So you call yourself an NBA fan? Here’s some trivia for you: On what date was the last NBA trade completed? Go ahead, we’ll wait … To save you some scrolling, we’ll let you know that it wasn’t in the last couple of months. Or even the couple of months before that.
The last NBA trade became official all the way back on July 16, when the Houston Rockets swapped Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul. That’s it. No other trades have happened since then. It’s a rare, if not unprecedented period of inactivity for a league replete with transactions, but there’s a pretty good explanation as to why.
There’s an NBA rule dictating that the majority of players who signed a new contract over the summer are prohibited from being traded until the magical date of Dec. 15. Because so many players signed deals in the flurry of activity this offseason, a good chunk of the league suddenly becomes eligible to be traded on Sunday.
That means trade season is about to pick up, and there should be much more activity leading up to the Feb. 7 deadline. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the players who could be involved in trades once teams have a lot more options to make deals.
Love is the most obvious trade chip in the NBA — the problem is there’s no obvious trade. The Trail Blazers have long been rumored as a Love destination, but their current depth issues don’t really allow them to send out matching salaries like Hassan Whiteside and/or Kent Bazemore in return. Young teams with space and draft picks probably don’t want Love, while contending teams who could use him either can’t match his salary or aren’t interested in paying him $31.3 million over the next two seasons, then $28.9 million as a 34-year-old in 2022-23. But, as we’ve seen in the NBA, some team will likely figure out a way to make a move.
It’s a long shot given his hefty contract, but Paul has proven that he’s still more than capable of legitimate point-guard production. We never thought the Rockets would be able to move Paul’s contract until they traded him for Westbrook, so we can’t rule it out now either. That being said, it’s unlikely.
The Warriors are adamant that Russell is a part of their long-term plans, but they’d be foolish not to at least explore the trade market, particularly given their collision course with the top of the lottery. The Timberwolves were reportedly extremely close to signing Russell this summer before the Warriors swooped in, so they might be able to put together a package around Robert Covington and Jeff Teague’s expiring contract to try to get to the playoffs in a wide-open bottom of the West.
Potential destinations: Timberwolves, Magic
The rumors have already been floated, but the Spurs aren’t exactly clicking on all cylinders and could look to move DeRozan to allow their young guards, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker, more space to flourish. DeRozan has a player option for $27.7 million next season, which will be one of the more intriguing decisions of the summer.
Potential destinations: Magic, Timberwolves
For teams who can’t afford Love or don’t want a long-term commitment, Gallinari is a great option. He’s owed about $6 million less than Love this season, making a deal slightly easier to manage, plus Gallinari’s contract is expiring. For teams in need of a stretch-four, Gallo is a knock-down 3-point shooter who will get you 16-18 points per game in his sleep.
When Redick signed with the Pelicans this summer, it looked like he would be a veteran piece on an intriguing team that could vie for a playoff spot. Thanks to an injury to Zion Williamson and a general inability to play defense, the Pelicans are instead one of the worst teams in the NBA. David Griffin has done a tremendous job acquiring assets, so he might look into what he can get for Redick, an elite shooter on a reasonable contract who many teams would be happy to have for the playoff push.
Potential destinations: 76ers, Nuggets, Magic, Rockets
The Magic have a crowded frontcourt with the emergence of Jonathan Isaac and the consistent production of Nikola Vucevic, so Gordon is definitely on the radar as a trade candidate, particularly if they can deal him for a scoring guard or a wing. Gordon has plenty of upside with his athleticism and skill set, and is on a relatively team-friendly contract for the next two seasons after this one.
The Grizzlies insist they won’t buy out Iguodala and that they want an asset or two for him, and that’s exactly the stance they should take until the trade deadline expires. Iguodala would fit in on plenty of contenders, but they’re not likely to want to give up too much to get him. The situation is certainly worth monitoring.
Also in the mix
Favors hasn’t played much for the Pelicans, and given their record they may want opt to give Jaxson Hayes all the run he can handle. Favors is a valuable big man on both ends of the court on an expiring $16 million deal, so he should draw some interest.
With all the Love talk, Thompson might actually be the most interesting big man in Cleveland right now. Thompson’s averaging a career high in points in a resurgent season, and we see contending teams add center depth before the playoffs all the time (Greg Monroe, anyone?). Thompson’s on an expiring deal at $18.4 million, which might prove too hefty to move, but he should be on the radar.
Finally out of a mutually disagreeable situation in Miami, Whiteside is putting up strong numbers in 28 minutes per game for the struggling Trail Blazers. He’s on a $27 million expiring deal, a valuable asset if Portland wants to go for a more expensive target. If they continue to lose games and decide to punt on the season, or if Jusuf Nurkic returns at close to full strength, the Blazers would be wise to look into Whiteside deals. The question is, does anybody want him?
Like Whiteside, Bazemore could serve as extra salary in a trade for a higher-priced talent, but with the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood the Blazers may not be in position to part with him. Bazemore is a reliable veteran wing who can add depth for a playoff contender, but they might wait to see if he hits the buyout market rather than forking over an asset for his $19.2 million expiring deal.