One of the criticisms of every major sports league is that sometimes it’s easy to see why people think that players are treated as commodities rather than human beings. You could be happily playing for your team and working hard, settling your family into a new city and a new life and then all of a sudden you’re out; traded to another team on the other side of the country.
These are human beings that front offices are dealing with, but the organization just wants to win and in order to do that they need to be able to trade without remorse. Sometimes a guy you brought in just doesn’t work out and in order to move forward, that guy needs to move on.
A team always wants to move forward whether that be adding new pieces to push for a championship or accepting that it’s time for a rebuild and stockpiling draft picks and off-loading contracts.
Every season there are players who look to be on the move for one for the reasons stated above; here are my top 7.
7. Allen Crabbe - Portland Trail Blazers
I like Allen Crabbe. He can play either the 2 or the 3, he’s young and last season he shot an outstanding 44.4% from three, but my goodness he was expensive for the Trailblazers. Crabbe was a restricted free agent and when the Nets decided to offer Crabbe a 4 year/$75 million deal Portland decided to grit their teeth and match it.
Now since they refuse to start him alongside Lillard and McCollum, Crabbe has become the most expensive bench player in the NBA earning a substantial $19 million a year or so. If the Blazers want to become competitive in the monster that is the Western Conference then they need that money Crabbe is getting to be spent on a quality starter.
6. Solomon Hill - Indiana Pacers
New Orleans needs to sort itself out quick before Anthony Davis decides he’s had enough and forces a move. They aren’t taking advantage of Davis’s incredible talent and it will come back to haunt them.
They never even tried to sign Chris Paul and instead gave $126 million to Jrue Holiday, a point guard is just slightly above average at best and they signed a Solomon Hill, a guy who barely scrapes 40% from the field to a $48 million deal.
Hill is still young but the Pelicans need to be winning now before Davis and Cousins get too frustrated. The trouble is with that contract it will be extremely hard for New Orleans to move him, they are now stuck with Hill unless they decide to get pennies on the dollar.
5. Kenneth Faried - Denver Nuggets
With the signing of Paul Millsap, Denver have made it clear who their guy is going forward and the pairing of Millsap and Jokic will certainly be intriguing. However, this does point to end of Kenneth Faried’s time in the mile high city.
Faried came into the league with some huge questions about his height for the power forward position being only 6 foot 8, but he managed to carve himself a place in the league by playing with huge energy and hustle. He was never a primary offensive option, but he would grab rebounds and always be there for easy points which have lead him to a career field-goal percentage of 54.4%
Faried is the kind of guy you want on your bench, someone who can come in and instantly impact a game with his effort and energy. Maybe the Nuggets keep Faried for this reason, but Kenneth might want to be a starter which could see him on the move this summer.
4. Wilson Chandler - Denver Nuggets
Another Nugget who may have already played his last game for them is Wilson Chandler. Chandler is a good athlete, but he will be 30 next year and he isn’t a good enough shooter to compliment Jokic, Millsap and Gary Harris.
He is due to make $12 million next season, a not too egregious amount but they have Darrell Arthur, a guy who hit 45.3% of his threes last season and who will only be making about $7.5 million.
If I’m the GM of the Nuggets, then I’m moving Chandler to free up cap space to make Denver better defensively, since they ranked 29th last year out of 30 in defensive rating.
3. Reggie Jackson - Detroit Pistons
I’d be extremely frustrated right now if I was a Detroit Pistons fan. Their team has no direction right now; they are stuck in no man’s land between getting good draft picks and fighting for a title. The team is just a bunch of individuals without any cohesion and it’s just a mess.
At the heart of this is Reggie Jackson.
After being traded from the Thunder in 2014 he averaged a tasty 9.2 assists per game for the Pistons. Since then he’s only averaged 5.8 and shot just 42.8% from the field, not numbers you want from your starting point guard.
Detroit last year was 24th out of 30 in offensive rating and it’s easy to see why; they can’t shoot for their lives. They only hit 33% of their threes last year which is a huge problem and they won’t go anywhere without rectifying that. Jackson only hit 36% of his triples last season for a position where outside shooting is key.
It’s time Reggie and Detroit parted ways.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - Charlotte Hornets
We all know the saying; defense wins championships, and to an extent this is true. If you can’t defend then you’re never going to make it big time. Defense wins titles, but points win games and you have to be able to do both.
MKG was brought in 2012 because he had a winning attitude and Charlotte had just had the worst regular season ever only winning 10.6% of its games. He was known as a great defender and hustle guy and people thought he would work on his offensive game to the point where he was no longer a liability.
This hasn’t happened.
He still has the ugliest jump shot from I’ve ever seen and it’s still as ineffective as ever. A small forward has to be able to stretch the floor and hit threes for his team to be successful and MKG simply cannot hit them. He’s hit only 7 threes in his entire career which is simply terrible.
Now that the East has become even easier this year with the departures of Paul George and Jimmy Butler Charlotte has an excellent chance to make some noise this year and they’ll want to take full advantage of this.
They need to bring in more offensive pieces to compliment Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker and trading Kidd-Gilchrist is an excellent way to do this.
1. Kent Bazemore - Atlanta Hawks
Finally, the Hawks have decided fully hit the reset button. After a decade of being decent but nowhere near good enough to really contend for a title they sent Dwight Howard to Charlotte and let Millsap sign with Denver.
Now all that remains is the other contracts that they need to offload in order to acquire as many draft picks as possible and the biggest contract they still have is Kent Bazemore’s who is owed just under $55 million over the next 3 years.
Bazemore is an energetic guard who can provide instant offense with his slashing and driving abilities. He’s never going to be the focal point for a team’s offense but he fits the third option very nicely.
It’s going to be very strange for Hawks fans who have become so used to seeing their guys in the postseason, but if they want a chance to win a banner for their arena then these are the sacrifices that must be made.