We’re just over a month away from the NBA Trade Deadline, and the rumor mill is ramping up by the second. Big-name NBA stars like Paul Millsap, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler have been the center of attention, but several Wildcats have been thrown in discussions, as well.
Let’s go through each former Kentucky star being discussed in trade talks, and their situations with their respective teams.
Wildcats Suns may be loaded with former Wildcats, but one of those guys may be headed out very soon. In the month of January, Brandon Knight is averaging just 6.6 PPG, has been limited due to injury, and the organization has been very open to include him in trade talks.
The only problem? Nobody wants him.
Read this excerpt from ArizonaSports.com on why the trade market is so bad for Knight.
The reasoning? Knight has been analytically below-average and is on a contract that escalates from $12.6 million this year to $15.6 million paid out in 2019-20, the final year of the deal. Furthermore, playoff contenders searching for an extra piece don’t have the cap space to make room for such a large contract, the front office member said.
Gambadoro’s source added that the analytics view Knight as “below replacement level.”
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Knight has the worst Value Over Replacement Player (minus 0.4) on the Suns. That ranks 19th-worst in the NBA of players that qualify for the minutes played per game leaderboard.
After losing playing time to former Wildcat Tyler Ulis and the organization clearly looking to move him, his days are certainly numbered in Phoenix. The only question is if someone will pull the trigger on a trade for him.
Trade likelihood: 75%
There was a time just a few weeks ago where Nerlens Noel was removed from the 76er rotation, and many thought he was on his way out of Philadelphia. He told the media on countless occasions the Sixers needed to make a move, and that a front-court involving three elite big men just wasn’t going to work.
Just when everyone and their mother thought Noel was minutes away from being traded out of Philly, the organization did the unthinkable…
They started winning games.
We’ve all heard the “Trust the Process” narrative with Joel Embiid, and by-God it’s working. They’ve won seven of their last nine games, and the starting front-court of Noel and Embiid is thriving.
Many thought Noel’s recent spike in minutes was just an audition for other teams to increase his value on the trade market, but no one expected it to translate to wins. Has the team’s recent success eased some of the bad blood between Noel and management? Is the team still looking to move him? Who knows.
He’s set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, where he will almost certainly sign an offer sheet elsewhere. The Sixers could match any offer Noel signs and lock him up for the foreseeable future, but could get some nice value from him at the deadline should they decide to part ways with the Kentucky product.
Trade likelihood: 50%
Oh, good ole’ Rajon Rondo. After leading the league in assists last year in Sacramento, he signed a deal with Chicago as Derrick Rose’s replacement as the team’s starting point guard. After a fairly impressive start to the year, he’s had yet another fallout with yet another coaching staff, and he was benched a few games for it.
After his brief hiatus, Rondo is playing roughly 23 minutes per game, but has averaged just 5.5 PPG and 5.8 APG in the process. A recent player report on ESPN.com said “It’s feast or famine with Rondo, and way more often than not this season, it’s been famine.” Chicago has been entertaining trade offers for the veteran, but teams have had little interest.
As sad as it is, one of the most entertaining point guards in recent NBA memory seems to be on a steady decline out of the league, at least as a player.
He recently came out and said that when his time in the NBA is done, he would like to try his hand at coaching, for what it’s worth.
Trade likelihood: 40%
Rumors about Big Cuz have been circulating since before he was even drafted to the Sacramento Kings, and they only seem to pick up by the day. It’s no surprise teams are interested, especially considering most believe Cousins is the best big man in the league right now. Sacramento, however, has adamantly denied they will move on from the 6’11 superstar, believing they can rekindle a rough relationship and build a contender around him.
At one time, it seemed Cousins would be moved in a blockbuster deal for a team willing to give up a king’s ransom (pun intended). Since then, things have been pretty quiet.
Now, it has been reported Cousins will likely sign a massive $207-million extension this offseason with Sacramento, becoming the highest paid player in the league. It’s no secret Cousins has been upset with his situation with the Kings, but come on. It’s $207-freaking-million. Money talks in crazy ways, and this is yet another example of this.
If a team offers a crazy deal for Boogie, I guess it’s possible, but right now it’s looking like he’s stuck in Sacramento for the long haul.
Trade likelihood: 5%