After a painfully long 160 days between trades, the NBA finally saw a bit of movement on that front this past week when the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to send Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Dante Exum and a couple of second-round draft picks.
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, just like how the Clarkson-for-Exum swap occurred almost out of nowhere.
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. KEVIN LOVE
Following the Clarkson trade, the expectation is for Cleveland to continue unloading veterans for premium assets, according to reports from Adrian Wojnarowski and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Fedor. The latter reported the following on Tuesday:
“The [Clarkson] move puts Cleveland about $5.1 million below the luxury tax threshold, which gives the team more financial flexibility when it comes to other deals. Make no mistake, more are coming between now and the trade deadline on Feb. 6. Players are already bracing for those shakeups.”
One of the vets who could be moved is five-time All-Star Kevin Love, who is one of the best players set to be available on the trade market.
Love is averaging 16.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. The floor-spacing big man also ranks in the “excellent” range, according to Synergy Sports, in scoring out of the pick-and-roll (as the roller) and coming off screens, so teams know the value Love still possesses as a scorer.
Of course, the main issues when it comes to trading Love are his age (31) and contract (he’s the 22nd-highest paid player this year and signed through 2022-23), but if Clarkson was able to net two second-rounders and a decent prospect like Exum, there’s a good chance Cleveland will be able to get a first-rounder, even a protected one, for their star power forward, especially if they’re willing to take back bad salary in return.
4. MARCUS MORRIS
Despite the New York Knicks’ struggles this season, Marcus Morris has been a revelation, averaging a career-high 18.4 points per game to go along with 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 triples (on 46.6 percent shooting from the outside) nightly.
Those numbers, plus his stingy defense (he can legitimately cover multiple positions, both on the inside and the perimeter) and short-term contract (he’s only signed through this season) will make Morris a very coveted player as we get closer to the trade deadline, particularly by contenders.
According to a recent report from SportsNet New York, teams around the Association believe the Knicks will be able to net a first-round pick in exchange for Morris if and when they do decide to move him:
“‘Teams love his leadership and he’s been shooting incredibly well,’ a representative for one Eastern Conference team said. ‘You can easily see them getting a late first-round pick for him if that team feels Marcus pushes them over the top.'”
It might not be for another few weeks, but expect to see Morris traded by early February; one of the two L.A. teams, for example, would make a whole lot of sense for him.
3. DION WAITERS
Everyone is pretty well-versed in Dion Waiters’ impossibly bad season so far, but for those who aren’t, the gist of it is: He’s been suspended three separate times and has yet to play a minute for the Miami Heat.
As such, logically, Miami would prefer to move on from their troublesome 2-guard, but there aren’t many ways they could do so. On its own, Waiters’ contract lends itself nicely to be used as a trade chip, since it only has a year-and-a-half left on it and merely pays him $12.3 million annually in that span, but why would any team want to add Waiters to their locker room, especially with the way he’s behaved this season?
One league executive went as far as to tell ESPN’s Bobby Marks that Waiters’ deal is as close to the most untradeable as he’s ever seen in the NBA, while various other league execs all agreed that Waiters’ NBA career might be over.
That means Miami, if they really want to get Waiters off their roster, might have to look at the buyout route to make that happen.
2. FRANK NTILIKINA
Now that Elfrid Payton is healthy for the Knicks, third-year guard Frank Ntilikina’s playing time has gone way down, from over 26 minutes nightly over a 23-game stretch to under 14 minutes nightly over his last four. With that dip in playing time, the French ball-handler’s averages have gone way down (and they were never that impressive to begin with), as Ntilikina is scoring 3.8 points and securing 2.0 rebounds in that stretch.
There have been trade rumors surrounding Ntilikina for a long time now, and that hasn’t changed recently, not with how poorly he’s played in New York and the upside other teams still think he might have. If nothing else, Ntilikina is still just 21 and has proven to have huge promise on the defensive end of the floor, where he routinely makes special plays while covering opponents one-on-one.
According to SportsNet New York, teams around the Association still value Ntilikina for the aforementioned reasons, with one exec speculating that this might be a Markelle Fultz situation, where both sides might benefit from a clean break.
The question is whether Ntilikina still has enough value to net a first-rounder in return, or if he’s fallen so far that other teams only see him worthy of a second-round pick instead.
1. ANDRE IGUODALA
Memphis Grizzlies swingman Andre Iguodala, who has yet to play a minute for his new team, has long been at the center of trade rumors, pretty much since the time the Golden State Warriors decided to trade him to a rebuilding team.
Contenders around the league are watching this situation closely, as some believe the 2015 Finals MVP could be bought out by Memphis, which would lead to an intense recruitment for his services. However, according to The Athletic, Grizzlier higher-ups are still confident they’ll be able to find a trade for Iguodala, one that will net them either a first-rounder or a promising young player.
That seems reasonable, as Iguodala has proven time and time again that he can contribute at a high level once the playoffs roll around, particularly on the defensive end, where he would wreak havoc for Golden State over the last few years.
As far as the teams rumored to be interested in Iguodala, reports state that the two L.A. teams are at the forefront of this chase, while the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets have also looked into the possibility of adding the 35-year-old.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.