As we have passed the first quarter mark of the new season, NBA teams have begun engaging in trade talks to find ways to improve their respective rosters. December 15th marked the expiration date on any trade restriction for several players, namely the ones who signed new contracts this past offseason.
At this point in the season, everyone should have a good sense of where their team is trending. Based on their findings, they ought to consider making moves that will either solidify the current core or make way for a future one. In other cases, teams may have experienced some buyer’s remorse and look to redeem themselves through the trade market. Whatever the case, the stage has been set for some drastic changes as we enter the next phase of the 2021-22 NBA season.
This article lists the top seven trade candidates in the NBA today. Each of these selected players has a specific reason for why they may be on the outs with their current groups. In one scenario, a player may have overstayed their welcome on a team that is losing momentum, or in another, doesn’t fit their current spot’s timeline. Moving any of these following stars could sway the balance of power as the season moves forward.
The Detroit Pistons are in the middle of a full-scale rebuild. While they have their next franchise face in Cade Cunningham on board, the group will take some time to prop itself up towards contention. That said, Jerami Grant has already entered the prime of his career and appears to desire a new destination for him to win now.
A bruising two-way power forward, Grant would give any team a boost on the defensive end while bringing versatility and spacing on the other. He would prove a valuable piece to any roster trying to complete their championship core. With two years left on his deal at around $20M a year, he presents as one of the more valuable options on the trade market this season.
Ideal landing spots include the Portland Trail Blazers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Dallas Mavericks. In return, the Detroit Pistons should earn a considerable bounty of assets to aid their rebuilding efforts. However, that will largely depend on how he progresses coming back from his thumb injury.
So it turns out that the Lakers’ new Big three has not worked out too well. While many were skeptical of a trio, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, LA believed the talent involved would make up for the awkward fit. Thus far, it is safe to say that it hasn’t.
With their championship aspirations intact and the team not playing as hoped, rumors have circulated about the Lakers moving on from the former league MVP. That said, at 32 years old, with over $90 million owed to him for the next two years, a trade may not prove so easy to find. Though Westbrook remains a valuable player, his playstyle can become detrimental to team success. On top of that, his inability to stretch the floor on most nights as a 6’3 point guard makes him an uneasy fit on most teams today.
That said, LA likely won’t have an easy time making a deal for their starting point guard. It may be the case that they’ll have to make to do with the roster as is for the remainder of the season.
This one speaks for itself. As of the writing of this article, Ben Simmons has not played a single NBA game since June. He requested a trade from the team and has since kept away from team operations. Currently, he stands out of the fray as he tends to his mental health. In the meantime, the 76ers have re-opened trade talks with potential suitors.
With Simmons, the conversation is more of a when than if he’ll be traded. His inability to stretch the floor on offense tapers off his value on the open market. That said, he remains an elite defensive player and a considerable playmaker on offense. He mainly needs to land on a group that can build around his more robust attributes. Such locations could include San Antonio, Sacramento, Indiana, New York, and others.
Philadelphia has asked for a slew of assets in return for their all-star point guard. Only time will tell if they’ll receive the package they long for.
The Portland Trail Blazers have gone in a loop for years on end. They often have an excellent regular season followed by a forgettable postseason. Things may have appeared to turn in 2019, but the following years have shown the same trends that preceded it. With such underperformance over the last several seasons, the Trail Blazers have arrived at a critical moment for their organization.
While Damian Lillard has repeatedly stated his desire to remain in Portland, he has also made known his wish to compete for a championship. As the years have gone by, that has become less of a possibility for the Blazers. This season’s slow start has only emphasized a need for change on the roster.
CJ McCollum is easily the second-best player on the team. His offensive prowess has helped establish himself and Damian Lillard as a top-flight backcourt. However, the team’s defensive deficiencies have become more apparent with their continued pairing.
If Portland wants to move up the ladder to championship contention, it may need to involve a CJ McCollum trade. It would not prove too difficult to find a trade partner, given his talents. The only deterrent would concern the Trail Blazers’ desired return for their star two-guard.
Myles Turner/Caris Levert
The Indiana Pacers have struggled out of the gate for the second straight season. Despite the talent on their roster, they haven’t been able to find any form of consistency to get back into the playoff hunt. Such failing results have forced them to consider changing the core in place.
Recently, reports emerged that they would take calls on potential trades involving Caris LeVert, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis. I’d bet on Sabonis being most likely to stick around between these three. While LeVert has his moments, it seems as though the organization would prefer their rookie standout, Chris Duarte, to become a regular starter. Meanwhile, Myles Turner has recently expressed discontent with his current role on the team.
�It�s clear that I�m not valued as anything more than a glorified role player here, and I want something more, more opportunity,�Myles Turner
While Turner later clarified that his quotes didn’t link to a trade request, it still might be within the Pacers’ best interest to move on anyway. It’s as simple as this: If what you have isn’t working, change it. Who knows, the return received in a trade for either Turner or LeVert could prove vital in turning around the Pacers’ fortunes this year.
Buddy Hield/Marvin Bagley III
The Sacramento Kings have had a rough go at it this season. Already having made a change in their coaching staff, their outlook for the future remains rather bleak. This primarily has to do with their continued inability to qualify for the postseason.
With the playoff drought looking like it may stretch to its 16th year, the front office will have to make some changes to the current core to change their fortunes. One place where they could start would include trading players that have reportedly already asked to be moved.
Both Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley have expressed discontent with their roles on the team in the past. Given their talent and potential, they could yield a favorable return in a trade, whether for an all-star caliber player or draft capital to eventually aid the team in the future.
While he has grown old in NBA years, Goran Gragic can still prove valuable to any team. He showed as much in 2020 when he helped the Miami Heat get to the NBA finals. Now residing in Toronto, Dragic’s numbers have taken a dip. However, some of that may have to do with his decreased role and discontent in playing for the Raptors. He did, after all, admit that he had higher ambitions than playing in Toronto when he was first traded there this past offseason.
Dragic could add some secondary scoring and playmaking to whatever team he may join, especially one with championship aspirations. While probably not suited for a starting role at this point in his career, he can still make up most deficiencies on a roster devoid of a lead playmaker. Potential landing spots include the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, and more.