The off-season is the best place for teams to fix their teams. A lot of times during the regular season the glaring issues can be shown but not too much can be done. In the off-season, a franchise can alter its future forever. Just look at Golden State. After winning an NBA record 73 wins, they went out and signed Kevin Durant. Now they are on a brink of being the next NBA dynasty. The Celtics in 2007 are another great example. Making a couple of big trades, they were able to get Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett for a few players and draft picks. There are countless other times in NBA history where the front office made a few slick moves with trade or signings that pushed their team over the brink and into NBA immortality.
Then there is the side of trimming the fat, so to speak. Here is where you might not be aiming to get better, rather you are aiming to be less bad. You might just release a player who has not lived up to their expectation. Someone who came in highly touted but really only collected a check. Those players should just get cut and you can move on. Sometimes players have ridiculous contracts and releasing them makes no sense, but you can try and trade them. Players like Luol Deng or Joakim Noah come to mind when you think of players with bad contracts. Here we are going to go over what needs to be done to help these franchises become better team whether that be by trades, signings, or just straight releases.
30 Atlanta Hawks: Sign Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker was supposed to be the next big thing in basketball when he was drafted 2nd overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. Only two things stood in his way from leading the Bucks back to the playoffs – Giannis Antetokounmpo and his ACLs. He has pretty good career averages in his four years of playing. During his career, he has 15.3 points and 4.4 rebounds with 2.0 assists. He has also shot the ball fairly well with 49.0% from the field, 35.2% from three, and 74.7% from the line. Jabari Parker has the ability to lead a team, but he just cannot be the leader of the Bucks.
In steps the Hawks. The Hawks might not have had the worst record this season but they have the least amount of talent on their team. With the third pick in the upcoming draft, they can be expected to draft a player who could change their future. They need someone to lead them, though. Putting Jabari Parker in the same front court with the young and very talented John Collins could give them a defensive anchor and really powerful and big on the offensive end. Even though he is a restricted player, I do not think the Bucks will match the offer that the Hawks can make, considering there have been rumbles of him leaving since the trade deadline. He is basically gone; it is just a matter of what team gives him a contract.
29 Boston Celtics: Sign Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel was the 6th pick in the 2013 NBA draft coming out of the University of Kentucky. He was the second coming of Anthony Davis. He has yet to live up to that but I believe it is more because of a lack of opportunity than anything else. The Celtics could give him that opportunity especially since they need rim protection. During his 4 year career, he has averaged 9.3 points with 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. While they are not great numbers, they are numbers that show he has the potential. He has some ability to score, he knows how to rebound the ball at a good rate, and he can protect the rim on almost any team.
It is very hard to say what the Celtics need because they have built their team so well.
There is not a player who deserves to be traded or cut. They will have two All-Stars coming off of injury next season. They have a bunch of players who are signed to the market-value deals. They are only shelling out serious money to Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, and Kyrie Irving. Even while missing their two best players, they still have made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals and potential can make it all the way to the Finals under Scary Terry.
28 Brooklyn Nets: Sign Jerami Grant
Jerami Grant had an underrated year in Oklahoma City. He did more than his stats give him credit for. This year he averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting the ball at 53.5%. While those aren't the greatest numbers ever seen, they are great for a high energy player who played 20.3 minutes a game. He was able to manage to play in 81 of the 82 regular season games and started in just one of those games. He has the ability to defend multiple positions, usually between the shooting guard, small forward, and power forward positions but he also has the ability to guard the point guard or center on switches. He is not a great shooter, but just having him as a threat from beyond the arch could be enough to stretch the floor.
The Nets have not been in a hurry to race to the bottom in previous seasons, because they traded away their picks. This season they have their picks back and might just find themselves crossing their fingers for the balls to be in their favor comes to the draft lottery. They do not have much high-end talent and D'Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are now extension-eligible, so they may be forced to spend money on them.
27 Charlotte Hornets: Trade Cody Zeller
Cody Zeller does not fit in with the Charlotte Hornets. He suffered a torn medial meniscus in his left knee this season, which forced him to miss 27 games. This season he only managed to play in 33 games while having averages of 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and nothing else notable. This is not to say that Cody cannot be a good player on another team, but the Hornets have much better options at this point. With guys like Dwight Howard, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Frank Kaminsky, and Willy Hernangomez all vying for playing time at the 4 or 5 position, it is hard to justify having Zeller as well.
I believe that they should ship him out in order for a guy like Willy Hernangomez can really show what he is made of down there, or give Frank the Tank a legitimate role in the rotation. Not to mention getting his $57 million off their books should be enough to bring in more help for their stars in Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard. Both had very productive seasons, but the team just did not have enough to make it into the playoffs this year, a mark that Dwight has not missed often and Kemba has only been to twice.
26 Chicago Bulls: Sign Julius Randle
Julius Randle played out of his mind for the latter part of the season; as soon as Larry Nance Jr. was out of the rotation and playing for the Cavs, he was really able to flourish. He has steadily increased his production during his four years of playing and should be considered on the brink of being the next big-time star in the league. During his career, he has averaged 13.5 points with 8.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists all while shooting the ball at 49.3% from the field and 25.7% from three with 71.7% from the line. He has the poise to lead a team and with the big expectations for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, expect them not to match any offer for Randle.
The Bulls are a team that could use his help.
With guys like Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Denzel Valentine they have some talent on the team that could make them great. They showed plenty of potential but they do not have a star to push them to the next level of greatness. With the 7th pick in the draft, there will still be some great talent left on the board, but nothing that can push them to the top of the Eastern Conference like the possible signing of Julius Randle would.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Trade Kevin Love
Kevin Love is the most under-appreciated player in the NBA. He does so much for the team that just gets ignored. In his career, he has averaged 18.3 points with 11.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He has done that while shooting a decent 44.4% from the field, with 37.0% from three and 82.4% from the line. He stretches the floor for them and rebounds the wall very well. He does that all while playing pretty good defense whether he starts at power forward or at center. On top of all that, he takes the heaviest burden on the media and fans when things are not going so well. If these playoffs have shown us something, it is that Kevin Love is still quite a valuable asset to have, but the Cavs do not appreciate him.
The Cleveland Cavaliers should trade him because LeBron is likely leaving, and they are going to find themselves back in the lottery for a couple years. Trading away Love can land them some good draft picks or even some young talent. This trade is not because of a lack of value coming out of Kevin Love, rather it comes from knowing where the future will be once LeBron leaves this summer. Nothing is really keeping him there and Kevin is just a piece of the puzzle for them. He may be a great fit on the Portland Trailblazers, and C.J. McCollum could be a fair return.
24 Dallas Mavericks: Sign Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is a restricted free agent for the Orlando Magic. If the Dallas Mavericks can offer the right amount of money, then the Magic just not match it. Gordon did have the best year in his short career. This season he had 17.6 points with 7.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He did that while shooting 43.4% from the field and 33.6% from three with 69.8% from the line. That free throw percentage could use some improvement, but his other numbers are not terrible at all. He really was the only consistently productive player for the Magic. His biggest issue this year was some injury problems he ran into, but he came back from them each time and played well. He did only play in 58 games, but he started all but one of them.
Dallas has the 5th pick in the upcoming draft. There will be some excellent talent available to put next to Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes to look for the future. It should be a center. But with an aging Dirk Nowitzki, they should also look at the power forward position. Gordon is just the type of guy to slide in the rebuild mode that they are in. He will turn 23 this year and still has not hit is prime. Developing alongside Rick Carlisle will prove wonders for him too. Not to mention, he could potentially join the long list of players to have played for the Magic, left, and become All-Stars. It is really a staggering number of players.
23 Denver Nuggets: Sign Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans had quite the resurgence this past season. It was his best season since his rookie season where he won the Rookie of the Year award in Sacramento. This season with Memphis, he was able to average 19.4 points with 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He also shot the ball at a fairly high clip with 45.2% from the field and 39.9% from three and 78.5% from the line. All of those numbers are well above his career averages, which bode well for the next team he plays on. The Grizzlies are not going to perform much better than they did last year and if Tyreke wants to make a run at a championship, he needs to join a new team.
The Nuggets have gotten better and better over the last few years and could be the perfect home for Evans. With the quick development of Jamal Murray this year and the continued excellent play of Nikola Jokic along with Paul Millsap returning from injury, they could make a real run in the playoffs this season. With Tyreke on the team, they could have exactly what they need in a couple places. He could serve as a great playmaker off the bench or even a great deep threat from the wing.
22 Detroit Pistons: Trade Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson trade rumors have been surrounding the Pistons for the last two seasons. Stan Van Gundy is gone, but he did a good job with the Pistons and does not get enough credit for the way he can coach a big man like Andre Drummond. However, it might be time to pull the trigger on this trade involving a smaller guy. Jackson only played in 45 games for the Pistons this year but he did manage to start in all of them. His averages for the year include 14.6 points with 2.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists. All while shooting 42.6% from the field and 30.8% from three with 83.6% from the line. Not bad numbers at all, but the Pistons need something else on the team.
Without their first-round draft pick this year, they might be able to send him away and get something in the late lottery to replace him.
With both Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin on their team, they have a lot of cap space taken up. It will be hard to find a guard who can effectively play the pick-and-roll for a lot less then they could get paid elsewhere. There is so much uncertainty when both the coach and president of basketball operations gets fired, that there is no telling where the Pistons might want to take this team. It's almost sure that they should ship Reggie away.
21 Golden State Warriors: Release Zaza Pachulia
Please. This season he has averaged 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds. That was despite the fact he started in 57 of the 69 games he played. However this postseason he has been put to the bench, having only played in three of the Warriors games as of this writing. He has been pushed out of the rotation and even before the playoffs started, the Warriors were opting to start JaVale McGee and have him come off the bench, and now he does not even see minutes off the bench. Steve Kerr has elected to roll out the Hampton 5 to start in the playoffs now and it is one of the best choices he has made. With the Warriors the favorites to win the west as long as they can win out at home, and Zaza out of their rotation, he is as good as gone.
This is all without mentioning his questionable play. He has just come across way too many times where it was questionable whether he was a dirty player, or just clumsy. Most recently he basically took Kawhi Leonard out for a year. On top of that, during the season he had numerous instances where he "fell" on the opposing player's ankles, including the reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook.
20 Houston Rockets: Sign Carmelo Anthony
Having a great spot up shooter could really help this team out. Melo did not have his best season, but it was his first season being the third option on a team. This season he did average 16.2 points with 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists while making 2.2 three-pointers a game. Being that he will be 34 next season and has been in the league for 15 seasons, those are not terrible numbers. He can really still be a quality player on any team that he plays on. Still, being able to effectively shoot the three-ball is without a doubt his most valuable asset to any team that potentially signs him.
The Western Conference Finals showed just how much the Rockets need quality shooting. When Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson went cold, the Rockets lost handily. When Gordon and P.J. Tucker were feeling it, they won handily. The perimeter shooting is something they have committed to since the hiring of Mike D'Antoni. As Game of Zones said, "Half the defense, double the offense." Bringing Melo along could really help dose that up and give Chris Paul and James Harden another player to trust in if they need a quick break on the floor with all of the iso ball that they run.
19 Indiana Pacers: Release Al Jefferson
It's just time. The 14-year pro is at the end of his career and it is just about time to let him go. This season he averaged 7.0 points with 4.0 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. That's well off from his career averages of 15.7 points with 8.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Not to mention, he only played in 36 games this year while getting 13.4 minutes a game. He has shot his production down to half of his career and is not even playing in all of the games. He has had injury problems and is just not even close to being the effective player he was from 2008 to 2014.
This is not even mentioning the salary he is being paid. He is being paid $10 million next year. He is being paid more than Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, and T.J. Leaf, all of whom who played in at least 50 games. That money can be spent on another great player to be playing alongside Victor Oladipo, who took his team to a competitive 7-game series against the Cleveland LeBrons. They have the potential to be able to play alongside the Celtics and the 76ers in the years to come; they just need to dump Al Jefferson in the process.
18 Los Angeles Clippers: Trade Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari has been having injury issues for many years now, so the fact that he got signed to a three-year, $64 million contract is mind-blowing. This season Gallinari averaged 15.3 points with 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He did that while shooting 39.8% from the field and 32.4% from three with 93.1% from the line. Those are not the bad numbers. Where his numbers become a problem is the fact that he only played in 21 games this season. He did start in all of them and played 32 minutes per in those games. But only being available to play in 21 games while he got paid $20 million this year is unbelievable.
The Clippers were just barely out of the playoffs this year. They have a lot of talent on the team and with two lottery picks they can improve on that even more. But having that contract on their team and his lack of availability is not going to help them out at all. They need to find a team who could be willing to take him as long as one of their lottery picks for a quality player. That is the best thing they could do to further their placement in the offseason.
17 Los Angeles Lakers: Trade Luol Deng
Luol Deng has a contract of two years for $37 million. He is the most overpaid player in the league. It looked like a bad deal when they signed it, and it is now confirmed that he made way too much money. He is scheduled to make $11 million more than the next highest paid player, which is Lonzo Ball. Deng played in one game for 13 minutes this season. Want some math? He made $1,322,307.69 a minute this season, the second highest per minute player this season, right after Gordon Hayward, who missed all but the Celtics' first game due to a more serious injury. He has seriously fallen off from his two All-Star seasons with Chicago.
So here is a trade scenario. The Lakers send Luol Deng and Brandon Ingram. The Raptors send DeMar DeRozan. Who says no? Dealing with this trade still leaves room open for two more max deals and adds one of the best guards in the league. For the Raptors, this gives them a very good young player who has been compared to Kevin Durant on numerous occasions. I believe this transition will help the Raptors as well considering they showed a lack of trust in DeRozan when they had him sit during the 4th quarter comeback in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cavs. Granted, that was under former coach Dwane Casey, but it still remains that it happened and it could happen again.
16 Memphis Grizzlies: Trade Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol still has some value left in the league. This season he averaged 17.2 points with 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists while getting 1.4 blocks a game and hitting 1.5 three-pointers a game. Being the main guy on his team, it is easy for him to get these stats, but it is not impossible to believe that he could be a very valuable part of any team's chemistry. He is a 10-year vet and a three-time All-Star. He shoots the ball fairly well and plays good defense. Marc Gasol can get a king's ransom from any team. Young talent, draft picks, or whatever the team decides is most valuable.
So why would they trade their arguably best player for something unproven? Well, the Grizzlies have the 4th pick in the draft and it is believed that they are going to take Mohammad Bamba with that pick. With Mike Conley returning next year after a very forgettable, injury-plagued season, they are sure to have a better 2018-19. On top of that, Marc Gasol has expressed numerous times his displeasure with the organization. He is a bad influence on his teammates. He is the reason why David Fizdale got the boot this season. He really needs to go.
15 Miami Heat: Trade Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside has had enough of the Miami Heat, and the feeling is quite mutual toward Whiteside. Whiteside is a good center who averaged 17.0 points and 14.1 rebounds with 2.1 last season when the Heat gave him 32.6 minutes a game. Then this season, they cut his playing time to 25.3 minutes, and he only averaged 14.0 points and 11.4 rebounds with 1.7 blocks. Continue to the playoffs where they lost in 5 games to the 76ers, Whiteside's minutes were cut again to 15.4 minutes, and his numbers reflected the cut again with 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds with 1.2 blocks. And it wasn't just because of injuries.
They believe that Whiteside is more over the hill than he is a valuable asset for them.
Not to mention, the Heat have the center they want for the foreseeable future in Bam Adebayo. With that in mind, they should trade him and see what assets they can bring in for him. The Heat just need to move on past what Whiteside has brought to the table to get out of the first round of the playoffs. He was a quality player at one point, but he is not even close to that anymore. Not to mention the $52 million he is set to be paid over the next two seasons.
14 Milwaukee Bucks: Sign DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan is one of the few true, old-school centers left in the league. With no jump shot to his name, he is the type of prototypical center you think about when you think of a center. He stands at 6'11" and weighs in at 265 pounds. He is an absolute beast in this game and has averaged a double-double with at least 13.6 rebounds since the '13-'14 season. He has never shot the ball under 60.5% and holds the NBA record for career field goal percentage, with a staggering 67.3%. On the other side of things, he could be the only NBA player who has a free throw percentage that's about two-thirds of his shooting percentage. For his career, he is 44.6% from the line.
The Bucks desperately need a center. They have their franchise player in Giannis Antetokounmpo and they have a good point guard in Eric Bledsoe, but they do not have a reliable center on the roster. He is a great defensive beast as well. Great rim protector with wonderful athleticism. We all know he has the ability to catch the alley-oop when he "retired" Brandon Knight. He is arguably one of the best pure centers in the league and would do great for the Bucks.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Trade Gorgui Dieng
Gorgui Dieng is going to get paid $49 million over three years. He is one of three players who is signed to play through the 2021 season. One of those players is Andrew Wiggins and the other is Tyus Jones, on his rookie deal. Dieng has fallen since last season. After playing and starting in every game last year, he only played in 79 and did not start a single one of them. He only averaged 5.9 points this year, which was a big dip from his 10.0 last year. This year he got 4.6 rebounds, which is quite the difference from the 7.9 the season beforehand. Everything he was able to accomplish in seasons prior is a waste this year and all the years that are still to come on his contract.
After only being able to play in 16.9 minutes a game, his numbers are sure to drop even more next season. To be paid all that money and only come off the bench for the T-Wolves will just stop them from getting further than the first round in the playoffs. There are plenty of assets out there for them to be able to contend for the title.
12 New Orleans Pelicans: Sign Gerald Green
Gerald Green did a lot to show he still has a lot of ball left in him. After playing in 41 games and 22.7 minutes a game this season, he really played well off the bench. This season he shot 12.1 points a game with 3.2 rebounds a game and 0.6 assists while shooting 2.7 three-pointers a game. He still has some of the best high flying players in the game, not to mention his streaky, go-off ability from deep. The reason the Rockets signed him to a rest-of-season deal is that he was able to give them much needed scoring when they could not find it anywhere.
The reason the Pelicans need him was made quite apparent in the playoffs when they were so reliant on Anthony Davis to give them offense. Some would say that they need to resign DeMarcus Cousins the most, but I think it would be wise for the Pelicans to avoid him. He still has value in the league and he could be a great asset for them, but Davis was really able to dominate the game when DeMarcus was off the court. Their best option is to wish him well and get Gerald Green in to help with their offense.
11 New York Knicks: Trade Joakim Noah
In the 2018 season, Joakim Noah played in 7 games and started in zero of them. During those 7 games, he got 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds with 0.3 blocks. His contract is such a bad one that Phil Jackson was dangling Kristaps Porzingis and a future first-round draft pick just to unload Noah and no one took it. All in all, Noah is far removed from his days as a versatile defensive big man for the Chicago Bulls. It is amazing to think that at one point Joakim Noah was in the top-5 voting for MVP and won the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Noah's season can be summarized as just bad all around.
The worst part is how impossible a contract it is to get rid of. After being suspended for the first 10 games and then getting surgery to repair his rotator cuff, he did not have a good start to the season. It was in January he was sent into exile from the team after a heated verbal altercation with the now ex-coach, Jeff Hornacek. He has talked to David Fizdale about returning to the team, but even Fizdale didn't commit to his return. He needs to be traded so they can bring in a great player to help Kristaps.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Trade Russell Westbrook
This is not a hate on Westbrook piece. This is just us saying that the Thunder need to move on. Westbrook is officially the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double in back-to-back seasons. This season he was able to amass 25.4 points with 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists. Last season he had 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 rebounds. The additions of Carmelo and Paul George only slightly affected his numbers, while it raised the overall play of the rest of the team and pushed them up the playoff seedings. Westbrook is a great player, but the team has become too heavily reliant on him. They need to ship him out.
The Thunder have a pretty good team. If they can convince Melo and PG-13 to stay, along with the assets that a player the caliber of Westbrook demands, then they have a real chance to compete. Westbrook can join another team and help them move up the standings. He can go stat chase somewhere else. The Thunder can build for a championship team now, and do it without Westbrook. This is not to say Westbrook could not lead this team to a championship, rather they have a better chance to do it without him. Perhaps he could join Blake Griffin in Detroit to make a new contender.
9 Orlando Magic: Trade Bismack Biyombo
Get rid of this man. After playing in 82 games and starting in 25 of them he did not do much. He averaged 5.7 points with 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks and wasn't able to make the most of things when he started in place of an injured Nikola Vucevic. Biyombo was signed with Aaron Gordon, Vucevic, Mario Hezonja, Serge Ibaka, and Jeff Green all vying for minutes in Orlando's rotation. Now with the upside in young guys like Jamel Artis, Rodney Purvis, and Khem Birch, he truly has no place on this team. He was not even a commodity and was more of a burden on the team.
It was especially bad when Ibaka was there, but he still does not do enough to make it worth the money he is being paid. Biyombo needs to be traded this offseason for both the Magic and Bismack's benefit. He had to be signed with the belief he would get more than 18.2 minutes a game. He has not been the defensive nightmare as he was labeled to be. He has not been the rebounding machine as he was brought in to be. He is not the player they signed up for and needs to be relocated for next season.
8 Philadelphia 76ers: Trade Robert Covington
Robert Covington has been in the NBA for five years and has been okay in that time. He's played pretty steadily in all of those seasons, with the lone exception of his first when he only played in 7 games. In his career, he has averages of 12.7 points with 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists while getting 1.6 steals. Those are some pretty good numbers but his issues lie when it came to the playoffs. It was there that the Celtics were begging him to shoot. He shot 32.5% from the field on 8 attempts a game. Those are not the numbers that you need to see in order to make it past the second round.
The Sixers could trade him and bring in some real scoring threats. Or even better send him in a trade that ultimately gives them Kawhi Leonard, as a true defensive anchor. The main point of this is to get him out of their rotation. With so many great players out there and players who could actually contribute to the scoring come the postseason. With the future of their franchise firmly placed in the hands of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, it is time to find a better role player or star that can be brought in to help them succeed.
7 Phoenix Suns: Release Jared Dudley
Time to let him loose. This 11-year pro had his absolutely worst year in the league. This season Dudley played in 48 games and averaged 14.3 minutes which is his career in both categories. This season he barely managed 3.2 points while getting 2.0 rebounds and only 1.6 assists. Dudley has given everything he can to this game, and after never being anything more than a glorified role player. He has never won an individual award and at this point, definitely will not win one.
The Suns are coming off a season where they were the absolute worst in the league and Jared Dudley did his best to make sure they stayed at the bottom.
Not to mention what this 32-year-old is being paid. He is scheduled to make $9.5 million next season. He's currently the fourth highest paid player on the team, who only played in 48 games. This young team does not need this man as their vet to take them to the next level. Not to mention, if the Suns use their first pick to get Luka Doncic, then there is even less room for him on the team. It is time to cut ties and grow as an organization.
6 Portland Trail Blazers: Trade C.J. McCollum
C.J. is a great player who was able to play and start in 81 games this season. In that, he played 36.1 points a game. During the season he averaged 21.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. All of those are right up there with his career highs, not to mention how efficiently shot the ball this season. He shot 44.3% from the field with 39.7% from three and 83.6% from the line. He also won the Most Improved Player award in 2016, and what a monster jump he had. McCollum can play great at either the shooting guard position or the point guard and can even move up to the small forward slot.
So why trade such a versatile player? Becuase him and Damian Lillard play too similar roles. They are both score-first, ball-dominant players. If you take the ball out of either of their hands for long stretches of time, they lose their value. And if as an organization you have to choose between the two, then you have to go with the guy who has the higher ceiling in Damian Lillard to continue your franchise and hopefully help them get past the Warriors in the playoffs.
5 Sacramento Kings: Release Zach Randolph
Z-Bo is set to be paid $12 million over one year. Zach Randolph is the highest paid player on the Kings and also the second oldest player. It is hard to find a contract that is bad for them because they are such a young team just like the 76ers and the Celtics. Unlike them though, their talent has yet to develop, with eight of the 12 contracts they have signed through next year belonging to players who are 25-years-old or younger. Zach Randolph has the distinction of being the oldest player by seven years. He was able to play in 59 games this season and started in 57 of them. In those games, he got 14.5 points with 6.7 rebounds and shooting 47.3% from the field. You cannot knock those numbers especially when a 36-year-old is the one producing those figures.
My issue with his contract is not so much his production, rather the fact that he is being paid the most, and next season his numbers are sure to dip as they give their young guys more playing time to develop and make a real playoff push. Randolph will not be able to help them next year as he did this year so the Kings should just move and either waive him, buy him out, or trade him.
4 San Antonio Spurs: Trade Kawhi Leonard
We all know that he needs to go. Kawhi Leonard is a great player though. Before this season, he was in the top-5 of MVP voting for two seasons. He won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He is a two-time All-Star and All-NBA player, and he also won one Finals MVP. In the '16-'17 season he had averages of 25.5 seasons with 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.7 blocks. He also shot the ball extremely well by shooting 48.5% from the field with 38.0% from three-point-range and 88.0% from the line. He is a top-5 player in the league without argument and has a high potential to make the Hall-of-Fame one day.
The issues that were shown between Kawhi, Gregg Popovich and the front office really showed how bad that relationship is. Spending most of the season away from the team and using his own personal training staff to evaluate his quad as Pop reminded us everytime he was asked about Kawhi. That on top of at the end of the season when Kawhi said that he wished Pop would just back off little shows that relationship is basically cooked. So with that being known, the best thing for both sides of this situation is to trade him away and go their separate ways.
3 Toronto Raptors: Trade Kyle Lowry
One of the two has to go. This point guard is in the best stretch of his career, surprisingly at the very end of it all. Having gone to his fourth All-Star game this season, he is really playing well. However his post-season was the same again, getting beaten, and by beat, I mean swept, by the Cleveland Cavilers... again. Kyle Lowry did play and start in 78 games, and he did have averages of 16.2 points with 5.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists. Those are eally good numbers especially considering he was able to shoot the ball at 42.7% from the field with 39.9% from three-point-range and 85.4% from the line. Those numbers are down from his 2016-17 stats, but are still quite solid nonetheless.
The Raptors cannot win with both Lowry and DeRozan.
I already covered a realistic trade with DeMar in it and arguments as to why he could go, but it could seriously be either one and the Raptors will improve. The Raptors continuously run into the Cavs and they keep losing because they could not throw a single player at LeBron to guard him. If they can trade Lowry and bring in a forward who has the ability to guard LeBron, then they can enter the conversation of not being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
2 Utah Jazz: Sign Mario Hezonja
Mario Hezonja is just the player Jazz need. The season he played in 75 games and started in 30 of them while playing 22.1 minutes in those games. He also averaged 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds with 1.4 assists while shooting the ball at 44.2% from the field and 33.7% from three-point-range with 81.9% from the line. He has been playing in Orlando for the last three years after he was drafted with the 5th pick overall. Hezonja is the perfect candidate for becoming an All-Star or a great role player in the next two seasons. There are so many players who spent some time with Orlando and did okay then moved on to be great. Guys like Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Trevor Ariza, J.J. Redick, Vince Carter, Serge Ibaka, Marcin Gortat, and Shaq.
The Jazz needs to help out Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. When Mitchell was not able to score, they were handily beaten. A guy like Hezonja could come in and if properly developed like Mitchell was, they could have a great duo. On top of that, he is a decent defender too, as he averaged 1.1 steals this last season and really stepped it up the last month of the league.
1 Washington Wizards: Sign DeMarcus Cousins
BOOOOOOOOGIE. DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall need to reignite their days at Kentucky. They played great while together there. DeMarcus has been arguably the best center in the league since 2013. Coming off the Achilles injury is a rough one for a big man, but he can get past it. This season with the Pelicans, he played in 48 games while playing 36.2 minutes. In that time he had 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds with 5.4 assists and also managed 1.6 blocks. He did that while shooting 47.0% from the field with 35.4% from three-point-range and 74.6% from the line. He still has it in him to dominate as a big man in the league.
The duo of Wall and Cousins is something that should scare almost every team in the league. There is a lot that would have to happen in order for the big man to find himself in the nation's capital but the possibility is out there. The biggest concern is how he plays when he comes back. He is supposed to be out for 6-12 months which puts him back at between the start of the season and the All-Star break. With that, he might not be an immediate help to his team, and even so he would have a lot of rust left on him. As such, he would need to play a little bit of time to take that rust off and then he can dominate again.