One Player Every Team Should Trade Away Part 1: Eastern Conference
Atlanta Hawks: Ersan Ilyasova
With the Hawks sitting in dead last in the league right now, it is time to trade their veterans and let their young players play. Trading Ersan Ilyasova opens up the door for rookie John Collins, who is averaging 10.6 points a game in a bench role and has looked promising so far this season. This move also gives the Hawks the potential to lose more games due to inexperience which would help seal a top 4 pick and the worst record.
Boston Celtics: Semi Ojeleye
While I was tempted to put Marcus Morris here, I feel his value has been understated throughout Gordon Hayward’s absence, even with the logjam at small forward. I ended up settling with Semi Ojeleye here. Not only is he a small forward, which they don’t really need with 4 natural small forwards in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Morris already on the roster, but he is also young. Two small forwards, Tatum and Brown, are at or under the legal drinking age of 21 right now. Using Ojeleye as trade bait, they can try to acquire a veteran bench player at another position of need (center) to help them in their eventual playoff run.
Brooklyn Nets: Jeremy Lin
While he may be out for the season, Lin doesn’t have a place on this Nets roster when he comes back. In a rebuilding situation, most of the minutes should go to the younger players and the Nets are set at point guard for the foreseeable future with Russell and Dinwiddie. His contract also has 1 more year on it, which can clear up cap space for future free agents.
Charlotte Hornets: Dwight Howard
Although he’s a starter, Dwight Howard is a contender to trade from an underwhelming Hornets team. They have 2 centers that they used top 10 picks on just waiting for an opportunity in Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. They also have Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Johnny O’Bryant capable of playing forward or center in small-ball lineups. With their record so poor, Howard should be gone if there’s a taker.
Chicago Bulls: Nikola Mirotic
The Bulls have a loaded frontcourt and Mirotic may be the odd man out. During the offseason the Bulls were in no rush to sign him and ended up signing him just before training camp. This shows the amount of loyalty the Bulls had in him to begin with. Not only that, but Mirotic got into an altercation with Bobby Portis earlier in the season, leaving Mirotic hurt and Portis suspended. It would be a good move to send one contract away and split the troubled teammates apart while also clearing up the logjam at forward.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Channing Frye
Channing Frye is in a losing battle with Father Time. After averaging 9 points a game last year for a Cavs team that made the finals, he is producing a measly 4.1 points a contest this year. Add to the fact that he’s 34 and has an expiring contract, well then this becomes an intriguing trade piece for a Cavs team that has made 3 straight finals appearances.
Detroit Pistons: Boban Marjanovic
Many people forget the hype Boban had in his one season with the Spurs. He had a legendary PER of around 36, a stat with an average of 15 that shows on-court effectiveness, despite only playing 8 min/game. On the Pistons, however, he hasn’t been playing as much as he hoped behind Andre Drummond. A trade would open up the doors for 2nd year player Henry Ellenson and clear up salary cap space.
Indiana Pacers: Al Jefferson
With the Pacers being surprisingly competitive this year, Al Jefferson is eating up minutes and cap room for the team. While still good, Al Jefferson at 33 years old isn’t as good as he used to be. A trade creates more cap and roster room for different players even though they lose veteran leadership.
Miami Heat: Tyler Johnson
The Miami Heat are a mediocre team that is over the salary cap. Even though Tyler Johnson is a great 6th man, his contract is horrendous. Next year, his salary jumps from around $5 million to $19 million, a salary higher than most starters in the NBA. To offload this contract will be sad because of Tyler Johnson’s growth as a player during his time with the Heat, but his contract has to go.
Milwaukee Bucks: Matthew Dellavedova
Dellavedova in the 2015 NBA Finals was fantastic, doing a great job when he was thrust into the starting role in place of an injured Kyrie Irving. In the offseason, however, he was massively overpaid by the Bucks and is now getting $10M to be the 3rd string PG behind Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon. A trade makes sense here and could net a player at a position of need.
New York Knicks: Kyle O’Quinn
The trade value for Kyle O’Quinn has never been higher. He is on a cheap contract and having a career year as a backup center. The Knicks should take advantage of his value before it decreases.
Orlando Magic: Mario Hezonja
After being a top 5 pick in 2015, Hezonja has completely fallen out of the rotation for a disappointing Orlando Magic team. Even though they won’t get much or any value for him, they will open up a spot for a more promising player and help to revive Hezonja’s career.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jerryd Bayless
Bayless is the odd man out in a surprisingly good PG rotation for the Sixers. With TJ McConnell and number 1 pick Markelle Fultz manning the position, there has been little need for Bayless. Also, his $9M contract can free up space for another contributor on a large contract.
Toronto Raptors: Lucas Noguiera
The Raptors are one of the more balanced teams in the league which made it hard to find a guy to trade away on this team. In the end, I went with Noguiera who can net some assets. With centers Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl already on the roster earning significant minutes, a trade could be made for a floor spacing big, something the Raptors could use.
Washington Wizards: Ian Mahinmi
The Wizards got too competitive in the offseason cap spike in 2016, where every teams’ available money they could spend jumped ~$30M. They signed Mahinmi for $15M a year for 4 years, limiting their ability to sign other free agents. To make a playoff run, this salary needs to come off their books so they can sign other players in free agency.