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5 NBA players that need to be traded soon


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With the NBA reportedly targeting a Dec. 22 start date for the upcoming 2020-21 season, we have little time to waste. Assuming the league follows through on that optimistic plan, the draft in mid-November will be followed by free agency almost immediately, and then right after that, players will begin reporting to training camps.

That won’t leave us much time to properly dissect NBA trade rumors as they come pouring in during another high-octane offseason. Maybe someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes available if the Milwaukee Bucks don’t right the ship and he threatens to leave in 2021 free agency. Maybe the Philadelphia 76ers make a drastic move and split up Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. It’s too soon to say on those two scenarios, since it’s impossible to know how the upcoming months will unfold.

But that won’t stop us from trying, and there are several big names that already make sense as trade candidates before the new season even begins. In that frame of mind, we might as well take a look at five recognizable players who could very well be on the move soon — either because they want out, it’s better for their team to move on or some combination of the two.

Chris Paul

Chris Paul’s Renaissance season with the Oklahoma City Thunder was remarkable, and he proved to be quite useful not just as a babysitter, but as the sage yet fiery influence on a young team that made the playoffs as the 5-seed. However, even though it wouldn’t be the end of the world for him to return to OKC next season, it’s pretty clear both sides would benefit from dealing him to a contender.

For Paul, his time as an elite NBA player is dwindling given his age (35) and injury history. He’s not going to win a title in OKC anytime soon, and the thought of him stabilizing a team like the Milwaukee Bucks is tantalizing.

For the Thunder, who have more future first-round picks than pretty much every other team in the league over the next decade, Danilo Gallinari is an aging free agent who’s probably not worth bidding for on the open market. Getting out of CP3’s heavy contract — maybe in exchange for another draft pick? — should be the Thunder’s top priority. Parting ways with head coach Billy Donovan suggests the front office is on the same page, opting to rebuild around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Blake Griffin

Remember Blake Griffin, guys? The dude who jumped over a Kia Optima that one time? He was actually still pretty good at basketball the last time he was healthy. In his first season with the Detroit Pistons, Griffin put up a career-high 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists on .462/.362/.753 shooting splits and took them to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, then he got hurt, underwent left knee surgery, the Pistons got swept, and when he finally returned last year, he played a grand total of 18 games before missing the rest of the season with yet another left knee surgery.

Griffin’s league-wide appeal right now is low, especially with $36.8 million on his contract for the upcoming season and a $39 million player option for 2021-22. But some team — cough New York Knicks cough — might be willing to overlook that if Detroit decides to attach some kind of asset to take on what’s left of his contract. There’s been little chatter on this front, but if the Pistons can free up that additional cap space without giving too much up in return, they should do it in a heartbeat.

Andrew Wiggins

Okay, so maybe Andrew Wiggins is the black sheep of this group, but even if he’s not a legitimate star, he’s still a recognizable name as a former No. 1 overall pick. Given that he plays for the Golden State Warriors, and that many of us are still trying to figure out why the hell they traded for him in the first place, this is a guy that makes sense for this list.

The Dubs are getting Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back healthy this year. They’re also getting back a Draymond Green who cares. Throw in a legitimate 3-and-D wing and some bench depth and that’s a championship contender again. Those last two things are in short supply though, considering Wiggins is a poor 3-point shooter and a disappointing defender.

The No. 2 pick in this year’s draft doesn’t hold as much value as it typically would, but we can’t rule out the Warriors swindling some team into accepting a package of Wiggins and the No. 2 selection for some salary cap relief, a much-needed 3-and-D wing or extra bench depth. Golden State’s trade for Wiggins made no sense at the time. With a top-two pick in tow, they may right the ship on an uncharacteristically questionable move.

Bradley Beal

#FreeBradleyBeal.

People always talk about how Devin Booker needs to get out of the desert, but at least the Phoenix Suns are on an upward trajectory! Yeah, the Washington Wizards will be getting John Wall back next year. We also have no idea how effective he’ll be coming off yet another injury, and we already saw the best of this Wall-Beal core anyway: It’s a second-round playoff exit, tops.

The Wizards are skewing younger and younger these days, and although the high-powered offense was fun last year, the supporting cast was embarrassing for a star of Beal’s caliber. Washington has stubbornly clung to him, refuting any and all rumors of a potential trade, but the man only has two years left on his deal before that 2022 player option arrives, and he’ll have little reason to stay at that point. Trade him now, while his value is at its peak, and reap the benefits for the inevitable rebuild that’s coming.

Victor Oladipo

Nobody knows what to expect from Victor Oladipo in 2020-21, which makes his value impossible to gauge. It’s the reason he and the Indiana Pacers have been unable to hammer out a contract extension, and it’s the reason reports are surfacing that they’re considering trading him.

If Indiana does make him available ahead of his 2021 free agency, any potential suitor would either have to be confident in their ability to re-sign him, or simply desire a short-term upgrade that turns into cap space in the offseason. Maybe the Pacers just prefer to hang onto him and either try to re-sign him or enjoy the cap space if he bolts.

But if he’s on the market, there are a few teams that could invest in his two-way production, even if he was wildly inconsistent and rusty during his limited action this season. Oladipo will have to prove he’s back for real in order to conjure up more than a few nibbles, but if and when he does so, this is one candidate whose trade buzz could heat up in a hurry.

#OtherContent

Speaking of Gallinari, Dan Devine over at The Ringer does a nice job laying out what his free agency market might look like.

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