Central Division Trade Candidates
Whether the NBA season is canceled or not (it seems likely to proceed, at the time of writing), there are some questions that have begun to burn in the hearts of many an NBA franchise fanatic: how will my team fare during free agency? Will there be any major shakeups in my division? Does my team need to make a trade to stay ahead?
Going division by division, I will identify one player from every team that will most likely be traded this offseason (which starts Oct. 18). Next up: the Central Division.
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner
Myles Turner led the NBA in blocks last season in only his fourth year in the league. Many presume Indiana trading away their elite rim-protector would be foolish and far-fetched.
I believe that executing a blockbuster trade to send Turner out the door would open up Indiana’s offense greatly. With the sudden blossoming of Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner has taken a back-seat offensively. The Texas product averaged only 11.8 points this season, while Sabonis put up a career-high 18.5 PPG on 54% shooting en route to his first All-Star selection.
Not only does a double back-to-the-basket center look outdated in today’s league, Turner out the door would open up the paint for Sabonis exponentially. Sabonis could jump to star status similarly to when his teammate Victor Oladpio stopped playing with Russell Westbrook. Myles Turner is yet to take that star leap that many people expect him too. Nonetheless, Turner’s youth, defensive presence, and ability to put up 15-20 PPG any given night will give Indiana an awesome trade pack in return.
Although the Pacers would take a hit defensively, their offense will open up and fans can see Sabonis at center with increased touches and a less crowded paint. With Oladipo, Warren, Sabonis, and an exceptional trade return, the Pacers can return to contenders atop the Eastern Conference.
Chicago Bulls: Thaddeus Young
The fact that the Bulls have not yet fired coach Jim Boylen amid every player hating him, scares me. Whether Chicago let him go or not, I see Thaddeus Young leaving Chicago for some much needed depth. Young still averages 10.3 points/ 4.9 rebounds/ 1.8 assists, and can be a valuable veteran-presence on a contending team. Thaddeus is 32, and is trending in the opposite direction of this Bulls team.
Dealing Young away to a team that needs a backup forward is where I can envision him ending up. In return, a trade package of youthful bench guys and draft picks is Chicago’s most probable compensation. For example, a team like the Utah Jazz could pull the trigger on Young. The Jazz can send a pick, along with a player like Royce O’Neale or Georges Niang. Utah upgrades at the forward position, while Chicago receives youthful assets and a draft pick.
Whether the destination is Utah or elsewhere, Young and the Bulls are headed two different directions. As Chicago sees light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel, Thaddeus Young can aid a contender in championship efforts.
Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose
The Detroit Pistons are arguably in the worst position in the entire league. Between roster construction, financial holes, and lack of direction, Detroit has dug themselves quite the grave. Detroit is paying Reggie Jackson and Josh Smith a combined $23 million dollars, neither of them are even on the roster. Besides the lack of spending money, the roster construction is just as baffling. Detroit has D-Rose, still talented, but playing out the end of his career. Detroit has Blake Griffin, who is playing out the end of his prime and is no longer throwing down posters like he used to. The Pistons have John Henson and Tony Snell, who both suck. Then, the Pistons have young talents like Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.
Detroit has only eight players under contract for next season, and five of them are under 25 and Detroit’s only youthful hopes. A Blake Griffin trade would be close to impossible to pull off. An injury prone, aging star who is a shell of the Blake Griffin that suited up for the Clippers. Talent aside, Blake is earning $34 million per season. No team is willing to take on his huge contract, barring all of the risk associated.
Besides BG and the young studs, only two players are under contract, Tony Snell and Derrick Rose. No team in the NBA would willingly trade for Tony Snell, that guy stinks. Leaving just one tradeable player, Derrick Rose. Rose clearly still has what it takes to play in the league, averaging 18.1 PPG, his highest mark since his 2011-12 MVP season.
I envision Rose going to a contender who needs a backup point guard. Rose getting a shot at an NBA title would solidify him as one of the best comeback stories in NBA history.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love
Rumors about Kevin Love being traded away from Cleveland have been circulating for quite some time. The last member of Cleveland’s big three signed a four-year deal the summer LeBron left for Los Angeles, and could be stuck in Cleveland until 2023. Although the addition of Andre Drummond created more questions than answers, a long-term rebuild is Cleveland’s presumable five-year plan.
Love can still serve up 18 and 10 any given game, and when playing somewhere besides Cleveland, his numbers will increase. If the Cavs were to send Love to a contender, it would be interesting to see how Love would fare in a Lebron-less playoff team. Not exactly a contender, but one team I can envision Love being sent to is the Phoenix Suns. The Suns appear ready to enter playoff contention, and Love would join a stellar starting five of Rubio, Booker, Oubre, and Ayton. Aside from rejoining former Timberwolves teammate Ricky Rubio, GM James Jones won a championship with Love and the two spent a handful of seasons together in Cleveland.
In return, Cleveland could receive any combination of Mikal Bridges, Dario Saric, and or some draft picks. Whether Love ends up in Phoenix or not, the 2016 champion will be on the move this summer. As Cleveland begins their rebuild, Love will look to add upon his championship resume elsewhere.
Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe
Typically when one of the best teams in the league are making a championship push, their core guys remain untouchable. I believe the Bucks will fall short of a championship yet again, and Eric Bledsoe will be to blame. Whether scapegoated or not, falling short of a championship will put Bledsoe on the trade block. Here's why…
Playoff Eric Bledsoe has been notoriously bad throughout his career. Averaging just 10.9 points and 3.4 assists across four playoff runs, Bledsoe succumbs to playoff jitters. In last year’s playoffs the Kentucky alum shot just 23% from 3-point range, on 4.8 attempts per game. Two years ago, Bledsoe shot just 32% on his 3-pointers during his first year in Milwaukee. When weighing Bledsoes percentages to second string point guard George Hill, Hill’s 48% was the highest percentage in the whole league. Hill also shot 42% from downtown in last year's playoffs, almost double Bledsoe’s percentage.
Upgrading Hill to the starting point guard would be a scary sight for NBA defenses. With improved floor spacing, Giannis has more room to attack and make superhuman plays.
Bledsoe’s contract of $70 million over four years would not be hard to move. With the trade return, Milwaukee could upgrade at shooting guard. Wesley Matthews is scoring just 7.5 PPG, and is shooting the least amounts of threes per game (4.5) since his 2009-10 season.
Barring trading Bledsoe, moving Matthews to the bench alongside Donte DiVincenzo at point guard would be the Bucks most probable move. Adding a new starting shooting guard alongside George Hill in the back court will be Milwaukee’s biggest need.
Eric Bledsoe’s playoff inconsistency could be the leading cause in holding Milwaukee back from championship aspirations. By moving the 29 year old Bledsoe, a star-studded trade return could be enough to crown the Bucks NBA champions.