In past years, the NBA season would largely conclude in June, as the top players in free agency would usually just end up re-signing with their respective teams. There would be some role players that wound up switching teams, but it only happened so often.
But things have changed big time in the past few seasons, where fans have seen unprecedented action take place in the summer. For instance, in the summer of 2018 was when LeBron James decided it was time to move on from the Cleveland Cavaliers, in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Additionally, All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard were swapped. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP and former Defensive Player of the Year was sent to Toronto, while DeRozan was moved to San Antonio, despite his long-term loyalty and desire to stay in Toronto. Equally as entertaining was the fact that Paul George who was largely rumored to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, only to decide that staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder and re-signing for four years would be the best move for his career.
The 2019 NBA offseason is likely to be full of changes as well as the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson are set to become free agents. These are just some of the players who have already been named to All-Stars Games on multiple occasions. The likes of perennial first-time All-Stars such as Tobias Harris and Khris Middleton are also up for new contracts.
These forenamed players are almost certainly to be involved in trade rumors prior to the February deadline. In addition, there are teams who possess too much talent at one or multiple positions, and they clearly need to bolster another position(s). Here, we look at 25 NBA players with All-Star potential who could be traded by the 2018-19 NBA trade deadline.
25 Draymond Green
Things aren't exactly hunky-dory in the Golden State Warriors’ locker room right now. Not with Draymond Green allegedly yelling, "We don't need you. We won without you. Leave!" at Kevin Durant after a heated argument following a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers back on Nov. 12 at Staples Center.
A video of Durant supposedly mouthing, "That's why I'm out," (prior to the tip off for overtime taking place), only added to further speculation that there's turmoil in the Golden State locker room. It’s safe to say that this has been brewing for quite some time. In an effort to re-sign Durant this summer, the Warriors may opt to trade Green. Although valuable, the former Defensive Player of the Year is nowhere near as valuable as Durant.
24 Klay Thompson
While Kevin Durant may grasp the vast majority of free agency headlines for the summer of 2019, the Warriors also have another extremely vital individual on their roster they also need to think about re-signing: All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson.
The 28-year-old went on record in the summer of 2018 and stated that he'd like to re-sign with the Warriors - and would prefer to finish his career with the franchise. Thompson will certainly get offered a max deal by numerous franchises, and has frequently been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers. His father, Mychal, played for the Lakers from 1987 to 1991.
The elder Thompson won two titles with the franchise, and Klay may have the inclination to hoist banners at Staples Center more than the Warriors new building, the Chase Center.
23 Kevin Durant
With all due respect to the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard, the consensus No. 2 player in the NBA today is Kevin Durant (behind LeBron James). The thought of hearing Durant's name in trade rumors is absolutely laughable on the surface.
However, only the Warriors know exactly how dire the conflict between Durant and Draymond Green is. If they believe the conflict is beyond repair and Durant truly has his mind made up that he'll be leaving the Dubs in free agency, they're better off telling teams he's available via trade. If so, teams will have to bet on their culture (a la the Oklahoma City Thunder successfully betting Paul George would re-sign with them) in hopes of inking Durant long term.
22 Kawhi Leonard
The Toronto Raptors are playing fantastic basketball and look to be the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference- a tad bit ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks. They also look all-around better than the likes of other top Eastern Conference contenders such as the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
As a result, the thought of Kawhi Leonard leaving in free agency in the summer of 2019 seems to have downsized since the Raptors traded for him in the summer of 2018. However, with how quiet Leonard is, it's hard to get a feel on what his true intentions are. If Raptors general manager Bobby Webster feels Leonard will depart, he will look to get compensation for the swingman - prior to the February 2019 trade deadline.
21 Kyrie Irving
In Sept. 2018, Kyrie Irving brought smiles to the faces of Boston Celtics fans worldwide when he said, "The future is very, very bright in Boston. “Even if I ever try to think about that thought of going elsewhere, it would be like ‘what are you thinking? We’re pretty (expletive) good here.”
Unfortunately for the Celtics, they haven't exactly picked up where they left off in the 2018 NBA playoffs. The team has arguably been the league's biggest current disappointment up to this date.
General manager Danny Ainge has shown in the past that no player is safe from being traded (just ask Isaiah Thomas). If he has an inclination that Irving will leave the Celtics in free agency, Ainge will try to trade the former Duke Blue Devil for both present and future assets.
20 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler hasn't even been a Philadelphia 76er for more than two months, but it appears as though he's enjoying playing with the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. At least, far more than he liked playing with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota.
Butler has constantly expressed his desire to play with players who are hard workers - something he did not see in Towns and Wiggins in his brief tenure with the Timberwolves. It's too early for Butler to form an opinion on either Embiid or Simmons as of now, but if general manager Elton Brand senses a rift between Butler and one of the team's forenamed franchise players, don't be surprised to see him try and trade the 29-year-old All-Star.
19 Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker will be a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 NBA season, and he’s enjoying another excellent season on an otherwise mediocre Charlotte Hornets team.
Walker dropped a career-high 60 points in a losing effort against the Philadelphia 76ers in a November matchup. That is also the highest point total recorded by an NBA player for the 2018-2019 season up to date. Walker has expressed his desire to stay with the Hornets, but one must think he also has an itch to win.
Considering that he's been in the "Queen City" for his entire NBA career - and the team is no closer to title contention today than the day he was drafted - it’s possible that Walker will want out. If general manager Mitch Kupchak senses Walker prefers to leave, he'd be wise to trade him Walker as soon as possible, with his trade value at an all-time high.
18 Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside's name frequently popped up in trade rumors during the 2017-2018 NBA season, as there were numerous occasions where Head Coach Erik Spoelstra decided to favor the likes of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynk over the rebounding sensation.
As a result, Whiteside would be relegated to the bench and there were multiple games where he failed to received over 25 minutes of game action. Quite frankly, Miami’s rotation is all over the place, and it’s not Spoelstra's fault ,considering the team has a number of talented role players (i.e. Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow). But they are lacking an actual superstar, so the Heat may be better off packaging Whiteside and one or more of their role players to land a big-time talent.
17 Khris Middleton
The Milwaukee Bucks are Giannis Antetokounmpo's team for the foreseeable future, and rightfully so. But the Bucks also have a severely overlooked co-star on their team in in Khris Middleton. He’s set to become a free agent this summer, and many executives are on the fence regarding whether or not Middleton is a max player.
Yet, the consensus is that at least one team - likely more - will offer Middleton a max deal. While Antetokounmpo is unquestionably a max contract player, the Bucks will need to decide whether Middleton is the best No. 2 option to pair with Antetokounmpo - if they hope to hoist a banner in the near future.
16 C.J. McCollum
Despite the Portland Trail Blazers looking like a playoff team in the early stages of this season, the consensus among most is the same. That is, the Trail Blazers are at best a playoff team who gets ousted in the first round.
The Blazers’ cap situation isn't one that offers flexibility as the likes of Damian Lillard, McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Evan Turner exhaust the vast amount of this team's cap space. While Lillard is certainly the player more teams would like to acquire, McCollum is far more likely to get traded than the All-Star point guard.
The Trail Blazers have to know by now that this core isn't anywhere close to contending with the Western Conference heavyweights. Thus, dealing McCollum may be their best option in order to acquire depth much-needed roster depth.
15 John Wall
At the moment ,the only more dysfunctional locker room in the moment than the Golden State Warriors’ is undoubtedly that of the Washington Wizards. With reports surfacing that franchise point guard John Wall screamed "(expletive) you" at head coach Scott Brooks during a practice is the proof in the pudding.
An anonymous Wizards player has come out and said that the root of the problem is Wall. Furthermore, the player said the team likes playing for Brooks, but Wall just walks all over him. Last season, former Wiz center Marcin Gortat had his own rift with Wall. Based on these incidents, the Wizards would be wise to deal Wall sooner rather than later.
14 Bradley Beal
As long as John Wall is sporting a Washington Wizards jersey, he will be looked at as the franchise player in D.C. That, by default, relegates Bradley Beal to the No. 2 spot spot.
However, Beal may actually be better off as the No. 1. option, as opposed to Wall. That is when you consider the team's level of success, ever since Wall went on the shelf after undergoing heel surgery.
The Wizards have made it known that both Beal and Wall are available for trade, and it's debatable as to who is the more valuable player is at this stage of their careers. However, what isn't debatable is that Beal's contract is far more attractive than Wall's, which makes him easier and more likely to be traded candidate.
13 Marc Gasol
For a while, it was hard to say that any team with the exception of the Sacramento Kings was a more pleasant surprise than the Memphis Grizzlies.
But the Grizzlies have began faltering significantly, and their playoff hopes already look like a pipe dream at this point. It should be noted that both fair weather and diehard fans had pegged the Grizzlies to be one of the league's worst teams in the 2018-2019 NBA season, so they’ve still exceeded expectations up to this point.
The Grizzlies were at the top of the Western Conference and were playing exceptional basketball, until the past month or so. That could force them to trade away big man Marc Gasol, who is nearing his 34th birthday. One has to think that he wants the chance to win an NBA Championship before he calls it a career. But if he wants to do that, Gasol will almost certainly have to leave Memphis. If management thinks Gasol will leave in free agency, they'll surely look to trade him for compensation.
12 Nikola Vucevic
The Orlando Magic have an influx of talent capable of playing the power forward and center positions. The most prominent of these individuals is Nikola Vucevic, who looks to be a first time NBA All-Star this season.
But while the Magic are deep at the four and five (Mo Bamba, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac) the team is severely lacking in the backcourt. Point guard D.J. Augustin hasn’t been able to run the offense accordingly, which has been a reason forthe team’s struggles. Vucevic's value is higher than the rest of his teammates (with all due respect to Aaron Gordon). Thus, the Magic may decide they're better off giving the bulk of the minutes at center to Bamba, in favor of acquiring some backcourt depth.
11 Jrue Holiday
On Nov. 2, Anthony Davis was visibly frustrated when he told the media, "I got to play almost perfect every night to give us (the New Orleans Pelicans) a chance to win".
While the likes of Nikola Mirotic and Julius are certainly nice complementary players, neither of the two are exactly All-Star caliber. Furthermore, the team doesn’t boast much else on their roster, with the exception of Jrue Holiday. He’s one of the league's best two-way players, and teams would line up at the chance to acquire Holiday. The Pelicans likely wouldn't want to part ways with Holiday, but the front office must entertain the idea. That is, if they think Davis will depart in the summer of 2021.
10 Tobias Harris
If a Most Underrated Player award existed in the NBA, Tobias Harris should share that award with Khris Middleton. Not just for this season, though. Harris has been one of the league’s most underrated player over the past three seasons.
Harris declined an $80 million extension from the Los Angeles Clippers in the summer of 2018, as he could receive a much more lucrative offer this offseason. Harris has proven that he's capable of getting the big buckets. While he probably won't materialize into a No. 1 option for any team, Harris is more than capable of being a No. 2 star to build around. Heck, he’d even work nicely as a No. 3 guy, too. If the Clippers think Harris is a flight risk in free agency, look for them to acquire pieces via trade in order to offset the inevitable loss of the swingman.
9 DeAndre Jordan
Who could ever forget the summer of 2016, in which DeAndre Jordan verbally committed to signing with the Dallas Mavericks? Only to go back on his verbal commitment and opt to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers?
The only thing more bizarre is that two years later, in 2018, Jordan is actually a member of the Mavericks. Jordan inked a one-year pact with the Mavericks worth $20 million this past offseason. So far, the signing has been beneficial for both parties. However, Jordan spurned the Mavericks once before, and team owner Mark Cuban has to be cautious when it comes to any thing Jordan says based on past history. If Cuban or Mavs brass feels Jordan will leave in 2019 free agency, they'll put him up for trade.
8 Lou Williams
With the exception of rookie contracts, you'd be hard pressed to find a player in the NBA today who is on a more team-friendly deal than Lou Williams.
The 32-year-old Williams is getting paid a sum of $8 million through the the 2020-2021 NBA season. Williams, the NBA's 2018 Sixth Man of the Year, is one of the Clippers key cogs, alongside the likes of Danilo Gallinari, Montrez Harrell and Tobias Harris. Williams is one of the team’s top producers on offense, so trading him might not be in the best interesot of the front office.
But the Clippers have been a pleasant surprise this season and are rumored to be one of the premier players in 2019 free agency- especially for the services of Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers think they can acquire a player(s) who may attract Leonard, don't be surprised if they send Williams packing. It may also make sense to clear his salary in order to go after two superstars.
7 Eric Bledsoe
Asides from the Golden State Warriors - who have Kevin Durant coming off the books in the summer of 2019 - the Milwaukee Bucks may have the toughest free agency decision(s) to make. Their second and third-best players, Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton, will be eligible to enter free agency.
Bledsoe was acquired by the Bucks in Oct. 2017, following a growing dissatisfaction in Phoenix. Bledsoe didn't exactly look to be a formidable number two option behind "The Greek Freak," in his inaugural season in Wisconsin.
However, he has come more into his own this season - highlighted by a dominant game at Oracle Arena against the Golden State Warriors, when he dropped 26 points. The Bucks should gauge Bledsoe's interest of remaining with the team long-term, sooner rather than later. This way, they can decide as to whether or not it’s worth exploring Bledsoe’s value in the trade market.
6 Damian Lillard
Loyalty means a lot to Damian Lillard.
The All-Star point guard rejected the idea of forming a super team, going as far as to saying, "I'm willing to not win it (an NBA Championship). If I can't build it where I am" in a Twitter Q&A.
It spoke volumes about Lillard's desire to remain a Portland Trail Blazer, until the day he hangs up his Adidas sneakers for good. Lillard has not given any indication at any point in his career that he wants a change of scenery. But do the Blazers feel the same way?
This team simply doesn't have enough ammo to hang with the likes of the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and the other Western Conference powerhouses. A rebuild for the Blazers - and a trade to an emerging contender for Lillard - may be best for both parties.
5 Derrick Rose
If you weren't overcome with emotion when Derrick Rose dropped 50 (a career high for that matter) against the Utah Jazz earlier this season, you're simply lying to yourself.
The former MVP is back to playing at a borderline All-Star level this season. Prior to seeing Rose drop 50 points on Donovan Mitchell and Utah, the thought of Rose having such a scoring outburst in one game would be unfathomable. Especially in the year 2018, when you consider the multitude of injuries he'd accumulated since 2012.
Rose is on a minimum deal, and the Timberwolves do have depth at the point guard position with the likes of Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague. Rose could be a valuable contributor for a team with title aspirations, and the Wolves could look to trade him for more long-term assets.
4 D'Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell may have a case for being the NBA's most frustrating player.
There are nights where he looks like he has all the tools to be a franchise point guard and an All-Star. However, there are just as many nights where Russell looks like he isn't suited to be a starter.
Russell is a free agent at the end of the season, and he will be looking for a lucrative contract, perhaps a max deal. The Nets may feel hesitant to throw all that money Russell's way, and thus could decide that trading him prior to the February trade deadline as the better long-term route.
3 Tim Hardaway Jr.
It's easy to overlook the season that Tim Hardaway Jr. is having, as the New York Knicks have been downright awful this season.
Hardaway Jr. has been pretty darn good this season, he certainly has to be up for consideration for the NBA's Most Improved Player award. As of Jan. 6, 2019, Hardaway Jr. was averaging 20.6 points, 2.9 assists and 3.4 points per game. Hardaway Jr. is the Knicks’ clear go-to option when the buckets are needed.
In addition, he is outplaying the four-year, $71 million pact signed in the 2017 offseason. The Knicks will be looking to make a major splash in the summer of 2019, and shedding Hardaway Jr.'s salary is not out of the realm.
2 Josh Richardson
The young two-way standout continues to get better and better each season. Josh Richardson is certainly in the conversation of being a first time All-Star.
Richardson was rumored to have been offered to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with a first round pick in exchange for All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, who has since been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. With Richardson having already been rumored to be available in trade negotiations, it's clear that Pat Riley is looking to upgrade the roster. Richardson could be a key contributor in the scoring department for any team that needs help, so trading him isn’t entirely out of the question here.
1 Anthony Davis
Remember when Anthony Davis said, "So, I got to play almost perfect every night to give us a chance to win," after a fourth consecutive loss on Nov. 2?
Any and all on both the Pelicans roster - and everybody in the front office - should have been put on notice. The rumor of Davis leaving in 2021 free agency is very real, people.
Davis, 25 years of age, is in the prime of his career, and it's scary to think that he hasn’t peaked just yet. However, Davis knows if he wants a chance to compete for an NBA Championship, he needs more firepower on his roster. The Pelicans don’t have that, which is why Davis could decide to leave and look to join a real title contender. The Pelicans may be better parting with Davis by trading him at this year’s deadline in order to secure plenty of big-time assets, rather than wait until 2020 or 2021.