The unofficial start of the NBA trade season is here, as players who signed new contracts over the offseason are now eligible on the market. The Crossover staff weighs in on the players and teams they’re keeping an eye on.
Name a player you think is likely to be moved this trade season.
Howard Beck: Bojan Bogdanović. When the Pistons acquired the veteran sniper from the Jazz in September, it looked like a win-now play, a move to bolster their young-but-talented core, accelerate their evolution and maybe chase a play-in spot. But Cade Cunningham’s shin injury torpedoed those hopes, and now he’s headed for season-ending surgery. Bogdanović suddenly doesn’t have much value to the Pistons (8–22). But every contending team would love to have him and his .437 success rate from the arc. His skill set would make him an easy fit on just about every playoff team.
Chris Herring: Myles Turner might be the most mentioned trade candidate of all time, but his trade stock should be at an all-time high, given that he’s posting career-best scoring and shooting numbers. He’s also in the last year of his contract. The real question now, because of how well the Pacers have played thus far, is whether it’s a priority for Indiana to move him anymore or whether the club is going to make an honest run at the postseason.
Chris Mannix: John Collins. A Collins trade rumor has become evergreen between November and February the last few years. But with Collins being phased out of the Hawks’ offense this season—he’s in single-digit field-goal attempts for the first time since his rookie year—and the Hawks looking like a team that needs a shakeup, this seems like the year Collins will get moved.
Robin Lundberg: Zach LaVine is probably the biggest name I can see being moved. There have been some rumblings about the Bulls blowing things up and trading LaVine would certainly qualify. He is also the player they could move that would give Chicago the most value in return as he is still young enough where he could reach his ceiling, unlike say DeMar DeRozan.
Rohan Nadkarni: I’ll go with Jae Crowder, because his situation has been lingering since the summer. Crowder is absolutely someone who will be useful to a playoff team. While his shooting comes and goes, his defense may be underrated. Crowder may not be a pure perimeter stopper, but his help defense and IQ were big parts of the Suns’ success on that end of the floor last season. Numerous contenders have already been mentioned as it relates to Crowder. And Phoenix needs help with its own rotation! I imagine it’s a matter of when, not whether, Crowder is dealt.
Name a team that intrigues you when it comes to potentially making a trade.
Beck: The Jazz. As it turns out, they are neither the tanking team we all expected in October nor the surprise, top-tier playoff team they appeared to be in November. They’re just a modestly talented, midtier team that’s as close to a playoff berth as it is to a lottery slot. In other words, they’re in the dreaded middle: not good enough to be relevant, not bad enough to get a high draft pick. They’ll have to pick a path soon, and the most logical route is to lean into the rebuild they began when they jettisoned stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert over the summer. The Jazz could cash out some combination of Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Collin Sexton and Kelly Olynyk and stockpile more picks and young players, all while helping them sink in the standings and secure a higher draft pick.
Herring: The Bulls, with DeMar DeRozan. What team wouldn’t love to have a durable, veteran playmaker and clutch scorer like him? His contract isn’t overly onerous and has another year and a half left on it. And the Bulls look likely to finish right around the play-in tier of the Eastern Conference, if not slightly lower than that. So if Lonzo Ball’s return is still a ways off, this could be an intriguing option for Chicago if it seeks to reshuffle the deck around Zach LaVine, who just re-signed this past offseason.
Mannix: Cleveland. The Cavs made a big swing last summer when they acquired Donovan Mitchell. Will they take another? Cleveland is loaded, but J.B. Bickerstaff could probably find a use for a versatile wing like Jae Crowder or Dorian Finney-Smith. The Cavs still have a few assets to deal and an aggressive, Koby Altman–led front office that might be willing to use them.
Lundberg: I think everyone is watching the Lakers and whether they decide to go all-in on LeBron James at this stage in his career. LeBron is still playing at a high level and so is Anthony Davis but the rest of the roster leaves a lot to be desired. Whether they find a way to move Russell Westbrook remains of intrigue but so is the question of whether L.A. decides to move future draft capital for current help.
Nadkarni: Milwaukee intrigues me quite a bit. The Bucks’ big offseason acquisition—Joe Ingles—has yet to play. And while Milwaukee has still been great, I imagine the team would still like some reinforcements after last season’s early playoff exit. With Boston looming once again as a serious threat, I’m interested to see whether or how the Bucks load up in response to their conference rival. Grayson Allen’s contract could be combined with a couple of others to bring back a mid-priced player. Who can Milwaukee get in the $15 million-ish range that can help Giannis, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton in a playoff series? With the Bucks’ also not having a ton of avenues to improve their roster, I’m very interested to see what moves they will or will not make in the next couple of months.
What’s a trade you’d like to see happen this season?
Beck: Anything involving Bradley Beal. I know, I know, the Wizards will never trade him unless he asks, and Beal says he’ll never ask. And now he has a fat extension and a no-trade clause, to boot. But the Wizards are going nowhere (again, still), and, as talented as Beal is, he isn’t good enough to anchor a contender. Washington needs to jump off the mediocrity treadmill. Beal deserves to play meaningful games somewhere. He’d look great alongside Luka Dončic or Nikola Jokić, or playing between Steph and Klay, or LeBron and AD, or in Toronto, or probably a half dozen other places. His contract would make any deal challenging, to say the least. But it’s time. It’s beyond time.
Herring: I’m curious about how much better the Lakers would look if they had some perimeter shooters. They aren’t good, but there are times when you squint hard and see how they might be capable of consistently good basketball if they acquired more of that skill. But part of me would love to see Oklahoma City, with its 19 million first-round picks, add talent and make an honest-to-goodness playoff push. It won’t happen, but it’d be cool to see with the West being so topsy-turvy thus far.
Mannix: Beal anywhere. Beck and I covered this on the pod—what are the Wizards doing? They got off to a nice start but have been in a freefall of late with an offense and defense currently ranked in the bottom third. You see how New Orleans was able to build with the pieces they got for Anthony Davis and what Oklahoma City’s long-term outlook is after moving Paul George. Trade Beal—Washington, which inexplicably gave Beal a no-trade clause, would have to work with him on a deal—and build around Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Johnny Davis and whatever Beal brings back in a deal. Who would they alienate? No one goes to Wizards games and no one is watching Wizards games. Beal remains an incredibly valuable asset. Washington has an opportunity to reset. They should take it.
Lundberg: I could see the Raptors become sellers at the deadline and I’d love to see a team like the Sacramento Kings go all-in. Something like Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray, Davion Mitchell and draft picks for Pascal Siakam is a deal that is probably not likely, but would certainly be intriguing.
Nadkarni: I would like to see Beal traded. I know he signed a big extension and has a no-trade clause. At the same time, the Wizards have lost eight straight games and 11 of their last 12. I respect Beal for wanting to make it work in Washington. We don’t need to chase stars away from smaller markets. It’s also frustrating thinking he’s going to waste another season on a team that, even if it rebounds, ultimately is not going anywhere. Can Beal get to, say, the offensively challenged Heat? I don’t even know the right landing spot. I just know the Wizards aren’t the best team for his talent.