As the trade deadline begins to become the hot topic across the league, I will take a closer look at what teams should be sellers at the trade deadline for the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks: Milwaukee is currently four games outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but their overall playoff odds are not very good, only looking at around 10%(Fivethirtyeight prediction). Even if they did make it into the playoffs, they would likely be facing the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are a superior team at this point, and although consecutive playoff berths are a positive achievement, Milwaukee needs to think for the future, and stay in the lottery. They have a few players who could fetch them some good young players or draft picks to build around. Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, Chris Copeland, and even for the right price, Greg Monroe. Monroe would obviously net the best return, but Milwaukee seems adamant not to move the big man. Bayless and Mayo are the hottest names for the team, as they are unrestricted free agents at the end of the year, and capable veterans, who can stretch the floor. Copeland’s name has not been as hot as of late, but with his inability to see much floor time for the Bucks, ownership does not have much interest in him, and moving him for even a second round pick could be seen as a more positive move.
Charlotte Hornets: The Charlotte Hornets only have six players signed for after this season. With that in mind, Charlotte has played very inconsistently this season, and much like the Milwaukee Bucks, their playoff hopes rest in the eighth seed. Even with the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he may not be able to save this season. Al Jefferson, Nic Batum, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lamb, Brian Roberts, Troy Daniels could all be looking at a new uniform in the coming weeks. Roberts and Daniels are not likely to return much, and would most likely be packaged with one of the better players. Lamb has seen a rise in play after coming to the Hornets, but after a exciting start, he still does not look to be a capable starter in the league. Marvin Williams was just a mistake contract for the Hornets, and moving on from the overpaid veteran will be a winning scenario. Nic Batum and Al Jefferson provide the highest return, but already 31, Charlotte will have to take what they can get from the aging center. Batum has drawn interest from quite a few teams with his spike in play this season. The Bulls, Lakers, Pacers, Pistons, even Rockets could look to add Batum to give their team the extra juice for a longer playoff run. All of these teams could give good pieces for Batum, so expect him to be moved for sure.
New York Knicks: New York still wants to contend for a playoff spot, and they are rightfully so, as they do not own their first round pick for this year. However, New York does not have the talent to adequately compete for a playoff spot. Kristaps Porzingis is quickly becoming the face of the franchise, and it would be wise to build around him from now on. Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon, Derrick Williams, Kyle O’Quinn, Cleanthony Early, and Langston Galloway should all be looked at for trade pieces. Afflalo has the biggest value for the Knicks to cash in on. With one more year on his deal after this season for $8 million, Afflalo could be a cheaper addition for a playoff team looking for an offensive bench piece. Calderon is dealing with injuries, so New York may hold on him, as his value is very low right now. Williams and O’Quinn are good role players, and unless New York gets an amazing offer, they might see these players as good bench pieces for the future. Early has yet to materialize into what people thought he could be, and has potential, but New York is losing patience with him, especially after the gun incident at the end of the year. Langston Galloway started the season very hot, but has since cooled off. Packaging Early and Galloway together could net the Knicks another good foundation piece, one that is not just another good bench piece.
Brooklyn Nets: Brooklyn is going to want to be sellers at the trade deadline, but I cannot see many teams biting on what they have to offer this deadline. This franchise is completely set back by the disastrous Boston trade a few years ago, and their current roster has no upside. Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, and Jarrett Jack are about the only valuable players on this team, and most of them are on ridiculous contracts. Joe Johnson has been on the block for what seems forever now, but is $24.89 million contract for this season, which is about half paid now, still scares teams away. Not to mention he is shooting below 40% from the field, and only 36% from three. Lopez is getting paid like the main star, when in reality he really is the third star for a contending team. Thaddeus Young still has some value, but with the likes of Batum, Gay, and Morris on the block, it would be hard to see anyone going with the longer contract and worse player. If Jarrett Jack had not torn his ACL, Brooklyn would have had a nice trade piece. Jack still has some value, but it will likely be next season, after teams are sure he can get back to the court healthy, and they do not have to pay as much of his salary. Without any real tradable assets, and no first round draft pick until 2017(which will be late as Boston has right to switch), and they do not fully own their first round pick till 2019, Brooklyn is in a world of hurt.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17