PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:
Going into the season, which players are the most likely to be moved?
The obvious answer to this question is Markieff Morris, but the Suns have shown no signs of trading the disgruntled big man anytime soon. They need him, and his very public trade demands have killed his value around the league. For now, it seems unlikely that Morris will get his wish. But there are other players who could help teams around the league that might find themselves available during the season. Here are a few of them.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Faried has been available for a while. All of the Nuggets’ veterans have, really — despite having just been signed to extensions this summer, don’t think Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari couldn’t be had for the right price as Denver hands the keys to the franchise over to Emmanuel Mudiay. Faried is the most likely to be moved, since his skillset is the most redundant to what they already have. He’s entering the first year of a four-year, $50 million deal that will prove to be a good value, especially once the new salary cap kicks in next summer. But the hiring of defensive-minded coach Mike Malone is a bad match for Faried’s limitations on that end. The Nuggets are in a weird place, roster-wise, between going full-on youth movement and having enough veterans to contend for a playoff spot, so if their season starts off slow, they could finally commit to a rebuild. If they do, Faried will be among the first to go.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
Once the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo, Gibson took over his title as the player who was involved in the most trade rumors without actually being traded. The Bulls have a crowded frontcourt between Gibson, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic, and Gibson is on a great contract. If Noah has a bounceback season, it could make it more likely that Gar Forman and John Paxson finally pull the trigger on a Gibson trade. But they’d have to get a player who can help them right now, and it’s unclear who that might be.
Jeff Green, Memphis Grizzlies
Green never fit with the Grizzlies the way they hoped he would last season when they acquired him from the Celtics. It was a great idea: some added versatility for a team that customarily has played an extremely traditional style. But Green struggled in his half-season in Memphis, and going into the final year of his deal, the Grizzlies would be very open to moving him if the right deal came along. There’s no clear destination that makes sense for him, though.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
Crawford’s name as been floated in trade talks for a couple of years, and he’s the only player on the Clippers’ roster who could easily be moved. He’s getting up there in age, but he could still provide enough value with his bench scoring to help a contender. The problem is, who are the Clippers going to get back that makes them better? Doc Rivers will listen to offers, but if they haven’t traded Crawford already, it’s hard to see them doing it now unless a clear upgrade presents itself.
George Hill, Indiana Pacers
This is going to be a transition year for the Pacers, going from a David West/Roy Hibbert-dominated identity to a smallball style that will supposedly see Paul George playing a lot of power forward. As they transition to a new era, Indiana will have to decide if Hill is the long-term answer at point guard. They don’t have an in-house replacement lined up, but if there’s any area where they’ll explore upgrades during the season and beyond, that’s it.