This weekend saw trade restrictions of most players who were free agents in the 2020 offseason lifted. On March 3, even more players will have trade restrictions lifted ahead of the trade deadline. There are many players on expiring contracts who have unclear futures with their current teams. Here is a list of players who could potentially be traded.
Victor Oladipo (Houston)
The Rockets chose to take a shot on Victor Oladipo on an expiring contract over Caris LeVert on a long-term, team-friendly deal. While the main motivator behind that move was to potentially add a core piece to the next good Rockets team, Oladipo could also serve as a solid piece of real estate should they decide not to re-sign him.
The question is, which team could use Oladipo right now? It seems unlikely that the Heat, one of his preferred teams, would trade for him now since they could sign him outright during the offseason. It would probably need to be a team that won’t have cap space this summer such as the Pelicans, Sixers, Timberwolves, or Magic. If they could get a first-round pick and a solid young player for him, that might justify having passed on LeVert.
Andre Drummond (Cleveland)
The Cavaliers essentially got Andre Drummond for free, but they shouldn’t give him away for free as well. Drummond is having another signature season and his defensive presence played a huge part in Cleveland’s hot start to the season.
With Jarrett Allen looking like the center of the future, Drummond can probably be had for the right price. His $28.8 million salary makes a deal difficult to accomplish, but they should still be able to get more than what they paid to acquire him last season.
According to Kevin O’Connor, the Toronto Raptors are interested in Drummond. Another team that makes a lot of sense are the Charlotte Hornets, who could match salaries with Cody Zeller, Malik Monk, and Bismack Biyombo. If he finishes the season with the Cavaliers, he could get with a preferred destination while getting a fair contract through a sign-and-trade.
Kelly Oubre (Golden State)
According to Shams Charania, the Pelicans and Warriors have discussed a trade surrounding Kelly Oubre. A report like this could signify that Golden State may have already given up on Oubre and decided they don’t want to re-sign him this offseason. That was before his 40-point performance with the Mavericks, so there still might be time for the Warriors to decided to keep him.
With a 13-12 record, a decision on whether or not to trade Oubre could come closer to the trade deadline, depending on how well they’re performing. If they’re struggling to make the play-in, they could decide to trade him strictly for draft equity. Getting off his $14.4 million salary would drop the Warriors’ luxury tax bill from $137.2 million to $68 million.
Otto Porter (Chicago)
Otto Porter’s tenure with the Bulls is likely all but over after this season. The Bulls acquired Porter with just expiring contracts and no incentive. Had he continued performing at the level he did at the time the Bulls acquired him, they may be able to get a first-round pick for him. It will be tough for the Bulls to get anything substantial for him after having two down years in a row plagued with injuries, as well as a large $28.5 million salary. Still, Porter is much better than his current output suggests and can still be a valuable player on the right team. The Heat, for example, could take a shot on him to be their starting stretch four, a massive void created when Jae Crowder left.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Dallas)
The Mavericks are off to a rough start, and this month will be critical in determining where they stand in a competitive Western Conference. Regardless of their season, Dallas is at a bit of a crossroads with Tim Hardaway Jr. He was essentially salary dumped from the Knicks but he’s been a reliable shooter for the Mavericks and an excellent fit next to Luka Doncic.
Dallas is set to have close to maximum cap space this summer, which would likely mean not re-signing Hardaway. As long as they’re competing, they’re unlikely to sell him, but if they do move him, it would likely be for an upgrade. While they plan on pursuing a great player in free agency, they could opt to skip it if they could trade for a player such as Zach LaVine or Victor Oladipo. Any consolidation trade could require sending out Hardaway.
Thaddeus Young (Chicago)
Thaddeus Young continues to be one of the league’s most consistent role players. The 14-year veteran is having a strong season with the Bulls and should give them a nice return if they trade him. He should be sought after by many contenders such as the Sixers, Nets, Clippers, or Heat.
For the Bulls, part of trading Young now is to get off his $6 million partial guarantee for 2021-22. The Bulls can generate close to $50 million in cap space if they renounce all their free agents (including Lauri Markkanen) and waive all non-guaranteed players. They could generate an additional $11 million if they trade Young and Tomas Satoransky ($5 million partial guaranteed).
PJ Tucker (Houston)
Even before trading James Harden, PJ Tucker was already viewed as a potential trade candidate. The 35-year-old forward did not receive a contract extension that he’s been seeking, leading to his availability. Theoretically, Tucker can fit on just about any team. Having a large pool of suitors and unclear value given his age and contract situation are probably reasons as to why he hasn’t been traded yet. In 2017, the Raptors acquired him for two second-round picks. That should more or less be the return the Rockets can get for Tucker right now.
George Hill (Oklahoma City)
George Hill, along with any veteran who the Thunder trade for, can be acquired for draft picks or young players. He will have no shortage of suitors, which should drive up his price for the Thunder. His $9.6 million salary can easily be moved and is only $1.3 million guaranteed for next year, essentially making him an expiring contract. A contender that desperately needs playmaking and could give Hill a great opportunity are the Clippers. A package of Lou Williams, Mfiondu Kabengele, and second-round picks could be the floor of what the Thunder can get for Hill.
Doug McDermott (Indiana)
Doug McDermott is having his best season in the NBA and is averaging career highs all across the board. As long as the Pacers remain good, it’s unlikely they move him unless in a consolidation trade for a better, more expensive player. If the Pacers view him as a long-term fit under Nate Bjorkgren‘s system, they could extend McDermott right now or re-sign him this offseason. Otherwise, they could sell high on him before the trade deadline.
Austin Rivers (New York)
The Knicks have a very crowded backcourt that got even more crowded with the addition of Derrick Rose. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks could make Austin Rivers, who could be the odd man out of the rotation, available via trade. Rivers just became trade eligible this week and his $3.5 million salary makes him easy to move. The second and third years of his contract are non-guaranteed, giving his new team cost control over him.
Rudy Gay (San Antonio)
Rudy Gay has reinvented himself with the Spurs in a role that extended his career after suffering an Achilles injury that would’ve surely ended most careers at age 30. Now at age 34, Gay’s window for championship contention is getting smaller. He’s been an absolute professional during his tenure with the Spurs but with his contract expiring, a trade might be best for both sides. His $14.5 million salary shouldn’t be hard to move but it could be a bit much for contenders up against the apron such as the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks. If no trade can be consummated, he should be one of the biggest buyout candidates, allowing the Spurs to open up even more minutes for their young players.
Patrick Mills (San Antonio)
Patrick Mills’ long and memorable San Antonio tenure could be coming to an end. The 32-year-old is surprisingly having his best season of the four-year, $48 million contract he signed in 2017. In fact, statistically, he’s having the best season of his career if you look at his scoring, three-pointers made, and field-goal percentage. Thanks to his improvement and efficiency, he might actually be too good for a buyout. Still, his $13 million salary could make trading him difficult. If he requests a buyout, good chance the Spurs grant him one, especially considering their recent buyout history for veterans such as DeMarre Carroll and Pau Gasol.
Lou Williams (LA Clippers)
It took 16 seasons for one of the NBA’s most consistent scorers to finally regress a bit. The Clippers’ backcourt depth has provided enough scoring to make Lou Williams expendable. As mentioned earlier, the Clippers have a traditional point-guard void that could be fixed in exchange for Williams, mainly because of his $8 million salary. If he’s traded to a non-contender, it’s possible that we see him on the buyout market shortly.
JJ Redick (New Orleans)
According to Shams Charania, the Pelicans have held trade discussions with the Celtics, Nets, and Sixers regarding JJ Redick. The soon-to-be 37-year-old has declined significantly compared to last season, which makes trading for him at $13 million a little difficult for other teams. The Celtics could absorb Redick with their $28.5 million trade exception and still remain under the luxury tax. The Sixers could put together expiring contracts such as Mike Scott, Terrence Ferguson, and Vincent Poirier, along with some second-rounders, for Redick. His trade value may be similar to PJ Tucker’s, and he could be a buyout candidate if still on the Pelicans roster past the trade deadline.
JaVale McGee (Cleveland)
The Cavaliers have a crunch at center to address. With Andre Drummond and Jarrett Allen taking all the minutes there, JaVale McGee is the odd man out. It would be great business for the Cavaliers to get draft compensation for McGee after receiving one for taking on his $4.2 million salary. Having been a part of three of the last four championship teams, he is unquestionably a seasoned veteran who any contender can use. Teams needing backup rim protection, such as the Bucks or Nets, should be trying to acquire him. If he and Drummond are still on the roster past the deadline, it is more likely that he gets bought out instead of Drummond.
Trevor Ariza (Portland)
By the time the trade deadline comes, Trevor Ariza might not have played in an NBA game in one whole calendar year. This could make trading for his $12.8 million salary unjustifiable for playoff teams, meaning he’s more likely to be used as salary filler as part of a bigger deal. If he does return to the NBA this season, there’s a strong chance that he joins his new team after securing a buyout, either by the Thunder or a different team that trades for him.
Nemanja Bjelica (Sacramento)
Nemanja Bjelica is out of the Kings’ rotation not for a lack of skill but rather to preserve it and his trade value. After two strong seasons with the Kings, they are looking to capitalize on the 32-year-old veteran via trade. Like Tucker, he can get on almost any team and his $7.2 million salary makes him easy to move.
Wayne Ellington (Detroit)
After trading Derrick Rose for a second-round pick and Dennis Smith Jr., the Pistons could look to make a similar trade involving Wayne Ellington. Ellington is averaging 3.1 three-pointers per game on 49.5 percent shooting from three this season. The Pistons should easily be able to extract a second-round pick for him, especially since any team not pressed against the hard cap can acquire his minimum salary.
Gorgui Dieng (Memphis)
In fairness to Gorgui Dieng, he is a very productive backup center who can protect the rim shoot well, currently at a clip of 52.9 percent from three for the season on 2.4 attempts per game. It’s his contract that makes him perceived as undesirable. If the Grizzlies begin to drop off, he could become a buy-out candidate. He’s more likely to join a contender through a buy-out instead of a trade given his $17.3 million salary.
Kyle Lowry (Toronto)
With the Toronto Raptors struggling to meet expectations this season, it’s only natural for Kyle Lowry’s future to come into question. Lowry has a case for being the Raptors’ best player in franchise history, making trading him a sensitive subject. If he is traded, it will likely be a mutual decision that involves a team of his preference.
One factor that could push this decision is their 2021 cap space. They’re currently projected to generate between $22-29 million this summer, but that projection includes the Raptors renouncing Lowry’s cap hold. If they are targeting a top free agent with all their cap space, it may make sense to trade Lowry now since they wouldn’t be able to pay him what he’s worth afterward. It seems more likely that the Raptors will stick with Lowry and re-sign him to a short-term deal this summer if they strike out on top free agents.
DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio)
The Spurs remain good enough for the play-in and that might be a good enough reason for them not to trade DeMar DeRozan. San Antonio has a youth movement going on and DeRozan is having another stellar season leading them. DeRozan is extension-eligible right now and he’s likely looking at one last big contract. The Spurs are projected to generate $50 million in cap space this summer. Without any clear-cut targets to pursue, they could look to re-sign DeRozan to a big dollar, short-term contract.
The Spurs rarely/almost never make big mid-season trades, so it’s unlikely they change that for DeRozan. The market could be down on him since he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. If he is traded, it would most likely be to a team that won’t have cap space next summer and need scoring. A team like the Magic comes to mind, who could offer Evan Fournier and another mid-sized salary like Al-Farouq Aminu or Mo Bamba for DeRozan.
LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio)
The Spurs may have missed the right opportunity to trade LaMarcus Aldridge. Unless his performance is a result of low minutes and low effort, he is slowly showing signs of regression. While several teams should definitely still be interested in trading for him, he might not yield too good of a return for the Spurs. The Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers could package some of their expiring contracts for him, but unless San Antonio is taking back bad salary, they might not get a first-round pick for him. Like DeRozan, the Spurs will most likely see how far they can go this season with Aldridge.