The NBA season is now over one week old, and it’s too early to read to much into each team. Teams are experimenting with lineups, working in new players, and establishing an identity. That doesn’t mean teams aren’t always trying to find ways to improve. To do that during the season usually involves making a trade. Trades are risky; a lot goes into them. Organizations must think about the short and the long term, but not all teams do that. This season has already brought about obvious traded candidates. Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns and Jahil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers come to mind. Bledsoe demanded a trade after three games, while Okafor has been on trade watch for a year. This article will focus more on five more under the radar trade targets.
The New York Knicks are the last winless team in the league and already a mess. This isn’t shocking, as most people predicted this before the season started. New York is thinking about the long-term, and right now, there are several players on the roster who don’t fit their long-term plan. The team is riddled with older players with bad contracts. Enes Kanter and Joakim Noah come to mind. New York would love to move those players merely to get salary relief, but it will be very tough to do so. Frontcourt reserve Kyle O’Quinn is also playing more in hopes of increasing his trade value before the trade deadline in February. The guy to keep an eye on is Courtney Lee.
Lee is past his prime at 32-years-old, but he still has value. Right now, he is in a shooting slump, shooting only 28 percent from the three-point line, but for his career, he is a 38 percent shooter from deep, and last year he shot 40 percent from behind the arc. He is still an excellent defender. Players who can defend and shoot still have value. Now he will have to get his shooting up to get his value up, but teams will be interested. There are plenty of teams in need of wing depth. The Knicks should be seeking a late first for Lee if possible. They need picks and young assets in the worst way.
Teams who may be interested: OKC, NO, MIA
Valancuinas is not new to the trade market. Toronto tried to move him at the draft. He is a talented player, but he is not a modern-day big, meaning he can score in the post and has got a midrange jumper. However, he struggles to defend ins pace and cant shoot from deep. Passing is also a weakness. After failing in the playoffs for four straight years, Toronto has had enough of Valancuinas. Moving him won’t be easy though. His value around the league is down. First of all, he is struggling with an ankle injury.
That’s a shame because in the opening game of the season against Chicago, Valanciuinas dropped 23 points and 15 rebounds. Toronto was trying to feed him and get his trade value up. Teams are not dying to get ground bound bigs, who cant shoot, but Valanciunas can still help some teams. The Raptors are willing to let him go because they have his replacement in Jakob Poetl and they like to play Serge Ibaka at center as well. Another factor that makes moving Jonas difficult is he has three years left on his contract and is making $15 million per year.
Teams who may be interested: BRK, PHX, OKC
Whiteside is the first real shocker of the list, as he is the best player on the list. Hassan is a dominant player who had 26 points and 22 rebounds in the opener and since has been out with a knee injury. Miami thought so highly of him that two years they signed him to a four year $98 million deal. He has three years left on that contract. So why move him? Well, Miami is stuck in the middle right now. They are a good team that will likely make the playoffs, but they are not a real championship contender. Pat Riley only wants championships.
The second part is in the next four drafts, Miami has no second-round draft picks and just two first-round picks, including no picks in this upcoming draft. That is thanks to the Goran Dragic trade with Phoenix. No players on the Heat’s roster could get more return than Whiteside. Tons of teams will be interested in a center who is 28 and averages 17 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks. The injury and contract may make it a little harder to deal him. If things start going badly this year in Miami, don’t be shocked is Whiteside is moved at the deadline.
Teams who may be interested: DAL, PHX, BOS
Julius Randle is a former first-round draft pick with lots of talent. Now, he is coming off the bench, as Larry Nance Jr. replaced him. Randle’s motor is hot and cold, but when he is engaged, he is a very talented player. He also is only 22-years-old, and he hasn’t reached his prime yet. Randle is also on a friendly contract, with one year remaining on his deal worth only $4 million.
His value is down a bit because he isn’t playing much, but his youth, talent, and friendly contract should make him relatively easy to move. Like Whiteside, there will be lots of teams interested in Randle. It’s also clear that Randle doesn’t fit the Lakers long-term plans. They are planning on going big game hunting in the summer and chasing free agents like Lebron James and Paul George. There is a talented player in Julius Randle, and some teams will believe they are the team to unleash that potential talent.
Teams who may be interested: CHA, CHI, POR
Young seems like he is always on the trade block. He’s a good player, but not a great one. Young has been on four different teams; it may now be five. Indiana already has replacements to fill in Young’s shoes in T.J. Leaf and Domantas Sabonis, both who are looking good. At age 29, he is a little past his prime, but he can still help a contender. Young is athletic, can defend, and finish around the rim.
His weakness is shooting. Right now, he is playing a lot and averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game. He has value around the league. His contract is also not too bad, as he has two years left at $14 million per year. Athletic forwards who can guard multiple positions are always something of value. Indiana is looking towards the future, and Young doesn’t fit those long-term plans. Expect him to be moved before the deadline.
Teams who may be interested: BOS, HOU, UTAH
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