With the addition of the play-in spots to this year’s NBA postseason, there won’t be as many teams that are looking to sell before the trade deadline arrives. However, with March 25th slowly approaching, the league’s rumour mill is starting to churn much faster, with under the radar role players potentially the flavour of this trade season. Don’t expect to find Bradley Beal or DeMar DeRozan’s names on this list, but below are 10 candidates who are most likely to find a new home as the trade action ramps up.
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Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers
Landing Spots: Raptors, Hornets, Mavericks, Celtics
News broke only a few days ago that Cleveland were prepared to sit Andre Drummond as they A) transition to Jarrett Allen as their starter of the future and B) shop Dre around to find a deal that suits both player and team. For a player of Drummond’s statistical dominance, the Cavs didn’t have to cough up a lot to secure him at the deadline last year and it’s possible a future second-rounder and/or the contracts to match his $28.8M salary is the only return they’ll receive.
Any additional assets Cleveland can pry away from a trade partner would be a bonus as they try to kickstart their rebuild and Drummond offers plenty of value to a contending team. The Toronto Raptors are one suitor that he has been linked to recently, with the exit of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol leaving them in need of another center. The Raps may find it difficult to match salaries in a trade for Drummond and personally, I would like to see the Hornets jump on the talented big man to help give them a core capable of making some noise in the East.
JJ Redick, New Orleans Pelicans
Landing Spots: Nets, Sixers, Celtics
It’s been reported that the Pelicans are shopping JJ Redick around and the career 41.5% three-point shooter could definitely boost the championship credentials of a contending team. He has established himself as a proven performer in the playoffs with last season the first time in Redick’s NBA tenure that he missed the postseason after 13 consecutive appearances.
Understandable concerns are rising over how much is left in the tank of the 36-year old with the long-range snipper having the worst shooting season of his career right now – converting just 37.7% of his field-goal attempts and 36.8% of his three-point tries. Redick would prefer to land in the Northeast to be closer to his family which puts Boston, Brooklyn and Philadelphia in the box seat to secure his services should they be able to swing a deal. A reunion with the Sixers makes sense, but his $13M contract makes any trade complicated thanks to the top-heavy salaries of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Landing Spots: Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets
With his contract expiring in the upcoming offseason the Magic may finally decide to deal forward Aaron Gordon away after years of trade rumours. Orlando hasn’t made any strides towards becoming a consistent playoff force and it might be wise to cash in on some of their better trade assets in an effort to fetch future draft selections as they try to construct a winning outfit.
Image from washingtonpost.com
Gordon hasn’t exactly delivered on the promise he was coupled with once he was drafted 4th overall in 2014, but he can still score in bunches and prove to be a spark plug for a team’s second unit. With his contract depreciating in value heading in to next season, a squad like Golden State or Denver might look to add the talented forward to their mix. At 25, Gordon is hardly a lost cause, having made significant strides in his long-range shooting over his career. A change of scenery might be just the remedy Gordon needs to become a 20 PPG scorer.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Landing Spots: Celtics, Hornets, Mavericks
With Bradley Beal all but certain to stay put for the rest of this season, Nikola Vucevic is shaping up as the biggest name we see moved before the March deadline. As addressed above, Orlando has been treading water around the .500 mark for years now and a dip in their performance in season 2021 means it might be time for them to blow it up and build things back up from scratch.
The Magic’s starting center has kept his team afloat this year, playing his way into All-Star contention by averaging a career-best 23.4 PPG. In February alone, Vuc has had two games of 40+ points and a team who needs an upgrade to their big man stocks should look long and hard at acquiring him. If I could determine Vucevic’s future, I’d love to see the Charlotte Hornets bite the bullet and go all-in on the Orlando big and pair him with the likes of Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. Other contending outfits might find it tough to afford Vuc via trade, but the Hornets could facilitate a deal even if that means giving up some draft capital.
Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers
Landing Spots: Pelicans, 76ers, Suns
A Paul George injury came at the perfect time for Lou Will, giving him the opportunity to put his rough start to the season behind him and reignite his reputation as one of the best bench players in the entire association. Williams shot just 37.9% from the field equating to a 9.1 PPG average in his first 20 contests, however, the three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner has propelled his scoring numbers back up by averaging 21.1 PPG while hitting 51.0% of his shot attempts in the past eight games.
L.A. may now be hesitant to trade Williams away, but if they can net an upgrade at the PG position it makes sense for them to at least explore the market. A Kyle Lowry deal would be a huge get for the franchise, but even someone like Lonzo Ball could give the Clippers what they need. There are a few teams with postseason aspirations that could use a boost to their second unit with the Sixers and Suns also in the mix to pry Lou Will away from Los Angeles.
Image from sportsnet.ca
JaVale McGee, Cleveland Cavaliers
Landing Spots: Nets, Raptors, Trailblazers, Mavericks
Big men with limited offensive skills aren’t exactly the greatest trade targets, but JaVale McGee’s name has been circulating through the rumour mill all season. Now residing on his 7th NBA team, McGee’s talents aren’t being utilised in the best possible way in Cleveland and a team with their eyes on a title could add the 7-footer to their depth chart.
Having won three titles in four years, the Cavs center offers a wealth of experience to whichever squad looks at snatching him. Parting with a measly second-round selection might be enough to push a deal through and Portland would be wise to consider such a deal given their injury woes. The Mavericks and Nets could also use another serviceable big and I’d be surprised if at least someone didn’t try make a play at McGee before the deadline.
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
Landing Spots: Heat, Lakers, Thunder, Bulls
Being brutally honest, no one wants to trade for Blake Griffin right now with his hefty contract only part of the reason he’s drawing zero interest from opposing front offices. Similarly to Andre Drummond, the Pistons have agreed to sit Grif while they workshop a way to find him a new home. Given his $36M contract (which comes with a $38.9M player option for next season), it’ll be tough for a team with championship aspirations to match the necessary salaries and manufacture a trade for the 6x All-Star – which may force Blake to accept a buyout if he really wants to find a new home.
Should he be waived by the Pistons, Griffin will get a great deal of interest depending on where his heart lies. He could throw a huge middle finger to the Clippers franchise that traded him away and sign with the Lakers, but I’d prefer to see him join another fringe contender to boost their chances. The Miami Heat have been a team that has had fleeting interest in Griffin over the past half a dozen years and the Chicago Bulls could use his services in an effort to catapult their way up the standings. Once he does become a free-agent though, expect most franchises to at least kick the tires on a Blake acquisition.
Victor Oladipo, Houston Rockets
Landing Spots: Grizzlies, Heat, Knicks
Having already been traded once this season, Victor Oladipo can’t be moved again until the 4th of March. The good news for a team that still has an interest in landing Oladipo is that there will be enough time for another trade before the deadline arrives, and there are plenty of suitors for the polarising shooting guard. Oladipo’s injury issues have raised some red flags recently which may to lead to a potential trade partner waiting until the offseason when he becomes a free agent to make a play at the talented Rocket.
Image from espn.com
With that being said, if a team thinks they would lose the free agency race for Oladipo’s services acting now and making a move could help sway him into resigning this offseason. Miami could be where the dual All-Star wants to reside – so the Grizzlies, Knicks or another outside squad might have to get on the front foot to land Oladipo. His numbers haven’t looked unreal in season 2020-21 though, so don’t be shocked if the interest in Houston’s starting two-guard dissipates quickly.
P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets
Landing Spots: Clippers, Celtics, Suns, nets
One of the most likely candidates to get dealt is P.J. Tucker, who no longer offers as much upside on the Rockets’ roster. With Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and James Harden in a Houston uniform, Tucker made a living burying corner three’s and holding his own as an undersized center – two traits that make him an appealing trade target at the moment. His expiring deal is worth just $7M which means a trade wouldn’t be too complicated to work out if the Rockets are happy to part ways with him.
I feel like Tucker is the perfect candidate to help the Celtics address their depth issues and Boston certainly has the young players to make an acceptable deal. If they don’t come calling another strong outfit like the L.A. Clippers, Phoenix Suns or Brooklyn Nets will also be in consideration for the veteran sneakerhead. Should Houston continue to tail off (currently losers of 7-straight games) then adding young pieces to their rebuilding nucleus is a smart play – especially given the amount of uncertainty with their future draft picks/swaps involved with the Thunder and the Nets
George Hill, OKC Thunder
Landing Spots: Mavericks, Sixers, Timberwolves
While OKC’s seasoned floor general is still sidelined for a few more weeks, it’s expected that George Hill will be wearing a different uniform before the seasons out. Currently dealing with a ‘baseball finger’ complaint, Hill was raising eyebrows with his performances for the Thunder, providing an offensive spark and starting in all 14 games he’s played thus far. At 34, he’s another under the radar veteran type that can play valuable minutes for a team, not only during the rest of the regular season but in the postseason too.
He isn’t shooting the ball at the same lights out clip he did in Milwaukee last season (46.0 3P%), but Hill’s presence has been invaluable for Oklahoma City through the first portion of the season. Just today, news broke that the Sixers were throwing their hats into the ring to try and snag the Thunder PG and he could certainly benefit a team with playoffs sights or help mentor players on a younger roster like the Mavericks or Timberwolves. We all know how much Sam Presti LOVE’S to secure future picks as well, so any franchise willing to cough them up will likely win out the race for Hill’s services.
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