As free agency is now basically over, the next blockbuster move of the offseason – if there is one – will more than likely come in the form of a major trade.
As such, we’re keeping a close eye on the trade market and have put together another edition of our Trade Rumor Rankings series where we use our Trade Rumors Page to rank the five players who have made the most appearances in rumors over the past week.
Check out the rankings for this week below.
There still doesn’t appear to be much traction on the Russell Westbrook trade front, which is reasonable considering the size of his contract (he’ll be the second-highest-paid player in the league this season) and the fact he just turned 32.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported it’s likelier that Westbrook will be a Houston Rocket when training camps open up this week than him getting traded before then…
.@wojespn says the Rockets have engaged in Russell Westbrook trade discussions, but not James Harden ones.
Says Houston getting both Harden and Westbrook back in training camp is more likely than Westbrook getting moved. pic.twitter.com/7XfewGMjgu
— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) November 24, 2020
…and founder of The Ringer Bill Simmons shared on a podcast that he heard it was Washington Wizards 2-guard Bradley Beal who wanted Westbrook as a teammate and was the driving force behind that rumor:
“I thought Westbrook was going to Washington. And I had heard that Bradley Beal was driving the Westbrook thing and that they were actually going to include a pick potentially and it wasn’t just a one-for-one that they were actually putting in more.”
Besides that, all remains quiet on the Westbrook trade front… for now, at least.
Regardless, not much time remains before training camps are set to open up and we don’t appear any closer to a Westbrook trade coming to fruition, so awkward times could be near in Houston.
For more on the Russell Westbrook trade front, click here.
The market for Sacramento Kings swingman Buddy Hield remains tepid at best, and odds are, he’ll start the season with his current team.
The Sacramento Bee had the following to report on the Hield trade front this past week:
“League executives told The Sacramento Bee the trade market for Hield is mixed at best, but there are teams that see value in the Bahamian sharpshooter. McNair would get something in return for one of his most talented players […].”
Meanwhile, our own Michael Scotto shared the following tidbit courtesy of a league executive:
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Hield has been unhappy with his role as a sixth man off the bench and has butted heads with coach Luke Walton. ‘That’s broken there,’ one executive said of the situation from afar.”
Could the sign-and-trade that went down which sent Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Atlanta Hawks have changed Sacramento’s views on the matter, making Hield likelier to stay a King in 2020-21?
It’s certainly possible. Plus, Hield’s play over the past two seasons – he’s posted a 20.0/4.8/2.7 stat line on 44.4/41.0/86.9 shooting splits – has been strong, so the team might be better off trying to reverse the situation here and convince Hield to buy in again.
But the Bahamian guard made waves this week by liking a tweet insinuating he’s still unhappy in Sacramento…
Uhh, look at the last tweet that Buddy Hield liked. 👀 pic.twitter.com/jESaF5R29F
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 25, 2020
…so it looks like the Kings will have their work cut out for them if they do choose that route.
For more on the Buddy Hield trade front, click here.
If the Los Angeles Clippers want to continue improving their team to combat the progress made by the crosstown Lakers this offseason, they’ll need to do so on the trade market, which is where the source of the latest Ivica Zubac scuttle came from.
There aren’t any reports directly connecting Zubac to teams or indicating that he’ll be on the move anytime soon, but the Los Angeles Times did discuss the potential of the 7-footer being included in trade talks recently:
“By virtue of the Clippers’ limited financial flexibility and dearth of future draft picks, their most valuable assets could be some of the final remaining members of the 2019 roster: starting center Ivica Zubac, starting guard Patrick Beverley and reserve guard Lou Williams. Finding upgrades for any, however, could require luck, timing and a suitor valuing any as much as the Clippers do. Of the three, one rival executive said that Zubac, a 23-year-old 7-footer, ‘has the most value because he’s a true big man and he’s still young,’ with time to continue developing.”
That lines up with what a scout told HoopsHype’s Scotto a couple of weeks ago, too:
“‘I think he’s got a lot of value,’ an NBA scout told HoopsHype. ‘I think everyone wonders why the Lakers did what they did. He’s on a great deal. Teams don’t want to overpay centers.’ If the Clippers pay Montrezl Harrell big money in free agency, several teams will call the Clippers trying to pry Zubac away.”
The theoretical interest surrounding Zubac makes sense, as the big man is rock solid in his role, posting averages of 8.6 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor over the last two seasons, and is a starter-level talent while making less money than 19 other centers league-wide.
Nevertheless, we’ll have to wait and see if the Clippers get an offer appealing enough to actually ship out their starting big man at some point in the coming weeks or months.
For more on the Ivica Zubac trade front, click here.
As things stand right now, we appear to be in a holding pattern between the Rockets and superstar 2-guard James Harden, with the bearded bucket-getter still wanting out but Houston not wanting to trade him without getting proper value in return.
In fact, the Rockets’ strong offseason, headlined by picking up promising power forward Christian Wood, indicates Houston is acting like a team that wants to remain competitive rather than tear things down.
Here’s what ESPN’s Tim MacMahon had to report recently on the Harden trade front:
“The Rockets insist that they haven’t given up on winning back Harden’s heart – and the series of moves that resulted in high-scoring center Christian Wood’s arrival in Houston were an aggressive, expensive attempt to improve the roster – but the organization is bracing for life after The Beard. Houston can’t afford to be bullied into a bad trade, and time is on the team’s side, with Harden under contract for two more years.”
The New York Post’s Brian Lewis shared similar thoughts on NBA TV recently, even including mention of the team most expect Harden to end up on if he does get traded, the Brooklyn Nets:
“‘I wouldn’t necessarily say that they (the Nets) have moved on from the idea of adding Harden, and it’s not dead in the water,’ said Lewis. ‘It’s more floating. In other words, Houston — from what I understand — is not in a rush to move him. I think they accept the fact that’s what going to end up happening. . . They would love to bring as many teams to the table as they can to get the best deal.'”
It looks like it’ll still take some time for a Harden trade to happen, if one does come to fruition, so more patience will be required as wait to find out if the former league MVP will have a new home in 2020-21.
For more on the James Harden trade front, click here.
The player with the most mentions in trade rumors over the past week is Wizards floor general John Wall, who hasn’t played in an official NBA game since late 2018 and commands a hefty salary through 2022-23, to put it lightly.
Regardless, despite the rumors about Wall requesting a trade from the team that drafted him in 2010, team general manager Tommy Sheppard recently told the media that the Wizards have ‘no plans’ to trade Wall, that Wall never requested a trade and that things between Washington and its point guard remain on the ‘same wave’.
Whether that’s posturing or not remains to be seen, but even if it was, it won’t be easy for the Wizards to find a suitor for Wall and the roughly $133 million left on his contract, not unless the five-time All-Star proves he’s still an elite point guard when he does return in 2020-21.
Until then, expect Wall to remain with Washington, barring a huge surprise.
For what it’s worth, when asked specifically about the trade rumors recently, Wall gave reporters nothing more than a ‘no comment’.
John Wall doesn’t want to talk about his trade request
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 24, 2020
An interesting few weeks lie ahead for the Wizards.
For more on the John Wall trade front, click here.