The official NBA Trade Deadline isn't scheduled until February, but fans have been treated to a number of early season transactions that could slant the standings in favor of their team. Eric Bledsoe moved from Phoenix to Milwaukee and Jahlil Okafor finally found someone to love him in Brooklyn. But don't be surprised to see more player movement between now and the deadline as 27 teams look to secure a lineup that can compete with the championship favorites Golden State, Cleveland and Boston.
As for said Cavs and Celtics? Well, neither team is standing pat with their current lineups. The Cavaliers are looking to bring in a big man, thinking that dangling Tristan Thompson and a draft pick may return someone to secure a second championship. Despite their early season issues, the Cavs have just rattled off a thirteen game winning streak with their injured big man on the sidelines. And if you think that Danny Ainge is just sitting around, you obviously don't know the Celtics crafty GM. With December 15th just around the corner, the day that any summer signings can be traded, don't be surprised to see a couple of names on this list finding a new home before the February 8th deadline.
On the flip side, there have been a number of rumors floating around of certain NBA players and teams who many feel will be more successful parting ways. Now these aren't just your run of the mill bench players, we are talking some of the biggest impact names in the league. It would be a shock around the league if any of these five players pull a new jersey over their heads before the 2017-18 season is finished. Whether they are cornerstones or building blocks, their respective teams are better off with them than without them.
15 Changing Teams - Jonas Valanciunas
If you listen to Leo Rautins and Rod Black (TSN Raptors broadcasters), JV has been primed for a breakout season since his first season, five years ago. For some reason they want to make fans believe that the Lithuanian big man is one of the best in the league. If 12 points and eight boards for a career average is reason to be included in the top tier of big men, then there is a reason why the Raptors will never make it out of the East. Or maybe they're just trying to pimp the sixth year post in order to increase his trade value.
For the Raptors to be considered a serious contender for the Eastern Conference title, parting with Valanciunas is a must. So where would he go? Talks of the Clippers Deandre Jordan switching jerseys have floated around, as have whispers of a package deal for Marc Gasol. While DJ wouldn't be an offensive upgrade, he would probably be rejuvenated by joining a playoff squad. Gasol would certainly help the Raptors on the offensive end, but would the Grizzlies really want to part with one of their two cornerstones for a so-so big man?
14 Staying - LaMarcus Aldridge
For most of his eight out of nine seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, Aldridge was "The Man". Yes he had to share some of the spotlight with players like Brandon Roy, Greg Oden (but only for a few occasional games) and Damien Lillard. Then the Blazers decided to build their franchise around their all-world point guard and there goes Aldridge and his 19 point, eight rebound, five All-Star career off to San Antonio as a free agent in the summer of 2015.
We all know the reason why the Spurs have been one of the most successful franchises in the past twenty years; they buy into the system. There is no "The Man" down in the Alamo. Now fans want to say that Kawhi Leonard is the new "Man" but we all know that Pop doesn't treat him that way. Now with Leonard on the bench for the first 25 games of the season, fans are finally seeing the Aldridge of old as he is getting the touches he was used to in Portland and as a result posting similar numbers. Ah to be "The Man".
13 Changing Teams - Greg Monroe
What the Phoenix Suns got out of trading Eric Bledsoe for Monroe and a protected draft pick next season as well as a second rounder was essentially someone to take the drama off of their hands and free up some cap space. Considering the Suns youth movement up front with Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and Alex Len, there really is no need for a slow down back to the basket big man, a role that Tyson Chandler has covered thank you very much. Now lets be honest, the Suns aren't going to bring in any big name free agents with Monroe's expiring $17.8 million contract.
So the question becomes, who would be interested in trading for nearly $18 million to come off the books next summer? What do the Suns need the most right now? If they are set at keeping the two headed monster of Chriss and Bender at the four spot and they have Josh Jackson lined up at the three and basically giving Devin Booker the keys to the city, Phoenix needs to find a starting point guard and or a young athletic center. Would the Cavs be willing to dangle a first rounder next year in order to take a rental on Monroe? Could the Mavs agreeable to part with Yogi Ferrell after they drafted Dennis Smith Jr. last year? Where's Luke Rindour when you need him?
12 Changing Teams - Tristan Thompson
It was just a few years ago that Thompson was one of the hottest commodities in the NBA, hot to the point that the Cavaliers signed the sixth year forward to an $82 million contract that expires at the end of the 2019-20 season. Now maybe it is the Kardashian curse, but Thompson has found his name among the list of players who could find themselves a new home before the trade deadline.
Linked to names like DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol, it appears as though the Cavs are looking for something more from their man in the middle. Jordan offers more from a pick and roll set on the offensive end and is a far better rim protector and rebounder. If in fact Lebron is at all dropping any behind the scene hints that he will be leaving Cleveland next summer, you best believe the Cavs will be doing everything they can to keep him there by helping him win a title and getting rid of Thompson might aid the process.
11 Staying - Marc Gasol
In the summer of 2015, the Grizzlies threw $110 million reasons for Gasol to stay in Memphis until at least the end of the 2019-20 season. Let's call this season what it is for the Grizz, a dud. However, all is not completely dark for the Grizzlies future. Gasol and Conley have a few good years left in the tank, rookie Dillion Brooks is showing promise, Evans if healthy is a value and they could find themselves in the running for a top five pick in a loaded draft class.
Names such as Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr. and Jaren Jackson Jr. are some of the names that could make an instant impact on a pro team. Let's be honest, the odds of getting equal value for Gasol is pretty bleak, why trade a valuable commodity just because of one bad season?
10 Changing Teams - DeAndre Jordan
Lob City is in shambles! While fans still get treated to the occasional hookup between LC holdovers Jordan and Blake Griffin (when he isn't hurt), the team that looked to take over control of Hollywood and make everyone forget about the purple and gold is back playing the role of the lil' brother.
So what does that mean for DeAndre Jordan? Well, considering he recently just hired an agent for the first time in two years since the whole issue with the Mavericks during free agency, Jordan is now looking to find himself a new home, rather than staying committed to the city and team that drafted him. Without Chris Paul or Jamal Crawford running the show, the Clippers just aren't the same team. Throw in the fact that their roster resembles a M.A.S.H. unit more than a basketball team and you can see why DJ wants out.
So where does he go? Cleveland has expressed interest, willing to part with Tristan Thompson and possibly a draft pick. The Bucks could always use another seven footer, just incase they don't have enough. Either way, look for the Clips to move their big man East so they don't have to deal with him more than a couple times a season.
9 Changing Teams - Jahlil Okafor
At the time this piece was being written, Okafor was a man on an island by himself. Sure he was part of the Philadelphia 76er's roster, but that was on paper only. Dude wasn't traveling with the team, he wasn't sitting on the bench with the team at home games, he may have been lucky to get some of the free team breakfast from the practice facility due to nobody really knowing who he was.
The man was practically begging to be bought out just so he could go work for another organization, even if it was in some far off desolate country. How crazy is it that the third overall pick from the 2015 draft, one that was argued to be the top overall pick, a player who posted rookie numbers of 17 and 7, followed by a sophomore 12 and 5 for a horrible Sixers squad would just be kicked to the curb. Nevertheless, he's thrilled for a fresh start with the struggling Nets.
8 Staying - Julius Randle
The LA Lakers are in the process of building something special. We think. While some still question the recent signings that were made by the former management team, the new front office duo of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have created a buzz in the league and media. One of the major obstacles facing the young Lakers squad is that next season there is a couple of decent players on the free agent list who would turn the franchise around in a heartbeat, but would cost a pretty penny to bring in. The problem is, these young Lakers will want to get paid when their respective contracts are up.
One of those young players being Randle. Word on the street is the Lakers would rather move Randle and clear more cap space for the free agent shopping spree than pay the young forward. When you throw in the fact that Coach Luke Walton has decided to bring Randle off the bench and place Larry Nance Jr. in the starting lineup, along with the surprise performance of the rookie class in Kyle Kuzma, some feel that the Lakers could be better off in moving the former Kentucky Wildcat.
7 Changing Teams - Kenneth Faried
What has become of the "Manimal"? It was only a few short years ago that Faried was a Tasmanian Devil like figure on the hardwood and the heart and soul of the Denver Nuggets starting lineup. Sure others posted better stat lines, but 12 points, eight boards plus a sprinkling of steals, blocks and other numbers that don't appear in the box score made Faried not only a fan favorite but a staple in the first five. Last season, Faried came off the bench, seeing a drop in numbers across the board. This year with the addition of Paul Milsap, Faried looks like a shell of his former self.
With the addition of Milsap and Trey Lyles last summer, the Nuggets look like they are ready to move on from Faried, who looks like the odd man out at the power forward spot. There are a few teams that could use someone like Faried, either as an energizer off the bench or a final piece to their starting five for a playoff contending team. Could a trip East to join the Pistons for a draft pick or the Sixers for a package of Nik Stauskas and TJ McConnell interest the Nuggets as they look to build some depth in their roster?
6 Changing Teams - Wilson Chandler
If you think Chandler is a frustrating player to have on your team in real life, try having him as part of your NBA Fantasy roster. As said, he will give you a little bit of everything, but then he will also give you a stretch in which, as with real life, disappears, leaving you scratching your head and wondering if you will get something of value for him in a trade or should you just ship him off on the waiver wire and hope it doesn't come back to bit you in the rear.
With Paul Milsap on the injured reserve list, trading Chandler may not be the smartest move for the Nuggets at this point as they fight to stay relevant in the West. Throw in the fact that Chandler can become a free agent next year, holding a player option on his contract and the Nuggets may want to get something for nothing. Could a move to Charlotte be in the works for a change of scenery trade with either Marvin Williams or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist be something that would rejuvenate all parties careers?
5 Staying - Derrick Favors
During the offseason, talks about moving Favors started up around the Jazz organization yet again. A solid, yet unspectacular starter for the Jazz for over half of his tenure with the team, Favors increased his point production in each of his first seven seasons. Unfortunately, injuries hurt his value last season, leading many to want to part with the 26 year old. Between last year and the start of this season, Favors hasn't exactly given Jazz management reason to believe that he is a key component to the team's future.
In seven of the nine games that Gobert was recently out with injury those were the points and rebounds that Favors put up for the Jazz. Not too shabby and gives evidence that he is someone that Utah needs to continue to invest in. Considering that Hayward just left town last summer, the Jazz need players that the fans can identify with and Favors is one of them.
4 Changing Teams - Nerlens Noel
He quickly found himself the odd man out as part of the process in Philadelphia and now Noel is finding himself in the same position as part of the Dallas Mavericks. After signing a one-year deal to remain with the franchise last summer, Noel was given a second chance to make a first impression. Unfortunately, such has not been the case. Yes, he has been sidelined recently with a torn ligament in his thumb, an injury that could keep him in street clothes for a month, but even when given minutes, Noel wasn't performing up to expectations.
Considering Dallas is in a rebuild mode, it would seem like the perfect place for Noel to plant roots and establish himself as the man in the middle for the future. One would think that a team with an agile big man alongside an explosive point guard like Dennis Smith Jr. would be an ideal combo. Who would be willing to take a flyer on a big man who has athleticism out the roof and can help deter shots on the other end, but is saddled with limited offensive skills? Not that the Celtics need much help considering their impressive record out of the gate, but adding Noel to their big man rotation could provide the team with some fresh legs off the bench. If the C's were to throw a future first rounder, of which they have plenty, it would be a trade that could benefit both teams and also Noel. A win-win-win. Boston gets depth, the Mavs help their future and Noel gets another fresh start.
3 Changing Teams - Zach Randolph
Yes, they just signed a two-year $24 million deal with their aging power forward this past summer. And yes he is their best player in his first season with the team, leading the way in points and boards. So why would a team move such a player? Well, let's be honest, at 36 years old, Randolph is not really the player a team would want to build around for the future. Other than George Hill, Garrett Temple and Vince Carter (all of which could be on this list), the Kings roster is made up of players in their early 20s. Considering the Kings sit at 8-13 and at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, why take away minutes from younger players who need the time to improve?
An option would be to send Randolph to the Wizards, a team badly in need of a scoring and rebounding presence in the paint other than Martin Gortat. So if you have hopes of a championship sendoff old man Randolph, heading East is your best option.
2 Staying - Anthony Davis
So why is Davis on this list? One name: Danny Ainge. For a while now, Ainge and the Celtics have been long rumored to be interested in adding Davis to the Boston roster as a player that would help them raise yet another banner. Throw in the fact that the team probably wouldn't have to give up too many of their current players to make this work due to the truck loads of quality draft picks that they have acquired over the years and Boston becomes an ideal place for players to want to go.
Imagine a lineup of Irving, Hayward (when healthy), Brown, Horford and Davis. Now that would be an epic battle with the Golden State Warriors for the NBA Championship. Too bad for Beantown, The Brow and Boogie are one tag team that won't be breaking up for a long time.
1 Changing Teams - Joakim Noah
Unlike the others on this list, sadly Noah possesses no value to any team at this point in his career (unless you're looking for a salary dump asset). For some reason Phil Jackson in all of his infinite wisdom, decided to throw an unnecessary large amount of money at a player who was but a shell of his former self.
If someone can please explain how Phil figured $17-19 million a season for four-years is market value for a player who hasn't played even 80 games a season for the past three years it would be greatly appreciated by fans around the league. So what are the Knicks to do, saddled with a player holding the worst contract in the league and sitting fourth on a depth chart behind such players as Enes Kanter, Kyle O'Quinn and Willy Hernangomez (all three that would struggle to start on any other team in the league).
So what team would want to (or even financially could) trade for Noah? Let's be honest, nobody. For the Knicks to find someone to take on that kind of money, the only way for it to even remotely be a thought is if New York packaged a magical unicorn with the deal.