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 Western Conference.
Phoenix Suns: As we all know, Phoenix has become a train wreck this season. Their roster has potential mixed all around it, but none of it looks title worthy. After the Eric Bledsoe injury, we have seen how Brandon Knight is not a very capable leader. Phoenix has quite a few players, who if trade, could help right the ship in the desert. Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Mirza Teletovic, Tyson Chandler, Jon Leuer, and Markieff Morris. Although trading all of these players would be a complete fire sale, Phoenix’s record, even prior to the Eric Bledsoe indicates how poorly built the roster was. Eric Bledsoe would be a great trade piece for Phoenix to use for the future. Bledsoe has struggled to form any sort of chemistry with the recent point guard’s, and although puts up good stats, does not seem to have the winning mentality. Brandon Knight is a good complementary guy, but he is not a player to build around. Trading Knight and his salary would help free up Phoenix to look at adding Kris Dunn in the draft, and not having to worry about another jam at the point guard position. Morris has been on the deadline for months now, but his disappointing play, and Phoenix having a high price on him, has made him almost untradeable. Leuer and Teletovic would be very cheap veteran additions for playoff teams looking to add a capable stretch four. Tyson Chandler was a failed free agent signing, even with his recent uptick in effort on the court. With his hefty salary, Phoenix may have to be stuck with the big man for awhile. With the recent firing of Jeff Hornacek, the new head coach will have to convince ownership he can win with what he has, or they need to host a fire sale to start over.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Los Angeles Lakers are probably the worst team in basketball at this point in time. Kobe has accepted this fact, and seems to just putting on final shows for opposing fans. With this mind set, the Lakers need to capitalize on the few tradeable pieces they have. Roy Hibbert, Louis Williams, Nick Young, and Brandon Bass are about the only names that will interest other teams. Hibbert started the year off very well for the Lakers, but has since died off. Even with half his salary paid for the season, nearly $8 million for a rental will be hard for people to swallow. Maybe a contending team can motivate him to be the defensive menace he once was. Williams is the most entertaining trade prospect Los Angeles has. With both Clarkson and Russell on the roster, they need playing time for both of them, and Williams is ball dominant. Being signed for the next two years at only $7 million a season, many teams will see if they can pry away the bench scoring juggernaut. Swaggy P has been atrocious this season. Los Angeles has been reported to want to move on from the outspoken forward, but giving him $5.3 million a season, will not help their cause. Bass still has some life in him for a contender. Bass’s value might only be a second round pick, but with such little talent on the roster, Los Angeles needs to add as many prospects as possible, and flip the one year deal for a profit.
Denver Nuggets: For the season, many people expected the Nuggets to be a bottom three team in the league, but their resilient roster will not give up quite yet. Denver has a few guys, who could be very valuable to contenders in the coming weeks. J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur, Mike Miller, and Danilo Gallinari. With how adamant Denver was with not trading Wilson Chandler next season, I cannot imagine them moving him with his new big deal this season. Gallinari is obviously the big name here, and even with his new deal, he could be a good pickup for some up and coming teams. Teams will still have to be weary of his injury history however. Miller has been bouncing a lot the past few seasons, and he has rarely seen the court for this struggling squad. A team very desperate for sharpshooting could roll the dice on Miller, but his value might be a very distant second round pick. Hickson has not been able to crack back into the lineup, and could look to bolster a contenders depth at the forward position. Arthur is another forward, who Denver could look to flip to make more playing time for their young guys. Arthur can stretch the floor, rebound, and play adequate defense, something many contenders could use off their bench. Denver may not have the sexiest names on the market, but they do have the role players many contenders are looking for.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans have battled injuries to nearly everyone on their roster. The season started off disastrous, but with a recent surge in play, New Orleans is only a handful of games outside of the playoffs. Some may say the Pelicans will be buyers at the deadline, but I find that very contrary to what management was saying just a few weeks ago about a better rebuild around Davis. Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, and Alonzo Gee wrap up a team with a lot of talent they could unload. It seems like New Orleans has been trying to unload Gordon ever since they signed him to his current big deal. Gordon will be sidelined until mid-March at the latest, so his value has sunk even further for the Pelicans. With that being said, contenders could look to acquire him for cheap, as he is a proven scorer, and could be a useful scorer off the bench in the playoffs. Tyreke Evans is a proven scorer from the wing, who has dramatically increased his efficiency from the three point line. Evans is still under contract for one more season, at an affordable rate of $10.2 million. Many current playoff teams need some wing help, and Evans would be the perfect solution to their problems. Jrue Holiday has been a major disappointment for the Pelicans, as he cannot stay healthy, and is not living up to the potential many people had about him. With another season left on his contract after this one, New Orleans could look to flip Holiday and target Kris Dunn in the draft, who has a higher ceiling, and a better contract. Omer Asik has been pretty useless since his new deal. He was never a good fit next to Anthony Davis, so it was surprising to see him get an extension. Asik still has a good niche as a backup defensive center, but with his salary so high, he is hurting the Pelicans long term, and they should sell low on him to rid themselves of the offseason mistake. Alonzo Gee seems to be a package piece with any of the above players. He has no real objective in New Orleans, and they are just trying to give him a better opportunity. The crowning jewel of the trade deadline, Ryan Anderson. The Pelicans want to retain Anderson, but with so many teams interested in the stretch four, it would be hard not to move the big man for a good package of youth and draft picks. If they do not move him, New Orleans runs the risk of losing him in free agency this summer for nothing. New Orleans is a bit of a confusing case for this deadline, as they might stay put for a possible playoff run, or they might hold a complete fire sale. I expect them to be somewhere in between these polar opposites.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17