We are 10 days away from the 2019 NBA trade deadline, and things are really starting to heat up.
In prior installments of our NBA trade rumor rankings series, we would only cover the five players popping up the most in trade rumors over the prior 14 days. But because we’re getting so close to Feb. 7, and since scuttle is starting to get noisier and noisier, in this installment, we decided to up the ante and discuss the 10 players who have appeared most often in trade rumors over the last week.
Without further ado, this is going to be a busy edition of this series so let’s go ahead and jump right into it.
10. JABARI PARKER, CHICAGO BULLS
Chicago Bulls forward Jabari Parker has been a consistent inclusion in these rankings over recent weeks. That’s because once head coach Jim Boylen removed Parker from his team’s rotation, many expected a trade to come soon thereafter.
However, according to league execs who spoke to Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger, that may not be the case:
“Either way, two rival executives told B/R that the Bulls’ search for a trade partner could prove futile. Given how things have gone for Parker in Chicago, it’s clear to all potentially interested teams that the Bulls aren’t picking up Parker’s $20 million option for next season. If you could sit back and get a former No. 2 overall pick who’s not yet 25 for a whole lot cheaper as a free agent a few months from now, why would you give up an asset and take on his contract for the rest of the season? ‘They’ll try to trade him for anything they can get,’ one of the rival execs said. ‘It’s going to have to be an expiring contract, but how many teams have expiring contracts that can stack up to [$20 million]? Not many. I think they’ll just buy him out.'”
Nevertheless, considering opposing teams could see the second half of the season as a potential time to try out Parker before deciding whether to pick up or decline his $20 million option for 2019-20, there’s still a chance the former Duke Blue Devil gets dealt prior to the deadline.
If both years of Parker’s contract were fully guaranteed, then there’d be next to no shot, but that second-year team option gives the Bulls a glimmer of hope that they’ll be able to get a trade done, rather than face a pricey buyout.
9. COURTNEY LEE, NEW YORK KNICKS
After a few weeks of quiet, Courtney Lee’s name has popped back up in trade rumors over the last seven days.
- Lee is available for trade.
- The New York Knicks don’t want to attach draft picks just to deal Lee.
- New York also doesn’t want to add anything but an expiring contract in exchange for Lee.
Lee has another season (after this one) left on his contract, worth roughly $12.8 million. Because that year of his deal doesn’t have an option on it, contenders who could be interested in Lee due to his level of experience and ability to space the floor may shy away from going after him for fear of having bad money on their books in 2019-20.
Nevertheless, there’s always a chance a playoff-caliber team gets desperate for more shooting and defense on the wing ahead of the postseason, and makes an offer for Lee prior to the deadline.
It’s not likely, but we can’t totally rule it out, either.
8. TIM HARDAWAY JR, NEW YORK KNICKS
There’s not much to say about Tim Hardaway Jr.’s availability that we didn’t just write about Lee.
The Knicks would like to clear up cap space for the upcoming offseason; Hardaway is under contract for another two seasons (after this one) and is due $37.2 million so, obviously, New York would love to be able get him off their books – without losing assets. Hardaway hasn’t exactly helped matters, or his own stock, by shooting 38.8 percent from the floor this year and averaging just north of 19 points on over 16 shot attempts per game.
Thus, needless to say, it’ll be no easy feat for the Knicks to find a taker without adding some sweetener to the deal. Nearly impossible, most likely.
But never say never.
7. PAU GASOL, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
This season, Pau Gasol is averaging a career-low 14.1 minutes nightly. And since returning from injury in early January, he’s fallen even further to the fringes of Gregg Popovich’s rotation.
Gasol seems to be taking the demotion in stride, but the veteran big man did admit to The Athletic that he would prefer having a bigger role. An anonymous league exec also told The Athletic that he doesn’t see many takers if the San Antonio Spurs were to put Gasol on the market, considering Gasol is owed $16 million in 2019-20, a hefty price for a player who will be in his age-39 season.
However, on Jan. 27, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Gasol as a player who could get dealt prior to the deadline, stating that the big Spaniard’s contract is a bit easier to stomach than first glance would indicate because his $16 million for next year is only guaranteed for $6.7 million.
Still, that’s a pretty big investment for a player who may not be worthy of a spot in the rotation on playoff-caliber squads. Nevertheless, Gasol could probably still give teams decent spot minutes off the bench, so there’s at least some chance he finds himself on another team in a few weeks.
6. STANLEY JOHNSON, DETROIT PISTONS
It’s been quite the journey for Detroit Pistons wing Stanley Johnson since reaching the NBA, and, unfortunately, that journey has had more downs than ups.
Now, he finds himself in the midst of light-but-noteworthy trade scuttle.
According to The Athletic, San Antonio, who is searching for wing depth on the trade market, could have interest in Johnson due to their assistant GM, Brian Wright, being a part of Detroit’s front office back in 2015 when they drafted Johnson. Regardless, according to that same report, the Pistons, still in playoff contention, would rather keep Johnson since he could help the team make a postseason push.
This year, Johnson is averaging 7.5 points nightly, shooting 26.2 percent from three and Detroit is 6.0 points per 100 possessions better without Johnson on the floor, so it’s actually kind of surprising any outside team is interested in him at all.
Will the Pistons end up changing their tune if the Spurs actually make an offer? Is there interest being overstated?
We’ll find out by Feb. 7.
5. THON MAKER, MILWAUKEE BUCKS
On Jan. 27, a report came out courtesy of ESPN regarding Thon Maker and a trade request. According to the report, Maker’s representation asked for a deal out of Milwaukee so the former No. 10 overall pick to get more playing time:
“The representative for Milwaukee Bucks center Thon Maker has told management that he would prefer the franchise to trade Maker to a team that would provide a larger role for the former lottery pick, league sources told ESPN on Saturday. As Maker’s playing time has diminished under new coach Mike Budenholzer in the Bucks’ surge to the NBA’s best record, agent Mike George and Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst have discussed trade scenarios in recent weeks that would potentially make sense for both the player and team, league sources said.”
Maker is playing just 11.7 minutes nightly this year and has been a healthy scratch multiple times, so it makes sense why the 21-year-old and his team would rather he find a better situation.
Despite his immense potential, Maker hasn’t quite figured things out at the NBA level just yet. But in a situation where he’s getting 20 minutes every night, Maker would at least be given the opportunity to prove whether he can sink or swim in the top level of basketball.
Because Maker is still on his rookie-scale deal for another two seasons, finding a suitor for him shouldn’t be too difficult for the Bucks. But as far Milwaukee getting equal value to the Top-10 pick they used on him in return, that’s almost certainly not happening.
Maker simply hasn’t proven enough for a team to offer anything too valuable to acquire him.
4. MIKE CONLEY, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
One of the biggest surprises of the 2019 trade deadline came when Woj tweeted the following report:
It appears the era of Grit-and-Grind is over forever, as the two staples of Grizzlies basketball over the last decade are now seemingly on the block.
Moving the 31-year-old Mike Conley and his five-year, $152.6 million contract, which has three years left on it, may not be that easy, but if Conley can maintain his current level of play, it may just get a bit easier. Conley is presently putting up 20.0 points, 6.2 assists and 1.4 steals per contest, proving that he’s still one of the most underrated floor generals in the loaded Western Conference.
We’ll see what ends up happening with the 12-year vet prior to Feb. 7, but there are a few teams already reportedly interested, and other suitors that would make a lot of sense for the experienced ball-handler.
3. ENES KANTER, NEW YORK KNICKS
Enes Kanter has been a popular name on the trade deadline for weeks now and yet, it doesn’t appear we’re any closer to a resolution for this saga.
The latest reports on the matter are moreso about Kanter’s frustration rather than actual reporting on where the bruising big man could end up. Most recently, Kanter claims he was told by head coach David Fizdale that he would be starting on Jan. 23, only to receive a DNP-CD:
“Fizdale, according to Kanter, told him at the morning meeting he would start against the Rockets. However, the coach changed his mind later in the day. Kanter was told by assistant coach Keith Smart before the loss that he’d be coming off the bench. Kanter was waiting by his locker, fully dressed, when reporters arrived following the 114-110 game. ‘They told me this morning that I’m starting,’ Kanter said. ‘Now I come to the game and I didn’t even play. I’m trying to be a good teammate, but I want to play basketball. If you’re going to play me here, play me. If not, just get me out of here.'”
Kanter is averaging 14.2 points and 10.9 boards per contest as a member of the New York Knicks, and his contract expires this summer, so it’s possible New York is able to grant his wish to get traded.
For now, though, there’s little clarity on how exactly this is going to end.
2. MARC GASOL, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
“Then, Gasol expressed surprise over the fact that Conley’s name is part of trade discussions. ‘I don’t understand why Mike is in those talks either,” Gasol said. “Mike is one heck of a player, and we’re going to need good players moving forward. I don’t understand why Mike is in this.'”
Regardless of Gasol’s feelings on the matter, it does appear as of now that he’ll wind up getting moved. Gasol is putting up 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per contest this season, and still performing at a high level overall, so finding a suitor for him shouldn’t be that hard for Memphis,
It helps that 2019-20 will be the final year on the big Spaniard’s deal, so he won’t be a huge long-term investment for a franchise acquiring him, but more of a relatively pricey short-term one – one that could help push his next team over the hump over the next couple of playoffs.
As far as potential suitors, Gasol would make sense in a few different situations, but the likeliest destination should be a contender who wants to add another game-changing piece to their starting five.
1. ANTHONY DAVIS, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Early on the morning of Jan. 28, the NBA world was awoken with what was easily the most explosive Woj bomb of the new calendar year. It was about Anthony Davis, and it read as follows:
The writing had been on the wall for some time that this could come to fruition – from Davis’ comments about caring more about legacy than money to his hiring of Rich Paul as his agent – and it finally actually happened: Davis requested a trade out of New Orleans.
Right after the original report came out yesterday morning, we were inundated with complementary reports from all over the place, with many discussing what Davis’ thinking could be, and how the Pelicans would respond to the request.
For now, the three biggest suitors for Davis appear to be the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, though a dark-horse team always tends to make their way into these types of discussions, so it’s too soon to say Davis will certainly end up on one of those three franchises.
The most interesting part of all this is that due to rules regarding the Designated Rookie Extension and how you can only have one of those contracts on your books at one time, the Celtics can’t enter the bidding until the summer because they already have Kyrie Irving signed under that provision. Once Irving signs his next contract this offseason, that’ll open up a spot for Davis, but until then, the Celtics can’t do anything as far as pursuing the ultra-talented big man.
That would lead one to believe that Davis isn’t going anywhere until at least the summer, since it would be foolish for the Pelicans to trade him without at least seeing what Boston is planning to offer first. The latest report on the matter would seem to agree with that assessment:
Nevertheless, matters regarding Davis’ future are completely up in the air at the moment, and no outcome would be all that surprising. This could end by Feb. 7’s trade deadline, or it could very well extend until the offseason.
Either way, this has the potential to be a landscape-changing deal, and could end up being one of the most important trades in recent league history.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter @FrankUrbina_.