fire. Every day, we draw closer to the trade deadline and while this is just a brief look at some players that could be on the move, there may very well be other players that will be discussed in trades by front offices across the league before it’s all said and done. Check out the latest rumors here at Basketball Insiders.

E.J. Ayala is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah covering the NBA, NCAA, and international basketball. Currently serving as a newsline editor for Basketball Insiders.

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