In a couple days it will be December 15th, the day that all the new NBA contracts can finally be moved. According to NBA.com, there were 230 players that switched teams this offseason. That includes players like Kawhi Leonard, who changed teams in free agency; Paul George, who was traded to a new team; and Jamal Crawford, who went from employed to unemployed.
There has not been a trade for 155 days or so, and the last one was Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, which sent Chris Paul and four first round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Any player that signed a new contract, or an extension (like Bradley Beal), cannot be traded until December 15th, as well. Here are the top three trades I think are the most likely as we approach Christmas.
Kevin Love to Phoenix or Brooklyn
Brooklyn is in desperate need of a power forward, since their first and second stringers in the position are Taurean Prince and Dzanan Musa (Musa is really a shooting guard, but he’s 6’9″ and 217 lbs).
When they lost to Miami, Bam Adebayo collected 16 rebounds, 6 more than his average; Duncan Robinson got 10 boards, which is 7 more than his average. And in the game they lost to the Boston Celtics, they got out rebounded 55-38, with the Celtics starters combining for 37.
The Nets are 11th in blocks, but if Jarrett Allen gets injured they would drop to the mid-twenties. That’s taking into account Deandre Jordan would get more minutes, and probably more blocks.
My favorite landing spot for Love is the Phoenix Suns. They have Deandre Ayton, who will be back soon from suspension, and Aron Baynes, who has been majorly over performing this season. If Baynes can keep it up after he comes back from injury for the rest of the season, they have no need for Kevin Love. But I seriously doubt that Baynes can keep up his +9.5% from three (+9.2% from the field), +9.1 point per game and his +1.8 assists per game increases from last year. His rebounding and blocks numbers are pretty much the same.
The Suns sit at 28th in total blocks and 26th in total rebounds. When your bigs are all injury prone or rookies, getting another is usually a good idea.
The thing with both of these teams is that it is going to be hard to get the money right. Phoenix only has 4 players that are worth $15M+, and Brooklyn only has 2. There would definitely have to be multiple picks involved. Phoenix would be easier because the teams just have to reach $22M for the trade to be accomplished.
I think Tyler Johnson, Dario Saric and Ty Jerome for Kevin Love and Ante Zizic would get it done, but Love’s three year $90M contract might get it the way.
Demar Derozan to New York or Orlando
Both Orlando and New York have expressed interest in trading for Derozan. I, personally, don’t think Orlando would be smart if they traded for him, but let’s look a little deeper.
Orlando is 28th in three point percentage, with 33%, and adding Demar would certainly not bring that number up. But Demar would mostly fit into their style of play. Orlando is 22nd in threes attempted per game, and 11th in two pointers attempted, and Derozan attempts 0.6 three per game and 15.6 two pointers per game.
According to ESPN Trade Machine, Derozan for Evan Fournier and Al-Farouq Aminu doesn’t affect the win percentage of either team. The perfect trade!
The New York Knicks also expressed interest in Derozan, but I don’t think the Spurs want anymore PFs, unless they trade LaMarcus Aldridge. I don’t think anyone really wants to go to New York at the moment, but Derozan did say he wished he played in the 90s.
The Knicks are 25th in threes attempted, shooting 36% from 3PT, and attempt 56.6 two pointers per game, good for 12th in the NBA. Since the Knicks are trying to figure out what to do with their future, trading for Derozan, who used to be a star, seems like a step in the right direction, but I have the feeling Popovich would be able to completely fleece the Knicks.
But seriously, the money is going to be hard for the Knicks and Spurs to figure out, since the top four most expensive contracts the Knicks have are all forwards.
The best trade between these two I can come up with is Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, Allonzo Trier and Ignas Brazdeikis and Dallas’ 2021 first round pick for Demar Derozan, Chimezie Metu and the Spurs’ 2020 first round pick.
Danilo Gallinari to Portland or Miami
Gallinari to Portland is probably the most straightforward trade today. However, I don’t see this as a very likely trade since Carmelo Anthony is performing very well. If Carmelo drops off, this could be a potential trade. The Blazers could need a power forward in the future, as well as some help for Dame and CJ.
Gallinari is a great shooter for a big man, and rarely fouls or turns the ball over. He’s averaging 18.6 ppg in 30 minutes per game, and is shooting 45-41-92 so far this year. I have two potential trades here.
The first is Danilo Gallinari and a second round pick for Kent Bazemore, Gary Trent Jr and Zach Collins and Portland’s 2021 first round pick. The second is Gallinari for Bazemore, Collins and Anfernee Simons and their 2022 second round pick.
The Thunder would probably have to throw in Miami’s 2021 and/or Denver’s 2020 first round pick, since they would be taking two young players from the Blazers.
A trade to Miami would be a considerably harder challenge. It would most likely involve multiple players and picks to keep both teams happy.
My suggestion is Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Meyers Leonard and the Heat’s 2020 first round pick for Gallinari and Dennis Schroder.
The Heat would get the better of the deal short-term, but since the Thunder are rebuilding, having a few young players and another pick would be great.
CJ McCollum getting traded?
This is my ‘upset trade’, the trade I think probably won’t happen but if things go a certain way it could. I first heard about this possibility while listening to ESPN podcast ‘Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective’, and first thought it was pretty outrageous. But if the Portland Trail Blazers have a losing record by mid-January and they didn’t/can’t get Gallinari or Love they could be ‘sellers’ at that point.
There might be a few issues involving the money (McCollum has three years left in his deal, worth $160M or so), but what team is going to say no to the possibility of CJ McCollum coming?
Watch out for teams like Orlando, who might need one more guy to make the playoffs, Phoenix or even Dallas. Portland would only trade McCollum if they got a few pieces or picks that made their team better now.
Other trades to watch for
A trade involving Gordon Hayward*, Robert Williams III (Celtics) and Milwaukee’s 2020 first round pick to the Pistons for Andre Drummond* and Luke Kennard.
Chris Paul* (Oklahoma City Thunder) to the Pistons for Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson and Tony Snell.
Chris Paul*, Nerlens Noel and Mike Muscala to the Heat for Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard*, and a future first round pick.
D’Angelo Russell* and Alen Smailagic (Golden State Warriors) to Dallas for Tim Hardaway Jr, Boban Marjanovic, Jalen Brunson and two 2020 second round picks (Dallas has no first round picks to trade; Dallas has expressed interest in trading for Russell).
Cleveland trading Tristan Thompson*, Alfonzo McKinnie and 2020 first round to Toronto for Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw, Stanley Johnson and 2020 second round pick.
Bogdan Bogdanovic* is a free agent after this year, and neither him or the Kings are enthusiastic about a long-term plan. Don’t be surprised if Bogdan is traded in a few weeks.
Cody Zeller* is a great player considering his $14M contract (averaging 11 ppg, 7rpg and has a PER of 18.17, 63rd in the NBA), so there will be multiple teams trying to make a small deal to improve their big positions. If Charlotte’s semi-hot start decreases, they will probably look towards the future more.
Another under-the-radar great role player is Davis Bertans*. So far in December he is averaging 22 ppg, 4.8 bpg and 2 stocks per game (steals+blocks). He is shooting 45% from three on the year, and his 2yr/$14.5M contract makes him very tradable. However, it is pretty unlikely the Wizards will trade this newfound sharpshooter, especially since he’s only 27. Don’t be surprised if he shows up in the three-point contest later this season.
Obviously, the schematics of the trades will probably be off (the role players and the picks), it’s more the key players (like Hayward, Paul or Love) that I’m speculating about.
Hopefully the NBA season will show us more drama starting in the next few weeks.
*Key players in the trades
Stats provided by Basketball Reference, ESPN, and NBA.com
Draft pick information provided by RealGM.com
(P/C: NBC Sports)