We have all heard the chatter of Carmelo Anthony possibly being asked to waive his no-trade clause. Is it strictly rumor or should we actually start buying into the possibility of Melo leaving the Big Apple? With the NBA’s Trade Deadline fast approaching (February 23 at 3:00 PM ET), it’s time to take a look at the likely outcomes for the hottest trade bait.
We can say with confidence that teams like the Nets, Heat, and 76ers will be sellers over the next month, but there could be a very long list of buyers. The race for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference goes 12 teams deep, while you could argue that no team feels out of it in the West. That’s probably being a little generous to the Suns, Mavericks, and Lakers. Nevertheless, a lot of general managers feel their respective teams could make a playoff push if they add one more piece right now.
So who are those potential pieces to be added? Here are the seven best players whose names have been floated around the trading block this season, including odds of where they’ll wind-up.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Knicks
Boston Celtics: 12/1
Memphis Grizzlies: 12/1
Oklahoma City Thunder: 16/1
New Orleans Pelicans: 18/1
Chicago Bulls: 25/1
No trade: 1/2
As bad as Phil Jackson wants to trade him, Melo loves New York and has that no-trade clause in his back pocket. But even if Melo does waive it, a move isn’t certain. The 11-time All-Star has never been known for his defense, and he’s not an overly efficient player on the offensive end, either. Melo can do one thing for you: score.
This is why teams like Boston and Memphis could be possible buyers. However, I don’t see Brad Stevens wanting to take the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’ hands, and David Fizdale’s group is winning with defense. Those two teams are likely to add some scoring at the deadline, but it will come in the form of a two-way player who doesn’t always need the ball in his hands. I’m thinking more along the lines of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
The Thunder and Pelicans would love to provide their respective stars, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis, with some help. But as I already mentioned, Melo isn’t someone who is going to play off another All-Star. Then there’s the Bulls and the potential swap of Anthony for Jimmy Butler.
In the end, I don’t see any of these deals happening. Anthony will remain a Knick, until the end of the year anyways.
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Bulls
Boston Celtics: 20/1
Oklahoma City Thunder: 20/1
Portland Trailblazers: 22/1
New York Knicks: 25/1
No trade: 1/3
Of all the trades being floated around in the media, this one seems like the worst idea. I have no idea why Chicago would want to part ways with one of the best wing players in the game. Butler is having a career season offensively and still brings the effort every night on the defensive end. If Chicago is serious about trading him, there will be a long list of teams putting in offers.
Thanks to possibly the worst trade ever, the Celtics possess a bevy of first-round picks that formerly belonged to the Brooklyn Nets. It appears the 2017 pick will be in the top-three, and Boston would have no problem sending Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley as well. I know what I said about Boston earlier, but this is a franchise-changing trade opportunity.
Though their backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is doing everything it can offensively, the Blazers are getting destroyed on the defensive end. Butler’s ability to defend the wing would be very enticing to a team that does not want to waste much more of Lillard’s prime. The addition would ensure their spot in the playoffs.
As was the case with Melo, though, I don’t see Butler going anywhere. Moving Rajon Rondo wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Goran Dragic, PG, Heat
Orlando Magic: 2/1
Sacramento Kings: 7/2
Denver Nuggets: 4/1
New Orleans Pelicans: 12/1
No trade: 15/1
Elfrid Payton is just not cutting it at point guard, and Orlando is quickly falling out of playoff contention with Evan Fournier out of the lineup indefinitely. The Magic have a plethora of serviceable big-men to offer in a trade, and a point guard like Dragic, who can distribute and score, is exactly what they need.
With a mega-contract on the horizon to keep Demarcus Cousins in town, Sacramento needs to surround “Boogie” with some talent, specifically someone who can get him the ball. Dragic would be an upgrade over both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, and the Kings would have no quarrels about sending Rudy Gay the other way in exchange. Don’t be shocked if they inquire about Rajon Rondo, too.
Denver is another team that isn’t getting the production they’d like from the point guard position. Emmanuel Mudiay is shooting less than 30-percent from the field and is turning the ball over too often. The Nuggets are only a couple games back of the final playoff spot in the West and have assets to offer.
Brook Lopez, C, Nets
Chicago Bulls: 7/1
Portland Trailblazers: 9/1
No trade: 2/3
The Bulls allow 44.9 points in the paint per game (23rd) and clearly have the worse of the two Lopez brothers. Brook would put Robin on the bench and provide Chicago with a scoring threat in the post.
As I mentioned, the Blazers need some help on the defensive end. Lopez can man the paint and hold his own against most other bigs in the league. He would also be an upgrade offensively over Mason Plumlee. But the Nets’ asking price (two first-round picks) seems to be firm and I don’t see anyone giving into it.
Nerlens Noel, C/PF, 76ers
Los Angeles Lakers: 7/3
Portland Trailblazers: 3/1
Houston Rockets: 9/1
Boston Celtics: 15/1
Toronto Raptors: 18/1
No trade: 5/1
The 76ers have a major logjam in their frontcourt and are struggling to find playing time for all their bigs. It is very likely the team will try to move either Noel or Jahlil Okafor. With Noel set to become a free agent at the end of the season, I peg him as the more likely of the two to don a new jersey before the deadline.
Noel is an athletic center who is valuable at both ends of the floor. He would fit very well in LA playing with Julius Randle, and would add to the Lakers list of budding young talent. LA just has to be ready to pay him at the end of the season.
Houston may be enjoying a great season, but they certainly have their usual holes. The Rockets allow the seventh-most points in the league and lack a big who thrives in the pick-and-roll. The third-seeded team in the West won’t want to give up too much, of course, and may go for a cheaper option like Tyson Chandler.
The Raptors have been in search of an athletic power forward for the last couple of seasons, and Noel would fill that role nicely. The only concern is how much the Raptors are willing to give up for what would likely be a rental player.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat
Boston Celtics: 9/1
Portland Trailblazers: 10/1
Los Angeles Lakers: 14/1
No trade: 3/7
All the teams that have been circled for being in the market for a center would be interested here, but only a few would have the assets to make a trade happen. I do understand that Miami wants to blow this up, but Whiteside is a cornerstone you can build around. I don’t see him going anywhere.
Deron Williams, PG, Mavericks
Cleveland Cavaliers: 3/1
Sacramento Kings: 4/1
New Orleans Pelicans: 7/1
No trade: 3/1
After the thrashing the Cavs were given in Golden State, LeBron James’ cries for a backup point guard may be taken more seriously. Williams is far from the player he used to be, but he could still be very effective leading Cleveland’s second-team. Whether the Cavaliers are willing to take on that contract is another story. A much cheaper option for the team would be Jameer Nelson, but you get what you pay for.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].