It is no secret that, as we approach the start of this NBA season, there are players on the trading block—the Lakers have searched high and low for a Russell Westbrook deal, the Jazz will give away any veteran they can, the Pacers would happily ship out Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, as a package or separately.
But as one executive told Heavy Sports, “So many times, it is going to be the names you don’t hear so much about that wind up in trades. It’s always the quiet ones.”
With that in mind, we poked around and asked a pair of executives, one from the East and one from the West, for some players who could hit the trade market this winter but are not being talked about so much here in the fall.
We have five names, and constructed some trade scaffolding with playoff teams to show what a deal might look like. While the opinion that these guys could be on the move does come from the executives in question, the deals themselves are strictly hypothetical—all are legal under NBA rules, though might need to wait until later in the year to be consummated.
Here’s what we found:
A Former Heat Favorite & a Top-6 Pick
Josh Richardson, Spurs
Richardson quietly had a solid season, averaging 10.2 points and shooting 41.5% from the 3-point line. He is an excellent defender and established himself as a very versatile two-way wing going back to his four seasons in Miami, after he was a second-round pick in 2015. He has one year worth $12.2 million on his deal, and the Spurs are in the midst of a rebuild.
Potential deals: Grizzlies (Danny Green and a first-rounder); Knicks (Cam Reddish and Immanuel Quickley); Heat (Duncan Robinson and a first-rounder).
Eastern Conference executive: “He can play three positions. He has been a backup point guard, and he can still do that for you. Miami, everyone talks about P.J. Tucker, but they need some depth on the wing—can you expect (Victor) Oladipo to go a full 82 (games) this year? That’s a gamble. If you want to move Robinson, with his contract, it might take a rebuilding team to take it on because they can hold it and flip it for another pick later, like Oklahoma City has done so many times. Obviously, he has a great rapport with that Heat franchise, he started there. I’d like Richardson for the Knicks, too, they need a good, solid veteran who plays both ways on the wing. They could give up a young guy or a pick. The Grizzlies, too, they want to raise the overall talent level. He fits what they do, he can fill in at three spots.”
Mo Bamba, Magic
There was some surprise when the Magic quickly re-signed Bamba this summer, despite the fact that they have Wendell Carter Jr., drafted Paolo Banchero and are said to be intrigued by giving playing time to big man Bol Bol. But Bamba will be eminently tradeable when he is eligible in January, a blossoming 24-year-old big man who is finally showing his shooting touch. If he builds on last season (10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 38.1% 3-point shooting) he will be a high-value target at the deadline. Because he got a raise with his new contract, Bamba can’t be traded until January.
Potential deals: Lakers (Lonnie Walker, Damian Jones, 2027 first-rounder); Heat, (Caleb Martin, Nikola Jovic, future first-rounder); Nets (Seth Curry, Cam Thomas).
Eastern Conference executive: “I thought it was a steal and a really smart thing they did by signing him, giving him ($10.3) million, (plus) an option for next year. That is very, very friendly to the team. He could be a really big commodity this winter or next summer. I think if you are a team like the Lakers and you’ve been so careful with the two picks they have (2027 and 2029), a young player like Bamba, that is why you save those picks, if he comes available. He’s someone the Heat have been interested in, too, and they might have to give up a young guy and a pick to get him. The Nets, he grew up in New York, they would like to have him, too. I am not sure they have enough young assets to send back but if the Magic like Cam Thomas, that can work.”
Could Kyle Kuzma Be Had?
Kyle Kuzma, Wizards
Kuzma is a capable combo forward who averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season. He is not a great defender but his contract is reasonable, at $13 million this year with a $13 million player option for next season. It’s not certain what he will do with that option, but there’s a strong chance he could opt out, leaving the Wizards to seek to get something for him now.
Potential deals: Bulls (Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., second-round pick); Nets (Seth Curry, Cam Thomas); Mavericks (Dwight Powell, future first-round pick).
Western Conference executive: “They need to cut out some salary but obviously they want to do that while also adding someone young to the mix. The Bulls are, again, in the market for depth at the position so there is a possibility, though they do not want to mess with the luxury tax either. But that could be a Coby White destination. Dallas is just trying to get better players across the board. They can give up an unprotected pick for him and match up the salaries. Kyle’s still fairly young (27) and that has appeal for a team like Dallas. And Brooklyn, I don’t think they’re done. They like their young guys but let’s face it, the clock on this team is running short and they need to win now. Cam Thomas or Day’Ron Sharpe, someone like that would be a draw for the Wizards.”
Harrison Barnes, Kings
Barnes is in the final year of his contract with Sacramento, at $18.3 million. He has been solid with the Kings, and one of the few stabilizing forces for a team that has had nothing but turbulence in his four seasons there. He’s likely to move on to a winning situation next summer, so it would be sensible for the Kings to shop him.
Potential deals: Knicks (for Evan Fournier and a first-rounder); Suns (Jae Crowder, Torrey Craig, protected first-rounder); Bulls (Coby White, Alex Caruso).
Western Conference executive: “They have not aggressively shopped him or anything, but that could change when the deadline gets closer. They want to give this group a chance before they hit the trade market. Obviously, a team looking for a solid veteran combo forward, that is the perfect fit—the Bulls would make some sense and they could build a package around Coby White though they’d have to include (Alex) Caruso and that’s a high price, even with all the Bulls’ guards. The Heat would make sense, but the Kings are not going to want (Duncan) Robinson and Miami can’t match salary without him. A Jae Crowder deal would be good for Phoenix and the Kings could get back a pick, but the Suns want to get that done quickly and the Kings want to wait. Could maybe see the Knicks, if they did a Fournier deal with a pick, give them a little more size on the wing.”
T.J. McConnell, Pacers
McConnell remains a valuable backup point guard, a good distributor who is efficient when he shoots, though he is not a 3-point threat. He has three years and $26 million on his contract, though the final season is not fully guaranteed.
Potential deals: Bucks (George Hill and MarJon Beauchamp); Mavericks (Dwight Powell, future first-round pick).
Eastern Conference exec: “Obviously, the focus is on Myles Turner and Buddy Hield but T.J. is 30 and they’d be willing to move off of him. He is a good vet to have there but a first-round pick is probably what it would take. Dallas is a team, they may be looking for another point guard. Dwight Powell is someone who could match up the salaries. The Bucks, too, they want to upgrade from (George) Hill, who is 36 now.”