Four Stars That May Be On the Move
Photo Credit: Sporting News
There are many reasons why players are traded. Salary Cap relief, the quest to gain draft capital, and player morale are just three of many causes. The NBA is known for high flying stars all over the place. From Paul George being moved to the Thunder, to Kyrie Irving shipped the Celtics, there are so many great players that have been traded. Here are just four players that may be on the move sooner rather than later.
It's not so long ago that Jimmy Butler, an All-NBA teamer, was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In fact, it was just last off-season. Yet here we are again, thinking that Jimmy Butler may be traded. Before last year's NBA season ended, some reports came out about how Butler had become exasperated with Andrew Wiggins. Conflicting reports were also released about Wiggins's frustration with the role he had been given, as the third option.
This isn't too surprising. Wiggins was the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, which included his college teammate Joel Embiid being selected third by the Philadelphia 76ers. Since then, he has played five NBA seasons, averaging nearly 24 points in his best one. So it's easy to see how he can become angered with his new role on a team that also sports Jimmy Butler on the wing.
What is confusing is that Jimmy Butler has also recently become irritated with 22-year old Karl-Anthony Towns. Because of the tension between all three players, there may be a trade in the works to send Jimmy Butler to another team. To add on to all of the speculation, Butler recently 'liked' a comment on his Instagram page that said, "Jimmy to Spurs".
One team that could use Jimmy Butler is the Utah Jazz. If Quin Snyder is set on playing Donovan Mitchell at point-guard, would it not make sense to bring in a seasoned veteran (and top-ten player) to help make a playoff push? After all, Utah is all about the defense.
As one of the best point guards in the NBA, Damian Lillard landed himself a first-team All-NBA selection. Lillard averaged 27 points, seven assists, and five rebounds last season for the Portland Trail Blazers, who finished as the third seed in the Western Conference. Lillard, who has been praised as one of the most underrated players in the NBA by many fans, may find himself on another NBA team soon.
The Lakers are one of many teams who could use an All-Star point-guard. Sure, they have Lonzo Ball, but when you have an aging LeBron James on your roster for the next three to four years, shouldn't the goal be to win now? Damian Lillard would help do just that. For a package of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram plus salary fillers, would the Lakers really deny an All-Star coming off of the best season of his career?
I'm not just speculating either. The Trail Blazers are in a pretty deep salary cap situation. Evan Turner is making over $17 million. Yes, Evan Turner. With two stars who are only going to get older, Portland may be forced into a trade. Damian Lillard even said on Twitter "I'm typically a happy camper" when someone asked if he'd be interested in joining the Lakers... whatever that means...
Despite everything the front office says, despite everything Kemba Walker says, despite everything Michael Jordan says, Kemba Walker has been involved in trade rumors over the course of the past eight months. It started with an Adrian Wojnarowski tweet that said the Hornets had made Walker available in trade talks. After chants in the stands by Charlotte fans from all over, it seems as if the Hornets are reluctant to give up their best player in franchise history. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Cleveland Cavaliers seemed to be the obvious destination for Kemba Walker before the trade deadline and even leading up to the draft. These rumors mainly stemmed from the Cavaliers quest to re-sign LeBron James. Inevitably, the Cavs were unsuccessful and thus gave up on a potential Kemba Walker deal. Another team that may pursue Walker is the Indiana Pacers. Although they already have Darren Collison, Walker would be a surefire upgrade and may even make the Pacers a top three seed in the Eastern Conference come playoff time. However, Charlotte isn't going to settle for chips in a trade with their franchise player.
To poach Walker from the Hornets, the Pacers would likely have to give up Leaf or Sabonis, along with Holiday and presumably a first round pick (plus salary fillers). This isn't an insufferable price, but it certainly is not ideal for a 28-year-old guard who is a bit undersized. Not to mention, Walker is entering the final year of his contract.
The Pelicans had quite the off-season. They signed Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton, but what was most interesting about the Pelicans is who they lost. Demarcus Cousins is a perennial All-Star and was once the best center in the league (you know, before Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert became good). And yes, Demarcus Cousins is still a very good basketball player. New Orleans even managed to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs this past season.
However, Anthony Davis is a global superstar. He is considered a top-five player in the NBA by most fans as he should be. Davis was the first of many unicorns to enter the NBA when he was selected by the then-Hornets with the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. It's just, New Orleans hasn't done a great job of putting a decent team around him. Sure, there have been 'pretty good' players here and there, like Jrue Holiday, for instance, but the Pelicans haven't had another true star for more than a year and a half. Even then, Demarcus Cousins wasn't even healthy for the single legitimate playoff run New Orleans had.
Either way, I don't think there is any doubt that Davis will likely become frustrated with the way things have been run in New Orleans. One team that could make a generous offer for Davis is the Boston Celtics. Okay, I know this sounds a bit dreamy, but imagine a team of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Anthony Davis, and Al Horford. I'm sorry, but that would be the only team in the entire NBA that could even compete with the Warriors.
Dear Basketball Gods, just make some trades happen. We need it, especially with the rich only getting richer (Golden State signing Demarcus Cousins).