Early on Tuesday, we were hit with a bomb from The Athletic that placed various high-profile players into the thick of trade speculation and caused a stir among NBA aficionados.
Who were those players?
You can find out below in the latest installment of our Trade Rumor Rankings series, which ranks the five players who have appeared most on our Trade Rumors Page over the previous seven days.
With such a massive report to go over, there’s no time to waste, so let’s jump right in.
Kevin Love (Cleveland)
One of the players who wasn’t mentioned in that report from Shams Charania but has popped up in trade rumors recently is Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love, who has so far yet to impress during his reclamation stint with Team USA.
Local Cavs beat reporter Joe Vardon thinks Love’s salary, which has just two years left on it now but will pay him like a Top-30 player in 2021-22, remains a major hindrance to Cleveland being able to trade the former All-Star (via The Athletic)
The Cavs would trade Love if they could, but the two years and $60 million he has left on his contract is just too much for another team to take on, based on what they’ve seen from him over the past three seasons.
While fellow The Athletic scribe Jason Lloyd reported recently that a league executive does not believe a trade package including Love and his blossoming teammate Collin Sexton would be enough to entice the Philadelphia 76ers in a potential Ben Simmons deal:
I asked one executive from an opposing team if the Cavs could get the Sixers’ Ben Simmons for a package of Love and Sexton. While the money matches, the response was “no chance; Philly can do better” despite Simmons’ deflated value. Teams around the league are well aware of Sexton’s contract situation, which will hurt his value in trade talks. One source believed the Cavs should’ve traded Sexton last summer, knowing this was coming and didn’t believe the Cavs will get a pick in the top half of the draft for him because of the contract. The Cavs may not find a match and still bring Sexton back for next season, but it won’t be for a lack of trying.
Unless Love absolutely shines for USA Basketball in the upcoming Olympics, it’s tough to see the Cavaliers finding a willing trade partner for him this offseason.
This situation might have to end in either a buyout or with Cleveland waiting until the 2022 offseason to try again to trade him once the former UCLA standout is in his contract year.
For the latest Kevin Love trade rumblings, click here.
Collin Sexton (Cleveland)
In that same report from The Athletic about Love and a potential offer to the Sixers, Lloyd also reported something else that was quite noteworthy regarding another player.
And that was about Sexton, who, according to Lloyd, will be “very available” in trade talks this summer as he enters his first extension-eligible offseason with the club (via The Athletic):
A deal that might make more sense for the Cavs is bundling Love with Collin Sexton, who I’ve been told is “very available” this summer. I wrote not long ago that I thought the Cavs were going to write the check to pay Sexton a max contract this summer, but based on what I’ve been told the last few months from sources around the league, I no longer believe that’s true.
Unlike Love, Sexton will undoubtedly garner positive attention on the trade market, as the young lead guard is still just 22 and coming off a solid campaign in which he put up north of 24 points and four assists per night, albeit by being a little too ball-dominant at times.
We’re already seeing signs of that, too, as Shams Charania reported on Tuesday that the New York Knicks are the “most aggressive trade suitor” for Sexton. The Knicks probably won’t be the only ones, either, as having a point guard who can score at such a high level is a major commodity in the modern NBA.
Of course, whatever team does trade for Sexton will need to be willing to make a huge financial commitment to him, be it this offseason or the one after when he’d be a restricted free agent, so there’s that aspect to keep in mind, too.
But from purely a basketball perspective, it’s easy to see why Sexton would be an enticing trade target for teams across the Association this offseason, and if the Cavs do want to move him, they shouldn’t have much trouble doing so.
For the latest Collin Sexton trade rumblings, click here.
Marvin Bagley (Sacramento)
Trade speculation continues to surround young Sacramento Kings big man Marvin Bagley, though things have been somewhat quiet on that front over the past week.
All that we have to discuss is a recent Bagley podcast interview, where the Duke product discussed liking a tweet saying that he needs to get out of Sacramento. Bagley was not very apologetic for liking said tweet in the interview.
The Sacramento Bee also recently reported that a source with the Kings described Bagley as “unappreciative” for his time with Sacramento, who made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft ahead of such players as Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Jaren Jackson Jr.:
One source referred to Bagley as “unappreciative” of the opportunities the Kings have given him despite the injuries and his struggle to grasp team concepts at both ends of the floor. The organization has faced harsh criticism since picking Bagley over the likes of Luka Doncic and Trae Young, but the Kings have stood by Bagley, patiently waiting for him to tap into his enormous potential.
Bagley’s time with the Kings to this point has been an unmitigated disaster, and it would not be surprising to see his time with the team end this offseason.
A fresh start might be what’s best for both parties.
For the latest Marvin Bagley trade rumblings, click here.
Damian Lillard (Portland)
For the first time since trade scuttle surrounding Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard reached a feverish pitch, the almost-31-year-old opened up this week to talk about the speculation and how it hadn’t come from his end (via ESPN):
Numerous times in the past Damian Lillard has affirmed he has no intention of wanting to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers. Dealing with a fresh round of speculation in the wake of a coaching change, Lillard said Thursday he’ll keep his thoughts on the direction of the team between himself and the franchise. “Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say directly to [Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said after the third day of Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. “There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.”
Lillard would continue:
“There’s a lot of things being said and sometimes words being put in my mouth and I haven’t said anything,” Lillard said. “If there is something to be said or if I think something or have something to say that I’m going to say it and I’m going to stand on it.”
That has to be at least somewhat comforting for Blazers fans to hear, that Lillard feels words are being put in his mouth when he hasn’t come out and demanded a trade, either publicly or privately.
Other reports came out after Lillard spoke to the media, tying him to teams like the Knicks, Golden State Warriors (who reportedly have internally discussed trying to acquire the dynamic point guard, per The Athletic) and Philadelphia 76ers (Daryl Morey reportedly longs for Lillard, according to Marc Stein), but until Lillard comes out and says he wants to move on from Portland, it’s hard to see him being moved this offseason.
A hard trade demand would change that instantly, however – we’ll just have to wait and see if there is one from Lillard at some point.
For the latest Damian Lillard trade rumblings, click here.
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)
The biggest bomb to come from Shams’ report on Tuesday was about Simmons.
In that report, The Athletic said that the 76ers are open for business regarding a potential Simmons trade and that they’ve already had such talks with teams around the league:
The 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding Simmons and have engaged with teams, sources told The Athletic. Those sources also say that teams that have engaged with the 76ers about Simmons have been met with a high price threshold for the three-time All-Star.
The report also contradicted what many believed, that Simmons could be had for cheaper than normal right now after a brutal playoff showing to end his 2020-21 campaign. In fact, per The Athletic, the opposite is true and interest in the southpaw ball-handler league-wide remains high:
“(The 76ers) want an All-Star-caliber player in return,” one source with knowledge of the ongoing talks said. Make no mistake: Interest across the league in Simmons remains robust. He’s turning just 25 this month, was an All-NBA team member in 2019-20, is a two-time All-Defensive first-team member and a Rookie of the Year award winner. Simmons is under contract through 2025, making him the type of superstar talent that rarely becomes available at an attainable price at this juncture of his career.
New York Times reporter Marc Stein would report similar later on Tuesday, stating that Simmons’ contract, which will keep him locked up through 2024-25 and pay him an annual average value of roughly $35.5 million, is actually seen as a positive by prospective trade suitors:
The length of Simmons’ contract, if not the dollars, only adds to his appeal to teams that do not typically attract free agents. He has four seasons left on his contract at nearly $150 million — and the team control that comes with that status, in most cases, is bound to outweigh any trepidation teams might feel about the pressure Simmons’ agent Rich Paul can apply to dissuade them from pursuing him.
Stein would also go on to specifically mention the teams he’s hearing as having an interest in Simmons: the Cavaliers, Kings, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors.
A fascinating situation to monitor out of Philadelphia, as it appears we have our likeliest star-level player to be traded this offseason, Simmons, who never proved to be a truly great fit next to Joel Embiid and has, if anything, regressed under Doc Rivers in their first year together.
Though with a frame like his, playmaking and ball-handling capabilities like he has and downright special defensive attributes, Simmons would be a welcome addition to pretty much any roster across the Association.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Sixers can get for Simmons if they do manage to move him this offseason. Will it be a superstar? Or will it be a trove of assets?
Our own Yossi Gozlan recently broke down what the trade market might look like for Simmons, be it if Philadelphia moves the talented guard for an available superstar, an All-Star or draft assets.
For now, though, we wait and see what major trade will shake up the market as the 2021 offseason – one that could be filled with trade action due to a weak free-agent class and limited cap space around the league – nears.
For the latest Ben Simmons trade rumblings, click here.