Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports
By: Glen Ivol
Other than a few moves, namely LeBron to LA, DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State and Paul George staying in OKC, there has not been much to excite NBA fans thus far in free agency. The same can be said for the trade market as teams aren’t looking to swap assets for players destined to leave anyway and no one wants to be capped out for next year’s mega free agency class. What players make sense to be moved right now though?
Restricted Free Agents: Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, etc.
At this stage, it is almost pointless for teams to submit offer sheets for restricted free agents. Not only do the incumbent teams get the opportunity to match them, like we’ve seen with the Nets offering literally every RFA the previous few summers, but teams who offered the contract cannot acquire these players in trades for at least a year after. Since this is the case, it makes sense for teams interested in RFA’s to look to a sign a trade. The Bucks seem disinterested in Jabari Parker, likewise for the Celtics with Marcus Smart, so why not try to pull off a sign-and-trade for any of the RFA’s on the market? Instead of just offering a contract that will probably be matched, teams should go about swapping lower-level assets to acquire these players if interested.
Kawhi must be on a list like this at this point, right? Even though the Spurs have said they will drag this on as long as possible, the divorce between the two is inevitable. The more reports the come out, the bleaker things look for the franchise in terms of keeping him and keeping their leverage. Losing Leonard is a negative all around for the Spurs since he can be a top five player in the NBA when he is on his game. For teams chasing him, the list is small due to him not wanting to sign anywhere other than LA or possibly Philly if he ends up there this season. That leaves the Spurs with even less leverage on the situation since they will lose him for nothing if they hold out and the list is shrinking, also shrinking the return at some point.
Kevin Love (or any other Cavalier for that matter)
Now that LeBron has officially signed as a Laker, it’s time for the Cavaliers to get any value they can for their current roster. Quite frankly, the current makeup is awful, and the franchise would be well served to move on from anyone with any sort of value. The player with the most value is Kevin Love. For all his perceived shortcomings, Love was still an all-star this season should be valuable to any team looking to add some punch to their roster. He only has one year of team control left and the Cavs are said to want to keep him, but the Cavs should listen on phone calls. If Love were to demand a trade, the package for Love would only deteriorate so they should jump while they can. Other players that might (key word) interest contending teams are Kyle Korver, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood (sign and trade), and Larry Nance.
Jimmy Butler is apparently unhappy in Minnesota and that could leave them looking to move the star guard. With reports of Butler wanting to play with Kyrie Irving, Minnesota could see Butler as a flight risk as a free agent next season and look to move him instead of losing him for nothing. The list of suitors for Butler might be shorter than people think due to teams potentially viewing him as a threat to leave them too, but as we saw with Paul George, not everything works out like people assume it will. If Butler really wants to play with Irving, Minnesota and Boson could be interesting trade partners if Boston decides to back out of the Kawhi sweepstakes. Don’t be surprised if you see the Timberwolves shop Andrew Wiggins this offseason instead.
Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum
At this point, it would be hard to imagine Neal Olshey moving either one of these guys, but it’s fun to speculate about. The backcourt doesn’t seem to work, and the team is locked into its current roster due to the flurry of spending done in 2016. Damian Lillard is more enticing to other teams but would also take a lot more to get a deal, even with Lillard running wild on Twitter about where he would like to play. From a Blazers standpoint, they were swept out of the playoffs by the Pelicans after people thinking they could contend in a serious with the heavyweight teams. If Olshey starts to look for possible deals, look for big rumors about Lillard but the more likely move being McCollum.
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