Every team has potential future-altering decisions to make each offseason. Sometimes it even lingers on into the season, as we have seen with Jimmy Butler and company. Every team ultimately needs to decide how it wants to spend its money and how long it will commit to a player. With so many player acquisitions every year, there are certain situations that will backfire. Either that or create doubt regarding the organization’s year-by-year outlook. Highly regarded players with unfavorable contracts are not included in this article since value is the name of the game.
Here are several trade candidates to look out for:
Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal (up to 3 years/$81.2M) and Otto Porter (up to 3 years/$81.7M):
The D.C. saga is ongoing and may not slow down anytime soon barring a roster overhaul. Beal is at times limited playing alongside John Wall. His contract is not cheap – but probably well worth it for a trustworthy shooting guard like Beal. Porter, on the other hand, is a maximum contract player who raises questions. The 25-year-old still has potential to be an adept 3-and-D player in the right situation. John Wall (super-max contract), Beal and Porter account for about 85 percent of next year’s salary cap. One of the three probably needs to go.
L.A. Lakers’ Brandon Ingram (2 years/$13M), Kyle Kuzma (up to 3 years/$7.2M) and Josh Hart (up to 3 years/$7.1M):
Rookie deals make a player that much more appealing to potential suitors. The Lakers should and will listen to proposed deals in hopes of swinging for the fences and acquiring a second star player to take some of the burden off LeBron James. Hollywood is never off the scene, especially with LeBron James succeeding Kobe Bryant as this generation’s iconic hero. Ingram garners loud attention in the trade market. Not because of the franchise he plays for but because teams genuinely believe he could become an All-Star in due time.
Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic (1 year/$12.8M):
This is a contract year for Vucevic, who is currently playing some of the best basketball of his career. Orlando would be wise to carefully consider its options as Vucevic may be searching for an extra generous payday in the midst of his prime. A handful of teams in the league could have more use for his services. Vucevic is on pace for a 20 PPG-10 RPG season after his production declined the two previous years. Aaron Gordon was signed like he should be the franchise player. That is far from a given though as he hasn’t quite hit that level of play.
Charlotte Hornets’ Malik Monk (up to 3 years/$12.8M), Jeremy Lamb (1 year/$7M) and Frank Kaminsky (1 year/$3.6M):
Kemba Walker is in line for a maximum payday assuming he continues his stellar offensive performance. One of the league’s premier scorers, it appears as though Charlotte has leaned toward prioritizing him as a keeper and surrounding him with more assets. Charlotte doesn’t have much to work with from a trading standpoint and could either engage in a 3-way trade or find a team willing to unload immediate impact players. Lamb and Kaminsky aren’t particularly attractive at first glance but Charlotte could make something happen in a business like this.
Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson (up to 4 years/$42M) and Goran Dragic (up to 2 years/$38.5M):
Miami seems committed to him but reportedly neared an agreement on a deal centered around Jimmy Butler before taking J-Rich off the table. Richardson’s maturity and 2-way impact make him a solid bargain for $10.5 million per year. The Heat has a few other unwelcoming contracts in Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson and Hassan Whiteside to deal with. Dragic, however, is likely a movable piece as a proven, well-versed point guard. Miami has enough depth to acquire more of a game-changer – someone who can take his talents to South Beach.
Toronto Raptors’ O.G. Anunoby (up to 4 years/$8.1M):
Anunoby was thought to have possibly been involved in the Kawhi Leonard trade that eventually ended up happening. It turns out Toronto managed to pull the trigger without including him. Although he may be part of the team’s foundation, Anunoby’s reduced role in Toronto makes him a relevant topic in trade talk. The Raptors are extremely well-balanced: Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright can handle the ball off the bench. Danny Green and Anunoby cover the off-ball duties. There is also Pascal Siakim who can play on the perimeter or in the interior.
Phoenix Suns’ Josh Jackson (up to 3 years/$22M):
Phoenix’s notable depth at the wing positions has caused Jackson’s playing time to dip by 8 minutes per game this season. Trevor Ariza was an important veteran signing but it’s mainly been T.J. Warren who has interfered with Jackson’s ability to make progress as a young and upcoming player. It almost seems like the Suns have stockpiled players of similar roles. How they surround Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton remains to be seen. In addition, Jackson might have an even tougher time earning minutes once Booker eventually moves to his natural shooting guard position.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Markelle Fultz (at least 2 years/$18.1M):
Things have quickly spiraled downward ever since Fultz was drafted first overall by the Sixers in 2017. From reports of him not being game-ready to teammates overshadowing him, it seems apparent Fultz is not a fit for this team. Teams might not be all that hesitant to take back his salary. However, that doesn’t take away from the thought of him showing relatively nothing so far. Fultz has high standards to live up to with players like Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith drafted being behind him.
L.A. Clippers’ Tobias Harris (1 year/$14.8M):
Harris (51.9% FG, 21.4 PPG) is enjoying a career season on paper. The Clippers are definitely content with him for the time-being but have bigger plans on their agenda. Harris’s expiring contract could factor into which marquee free agents they attract. Exploring his trade market might not be a bad idea if the Clippers are already sold on replacing him or finding an upgrade. Kawhi Leonard is the well-known dream scenario for here. If they fill in two max free agent slots (which is possible), Harris would likely have to sign with the Clippers after the new star players to fit in the team’s budget.
Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague (up to 2 years/$38M):
Teague was an All-Star not too long ago – in the 2014-15 season as a member of the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks. His age should not be a reason for the drop-off he’s experienced. Unlike the present day Wolves, that Hawks team was particularly strong on the defensive end. Teague’s controlled offensive regime tends to get hidden behind Minnesota’s inconsistency. Point guard is a deep position but not always easy to come by. Maybe the team looks in another direction post-Jimmy Butler trade.
Utah Jazz’ Dante Exum (3 years/$31.8M):
Exum is kind of my dark horse in this article: Utah just signed him to a multi-year deal over the summer. Ricky Rubio’s impending free agency should be taken into account here. However, a sudden role change might not be in store for Exum just yet. Add in Alec Burks and Joe ingles, who sometimes operates at guard, this is a crowded rotation. Utah could realistically ship Exum off to a younger team building for the future in hopes of getting back a player to validate its win-now mode.
Boston Celtics’ Terry Rozier (1 year/$3.1M) and Marcus Morris (1 year/$5.4M):
The front office in Boston always seems to stay busy. The Celtics are heavily invested in Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. On top of that, they will eventually have to pay Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (if it comes down to that). Marcus Smart re-upped on a 4-year deal prior to the season. Overall, this team has the flexibility to go in the direction it chooses while trying to contend for a championship. Morris might be the more important player to Boston’s success right now but Rozier can generate a better return in value.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love (5 years/$113.3M):
The Cavs would be wise to move on from Love sooner rather than later. Love has developed into one of the league’s more injury-prone players. When healthy though, he is still a star caliber power forward with a wide variety of moves on the offensive end. Not to mention, Love remains one of the league’s most active and tenacious rebounders. Building off of my first point, Love’s contract does not get an automatic pass at this point in his career. There is no certainty that Love has many quality years left.