The NBA trade #SZN is upon us and it’s sure to be a busy buildup to the official trade deadline on Feb. 6 with plenty of franchisees in need of some major upgrades or minor tweaking.
Willie Cauley-Stein was already the first domino to fall after the Golden State Warriors traded the former ‘Cat to the Dallas Mavericks in the wake of Dwight Powell’s injury. With just nine days until the deadline, literally anything can – and will – happen. Some familiar faces could find themselves making the headlines, too.
We’re going to break down some realistic trade possibilities, some unlikely ones, and maybe even sprinkle a hot take into the mix while we’re at it. Let’s begin with some of the more likely options; members of the BBNBA that might actually find a new home in the next week or so.
Most Likely to be traded
Malik Monk (and maybe Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?)– Charlotte Hornets
Malik Monk’s name has already popped up in trade rumors this season, so he’ll arrive first on our list. Ian Begley of SNY.tv noted that the New York Knicks were looking at the Charlotte Hornets guard and are considering making a move for him. Monk is only in the third year of his rookie contract, with one more year left on the deal before he hits his qualifying offer. He’ll be a cheap asset to take on and one with still plenty of potential at just 21 years old.
While Monk’s production through two-and-a-half years has been a vicious rollercoaster designed of nothing but ranging hills and deep valleys, his highs show the potential of a viable scoring option. He’s coming off back-to-back games of 20 and 31 points, respectively. Monk has gone through stretches this season of consistent production, but they typically max out around four or five games in a row. Maybe a change in scenery is something he needs. Is that in New York? I sure as hell hope not, but I would guess that more than a handful of teams come calling Michael Jordan about the former ‘Cat. If a franchise is up-and-coming and looking for an extra scoring punch with time to develop him, Monk is a solid option.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: NYK, MEM, GSW, DET
As an added bonus, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could be a potential trade option for the Hornets, as well. MKG’s role in his eighth NBA season – all with Charlotte – has been reduced to that of a two-way contract player. Once a No. 2 overall pick, the 26-year old can hardly get off the bench anymore. He’s appeared in just 12 games this season and is riding a five-game stretch of healthy DNPs. This comes after his head coach said earlier in the season that MKG would receive more clock, which lasted about seven whole games. The Hornets have dropped eight games in a row, Kidd-Gilchrist found the court just once for a grand total of eight minutes during that span. It would seem the time has come for player and organization to end this relationship. Don’t be surprised if a contender comes inquiring about the defensive stalwart.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: MIL, UTA, HOU, LAC
Less likely, but still possible?
Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee Bucks
This one might sound strange, but the Milwaukee Bucks general manager had to come out and say that his franchise is not interested in trading Eric Bledsoe, which always means there is at least some sort of merit to the rumors that have swirled, really ever since his extension back in March.
While Jon Horst (the Bucks GM) is right in pointing out that his team has the best record in the league with Bledsoe as the lead guard, the former ‘Cat is on a deal that could be a valuable trade chip. Bledsoe has done a solid all-around job this season, especially helping make up for the lost production of Malcolm Brogdon. He’s 30 right now but will be paid roughly $17 million per year as a starting-caliber point guard with a bunch of nonguaranteed money heading into his final season. Bledsoe has a good amount of value at the moment and Milwaukee could capitalize on it if the right scenario came along. Minnesota desperately needs a starting point guard after striking out on D’Angelo Russell.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: PHI, LAC, ORL, MIN, DAL, SAS
Kevin Knox – New York Knicks
Kevin Knox is in a similar situation to Monk, but worse. Knox is seemingly stuck in limbo with the Knicks. It doesn’t seem to matter who the coach in New York is at this point, they don’t know what to do with Knox. Sometimes he’ll play 26 minutes, then he’ll play 13 the next game, then six a few games later, then 29 shortly after that! It’s completely random! It’s no wonder Knox either shoots 2-10 or 7-12; it’s impossible to establish a rhythm. I just want the Knicks to trade him so a more competent franchise can take him on. It doesn’t even matter who!
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: ALL 29 OTHER NBA TEAMS
Probably not going to happen
Hamidou Diallo/Nerlens Noel (package deal) – Oklahoma City Thunder
The production from these two in OKC right now has been quietly impressive. Had Hamidou Diallo not sat out 20 games due to an elbow injury, his trade value might be even higher. But he’s surprised this season in his role as a sophomore and is thriving in the Thunder’s system that is built around the guard trio of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul, and Dennis Schroder.
The raw numbers for Diallo aren’t all that impressive, but his year-to-year progression is what will catch the eyes of potential suitors. He’s wildly outperforming his rookie season and has carved out a spot in Billy Donovan’s rotation. He might almost be too valuable for OKC to want and trade right now, barring some wild opportunity they can’t turn down.
As for Nerlens Noel, the Thunder might decide to ultimately hold onto him, too. The recent injuries this season to starting center Steven Adams might necessitate that, but Noel has been vastly underrated this season. In fact, Noel is posting his best figures since his second-year in Philly. OKC has relied heavily on Noel to clean up the dirty work down low and bring what Adams does to the table but in a bench position. He’s accepted the role and executed it to perfection.
Neither of Diallo or Noel might wind up being traded considering how important they’ve been to the Thunder halfway through the season, but those two have a ton of value right now. Selfishly, I don’t want them to be broken up, either, so I made them a package deal.
POSSIBLE PACKAGE DESTINATIONS: POR, HOU, UTA
Player to keep an eye on
Trey Lyles – San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs use 6-foot-9 Trey Lyles like a towering 7-foot-2 center. Starting next to LaMarcus Aldridge in the Spurs starting lineup, Lyles battles on the boards far more frequently than he fires from deep. For a player that has shot over 200 threes in each of the last three seasons, I can’t imagine that sits well. And to do it on a team that stands outside of the playoff picture with a 20-26 record probably isn’t an added incentive.
Lyles scoring numbers have been sliced in half and he hardly plays more than 17 minutes per game despite being a starter. He is averaging a career-high in rebounds but is shooting just 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep on the fewest number of attempts of his career. Lyles would thrive in a system that allows him to spread the floor – that’s what made his so effective two seasons ago in Denver.
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: PHX, DET, CHI, BOS
Hot take alert!!!
Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
The rumors have been swirling for a while now and the Minnesota Timberwolves keep losing. As long as the latter continues to happen, the former will tag along with it. Now it would shock everybody from Woj to KAT himself if he were to be traded, let’s make that clear. There is absolutely ZERO incentive or moderately feasible explanation as to why the Wolves would even think about trading away a 24-year old future Hall of Famer.
I’d say it’s more likely we encounter an Anthony Davis-esque situation with Towns a few years down the road before he’s traded in the next nine days. Just keep your ears open. There’s always ONE trade that you didn’t expect. (watch, now the Nuggets are going to trade Jamal Murray to the Wizards or something)
POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS: GSW? LAL? LAC? NYK? BKN?