The 2016-17 NBA season is in full swing now, and we're already starting to witness the trajectory of each franchise, and what that may mean in terms of their upcoming roster changes. Certainly, there is a handful of legitimate star players who are currently stuck in a no-win situation on a poor team. Similarly, there are good players who are on a roster with too much quality talent, making them expendable for the right price. Players in both of these situations are prime candidates for a trade, and one that will happen sooner rather than later.
It's the same case every year in the NBA, and while a trade likely won't come to fruition for every single player on this list, these are the names that are most likely to be moved by the end of the season. While a few of them may seem untouchable, given that they are some of the league's best talents, never underestimate the power of a compelling trade offer. A player in any sport is only untouchable until the compensation for them overrides their production. Make no mistake, for the right price, every player on this list could be donning another team's jersey by the start of next season.
Ranked below are 15 NBA players who will be traded by the end of the season.
15 Brook Lopez
Lopez is one of the lone bright spots on a Nets team that is firmly placed in the doldrums of the Eastern Conference. It's clear that the team needs a full rebuild, and it probably isn't worth keeping a productive veteran like Lopez, who is at the peak of his trade value right now. In return, the Nets could acquire some very valuable draft picks for the next couple of seasons, or land a younger player with upside, who could be a part of the rebuilding process. Either way, it makes sense to move Lopez before the season's end. He's a true center, which may mean that his value may drop a slight bit, given the nature of the position today, but he's good enough to get Brooklyn some much needed pieces that they'll need to re-tool their roster.
14 Paul George
Whether the Pacers are aware of it or not, they're going to need to restructure their roster if they want to contend for a championship in the Eastern Conference. Just barely sneaking into the playoffs is the equivalent of NBA purgatory, and they'll likely need to start selling off some quality talent in exchange for draft picks in the near future. George is at the height of his trade value, and has proven to be a productive scorer throughout his career. Indiana would be wise to trade him soon and get the maximum value in exchange for his skills. Alternatively, they could keep him for a few more years, but there's really no victory in making the playoffs, just to be quickly eliminated. Selling off George is the first step needed to make them a true contender again in the coming years.
13 Kyle Lowry
Lowry was a bit of a late-bloomer in terms of elite production, but has emerged as one of the premier point guards in the NBA over the last several seasons, during his time with the Raptors. As a ten-year vet, he's still productive, but Toronto would be wise to pick up a draft pick or two, or a big-man presence in the paint while Lowry still has a considerable amount of trade value. Rumors have been swirling in recent weeks, and it seems like a real possibility that the equally effective DeMar DeRozan will have full command of the Raptors back-court in the proceeding seasons, and that Lowry is one his way out. An argument can be made either way for ultimately keeping Lowry, but if the team does decide to trade him, it will have to be soon, given his age and timetable for the remainder of his career.
12 Zach LaVine
Despite some high-profile draft picks in recent years in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves still aren't hitting paydirt in the standings, and may need to shake things up further. Trading LaVine, who has emerged as an effective scorer, and exciting player to boot, may be the next transaction in line for the Minnesota front office. In the 2016-17 season, LaVine is showcasing his best performance yet, notching career-highs in many statistical categories. Because of this, and his young age, he's a prime candidate for a trade that could land the Wolves more draft picks, or an established veteran to help lead the young nucleus of the team. There's no doubt that there's plenty of talent currently, but a player will have to be moved, and the likely candidate is LaVine.
11 Andrew Bogut
Bogut has made several stops in his NBA career, and may be on the move yet again, despite this being his first year with the Mavericks, proceeding a stint with the Warriors. He seems to be on the trading block, and may be involved in a deal with a high-profile star for several other teams. While Bogut's scoring production has diminished over the years, he's still an effective rebounder, and is the kind of piece that a team gunning for a championship would add to their roster. The Mavericks are in the basement right now, and they may as well shop Bogut to a contender and recoup some kind of assets for him while they still have a chance. Time will tell, but this is probably one of the more likely deals to get done during the actual current season.
10 Jabari Parker
A high-profile draft pick out of Duke, Parker got off to a middling start of his NBA career several years ago, but over the last year or so has emerged as a high-quality scorer for the Bucks. The question is, will the team hang on to him for a continued amount of time, or shop him looking for an elite option in the backcourt? Parker is a power forward, and isn't really the prototypical style of player that is in line with the way the NBA game is played in the modern day. With Milwaukee currently a borderline playoff team, they aren't missing out on anything if they decide to move on from Parker, especially when they can get a great value for him, by trading him to a true contender mid-season. A bit of a toss-up scenario, but one that makes a lot of sense for the Bucks and their current situation.
9 Damian Lillard
After several years of making a respectable run in the Western Conference Playoffs, the Trail Blazers have sputtered into mediocrity. The team sits as a borderline playoff team, and they are clearly headed toward rebuilding territory, especially with a conference that includes the likes of the elite Spurs and Warriors. While it may hurt for a bit, trading Lillard is the best move that they could possibly make right now. He's a certified superstar right now, a great scorer, and stays away from injuries. They would truly land an assortment of riches if they were to trade Lillard at his current trade value. It makes sense, as it becomes increasingly clear that the Blazers are on their way out of contention in the Western Conference.
8 Kevin Love
Rumors of a possible Love trade in the near future for the Cavaliers started surfacing at the end of last season, after some questionable performances in the 2016 Playoffs. Love is still a very good player, but there are legitimate concerns as to how he fits in the long term plan for the team. By trading him soon, the Cavs could have the ability to restock some younger talent for Lebron's final few years of elite dominance. By surrounding him with a player or two that better fits the system, "The King" could potentially add several more championships to his resume. Love is definitely the most high-profile trade piece for Cleveland, and could land them a stellar haul from a desperate team in need. The deal is not a forgone conclusion, but certainly far from impossible.
7 Rudy Gay
With the Kings pronounced struggles in recent memory, they're a team that's definitely looking at a rebuild in the near future. Gay is a league veteran who's still a proven scorer, and would garner a solid return for Sacramento if he is traded to a contender. The Kings truly have little use for him anymore, as they are in the bottom half of the Western Conference, and he likely won't be effective long enough to see the team through the rebuilding process. He can help a contending team right now, and be away from the problems that are currently plaguing the Kings across the board. This is one of the more likely deals that will occur, it's just a matter of which jersey Gay will don next after he leaves Sacramento.
6 John Wall
The Wizards are a certified dumpster fire right now, and it's looking like the John Wall-era is just about wrapping up. Wall is definitely one of the league's best point guards, but he stands to benefit from being on a team with more productive veterans on it, rather than being the main guy with the Wizards. Still at a young age, Wall will demand a very nice trade package, that will have give the Wizards ample supplies to start a rebuilding process. As for Wall, he's hitting the prime of his career now, and in the right situation, he could be the piece necessary that puts a contending team in a position to win a title. There's little reason for the Wizards to keep him, but that doesn't mean he won't be productive in another situation. Ultimately, Wall is going to be one of the best point guards in the NBA for the forseeable future.
5 Klay Thompson
It's interesting to consider, just because the Warriors are so loaded with talent at just about every position on the floor at this juncture. While trading him isn't necessarily a surefire bet just because of his elite productivity, if Golden State could land a presence in the paint who could be reliable on both ends of the floor, they may want to think about shipping Thompson off. He's a great player, but the Warriors are already elite at the three-ball, and lack a big-man presence down low, which has gotten them in trouble during numerous playoff series, and ultimately lost the Finals for them last season. It won't be a popular decision, but if this trade comes to fruition, it could end up being the correct one.
4 Paul Millsap
Millsap has established himself as one of the best power forwards in the league over the last decade. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Hawks haven't established themselves as contenders in the Eastern Conference, and with franchise player Jeff Teague already out of town, the franchise may want to ship off some more talent. It wouldn't be hard to find a trade partner for Millsap, and he's just young enough that the return would be beneficial in building for the Hawks' future. All in all, this scenario is pretty likely, and Millsap will likely find himself wearing another jersey in the near future. He'd be the perfect acquisition for a contender looking to add a presence in the paint.
3 DeMarcus Cousins
As mentioned previously, the Kings are a disaster right now, and Cousins is the player that would garner the most suitors, and the best offers for a trade. He's one of the best players in the league right now, and at a youthful age 26, he'll be a superstar for a long time to come. He's the kind of player that's worth multiple first round picks, and players to go along with that, so Sacramento could count on getting a quality assortment of assets in exchange for their best player. When it comes down to it, some team out there will pay the price for a player like Cousins, it's just a matter if the Kings are willing to shop him. Given their current situation, it would be hard to see the disadvantage of stockpiling draft picks through trades, considering that nothing they're doing right now is working.
2 Nerlens Noel
The Sixers have an over-saturated front-court situation, and one player will have to go in order for them to make it work. Most likely, it will be Noel, who has fallen out of favor with the staff, in exchange for Joel Embid and Jahlil Okafor. Noel is a solid defender, and would certainly benefit a team in need. While a quality player, he just doesn't benefit the Sixers to a great degree in the current system, and his absence will make room for the likes of Embid, Okafor, and first overall picks Ben Simmons to get more minutes per game. The return for the Sixers will be decent, but this move will more have to do with personnel, and not having enough minutes per game for everyone in their front-court. This is one deal that is extremely likely to occur in the near future.
1 Anthony Davis
While he's emerged as the best big-man in the game today, Davis' elite efforts haven't been enough to put the Pelicans in a winning position, and the team is off to yet another horrible start. Davis has averaged a double-double in points and rebounds during four out of his first five seasons, and is likely requesting a ticket out of New Orleans at this point. The former first overall pick out of Kentucky will command a massive trade value as one of the best players in the game, but someone will end up paying the price, and Davis will likely be gone. He's only just entering his prime, and has the potential to go down as one of the best players in NBA history when it's all said and done. It's just a shame that New Orleans wasn't able to figure it out during his time there, which as of now, seems to be running thin.