NBA Star Players to be Traded Next
Daniel Sills is the co-founder and Chief Growth Officer of MockOut, the first fantasy app for offseason events like the NFL and NBA Drafts.
On June 1st, 2014, Kevin Love visited the city Boston, posed for pictures with fans, chilled at Fenway, and exchanged a handshake with Rajon Rondo. From that point on, Celtics fans lost their collective minds for three years.
With all those NBA trade assets in their arsenal — thanks to the Brooklyn Nets — Celtics fans believed that a superstar trade was inevitable. The question was: who, and for how much? For three years, any time an NBA star player was rumored to be available, Celtics fans were there with their best offers. Boogie Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Kristaps Porzingis, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Paul George…even (at one point) James Harden. Some of those players did get traded, but none to the Celtics. The Celtics did trade for an All-Star during that time: Isaiah Thomas. But, I.T. became an All-Star player after he got to the Celts. The Kyrie Irving trade happened so suddenly, there wasn’t even time for fans to speculate.
The point is, NBA star players do get traded, and any team can acquire one if all the pieces fall into place. Here’s the checklist of things a team needs to trade for an NBA star player:
- A talented roster that has the chance to contend
- Tradeable assets (young players or high draft picks)
- Cap space or big expiring contracts
- Well-run management and coaching staff
Which star players might get traded over the next few years? Here’s the complete list of players that your team might acquire.
All-Stars at discounted prices available at the trade deadline (2017/2018 season)
DeAndre will be a 30-year-old free agent next summer, and he’ll be looking for one last big contract. The Clippers don’t have many options other than to resign him. If they do, then they’ll have NO options for the foreseeable future. But if they underachieve this season, they could package DeAndre with Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers to clear cap space.
Likelihood of a trade: Not likely. The Clippers won’t get much value for a center, and they don’t have many other options without him.
Team to watch: Milwaukee Bucks might jump at the opportunity to roll the dice and get a dominant center. They could send a package of Thon Maker, Greg Monroe, Rashad Vaughn, and Gary Payton II to the Clippers for DeAndre and Wesley Johnson. This would clear space for the Clippers to go after a player in 2018 free agency and gives them a tradeable asset in Thon.
Boogie trade rumors are coming. If the Pelicans are under .500 in the standings by January 1st, Boogie will be dealt to the first team willing to give up a young talent and/or take on Omer Asik’s salary.
Likelihood of a trade: Likely, because it’s Boogie and the Pelicans have to move fast.
Team to watch: Washington Wizards. It’s time to unload everything you got to pair Boogie with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter. It’s going to require that the Wiz take on a lot of bad salary, give up one-third of their roster, and pray like hell that Boogie will stay. The deal would be Boogie, Omer Asik, and Solomon Hill for Kelly Oubre, Markieff Morris, Jason Smith, Tim Frazer, and Marcin Gortat. Pelicans get way more depth, a young wing player, and a chance for a free agent in 2019.
George is the worst kind of trade asset: a half-season rental that is all but guaranteed to leave next summer. But, any team could use a versatile wing player who can create offense and defend the other team’s best player.
Likelihood of a trade: Extremely low. Unless an injury derails the Thunder’s season and they have a fire sale.
Team to watch: Boston Celtics. Dammit, not this again! The one consistency with the Danny Ainge rebuild has been aversion to risk. He doesn’t trade for players like George just for the chance to resign them. However, there’s a big opportunity to get George and convince him to stay because he’d be on a superstar-loaded team. Irving, Hayward, George, and Al Horford could absolutely contend against Golden State, especially with Brad Stevens making the game plan. Paul George for Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, and a future 1st rounder would work for both teams.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will not make Russell available in a trade. There’s only one person that can do that: Westbrook himself. He’s been loyal and hasn’t shown signals that he intends to leave. But, if the Thunder underachieve, and if Westbrook publically declares that he’ll leave in free agency, then the Thunder will find a good home for their loyal player.
Likelihood of a trade: It’s not going to happen…unless Westbrook says so.
Team to watch: Milwaukee Bucks. Westbrook has shown that he will happily play in a small market. He’s never had a chance to play in the Eastern conference. This time he’d get to pair up with a Durant-level talent again. The Bucks would have to give up Jabari, Brogdon, and Thon to make it work, and there’s always the chance Westbrook will bail.
Time to explore your options during the NBA offseason (summer of 2018)
We’re all rooting for the Timberwolves this season. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004, and they’ve done a great job at creating a fun and very watchable roster. But the expectations are high and it will be difficult to live up to them. A lot needs to happen for Butler to commit to this team long term. Andrew Wiggins will need to live up to his talent to become that third star. Karl Anthony Towns needs to develop into a top 15 NBA talent. And role players like Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng need to live up to the price of their contracts. Things have to go right for the Wolves to keep Butler.
Likelihood of a trade: Highly likely, if the Wolves get beaten badly in the first round of the playoffs.
Team to watch: New York Knicks. This would essentially be a 2017 NBA Draft do-over for the Wolves. The Knicks would give up Frank Ntilikina for one year of Jimmy Butler, and the belief that once Butler has a taste of NY fame he won’t want to leave. The Knicks would still not be a contender, but they would be relevant and exciting to watch.
The only reason that Thompson is a candidate is because of the luxury tax. Yes, the Warriors are a generational team and the owners will do whatever they can to keep it together. But there is a HUGE tax penalty waiting for them if they pay full max contracts to Curry, Durant, Green, and Thompson. Even the Warriors have a future to worry about.
Likelihood of a trade: Somewhere between 3% and absolutely never.
Team to watch: Philadelphia 76ers. Now this would really complete the process. It almost certainly would involve Markelle Fultz, which may be a dealbreaker for the Sixers fanbase.
They’ve had enough of losing and want to be moved (Summer 2019)
Of course, AD was going to be on this list. New Orleans’s front office has done everything it can to make sure he shows up in trade rumors: overpay middling free agents; make poor draft picks; make panic trades. In reality, the last chance for this to work out for AD in New Orleans is Boogie Cousins, which is the last person you’d want to depend on.
Likelihood of a trade: Better than 50%. If he has one year left and has not committed to a super max contract, it’s more like 90%.
Team to watch: Boston Celtics. It’s the last domino to the Celtics rebuild, and I expect the Celtics to go all in to get Davis in green. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Kings 2019 1st round pick (assuming that the Lakers 2018 pick isn’t in the top five…if it is, the Celts will send that player in the deal). It could all be offered to get Davis. Also keep in mind that the Celtics could make this trade and the Paul George trade work. Now that could be a Golden State slayer.
Start preparing because these guys might be available (Summer 2020)
Drafting a superstar player can be stressful for fans because you know deep down that the player might leave. Just ask OKC fans. Even Kobe Bryant once tried to force his way out of Los Angeles, and he probably would have if the Lakers didn’t pull off a magnificent Pau Gasol deal. Giannis is safe for now. However, if this team is contending by the start of the 2019 season, prepare for the Giannis trade whispers.
Likelihood of a trade: Ask me next summer. A lot will depend on what kind of players Jabari and Brogdon are.
Team to watch: Phoenix Suns. There is light at the end of the tunnel, Suns fans. It’s going to require current players on the Suns to play up to their talent level AND for the Suns to land a top three pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. (You’re not getting Giannis without a true superstar talent.)
I’m not a Jazz fan, but I really hope this doesn’t happen. A lot of that will depend on three people: Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, and Donovan Mitchell. If one or two of those players can mature into a low-end All-Star it will make it much easier for Rudy to take the super max and just play out his career with the Jazz.
Likelihood of a trade: Low, but the chances increased a lot once Gordon Hayward left.
Team to watch: Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will both have one year left on their contracts, and this might be the perfect opportunity to do a 1-for-1 deal with the Jazz. This assumes that the Jazz won’t want to blow everything up and start over. Ugh…
If you don’t have the MockOut app yet, you don’t have a smooth and easy way to create and edit a mock draft for 2018 NFL Draft. So here you go.