Every year, Dec. 15 generates a lot of buzz because it is considered the unofficial start of the NBA trade season: As of today, 74 players who signed new contracts this summer become eligible to be traded. It’s a day that gets hopes up, and then…
It takes the pressure of a deadline to get NBA trades made, expect the fireworks closer to the Feb. 9 trade deadline. December deals are rare. What happened Thursday is that players such as Patty Mills, John Wall, Collin Sexton, Donte DiVincenzo, and pretty much every Lakers role player became eligible to be included in a trade. It opens up the market to new possibilities.
What players are most likely to get traded? Here are 10 names to watch.
If it feels like Gordon has been available for a trade since the Obama administration, that’s about right. The Rockets have been open to moving him for a while and the price right now is a first-round pick plus players making enough to match his $19.6 million salary — and don’t expect Houston to come off that number, if they were going to Gordon would have been traded already. With Gordon’s $20.9 million for next season non-guaranteed, this is essentially an expiring contract now and some team will jump. Gordon is a veteran wing averaging 12.1 points a game and shooting 34.7% from 3 — he could step into a contender’s rotation and provide stability.
Another player who has been available for a trade for a while — more than a year — but with his role in Atlanta shrinking due to the backcourt of Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, this feels like the time. Collins is in the second year of a five-year, $125 million contract (there are two fully guaranteed seasons after this one, followed by a player option), a fair price for his services considering the rising cap. Last season, the athletic forward averaged 16.2 points on 52.6% shooting and grabbed 7.8 rebounds a night. He has been linked to Utah, Indiana, Dallas and Phoenix, but more teams are likely to get in the mix.
Kuzma is having a breakout season in Washington at just the right time — he’s averaging 21.4 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, he can shoot the 3 (34.9% this season) and is a solid defender.
Kuzma hit this from Ben’s Chili Bowl 😱 pic.twitter.com/m0QAIFFD8d
— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) December 13, 2022
Kuzma has a player option for next season for $13 million that he will unquestionably opt out of, making him a free agent seeking a contract in the Jalen Brunson range (four years, $110 million). Are the Wizards willing to pay the market rate to keep him next to Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis? Even if Ted Leonsis is willing to open up his wallet, does Kuzma want to stay? If the Wizards don’t think they can re-sign him, they have to trade him and get something back in return. Of course, there have been rumors of a reunion with LeBron James and the Lakers, but the Suns, Hawks, and Kings have all expressed interest as well and may be able to assemble offers that Washington likes better. Whoever trades for Kuzma has to be willing and able to re-sign him this summer.
The most discussed player on the trade market, everyone thought Crowder would be traded by now. Crowder couldn’t get a contract extension with the Suns this summer — in fact, the Suns were giving his starting spot to Cameron Johnson — so he didn’t show up to training camp as both sides looked for a deal. Nothing. A three-team trade that had Crowder on the Bucks was discussed, and while that version of the deal fell through the Bucks are still interested. There have been Miami Heat rumors (they can’t really match salaries until Jan. 15 when Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon become trade eligible). Crowder steps in as an undersized two-way four who can hit the three and defend — P.J Tucker lite — which has interested the Lakers as well. If I were to bet on one guy being traded, it would be Crowder.
Do the Pistons want to trade Bojan Bogdanovic? Reports out of Detroit have the Pistons saying, “no, we just extended him because we want to keep him.” That also sounds a lot like a negotiation tactic. With Cade Cunningham out for the season the Pistons are already looking to trade Nerlens Noel and are listening to Saddiq Bey offers, Bogdanovic would fit into that. Bogdanovic is averaging 21.1 points per game, shooting 43.2% on 3-pointers, and is a solid defender. The Lakers have targeted him, but offered a “heavily protected” 2027 first-round pick and the Pistons told them it needs to be unprotected. Bogdanovic could help any contender and the Pistons know suitors will come knocking, they can keep their price high. If nobody meets it, they keep him.
The Bulls are 11-16, sitting outside even the play-in in the East with an Island of Misfit Toys roster that lacks the glue of Lonzo Ball as he recovers from another knee surgery. Other front offices expect the Bulls to be sellers at the trade deadline — even if the Bulls themselves aren’t there yet — and hope that Zach LaVine becomes available, although league sources told NBC Sports it’s doubtful he gets traded. The Lakers have interest in DeMar DeRozan but the asking price for the 33-year-old guard will be high. The most likely Bull to be traded is Vucevic, the veteran, offensive-minded center averaging 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds a game who can space the floor from 3 (36.1%). The Lakers have tried to talk Russell Westbrook plus a pick for DeRozan and Vucevic, but so far that has gotten nowhere. Teams from New York to Dallas have been rumored to have interest in Vucevic, expect those rumors to ramp up as we get closer to the deadline.
When the Pacers traded Domantas Sabonis last deadline, the league expected Buddy Hield and Myles Turner to follow him out the door over the summer as Indiana focused on a rebuild. However, ownership there has never been into the teardown idea and Turner is not only still in Indy but having a breakout season — 17.6 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, shooting 43.2% from 3 while blocking 2.3 shots a game. He is a fantastic fit as a five in the modern game.
Turner is a free agent this offseason and the Pacers need to answer some questions: Do they want to retain him and keep him with their promising young backcourt of Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin (Turner is just 26)? Are the Pacers good with paying the market rate for his services? Will Turner stay in Indiana or does he want out? Turner just switched agents to CAA and the buzz is he’s open to staying in Indy if they are willing to pay up. If Indy doesn’t think they can keep him for whatever reason, they need to trade him. The Warriors and Lakers are among the teams with rumored interest.
The Lakers are the most likely team to make a trade at the deadline, trying to upgrade a roster that is supposed to be win-now around LeBron James and Anthony Davis but is instead 11-16. Russell Westbrook trades draw the attention, but his $47.1 million contract — and the fact he’s playing solidly as the sixth man in Los Angeles — make that unlikely. The more probable trade is some combination (or all) of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and a first-round pick. That combination would match the salaries of players the Lakers covet such as Bojan Bogdanovic or Kyle Kuzma. Beverley is averaging 4.6 points a game from 3 and shooting 30.3% overall, not numbers the Lakers expected, which is why they are willing to move on (but also why they have to attach a pick to find a trade partner). It would be a shock if both of these players were Lakers after the trade deadline.
Quietly, Jakob Poeltl has grown into a quality NBA center, one coveted by other teams around the NBA. Poeltl is averaging 12.9 points and 9.9 rebounds a game in San Antonio, and while he doesn’t space the floor he is solid in the paint and a good defender. Poeltl is making $9.4 million this season in the final year of his contract — trade for him and a team will have to re-sign him (and his price is going up). The Raptors, Warriors and Celtics have all come up in trade rumors, but they will have to send picks back to the rebuilding Spurs to get a deal done. The most likely outcome may be no trade and Poeltl re-signs with the Spurs next summer.
Any potential trade list must, by law, include the Magic’s Terrence Ross, who is the grandfather of the “he’s being shopped” list. And it’s possible the rebuilding Magic will move on from the veteran wing this time around, or potentially trade Gary Harris. But the name piquing interest is Mo Bamba, who got a chance this season and broke out as a solid big averaging 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds a game.
Bamba is making $10.3 million this season with a non-guaranteed $10.3 million on the books for next season. The Raptors, Clippers, Lakers and Kings have all been mentioned as having interesting Bamba, but whether a team is really willing to match that salary and send a second-round to the Magic to facilitate the deal remains to be seen. That said, expect the Magic to make some moves around the deadline as they focus on their future around Paolo Banchero.
PARIS (AP) — Victor Wembanyama was sitting courtside, the 19-year-old French phenom and presumed No. 1 NBA draft pick watching some of the players he’ll go up against next season.
— NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2023
🇫🇷 @vicw_32 in the building for #NBAParis! pic.twitter.com/PkKxp801xA
— NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2023
And a guy with a French surname put on quite a show.
Zach LaVine – who said his great-grandfather was French – scored 30 points and the Chicago Bulls never trailed in a 126-108 win over the Detroit Pistons at the NBA Paris Game on Thursday.
“Maybe the air up here was good for me,” LaVine said.
DeMar DeRozan added 26 points for the Bulls, and Nikola Vucevic finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine showed out for the W in Paris!
DeRozan: 26 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST
LaVine: 30 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST#NBAParis 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/wjVQNm8E7w
— NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2023
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 25 points. Killian Hayes, the only French player on either roster, scored four points for Detroit on 2-of-13 shooting, but had a game-high eight assists.
Hamidou Diallo had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting for Detroit, while Saddiq Bey and Jaden Ivey each scored 16 for the Pistons.
“It was a bit frustrating to not be the winners tonight,” Hayes said.
It was the capper to several days of celebrating the NBA in France, after both teams took part in clinics, touristy events like visits to the Eiffel Tower, some upscale dinners and even a private show for the Pistons at the Paris Opera House.
And while the game counted – Chicago (21-24) stayed in 10th in the Eastern Conference and what would be the last play-in spot with the win, while Detroit fell to 12-36, the second-worst mark in the NBA – it also was no mundane middle-of-the-season regular-season matchup.
The celebrity list included NBA greats like Magic Johnson, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Tony Parker; a Bulls legend and native French son in Joakim Noah; the rising star that everybody can’t stop talking about in Wembanyama; WNBA players like Gabby Williams; even Grammy winners and Formula 1 drivers.
“I don’t want to quite compare this to All-Star,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “but it’s the closest thing to a European All-Star Game that we have.”
It was also a celebration of the continued strength of the international footprint on today’s NBA game. When the Bulls and Michael Jordan – along with B.J. Armstrong, then a Bulls guard, now an NBA agent who was at the game Thursday – played in Paris during the preseason in 1997, about 1 of every 14 NBA players was born outside the U.S.
Now, that’s about 1 in 4.
“It is special because we’re representing not only Detroit, but the NBA,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “And we’re trying to put the brand in a good place – in a place where basketball is taking off.”
Wembanyama and his family made their way to courtside seats about 15 minutes before tip-off, immediately attracting a huge crowd. When the camera found him and he was shown to the French fans on the big in-arena screens in the second quarter, he clapped and smiled, as did his mother seated one row back over his right shoulder – as the crowd positively roared in delight.
Both teams are flying home Friday.
“It’s great for people here in Paris to get an up-close look at the NBA,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “It makes you realize that the sport is followed so closely around the world. It was amazing. The place was sold out.”
The Knicks are eight points per 100 possessions better when Mitchell Robinson is on the court at center this season.
Which is trouble because he will be out at least three weeks — and likely longer — following thumb surgery he underwent on Thursday, the Knicks announced.
Mitchell Robinson underwent successful surgery today to repair his fractured right thumb at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) January 19, 2023
Mitchell left the Knicks’ loss to the Wizards on Wednesday in the first half with what the team described at the time as a sprained thumb. It’s clearly more than that, although without details on where the fracture occurred it’s difficult to predict a return timeline.
Mitchell is averaging 7.2 points and 8.9 rebounds a game for New York, but his biggest impact is on the defensive end where he is an anchor for the team blocking 1.8 shots a game. Expect Tom Thibodeau to lean heavily on Isaiah Hartenstein at center and use more small-ball lineups. For a Knicks team in a fight with the Heat and Pacers (among others) for the sixth seed and avoiding the play-in the next three weeks could be huge.
Kevin Durant is missing time because Jimmy Butler fell into his knee, and that — combined with some huge games from Giannis Antetokounmpo — appears to have altered at least some fans’ thinking.
Antetokounmpo has moved just past Durant to be the leading vote getter in the East in the final update on fan voting before the starters are announced next week. Here are the latest results.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo lead their respective conferences in the third fan returns of #NBAAllStar Voting presented by AT&T.
Fans account for 50% of the vote to decide All-Star starters. NBA players and a media panel account for 25% each. pic.twitter.com/nqNZqkeVJw
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 19, 2023
As of this vote, LeBron James and Antetokounmpo would be the captains and pick their team’s starters from a pool of Durant, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.
It is possible Durant will retake the East lead from Antetokounmpo in the final days of fan voting, but it’s unlikely he will make up a little more than 132,000 votes when he is not playing. It’s the same situation for the tightly-contested third frontcourt starting spot in the East, where Embiid has fallen more than 200,000 votes behind Tatum and that’s a lot to make up in a couple of days.
There is one tight race in the West, where Zion is just 77,439 behind the Lakers’ Davis for the final starting slot in the fan vote. With both players being out (and having missed considerable time this season) the player and media votes could move the needle on this starting spot.
Fan All-Star voting continues at the NBA app and NBA.com through Jan. 21 (there is no voting via social media this year). All fan votes will count triple on Jan. 20.
As in recent years, the fan vote will count for 50% of the total for each player, with votes from NBA players counting for 25%, and votes from a panel of NBA media making up the other 25%. Fans, media and players vote for the starters — two guards, three frontcourt players in each conference — but the reserves for each team are chosen by a vote of the NBA coaches (or, more accurately, the NBA assistant coaches who couldn’t dodge the job when it was handed down the ladder).
The NBA All-Star Game occurs on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. Events from the weekend will be broadcast on TNT.
John Collins has three guaranteed seasons at a total of $75.8 million owed him over the three seasons after this one (the final year of that is a player option).
That figure has slowed the Collins trade market as other teams are hesitant to take on those future years, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on the network’s NBA Countdown show Wednesday (hat tip Hoopsrumors.com).
“John Collins has been at the center of their trade talks… Starting next year, still owed another $25 million a year, essentially $75 million over the next three years. I think that’s been a hindrance in the trade market. There are some teams, such as Utah, that would like a draft pick with Collins to offset that money… Landry Fields, the new general manager in Atlanta, he does not see John Collins as a money dump.”
Utah’s Danny Ainge is pushing a hard deal that includes him getting more draft picks? Shocking.
Collins is a productive player, averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds a game this season, and one who might benefit from a change of scenery. He could help playoff teams. Collins is seen around the league as a quality player who is overpaid relative to his production, but he’s not a guy the Hawks — who are trying to build a contender around Trae Young — can afford to just salary dump.
It’s still likely Fields and the Hawks trade Collins at the deadline, very possibly to Utah (where he is an odd fit next to Lauri Markkanen), and this is all just public negotiations to settle on a price before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
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