The NBA trade deadline is this Thursday, February 19th, which means that general managers are going to be on the phone around the clock for the next 48 hours or so. Every year around this time of the year, general managers are figuring out whether or not their team has a legitimate chance of making the playoffs and winning a championship or whether or not they should sell their assets in order to gain future draft picks to build for the future.
Nowadays, there are only a handful of players that will play on the same team for their entire careers. More often than not, players will leave their current teams during free agency or they will get traded before their contracts are even expire. In fact, some players have already changed scenery.
Rajon Rondo has moved from the only home that he has ever known in Boston to Dallas. Jeff Green, a fellow Celtic, has moved to Memphis to play for the Grizzlies. Mo Williams was recently traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Charlotte Hornets to replace injured Kemba Walker. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith have moved from the Big Apple to Cleveland and now have a shot at winning a Championship. And with just a couple of days left before the trade deadline expires, teams are frantically trying to find ways to improve their teams in order to make a playoff push before it is too late. As soon as the deadline is over, teams will have to stand pat and make the most out of the current rosters that they have.
It is always hard to predict whether or not giant pieces will be moved or smaller pieces will be moved, but here are some of the top 10 most likely players to change scenery in the next couple of days.
10 Terrence Ross – Toronto Raptors
The third year small forward is averaging 10.3 points per game, 1.0 assists per game, and 3.1 rebounds per game. Believe it or not, Ross went off for 50 points last year, and people have not forgotten what he is capable of doing. However, Ross still has not been able to produce in the other categories on the stat sheet besides scoring. He is only making $3.5 million next year and $4.7 million two years from now, so he would be a steal if his potential is actually realized. High-flying perimeter players than can shoot from downtown are not exactly a dime a dozen, so make no mistake, people are calling Toronto.
9 Jose Calderon – New York Knicks
With the New York Knicks buying out Amar’e Stoudemire recently, it is obvious that they are going to do whatever they can to trim the fat off the team and build for the future with some young talent. That means that Jose Calderon, who has struggled to run the Triangle, may soon move to the bench or to another team that may want his veteran presence. Calderon signed a 4-year contract worth $29 million with the Knicks, but this contract is not as immoveable as some of the other contracts that the Knicks have signed in the past. This year, Calderon is averaging 9.3 points per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 3.1 rebounds per game, which is far below what the Knicks were expecting out of the veteran point guard.
8 Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried just signed a 4-year contract worth $50 million, which may sound like a lot for a player that can only play one position, in a league that requires versatility, however, with the salary cap ballooning in the next year, Faried’s contract will look like a steal very soon. This season, Faried is averaging 11.7 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, and 0.7 blocks per game, which is way below what the Nuggets were expecting out of Faried after a very successful summer playing for Team USA. What hurts Faried’s stock just a bit is the fact that he can’t shoot, however, you cannot put a price tag on someone’s motor. Faried has one of the best motors in the league and he could serve well as an energy guy on a team that is trying to make a push in the playoffs.
7 Isaiah Thomas – Phoenix Suns
The little point guard has been a spark on the bench for the Phoenix Suns much like Jamal Crawford is for the Los Angeles Clippers. Unfortunately, the Suns are really deep from one to ten, and everyone wants to shoot the ball, which makes IT’s skills a bit redundant. Furthermore, Thomas is a liability on defense because of his lack of size. However, if a team needs a scoring punch off the bench because of their lack of scoring punch, Thomas may be the best option out there. Thomas signed a 4-year deal worth $27 million, which is pretty reasonable for someone that is as deadly as he is on offense. This season, IT is averaging 15.2 points per game, 3.7 assists per game, and 2.4 rebounds per game.
6 Lance Stephenson – Charlotte Hornets
The Lance Stephenson experiment has officially failed in Charlotte just four months into the season. Even with the injury to Kemba Walker, Stephenson still has not been able to be the type of scoring punch that Charlotte desperately needs. This season, Stephenson is averaging 9.0 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, and 5.6 rebounds per game. To make matters even worse, Stephenson has been relegated to the bench for the past couple of months because he has been a poor fit with the starting line-up, but Stephenson is a big time player that just needs to be in the right system to get going like he did last year in Indiana.
5 Reggie Jackson – Oklahoma City Thunder
When Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were battling various injuries early on in the season, the primary weapon on offense for the Thunder was Reggie Jackson. Jackson isn’t a franchise player by any means, but he may not be strictly a back-up player either. Jackson is a bit out of position to be a two-guard, but he can certainly play off the ball, and his handles are good enough to play point guard as well. This season, Jackson is averaging 12.8 points per game, 4.2 assists per game, and 4.0 rebounds per game.
4 Arron Afflalo – Denver Nuggets
With the Denver Nuggets underachieving yet again, the Nuggets are open to having a fire sale with their entire roster. While the Nuggets have a lot of valuable pieces with their depth, one of their most intriguing pieces is Arron Afflalo. Afflalo has a very reasonable contract and he is one of the better two-way players in the league. However, the asking price for Afflalo is most likely a first-round pick, which is increasingly becoming more and more valuable and costly. Next year, Afflalo is set to make a very modest $7.3 million and after that, his contract will be off the books.
3 Enes Kanter – Utah Jazz
The 22-year-old has been in the league for three and a half years now, but many feel like he hasn’t even come close to reaching his potential yet. Kanter is sandwiched between Derrick Favors and the emerging Rudy Gobert, so he has had some minutes restrictions this year. Kanter will be a restricted free agent next year, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the big man. This year, Kanter is averaging 13.8 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, but only 0.3 blocks per game.
2 Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets
The 26-year-old big man was one of the best big men in the league two years ago, but he has not been healthy for quite some time. This year, Lopez has played the majority of the games this season, but due to his poor rebounding abilities, he has been relegated to the bench in favor of Mason Plumlee, who has been a work-horse with his hustle. This year, Lopez is averaging 15.3 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 1.7 blocks per game, which are still decent numbers, but for someone that makes $15.7 million, those numbers need to be way higher, in particular, in the rebounding department.
1 Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns
The rumors are that the Phoenix Suns are ready to give up on their three headed small ball line-up that features Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas. And of the three guards, Dragic has been the most vocal about his discontentment. Dragic flourished last year in the Suns offense as the primary ball handler. This season, he is averaging 16.2 points per game, 4.1 assists per game, and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Additionally, Dragic is making $7.5 million and he is on the books for one more year next year for the same price. This makes Dragic one of the best bargains by far in the NBA, so if Phoenix wants to move him, teams throughout the league will be drooling for his services.