Who is the next NBA Star to be Traded?

Kemba Walker

After the Kawhi Leonard trade that sent him to Toronto and DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, the Thunder dumped Carmelo Anthony on the Hawks in order to lighten their luxury tax bill. With free agency for the most part behind us, teams will start revving up trade talks before training camp starts. The question is, now that Leonard has been dealt, who is the next star player to find himself in a new city.

 

Kevin Love

Possible trade partners: Blazers, Wizards, Pacers

Best trade offer: Love to the Blazers for Evan Turner, Anfernee Simons, future first-round pick (top 10 protected).

The Blazers are over the luxury tax and need to make a deep run in the playoffs to make it worth wild. The western conference has gotten stronger this offseason and the Blazers are being left behind. Adding Love, who grew up in Oregon, would give the Blazers a third star to pair with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Turner hasn’t been an ideal fit with Lillard and McCollum and has negative trade value. Pairing him with the high upside Simons and a first round draft pick should be enough to get the Cavaliers to trade away the 30 year old, injury prone Love.

Just because the Cavaliers recently signed Love to a contract extension, that doesn’t mean they won’t trade him if the right offer comes along. The extension is a win-win for Love and the Cavaliers. For Love, he has locked up an additional $120 million dollars. For the Cavaliers they have a star player on the roster long term if they choose to do a quick rebuilding. However, if the team struggles and they decide to take the long term rebuilding approach, a new team will like that Love is locked up through the 2022-2023 season. Assuming the Cavaliers trade Love, the Blazers can offer back a solid package. Turner has only two years left on his deal and is a good locker room guy. Simons is a 19 year old kid with some athleticism and upside to him, that should get plenty of minutes on a rebuilding team. The first round pick would give the Cavaliers another asset to help rebuild around Simons, Larry Nance Jr., and Collin Sexton.

Kevin Love
USA Today Sports

 

Kemba Walker

Possible trade partners: Knicks, Nets, Suns

Best trade offer: Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky to the Knicks for Joakim Noah, Kevin Knox, future first-round pick (top seven protected).

For the Knicks, this is the kind of move that pushes all the chips all in for a chance to make a run as the top team in the eastern conference starting in 2019. Finally being able to shed Noah’s contract for the 2019 offseason, the Knicks will have a projected $46 million dollars in cap space with the cap holds for Walker and Kristaps Porzingis. Both Lamb and Kaminsky are free agents after the season and should be renounced. The Knicks can use the cap space to add a third star in free agency and still have enough room left over to add another starting caliber player, then resign Walker and Porzingis using their bird rights. While giving up the first round pick and the promising Knox is a tough pill to swallow, getting rid of Noah’s $19.3 million dollar salary for the 2019-2020 season is critical.

Given all the bad contracts on their roster, the Hornets best course of action might be to trade Walker for young assets, bad contracts and rebuild long term. Taking back Noah’s contract isn’t ideal but they could work towards a buy out in order to save some money. Like Knox, Miles Bridges had an impressive summer league and looks like a future impact player. The Hornets would likely have two lottery picks next year to go along with Malik Monk, the 11th pick in the 2017 draft, Bridges and Knox that can help jump start their rebuilding process. The best part about this deal for the Hornets is it keeps them out of the luxury tax; which is critical for a rebuilding team.

 

Jimmy Butler

Possible trade partners: Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Nets

Best trade offer: Butler to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, future first-round pick (top three protected).

With the reports that Butler is frustrated with the young Wolves players and won’t resign with the team this coming offseason, they should look to move him for the right package. So, who wouldn’t love to play on the wing with LeBron James in Los Angeles. If the Wolves fear they will lose Butler next summer they could look to trade him for a younger player and an expiring contract given their long term cap issues. With both Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns up for contract extensions next season, the Wolves will be very deep in the luxury tax penalty in 2019. Caldwell-Pope is a 3&D guy who can help this season and is on an one year deal. Ball is only 20 and while his rookie season was a disappointment to some, maybe a change of scenery will help. For the Wolves, Butler didn’t really fit their long term plans while a trio of Ball, Towns and Andrew Wiggins (all 23 or younger) could turn into the next great big three.

Now the James is a Laker, the team’s mindset has totally changed. Ball is no longer the focal point of the team. The Lakers can finally have enough with LaVar Ball and ship Lonzo off to Minnesota much easier now; especially if it lands them a star player. Butler would be able to play off the ball better than Ball and guard the other team’s best player. The Lakers would now have two star players and several of their young players still on the roster, setting them up for a big summer in 2019 where they could add a third star.

Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns
USA Today Sports

 

Karl-Anthony Towns

Possible trade partners: Celtics

Best trade offer: Towns, Jeff Teague for Kyrie Irving, Aron Baynes, Robert Williams, Kings 2019 first-round pick (top one protected).

Reportedly, Butler wants to team up with Irving, his best friend, this offseason. Also reportedly, Butler has grown frustrated with the young Wolves players. If the Wolves want to keep Butler long term, getting Irving would certainly help. While giving up Towns is tough, the Wolves would get back two big men in the trade, a likely top five pick and the multi time all-star Irving. Baynes would provide some size and veteran leadership, while Williams is a raw and athletic 20 year old kid. If the Wolves can resign Butler and Irving next summer and add a nice prospect with the Kings 2019 first round pick, this trade will be a steal for them.

The report that Butler wants to team up with Irving next season has to be concerning for the Celtics as well. However, the Celtics won 55 games and went to the eastern conference finals last season despite Irving missing 22 games in the regular season and not playing a minute in the post season. The combination of Teague and Terry Rozier would give the Celtics solid enough production to replace Irving. The biggest factor for the Celtics is they would have control of Towns as he is a restricted free agent next season. The Celtics have struggled at times rebounding the ball when Al Horford is playing at center. Meanwhile, Towns’ has averaged 11.7 rebounds per game for his career. Lastly, Horford can become a free agent after the season and at 33 years old, the Celtics may not be so inclined to give him a long term deal at a big salary given they have to think about locking up Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum in the coming years.

 

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The most untouchable player for every Eastern Conference team

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

This is it. We can do this, ladies and gentlemen. Free agency is winding down, the NBA draft has been done for what seems like ages, and summer league is wrapping up as well.

Now more than ever, we need thought provoking NBA content. Well, say no more fam.

 

1. Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young

When I first glanced at this roster, I threw up a little in my mouth. But then I took a deep breath, dry heaved some more and decided to look again. Things aren’t as bleak as they seem.

Trae Young, John Collins, Taurean Prince, Kevin Huerter. The Hawks have the start of something promising or at the very least, intriguing. Is anyone on this roster truly untouchable? Probably not. Still, with management trading back and still drafting Trae Young, all signs point to him as being the least likely to be traded.

 

2. Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum

The rookie standout is the obvious answer here. Do the Celtics want to trade any of their core? Nope. Still, I cannot imagine Danny Ainge trading Tatum for any realistic option out there right now. (Anthony Davis cannot come to the Cs via a DPE rule.)

Tatum’s duel with LeBron in the game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final is something we could see in a 30 for 30 one day. The kid is that special.

 

3. Brooklyn Nets – Jarrett Allen

Just when I thought I was done throwing up…

All jokes aside, the Nets are finally headed in the right direction. They own their future picks and have acquired then developed some good prospects. Spencer Dinwiddie revived his career in Brooklyn, and other reclamation projects await.

Jarrett Allen has looked like a good gamble so far. There is a reason he only played 20 minutes per game last year but, his per-36 minutes suggest a bright future lies ahead.

Per 36 Minutes Table
Season Age Tm G FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
2017-18 19 BRK 72 5.8 9.9 .589 0.1 0.4 .333 2.8 3.7 .776 9.7 1.2 0.7 2.2 14.7
Career 72 5.8 9.9 .589 0.1 0.4 .333 2.8 3.7 .776 9.7 1.2 0.7 2.2 14.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2018.

4. Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges

So this is the question: What makes Miles Bridges more untradable than Malik Monk?

Monk had a disappointing rookie season. Sure, he showed flashes during the last month or so of the season. Yet, Monk proved to be more of a project than what scouts originally thought.

Bridges may not project as the safer long term prospect however, he has a two-way ceiling higher than Monk’s. Offensively, Bridges looks to be equally as dynamic as Monk, despite these two having different skill sets. It is on the defensive side of the ball where Bridges separates himself, as he has the potential to defend four positions on the court.

 

5. Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr.

I struggled with this selection as well. Lauri Markkanen set rookie records for three-pointers last year. Plus, Coach Hoiberg ran a bunch of the offense through him, something that displayed Markkanen’s playmaking ability. So why did I side with Carter Jr here?

Lauri Markkanen may learn NBA defensive spacing but, he simply lacks to physical tools to be an effective two-way player. With the game getting quicker, I can imagine future playoff scenarios where Markkanen gets played off of the court. Who does Markkanen guard when a team like the Sixers trots out Embiid, Simmons, Redick, Fultz and Covington. Carter Jr won’t ever get played off of the court. His three-point stroke and playmaking look to be just as good as Markkanen’s as well.

 

6. Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton

Has anyone made an “I wanna Sexton you up” meme yet? No? Great.

Cleveland has players that are the opposite of untouchable. They should be looking to gain value for Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and others. Yet, Sexton remains untouchable. The former Alabama guard is a locker room blessing. Sexton can reset the culture in Cleveland while becoming their point guard of the future. Cedi Osman was in contention here as well.

 

7. Detroit Pistons – Andre Drummond

If I were the GM of the Detroit Pistons, Andre Drummond would not be untouchable. That does mean I would be looking to unload him however, I prefer my centers to be able to switch pick and rolls, as well as space the court. Yet, Drummond is probably the most unlikely player Detroit is willing to part with.

Blake Griffin was a Stan Van Gundy guy, not someone new management particularly wanted. I am not suggesting his trade value is high enough to warrant a move but, crazier things have happened. This summer, Drummond has posted videos on his Instagram account draining threes. Perhaps he will bring this skill to the Pistons this year, and truly earn this hypothetical untouchable title.

 

8. Indiana Pacers – Victor Oladipo

I won’t get into too much detail about this because Josh Eberly of HOOPmag already did it for me:

9. Miami Heat – Josh Richardson

Why not first time All-Star and former All-NBAer Goran Dragic? Dragic can opt out of his contract after next season and will be a 33-year-old point guard. If anything, Miami should be tryingto ship Dragic off to a fringe contender looking for that next piece.

Bam Adebayo came to mind here but, paint protecting rim runners are becoming easier and easier to find nowadays. 24-year-old defensive wings who drain 37% of their threes and hit 45% from the field are not easy to find, however. Throw in Richardson’s cheap contract and Miami has a piece they should hold onto.

 

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Giannia Antetokounmpo

Ask Tim Hardaway Jr to explain this one.

11. New York Knicks – Kristaps Porzingis

Want to know how many NBA players shot 39% from deep last year while also blocking 2.4 shots per game? One. Don’t overthink this one, people. Kevin Knox will be an awesome player and is on a cheap deal. Frankie Smokes is already an elite perimeter defender with promising offensive development. Still, KP is the way to go here.

 

12. Orlando Magic – Mo Bamba

Rookies seem to be dominating this list, and I do not know if I am comfortable with that.

Aaron Gordon took a step forward with his three-point shooting ability last season yet, he still has so much more to develop if he wants to truly take advantage of his elite athleticism. With both Bamba and Jonathan Isaac looking great in summer league, I would move off of Gordon for a top-20 pick.

Jonathan Isaac has shown promise lately however, he does not have the ceiling that Bamba has. Bamba is the most boom or bust player of this bunch, but Orlando needs a star and Bamba is worth making untouchable.

 

13. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons

Let the debate begin!

I love Embiid’s game and potential. In my opinion, he has a higher ceiling than Simmons. Embiid could be an MVP and  DPOY winner. Yet, I like my untouchable players to be on the court. Out of 328 possible regular season games, Embiid has played 94 of them. Folks, he has only played in 28 percent of his games. Unfortunately, 7’1″, 260 lbs centers tend to progress towards injuries, not away from them.

Ben Simmons has an MVP ceiling as well. At one point during his career he will be the best passer in the game. Defensively, he can be elite too. Simmons has all the tools to be transcendent and a gambling man will bet that Simmons will find a way to fix that jumper. Factor in his health, and Simmons is my pick here, although I would not trade either.

 

14. Toronto Raptors – No one

Why should anyone on this roster be untouchable? Toronto is at a crossroads. With LeBron out of the East, they need to take a risk and go all in.

I have been a fan of the “DeMar for Kawhi” fake trades. Kawhi is simply a better player than DeMar DeRozan and would raise Toronto’s chances of winning. If the team can package Lowry and other assets for an upgrade, do it. Could they need to sell off OG and other young prospects for an experienced difference maker? Go for it.

If not now, when? Toronto has a very small window to win. If there is a move out there that makes them better for even one season, they must do it.

 

15. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal

Surprised you, right?

Bradley Beal had a better year than John Wall last year, straight up.

Per Game Table
Rk Player Season Age GS FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
1 Bradley Beal 2017-18 24 82 8.3 18.1 .460 2.4 6.5 .375 .527 .793 4.4 4.5 1.2 0.4 22.6
2 John Wall 2017-18 27 41 6.8 16.3 .420 1.5 4.1 .371 .466 .726 3.7 9.6 1.4 1.1 19.4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2018.

 

I will take Beal’s numbers here over Wall’s any day of the week. Plus, Washington should be looking to move off of Wall’s contract. John Wall will be paid $37 million dollars in 2019-2020. Compare that to Beal who will be making $10 million less! Remember when I was throwing up earlier…

…John Wall will be making $43 million when he is 31-years-old! That type of money cripples franchises from making other important acquisitions. The point guard position is the saturated one in the game today, making Wall expendable in the long term. Bradley Beal is the guy to hang onto.

Can Mario Hezonja reach his potential in New York?

Mario Hezonja

Out of the prospects carefully selected by the Orlando Magic in the 10 years leading into the 2018 draft spectacle, only Aaron Gordon (2014) and Jonathan Isaac (2017) remain a part of the team.

Be it through substandard form or simply not wanting to stick around, the rest are gone. Mario Hezonja added his name to the list of players that have bolted from Florida this summer, a list that includes an All-Star in Victor Oladipo and solid pieces like Courtney Lee and Domantas Sabonis.

The 23-year-old was a polarizing figure in his three seasons for the Magic, who often seemed (rightfully) underwhelmed with the production their former fifth pick was providing. They demonstrated their displeasure by declining the Croatian’s 2018-19 team option, allowing him to make his way to the Big Apple on a 1-year, $6.5 million deal.

With a dearth of young talent, Orlando may have been wise to try and hang on to Hezonja, but that’s in the past. Now, the Knicks – who have had trouble developing stars of their own – get a crack at molding the disappointing lottery pick into a stud.

He may have a below par player for the majority of his career,  but in the final knockings of his Magic career,  the 6-foot-8 wing showed some of the promise that fans had expected from day dot. Over the final 10 games of the season, Hezonja was finally let loose, averaging 13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting a very respectable 37.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

Take those numbers, and add in the elite-level 100.9 defensive rating that he was pumping out during that time frame, and it’s easy to see the very real 3-and-D upside that Hezonja possesses. That’s the version of him New York Knicks fans want to see.

When speaking with Stefan Bondy from Daily News, new Knicks head coach David Fizdale gave a ringing endorsement of his new man – despite his sub-par first three seasons.

“It’s so easy to write a kid off after a couple years. But any one of you and me when we were 18 to 21 were jerks. Let’s be real about that,” Fizdale said. “So a lot of times we discard these players and this kid still has a lot of things as he showed at the end of the year. Although he had struggled, it finally started to pick up.”

With a healthy Kristaps Porzinigis, a defensive stud in Frank Ntilikina and this year’s lottery pick Kevin Knox likely littering the starting line-up, Super Mario forecasts to replace Michael Beasley as New York’s bench gunner. If New York opts to go small and start Knox at the power forward position, Hezonja may just find himself in the starting unit come opening night.

A starting role might be exactly what Hezonja needs. He was given minimal opportunities in Orlando, starting just 41 out of a possible 219 outings. 30 of those appearances came in 2017-18, and he looked like a whole other player when he was given the starting nod. The 23-year-old averaged 14 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the first five, which should give Knicks fans great hope about his future.

The best part for New York general manager Scott Perry is that even if Super Mario isn’t quite as super as they expected, they can simply let him walk next summer when his deal expires. If Hezonja does slash through that ‘bust’ label, the Knicks will be in pole position to re-sign him. Win-win.

 “No judgment. I’m not going to look back at your past for any negatives. I want to start from scratch and develop you and play you … That’s all he was asking for was a fresh start and being a place where he was valued and people cared about him. I think it’s going to be a good relationship.” Fizdale told Daily News

With a run of form behind him, a coach who has his back and a big role to fill, Mario Hezonja looks like he is on track for his best season yet. Spike Lee is going to like this kid.


Next Post: Under the radar Kawhi Leonard Trade Possibilities

Creating the best NBA Lineup from Non-Playoff Teams

Devin Booker

Today is the day. It is time to kick off a brand new column called “Creating NBA Lineups.” Every Monday, a new lineup will be released. However, each week there will be different rules to follow when I create the lineups. To open up the new column today, I am “Creating the best NBA Lineup from Non-Playoff Teams.” I am basing the lineup off of the players’ performances last season, and I am assuming full health for each player. Let’s jump right into it.

 

PG: Kemba Walker

What better way to start off a team than with a two-time All-Star running the show. Kemba Walker is one of the most fascinating point guards in the NBA, and with more talent around him, the Hornets would be a fixture in the postseason every year. Perhaps the biggest knock on Kemba’s game is his passing ability, which won’t be a problem on this team with all the talent surrounding him. In addition, Kemba gives this team someone to go to when the team is in desperate need of a bucket. Kemba has a killer mentality, exactly what a franchise needs in their star point guard.

In Consideration: Jamal Murray

 

SG: Devin Booker

What other direction can you go? Devin Booker has the potential to be one of the next great NBA players of all-time. Booker is just 21 years old and has already shown that he has what it takes to be very successful in the NBA. Averaging 24.9 points per game on 38.3% shooting from three-point range, Booker is the perfect backcourt fit next to Walker. Similar to Walker, Booker has a killer mentality. When the team needs a bucket, all you need to do is call an iso for the Kentucky product. There isn’t a more perfect fit at shooting guard for this team, exactly why a young star is the direction to go.

In Consideration: Lou Williams

 

SF: Tobias Harris

Welcome to the first shock of the “Creating NBA Lineups” series. Most people would probably think a young and still developing Brandon Ingram would be the way to go here. However, I think Tobias Harris is exactly what this team needs at small forward. Coming off his best season in the NBA, averaging 18.6 points per game on 41.1% shooting from deep, Harris complements a ball-dominant backcourt well. Harris has the ability to spot up outside the three-point line and knock down shots when defenses collapse on the driver. In addition, Harris’ savviness will get him easy buckets making back-door cuts when the defense puts their attention on other threats. Finally, Harris’ size and defensive abilities give the team someone who can match-up with the opposing team’s star player. Harris fits the build for exactly what this super team needs at small forward.

In Consideration: Harrison Barnes/Brandon Ingram

Tobias Harris

PF: Kristaps Porzingis

“Unicorn.” “Porzingod.” Whatever you want to call him, this man can flat out ball. The 22-year-old All-Star is the prototypical modern NBA big. Porzingis can score from anywhere on the floor. He can put the ball on the deck, he can post-up and he can launch it from deep. Not only can he do it all on offense, his size and length allows him to block a flurry of shots each game. Porzingis’ abilities on both ends of the floor make him the perfect fit at power forward for this super team.

In Consideration: Blake Griffin

 

C: Nikola Jokic

What a frontcourt we have here. Can you even imagine Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Jokic on the same team? That is the definition of an opposing team’s worst nightmare. Like Porzingis, Jokic can do it all on offense, but he adds an additional element: his passing. Jokic is possibly the best passing big in the NBA. He sees things that a lot of point guards don’t see, and this man is over seven feet tall. His ability to handle the ball and make passes like a guard add a whole new dynamic to this team.

In Consideration: DeAndre Jordan/Andre Drummond

 

Recap/Prediction:

To close it off, this team would be good, really good. Having a Kemba/Booker backcourt, a Porzingis/Jokic frontcourt and Harris to tie it all together is unfair. In addition, a mixture of veteran leadership and young talent spells for this team to be very good for a very long time. If I were to make a prediction for this lineup over 10 seasons, I would put them at winning five championships over that time period. Other super teams still dominate in the present, but once some of these young guys get in their prime, this non-playoff super team would rule the association.

Be sure to come back next week when a new “Creating NBA Lineups” column is posted!

Photo Credits: The Ringer, Blazer’s Edge