Now that we’ve concluded the NBA season, we have a decision to make. We can either torture ourselves with the daily draft proceedings, or we can postpone the draft talk and hypothetically analyze fake trade scenarios to alleviate our pain and distract ourselves from the summer sports lull. Who has the most trade value in the NBA? Soon-to-be 30 year old LeBron, on the heels of four straight Finals appearances, and enormous wear and tear? Or 25 year old KD, coming off his first MVP season? Or 21 year old Anthony Davis, fresh off his first All-Star appearance and poised to be his generation’s Duncan? In other words, it’s not as simple as who’s the best player in the league. Age matters. Younger players are more valuable than guys on the verge of retirement. LaMarcus Aldridge is more valuable, being only 28 years old, than Dirk is at 36. You get the point. Salary also matters. You’d rather have Kawhi Leonard, due just over $3 million next season than Carmelo, who’s about to get a max contract. We’ll count down the top 50 players, with the #1 player being the player in the league with the most trade value. In other words, if Team A offered the #5 player on the list to Team B for the #2 player, Team B would say no. Without further ado, let’s begin the count down.
This year brings some players that show the limitations of the rating trade value. Kobe Bryant didn’t make the the cut this year. Who would trade for a 35 year old coming off a torn achillies? But obviously, the Lakers would NEVER trade him. Rather than ranking him way too high to keep some consistency, it makes more sense to cut him from the list altogether. Similarly, Dwyane Wade failed to make the top 75 this year. That might sound crazy, but given that he only played 54 games this year, is going to be 33 next year, and looked horrendous in the Finals, it makes perfect sense. Who would trade for him, especially if he opts in and is making over $20 million next year. Again, the Heat would NEVER trade him. Chances are he finishes his career with the Heat. The last premier name to miss this year’s cut is Derrick Rose, but that should be no surprise. He hasn’t been healthy for two years and has $60 million left over the next three years. Unless he magically turns into his former MVP self (not happening), he has little value. Here are some of the tougher omissions:
“Yeah He’s Old, But You’re Not Getting Him For Free”
He may be 36, but Pierce was one of the Nets’ most consistent contributors throughout the year. His contract isn’t cap-friendly, but on the right team, he could be a great piece off the bench. He probably only has one year left, two if he’s lucky, but plenty of playoff teams would love to have him coming off the bench in April.
After the 2013 Finals, everyone thought Ginobili was done. Turns out he wasn’t. People forgot that Spurs players don’t age. Ginobili, like Pierce, is 36, but he’s still one of the best sixth men in the NBA. Ginobili is due $7 million next year, and that may be his last.
Pau could still have one more contract of decent basketball. He’s 33 and due for a new deal this summer. His stats may have been a little inflated under Mike D’Antoni’s offense last year, but he still put 17 and 10 on a nightly basis. And Gasol is still one of the best passing big men in the league. His personality and game could fit anywhere in the league.
“Hey We Kind Of Need That Guy. Wait, Are You Sure You Want Him?!”
No one would go near Johnson with a hundred foot pole with his contract. He was an All-Star, and that shows us just how much of a sham the All-Star game is. Jason Kidd inexplicably ran plays for Johnson. In other words, he let Johnson play iso-ball, to the torture of Nets viewers. Johnson wouldn’t be a bad 6th man, but unfortunately he’s the NBA’s highest-paid player.
Martin does what he does: score. The problem is he doesn’t do anything else. His salary isn’t horrible, but anyone who thinks a simple change of scenery would do wonders didn’t watch Martin in OKC. He’s an overrated scorer, who’s about to enter the twilight of his career. Have fun.
Crawford has a much more reasonable contract, but he’s also the oldest of these guys. He won the sixth man of the year last season and can score the ball with the best of them. The only real issue is his age. He’s 34 and has never really been a part of a winning team.
“He May Be A Little Overpaid, But We Don’t Mind. We Swear. We Think.”
It’s not clear if Pekovic’s deal is bad or not. He’s owed nearly $50 million over the next four years. As a 28 year old center, in a league deprived of competent centers though, that price may be worth it for a guy averaging 17 and 9. Low-post scorers who can actually play with their back to the basket, like Pekovic, are rare.
Splitter’s stats won’t jump out at you. He only averages eight points and six rebounds per game. It’s almost impossible evaluating the value of anyone on the Spurs not named Duncan, Parker, or Ginobili. Regardless, Splitter proved this year he was worthy of his 4 year/$36 million deal he signed last summer. He’s a rim protector whose real skill is his ability to pass the ball. It’s not easy finding a guy who does those things.
Gibson was the Bulls’ second best player after Noah this year and killed the Wizards on the boards in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls finally seem ready to amnesty Carlos Boozer, and Gibson will finally step into the starting lineup. Making $8 million per season is a fair contract, and he’s still only 28 years old.
COMING SOON: PART 2