The NBA season is in full swing now, as we’re over a week into the schedule. While nothing is set in stone, teams have had the chance to see just how good they are, getting a better grasp on what kinds of issues they’ll need to fix in order to succeed.
These sort of problems can be solved at the trade deadline in February, with some teams looking to shed salary, acquire draft picks, or simply begin the process of rebuilding. Every year, there are several players who change teams. But big names don’t often move during the season. For a star player to head to a different team, it usually requires him to be a free agent or for two teams that match up well to be able to sit down and hash it out.
In this 2015-16 season, there are a few big names who could very well head to a new location in just a few months. The first player is Zach Randolph, power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies. Former Grantland writer, Zach Lowe, casually mentioned a few weeks ago that Randolph could be dealt if the Grizzlies aren’t as good as they think they’ll be, as Randolph is the oldest of their established stars.
1. Zach Randolph
We tend to agree with Lowe on this. Randolph is 34 years old and under contract for one more season after this year, which works against him being able to be dealt. However, Randolph is still a productive player, averaging 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in 32.5 minutes last season. Including his entire salary this year, he’ll only cost $20 million over the final two years of his deal.
In this day and age and for the production he provides, that’s quite a bargain. A few teams could be looking for a big man with Randolph’s skills at the trade deadline — and have the means to make such a deal work. Those teams include the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, and Dallas Mavericks.
2. Derrick Rose
The Chicago Bulls are also rumored to be looking at moving on from one of their stars. They’ve had a rocky relationship with Derrick Rose over the last few years; every so often something comes up that leads you to believe they’d move the hometown hero if they could. For example, several days ago there was an unsubstantiated rumor floating around that the Bulls had trade discussions with the Lakers regarding Rose and Taj Gibson in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and a few role players.
While there is no reason to believe that such a trade has been or will be discussed, where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the breakup between the two parties has already begun, lending credence to the idea that Rose could be dealt. The main stumbling block is the $41 million left on Rose’s deal over the remainder of this season and next. That means the Bulls would have to find a team with a player making a large salary that they’d be willing to take on.
The injury concerns weigh on this greatly as well, which means the Bulls aren’t likely to be happy with what they can get in return for Rose. Potential matches probably include the Lakers in a deal involving Roy Hibbert and Lou Williams or possibly even a further expanded deal involving Rose and Joakim Noah going to the New Orleans Pelicans for Eric Gordon and Omer Asik.
3. Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves makes some sense as a trade candidate too. The Wolves drafted Zach LaVine two years ago to play point guard, and he’s been solid in his NBA career’s limited time so far. Many have wondered if the Wolves will dump Rubio — who has been a disappointment through the first few seasons of his career — so they can get LaVine on the court for more minutes. Quite frankly, we’re among those individuals.
And yet, despite all that, Rubio is still a young player with strong point guard skills — even if those skills have been in hibernation since his 2012 run-in with Kobe Bryant. As a result, the Wolves may not be ready to give up on him just yet. Then again, the Houston Rockets did show interest in Rubio in the past. This could be a win-win for all parties involved.
4. Isaiah Thomas
The last big move we could see involves the Boston Celtics and their young backcourt. We’re not quite sure whether Danny Ainge thinks keeping Marcus Smart or Isaiah Thomas is the better plan for the long-term, but he’d be wise to decide soon if he wants to move one of them this season.
The Celtics would probably love to include Evan Turner in a deal, and would even be willing to part with Jared Sullinger to make it happen, but that’s getting too involved too early in the season. Teams that could use a point guard and could do a deal with the C’s include the Knicks, Lakers, and Mavericks.