HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozlan break down the top NBA trade candidates who are eligible to be moved after January 15 on the latest HoopsHype podcast episode.
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1:30 Zach LaVine
Scotto: If the Chicago Bulls make Zach LaVine available before the trade deadline, rival executives are keeping an eye on several teams who could have interest in trading for him, including the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat.
The Knicks have plenty of draft picks they can offer along with salaries to reach LaVine’s salary.
LaVine played at UCLA, and when he signed with Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, the natural question people had around the league was whether they’d eventually try to get him to the Lakers.
Dallas is always looking to improve its roster around MVP candidate Luka Doncic, and LaVine would help take the scoring load off him. However, Dallas would have more trade flexibility with draft pick compensation after this season, which is noteworthy. I’ve heard the Mavericks don’t want to part with a first-round pick unless they think any incoming player can help them be a championship contender this season.
Miami’s best trade asset to dangle is Tyler Herro in a theoretical trade package.
Overall, however, Chicago hasn’t shown a willingness to be a seller yet, with about a month until the trade deadline, while currently on the edge of competing for a back-end Play In spot.
Gozlan: My feeling is they don’t want to be sellers, and I don’t necessarily think they will be. The Bulls were in the lottery for four straight years up until last season and probably don’t want to get back in (to the lottery) yet… They were pretty good last year before Lonzo Ball got hurt. They’re probably still expecting Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams to improve. LaVine had a sluggish start to the season post-knee surgery. These are all factors they’re probably considering in their evaluations. Everyone is down on them and thinks they should rebuild, but unless something changes, they’re probably looking to add to their core.
I’m seeing the reports suggesting he may want out, but I just don’t see him getting moved just yet. Even if the Bulls blow it up, they have less urgency to move him and more to get value for older veterans like DeRozan and Vucevic… If LaVine does become available, I’ll be interested in seeing what his trade value is, knowing that he’s locked in for another four years but at an average of $43 million per year for a guy who isn’t a top-20 player.
7:45 Bradley Beal
Scotto: While some around the league speculated that Bradley Beal could be flipped down the line after signing his max contract, Wizards management has planned to build around Beal and wants to retain Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma long-term if they opt out in free agency and find a fourth core player alongside their trio to build around and contend in the East.
As I reported just before the start of the new year, Kuzma is considered “a big part of the future” for the Wizards, according to a league source who spoke with HoopsHype. The Wizards believe they’re a more talented team than their record has shown to this point.
Gozlan: Like the Bulls, they are also probably going to remain buyers when everyone else thinks they should be sellers… Last year when they were out of the playoff mix or far from it and Beal suffered his wrist injury, they went ahead and traded for Kristaps Porzingis, so that shows they’ll continue to try to upgrade the team no matter what happens. The only other way I see Beal getting on the trade market is if he pressed the issue and asks out, which is something he could’ve done a while ago and never did.
Until then, Beal will continue to be a guy everyone keeps their eye on now that he’s signed a max contract. Like LaVine, I’m also interested in what his trade value looks like now that he’s on a max deal but also has a no-trade clause and has a say in his new team.
12:20 Deandre Ayton
Scotto: Before the season, Deandre Ayton appeared less than thrilled when asked about finally getting the max deal with the Suns after they matched the offer sheet from the Pacers and being in trade rumors in the offseason for Kevin Durant.
That said, I don’t see Phoenix moving Ayton unless they can get an elite star back along the lines of Durant. Obviously, they would’ve done it as part of a blockbuster trade for Durant when he was available, and that also likely would’ve included Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson at the time to get it done.
At this point, Phoenix’s focus is moving Jae Crowder for another forward, which could also include Landry Shamet or Dario Saric being included as well to make salaries work in trade talks. I’ve touched on a little bit on Shamet in a previous notebook about him being involved in some of the trade talks, particularly with the Atlanta Hawks.
Gozlan: I agree. Throughout the offseason, I kept my eyes on the possibility of the Suns signing and trading Ayton on a max contract to help match salaries for Durant. That didn’t pan out, and as of now, there doesn’t seem to be any clear All-Star available where Ayton would be needed to match salaries. Keep in mind, he has a say in where he gets traded this season since his offer sheet got matched by the Suns. He can’t get traded to the Pacers.
I think the priority will be shifting some of their bench players around for new ones… According to Brian Windhorst, Robert Sarver still has a say in trades because the sale to Mat Ishbia isn’t likely to get finalized until after the trade deadline. It feels safe to say that the Suns won’t be making any major trade beyond whatever they do with Crowder.
17:50 Nic Claxton
Scotto: After signing a two-year, $17.3 million deal, Nic Claxton has been Brooklyn’s defensive anchor averaging 2.5 blocks and leads the NBA in field goal and effective field goal percentage (both at 74.3 percent).
Teams like Toronto have liked Claxton in the past, and the Nets had an offer for a first-round pick for Claxton last year that was protected, but they turned it down. Overall, I don’t see him being moved at this point.
Gozlan: In Brooklyn’s recent run, there have been a lot of feel good stories like the emergence of Yuta Watanabe and the return of TJ Warren, but for the reasons you just explained, Claxton is a major reason this has been possible. Had he been more or less the same player as last season, then maybe they would have looked to deal him, but he’s a keeper now. He’s on a value contract which is great for the Nets right now, given their luxury tax situation. But they’re probably hoping they gave him a longer deal since he will be due for a raise as early as 2024, and the Nets won’t be able to extend him before then.
20:00 Lu Dort
Scotto: Oklahoma City loves Lu Dort’s contract looking ahead long-term. They view him as one of the elite on-ball defenders in the game and a part of the team’s future with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Gozlan: I love his contract, too, as well as his fit with SGA. OKC is in a weird spot where they are considered sellers because they’re not expected to be in the playoffs, but they don’t really have any veterans to sell. Dort might fit that description the most, which is crazy since he’s only in his fourth season. I can see them taking on a bit of bad money this trade deadline with some trade exceptions, but that’s about it. Just about everyone on their roster has a purpose being there.
21:30 Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon
Scotto: Miami is a team rival executives are keeping an eye on to make a move given the team’s underwhelming start to the season. The team never replaced the loss of PJ Tucker but has tradeable contracts in Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon they can include in trade talks.
Gozlan: If there’s a team that I feel pretty good about doing something at the trade deadline, I think it’s the Heat, especially because a lot of things open up for them starting Jan. 15. Oladipo is a logical trade candidate, but he has veto rights over any trade since he signed a one-plus-one deal. He’s still working towards getting back to form, so any trade would have to put him in a good situation. If traded though, he would lose his Bird Rights, which aren’t too valuable right now since he’s probably not getting much more than his player option amount in free agency. But they could be valuable for him since Miami was where he ultimately wanted to play for, so I think there’s a good likelihood he remains in Miami, which is where he ultimately wants to be, and just let things play out.
Dedmon, on the other hand, can be traded, and his contract feels like it was made for him to be traded. His $4.7 million salary this year, which is well above the minimum, is a decent chunk of salary filler in trades, and his $4.3 million for next year is completely non-guaranteed, which effectively makes him a walking trade exception. If a good opportunity comes to the Heat that requires a little extra matching salary, that’s where Dedmon could come in.
24:10 Mo Bamba
Scotto: When the Magic signed Mo Bamba to a two-year deal, which included a non-guaranteed second season, several people around the league viewed him as a potential trade chip to be flipped later once Orlando would eventually have to consolidate its roster. He’s been a good backup center for Orlando this season. With that said, I don’t see the Magic getting a first-round pick for him at this time, but I certainly see them gauging the market and doing due diligence on him to see what his value is.
Gozlan: Like Dedmon, Bamba’s deal is super tradeable. They are loaded with big men, and he may be better utilized on a different team that needs a center. At the same time, there’s no rush for the Magic to trade him. They have a lot of cap flexibility. They can have cap space if they want and keep him in that scenario. He’s non-guaranteed at $10.3 million for next season, so they would need to get a really good offer for them to move him now. I agree that I don’t really see them getting a first for him. There doesn’t seem to be a big appetite out there for teams to give up first-round picks for centers right now unless it’s from a team like the Knicks or Rockets, who have extra firsts and are offering one of their worst ones.
26:35 Chris Boucher
Scotto: There’s a belief from some around the league that Toronto will be more active in trade talks around mid-January, with the team on the edge of the play-in Tournament. Chris Boucher has been a good backup big man and turns 30 this month. If Toronto decides to make a blockbuster trade, his descending contract could be included to make salaries match.
Gozlan: The Raptors look like they need to sort things out with their core with so many of their starters due for raises soon. Eventually, that could trickle down to Boucher, who is making around $12 million annually, but that decision could be made later.
28:25 Cody Martin
Scotto: Charlotte likes Cody Martin, but if they rebuild, nothing should be off the table. Several teams around the NBA like Martin, who will be paid around the low end of the mid-level exception for the next several years. I don’t see Charlotte moving him at this time, given his contract value and cultural fit there, unless a rival team makes an aggressive push.
Gozlan: I’m keeping an eye on the Hornets. I think they’re going to be sellers. They’ll probably be looking to move some of their veteran guys, like Mason Plumlee and Kelly Oubre, on expiring contracts. Martin could help out competitive teams, but he also fits Charlotte’s timeline. He’s on a great contract making around $8 million a year, with the fourth year non-guaranteed. He doesn’t really impact their cap situation in a big way. They’d probably have to get a really big offer to consider moving him now.