The two summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas are about to come to an end. Lonzo Ball was awful in his first game, then got a triple double in his second. Luke Kennard looks pretty polished offensively and Bam Adebayo looks like a real stud. Now that the next basketball games we’ll watch are in the preseason in several months time, our focus is solely on free agency and trade rumors.
This offseason has already been incredibly exciting with record-breaking contracts signed, hugely surprising trades an abundance of drama, and we’ve still got loads to come.
There are quite a few teams in the precarious position of not being good enough to challenge for a title, but too good to get quality draft picks. These teams are stuck in a mediocre limbo that can only be broken by either signing a superstar to challenge for a ring or accepting defeat and hitting the reset button. That means trading away your star players for draft picks and beginning the rebuilding process.
Here are 9 guys likely to be traded very soon for the reasons stated above.
9. Reggie Jackson - Detroit Pistons
Ever since Detroit won the title in 2004, besting the much more talented Los Angeles Lakers the Pistons have been in a state of flux. They have been unable to assemble a squad good enough to really compete for some time now, and primarily it’s all been down to one thing; a lack of shooting.
You simply cannot win in today’s NBA if you can’t hit the three. You become too easy to defend against as the opposition can just sag off you and clog the paint, meaning you can���t hit shots inside either. Your offense grinds to a halt.
The Pistons ranked 28th in three point shooting percentage last season. That ain’t gonna cut it. The Pistons have one the best rebounders in the game in Andre Drummond and believe that they can still build a team around him, but it has to be with snipers. Drummond is pure inside player who also gobbles up offensive rebounds, mainly because his team misses so much.
Reggie Jackson is not a good shooter and as the team’s point-guard, he has to be able to stretch the opposing team’s defense. He shot just 35.9% last year and has a career percentage of 32.1%. Jackson is still only 26 and he is a great athlete so he will have some trade value but he and Pistons have to part ways soon, for both their sakes.
8. Brandon Knight - Phoenix Suns
You’ve got to feel bad for Brandon Knight. The talented 6 foot 3 guard has never found anywhere in the NBA where he could settle down and get some momentum in his career. Even in 2014/15 when was up for an All-Star selection, the Bucks traded him to Phoenix where he has struggled to get minutes behind Eric Bledsoe. After averaging a tidy 19.5 points a game in 2015/16 when Bledsoe only played 31 games, he’s only managed 11 points an outing last season and he was shooting below 40% from the field.
Knight has the talent to be a team’s starting point-guard and has a lot of trade value. Before he was traded, Knight was shooting roughly 41% from beyond the arc, a stat that will have a lot of teams willing to take the risk. The Suns need a quality wing player to go alongside Bledsoe and Devin Booker and trading Knight would be a good way to get one.
7. Goran Dragic - Miami Heat
Another team that is stuck in no-man's land is the Miami Heat who finished 9th in the Eastern Conference last season, just missing out on the playoffs. They were able to tie down the beast that is Hassan Whiteside for the foreseeable future and Dion Waiters looks to be finally picking up steam.
Dragic did play really well last year where he averaged 20.3 points a night and shot better than 40% from the three point line, but this is quite a young team and with Dragic hitting 31 this offseason it might be prudent to capitalize on what’s left in his career and move him along.
I don’t know what the Heat will try and do this year, they make surprise everyone if Dion lives up to his new contract or they may stumble along like last year and barely make the playoffs. If the later happens, I expect every big name to be traded and for Miami to go into full rebuilding mode.
6. Jonas Valanciunas - Toronto Raptors
Toronto has to do something and fast. They have two of the premier guards in the NBA in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and have a great stretch-4 in Serge Ibaka who is also a quality defensive player. Toronto plays in the much weaker Eastern Conference, but they cannot get past LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ve lost to them twice in a row in the playoffs and with their current squad, nothing will change.
They have to shake things up and take some big risks. It’s the only way they have a chance of making it to the Finals to compete for a title. Toronto as a franchise has never been really successful and this current squad is the best they’ve ever had, but it’s still not good enough.
Lowry and DeRozan, of course, aren’t going anywhere so it’s their other big pieces which need moving and Valanciunas is the guy that should go. They wisely traded away DeMarre Carroll which now opens up a spot on the wing to sign a quality shooting small forward, or bring in a guy like Andre Drummond who can focus solely on rebounding and finishing at the rim.
5. Andre Drummond - Detroit Pistons
Another Piston that could be on the move is Andre Drummond. He has a huge amount of talent; he is so agile and fluid for a guy that stands 6 foot 11 and weighs nearly 280lbs. He is incredibly strong and nobody can keep him from grabbing rebounds left, right and center.
He has got to improve at the free throw line where his career average is a disgusting 38.1%. Although is his very raw offensively his fits the modern, effective style of NBA center extremely well. He rebounds, he defends and he can finish on lobs, pick and rolls, drop offs and putbacks. He needs to be surrounded by shooters so he can snatch offensive rebounds and either slam it home or pass it out for an open three.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge - San Antonio Spurs
This season, with Tony Parker set to miss a large chunk of the season, could mark the final end of the Spurs ‘Big Three’ era. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker won more games together than any other trio is history. Duncan retired after the 2016 season and Manu has said goodbye this year. Parker will be 35 and coming off major surgery on a quadriceps muscle and for a player known for his speed and quickness, Tony will surely be a lot slower when he comes back.
This then means that, as we all know, Kawhi Leonard is their cornerstone from now on. For the Spurs to keep challenging for the title however they need to get another star alongside him, as LaMarcus Aldridge has now proven that he is no longer good enough to be a second option in the Western Conference if you want a title.
When Kawhi went down last year in the Western Conference Finals it was up to Aldridge to carry the load, and he struggled under the weight. He only averaged a measly 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds on 41.3% from the field, numbers nowhere near good enough to beat teams like the Warriors on the Rockets.
Aldridge can still be a good third option, but his salary of over $21 million for the next two seasons is a lot to take on. Hopefully, the Spurs can find a suitor and give Kawhi the pairing he deserves.
3. Kevin Love - Cleveland Cavaliers
Another player who has proven he isn’t good in big games in Kevin Love. In this year’s Finals, he only averaged 16 points a game on 38.8% shooting, and his numbers from the year before were even worse.
Despite winning the title in seven games Love scored a pathetic 8.5 points a game, again shooting well below 40% from the field. Cleveland is in serious trouble again this year if they don’t do something soon. The Warriors will have only have gotten better this upcoming season with improved team chemistry and Cleveland is staying still. The Cavs should easily make it back to the Finals again but without a lot more firepower they will simply be crushed by the duo of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, two of the best scorers we’ve ever seen.
LeBron doesn’t have much left and his desire to win another title is as strong as ever. If the Cavs don’t upgrade Love soon then the King might decide to leave Cleveland again in search of another ring.
2. Marc Gasol - Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis are another team stuck in the shackles of mediocrity. Despite making the playoffs every year since 2010, they’ve never managed to get over the hump and reach the Finals. They are good, but not good enough and they aren’t going to get better.
Mike Conley is too valuable for them to let him go so Marc Gasol, the other star on that team will be the one to move. Gasol is a great post scorer and passer who can also rebound and defend well. He is so long at 7 foot 1 and you can run your whole offense through him.
He is just the kind of guy Boston should go for to complete their starting five so that Horford can move to his true position of power forward. Gasol is too skilled and too excited to be stuck in the grindhouse of Memphis, hopefully he moves soon to where his skill set can be put to better use.
1. Carmelo Anthony - New York Knicks
For the first time in a long time, the Knicks front office made a positive move in firing Phil Jackson from his position as head of operations. He was dreadful and took every chance he had at slighting Melo who played his heart out last season for his city.
Melo is one of the greatest scorers of all time yet he has never made it to the Finals. He is usually a big time performer and everyone would love to see him strut his stuff in the Finals where he would finally be unleashed.
He only has a few years left in him. The basketball Gods need to make it so that Melo gets his shot, his opportunity to solidify his hall of fame career.