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Thursday, July 16, 2020

10 NBA trade deadline candidates

Marc Gasol

The NBA trade deadline is only two weeks away, and it’s safe to assume that some teams are already chatting about deals and gauging interest in moves. The NBA’s deadline is not known to be the most robust trade deadline in sports, but it’s certainly an event, and we’ve seen some important deals made over the years at this time of year.

Who’s on the block this year? Who may depart a losing franchise to play for a contender down the stretch? Here are ten names who could be on the move before Feb. 7.

10) Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies

A Gasol trade seems unlikely, but cannot be completely ruled out. He’s not quite the player he was in his prime, but he remains a guy who can chip in 15 points and eight rebounds per game while playing sound defense. He won’t come cheap, and has a player option worth over $25 million for next season, but the Grizzlies are going nowhere and Gasol may be eager to finish off his career with a contender, making him a potentially worthwhile trade pursuit. Plus, Memphis seems willing to listen to offers for him.

9) J.R. Smith, G, Cavaliers

Smith is of little use to the Cavaliers and has been away from the team for months. He’s openly insinuated that he’s playing on a tanking team. In other words, a parting of the ways is inevitable, and it was widely expected that he’d be traded before the deadline. Whether the Cavaliers can pull that off is another matter entirely. They won’t get much for him, and he has a reputation as something of a difficult figure in the locker room. They’ll certainly be trying, though.

8) Frank Ntilikina, G, Knicks

Ntilikina, the Knicks’ first-round draft pick in 2017, seems to be at a crossroads with the organization. He’s a good defender and a pass-first point guard, but he’s slipped to the bench under David Fizdale and the team might be tempted to see what they can get for him. There will be interest in the point guard if he’s made available, and there have been reports that teams have already inquired about him. He’s only 20 and has a future, but it may not be in New York.

7) Dennis Smith Jr., G, Mavericks

A Smith trade looked a lot more likely a week ago than it does now, but cannot be ruled out. There has been chatter that he’s at odds with coach Rick Carlisle, and the team has concerns that he’ll be willing to play with rookie star Luka Doncic. For now, the Mavericks appear willing to try to work things out unless they get a deal that they can’t refuse. That may still come, but the likelihood has decreased.

6) Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Knicks

If the Knicks can get rid of the roughly $37 million they still owe Hardaway through 2021, they’ll jump at it, and there have been reports that rival teams have asked about the guard. Averaging a career-best 19.6 points per game, Hardaway can score, albeit not as efficiently as some teams would like. The upsides are clear for the Knicks, as clearing cap space would be beneficial for them even at the cost of wins right now, though they won’t go all-out to make a deal happen.

5) Dewayne Dedmon, C, Hawks

It’s not clear if the Hawks will make Dedmon available, but they have no reason not to. The team is rebuilding, Dedmon is an affordable expiring contract, and he can clearly contribute, averaging about 10 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting a surprising 38 percent from three-point range. He’d be a cheap option for a lot of contenders looking for frontcourt help, and Atlanta shouldn’t have any reason to fight to hang onto him.

4) Jabari Parker, F, Bulls

Six months after signing on as a free agent, Parker appears to have worn out his welcome with the Chicago Bulls already. He’s recently returned to the rotation after an extended exile, but it’s not really indicative of staying power, as it doesn’t sound like the Bulls have changed their minds about shopping him. Parker can still score, averaging nearly 15 points per game when he does play, but he’s known for poor defense and is an incomplete player. If the Bulls can get out from under his two-year contract, they’d seemingly be happy to.

3) Enes Kanter, C, Knicks

Kanter has seen a marked reduction in his minutes lately as the Knicks shift toward youth, and Kanter will likely be one of the odd men out. A recent injury to Luke Kornet could give Kanter a new lease on life in New York, but the team was clearly willing to trade him before that happened, and the unhappy player seemed to welcome a change of scenery. Kanter is an expiring contract who’s averaging a double-double, making him an attractive frontcourt option, despite his defensive shortcomings.

2) Nikola Vucevic, Magic

Long the subject of trade rumors, the Magic have little reason to resist a Vucevic deal. An affordable expiring contract, the 28-year-old is averaging a career-best 20.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The Magic are not entirely out of contention for a playoff spot, but at 20-27, there’s no reason to believe they could do any better than a first round exit even if they made it. Vucevic is a valuable trade chip, and they have every reason to move him.

1) Robin Lopez, C, Bulls

The Bulls have made no secret of their desire to trade Lopez. He wants out, and the Bulls are willing to shop him and see what he can fetch them. He’s had little role on the team this season, and Chicago simply does not care about winning games right now. As recently as last season, Lopez provided double-digit points and a decent presence down low. He’ll probably be the first to leave Chicago as the Bulls look to accelerate their rebuild.

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