With the basketball season still fresh, there will certainly be plenty of NBA trade rumors flying around ahead of the deadline. One of the players whose name is coming up quite often is Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers. Another big man whose name is getting mentioned is Milwaukee Bucks player Greg Monroe. Then there’s a longshot who is being mentioned from the Memphis Grizzlies. Will Toronto’s management end up making something happen? If the latest trade rumors end up materializing, then one of these valuable players may be heading north of the border to the Toronto Raptors.
As ESPN Senior Writer Marc Stein points out in his recent report, there are three “established names” that are expected to be dealt in this latest NBA season. He mentions the obvious name of Rudy Gay of the Sacramento Kings, guard Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and then big man Nerlens Noel. The 76ers are loaded when it comes to that particular area on the roster with Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid also around for their rotation. Trading away one of these guys just makes good sense to get the roster in better shape for when No. 1 pick Ben Simmons is back on the court as the team looks to build around him for the future.
While Noel hasn’t erupted really over the past few seasons due to injuries, Stein contends that big men are too important to overlook for teams these days.
“Size still matters in basketball. A lot. We haven’t been very warm or nurturing to the 7-foot set in recent years — scrubbing centers from the All-Star ballot is one prominent example — but look around. Highly skilled and freakishly agile bigs are emerging in so many different cities and bringing some balance back to this world gone trey crazy.”
The nearly 7-foot center has been on the court the past two seasons and has steadily improved. Noel was projected by Basketball Reference to have another good season, putting up stats of 13.3 points, grabbing nearly 10 rebounds, and blocking at least two shots a game. Most teams would love to have a guy of his size with the ability to contend with other big men and achieve double-doubles nearly every night.
Another big man whose name is on the trade rumors circuit is Greg Monroe. He’s been in the league since 2011 and became a major component of the Detroit Pistons for his first five seasons. He’s now spent two seasons at the center position with Milwaukee and is averaging mediocre stats of 12 points, six rebounds, and over two steals a game. It’s a bit of a dropoff for Monroe as he was averaging over 15 points his prior four seasons including averaging a double-double in the 2014-15 season with Detroit. That said, he’s also listed at 6-foot-11 like Noel, and with his stats dropping for the Bucks, it just makes sense for him to potentially be dealt.
The Sportsrageous website speculates on the NBA trade rumors involving both players and believes either one could be a good fit for the Toronto Raptors. The reasoning behind Toronto picking up one of these big men is the fact they are considered right there near the top of the Eastern Conference. However, the team was exposed by a better team in last year’s postseason, the eventual champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It was the recent Hoops Rumors mailbag that brought up the players named as potential trade targets for Toronto. Arthur Hill was asked his thoughts about Masai Ujiri making a big deal to get the team to attempt to get the team to a championship level.
Hill mentioned that the team has a glaring need at the power forward spot and then mentioned three players in particular.
“Greg Monroe in Milwaukee is an obvious target. Another is the Sixers’ Nerlens Noel. A longer shot might be Zach Randolph, who has already been demoted to a reserve role in Memphis and is headed toward free agency. Any of them would make the Raptors a bigger threat to Cleveland in the East.”
Adding a better big man could be the answer to their issues, as fans will recall there were some shaky moments when Jonas Valanciunas went down for a few games. Either Noel or Monroe would make a great addition to a roster already packed with two All-Star guards and several other talented role players. Noel and Monroe would bring a strong inside presence and help clear the boards for offensive put backs, or to kick the ball back out to the shooting stars. Of course, Zach Randolph would be ideal to add to the mix, and that may even happen as the Raptors would be able to lure him to a contending squad that includes two All-Star guards. They’d just need to find enough value to offer in exchange to a Memphis team that has also qualified for the playoffs many of the previous seasons.
Don’t be surprised to see one of these three players end up in a Raptors jersey before the midway point of this season. The NBA trade deadline arrives for the 2016-17 season typically on the Thursday after All-Star Weekend. That could be around February 23, 2017, for the latest season, giving teams several months to consider potential deals and how to trim or improve rosters to their liking. As mentioned, Noel is certainly amongst the expected players to be moved, but Monroe may be one that Milwaukee holds onto a bit more in the case of an Eastern Conference playoff appearance.
NBA fans do you feel Nerlens Noel or Greg Monroe would be a good fit for Toronto? Will Greg Monroe be traded ahead of the deadline, just Noel, neither player, or both?
[Image via Elsa/Getty Images]