As of Dec. 15, 123 players became eligible for trade that previously couldn’t be dealt. Because of that many expect activity on the trade market to finally start to pick up after a long dry spell.
Various big-name players have been bandied about over recent days, and though a huge deal may not seem imminent, one could spring up on us at any time.
Below, HoopsHype ranks the five players who have popped up the most in rumors on the site’s Trade page over the past week.
5. MARCUS MORRIS
New York Knicks power forward Marcus Morris reportedly committed to the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs last summer before ultimately agreeing to join New York, and by all accounts, he seems to be happy with his decision. Morris has gone as far as to say he’d rather not get traded if he could control it.
Of course, he doesn’t control whether he gets dealt or not, and considering how well he’s playing and where the Knicks sit in the standings (13th in the East with a 7-21 record), odds are, if New York receives a worthy offer, the big man will be traded.
The latest on Morris’ trade market came courtesy of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, who had this exchange during a recent TV special:
“‘[The Clippers] thought they had Marcus Morris in July,’ said Wojnarowski. ‘That’s a player they had great interest with, that they saw who would fit with Paul George and with Kawhi Leonard. So, to see them revisit that is certainly plausible.’ Lowe added: ‘I would expect that package to be out there.'”
Morris is averaging a career-high 18.8 points this season, to go with 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 triples on fiery 43.1/47.7/86.1 shooting splits. He’d be a great addition to any contender.
4. CHRIS PAUL
Heading into the season, many expected Chris Paul, a veteran All-Star on an Oklahoma City Thunder team in Year-1 of a full rebuild, to get traded. And although that could still happen, it’s looking less and less likely the more information we receive on the matter.
Both Woj and NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh reported over the past week that sources both league-wide and in Oklahoma City believe Paul is staying put this season.
The primary culprit for that is Paul’s enormous contract, which will pay him $41.4 million next year, in his age-35 season, and $44.2 million the year after, in his age-36 campaign. Simply put: That’s way too much money to be paying a diminutive floor general with a history of injury troubles, no matter how well he’s playing right now.
It’ll take a desperate team in a small market to even consider making a run at Paul, and even then, it probably won’t happen until his contract becomes an expiring deal. And that’s only if Paul is still producing at a high level, which may not be the case at that point in his career.
Paul is averaging 16.2 points, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game this season.
3. D’ANGELO RUSSELL
Another floor general who came into the season with a lot of trade buzz surrounding his name, D’Angelo Russell also seems likely to stay put through the season, at least if recent reports are to be believed.
The issue with Russell and the Golden State Warriors is that when the Warriors are fully operational, he’d be the third-best guard on his own team while earning an enormous salary over the next four seasons. That would be a poor distribution of resources by Golden State, particularly when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson get healthy.
Of course, Curry isn’t set to return until at least February while Thompson might not return at all until 2020-21, so the Warriors really don’t have a need to move Russell until next summer, when they can trade him for a player who would give them a more well-balanced roster.
Regardless, there are a few point-guard needy teams out there right now, and if one gets desperate enough for more scoring in their backcourt, we could see a deal before February’s trade deadline.
Russell is averaging 21.5 points and 6.2 assists in 2019-20.
2. ANDRE IGUODALA
Former Warrior Andre Iguodala, unlike the two aforementioned point guards, is a player who looks likely be traded this season. Iguodala has yet to suit up for the Memphis Grizzlies, who are keeping him away from the team while they figure out what they’re going to do with the 2015 Finals MVP.
According to reports over the past week, coming from multiple reputable outlets, the teams that have interest in Iguodala include the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Denver Nuggets, the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets.
The problem is, all of those teams are capped out, and Iguodala is owed $17.2 million this season, meaning both sides are going to have to get the salary swaps just right to make a deal work. In all likelihood, the contenders chasing Iguodala and the swingman himself are probably hoping the Grizzlies agree to a fair buyout with the almost-36-year-old, so that they’re able to recruit him, sign him to a team-friendly contract and not lose assets in a trade.
At the same time, the Grizzlies have little motivation to do that, so expect Iguodala ultimately to get traded over the next month and a half.
1. KEVIN LOVE
One of the likeliest trade candidates this season is Kevin Love, who hasn’t gone as far as to demand a trade, but made it clear – publicly – that if one does happen, he wouldn’t mind.
It’s obvious why Love is such a bandied-about trade prospect: He’s 31, playing on a team mostly full of up-and-coming players who are nowhere near ready to compete for even a playoff spot, let alone a title. That plus his huge contract make his future with the Cleveland Cavaliers look pretty murky.
There has been some back-and-forth over the past week on whether the Cavs will be able to land a first-round pick in exchange for Love, or whether they’ll have to give one up in order for someone to be willing to take his massive deal, but ESPN’s Zach Lowe thinks they’ll be able to pick up a coveted asset while mentioning the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns as potential suitors.
Other teams that make sense for Love include the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets.
For what it’s worth, Love has no idea how this saga will end, telling The Athletic:
“Could I see [getting traded]? I could see … I just don’t … What’s going to happen with us this summer? Or at the trade deadline? I just don’t know. It’s just tough because, and I’m not a religious guy by any means, but the old saying ‘You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.’ Listen, obviously it’s a tough go right now. We’ve got (six) wins. But in some ways, the grass isn’t always greener. You just don’t know how the shit is going to shake out. Ever. In anything.”
Love might not be sure, but all signs point to him getting dealt prior to February.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.
Basketball, Business, NBA, Top, Andre Iguodala, Chris Paul, D'Angelo Russell, Kevin Love, Marcus Morris, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder