Fears that the NBA is becoming less compettitive at the top is real, or at least they should be. While only a handful of franchises have won championships over the last 30 or so years, most years we have a decent handful of teams in the mix. After Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for the West Coast, there are at most three legitimate contenders: Golden State, Cleveland and San Antonio, though the Spurs need a viable replacement option if Tony Parker's drop goes over a cliff this season. There are a few other teams that are close (Boston, LA Clippers), but need another big move. Good thing the NBA rumor mill suggests there are notable players available.
While we wait to see if Oklahoma City decides it can't trust Russell Westbrook will re-sign next year or Sacramento finally puts DeMarcus Cousins out of his misery by shipping him elsewhere, two others standout as potential trade targets: Milwaukee center Greg Monroe and Sacramento wing Rudy Gay.
In the wake of Milwaukee's re-signing of Miles Plumlee, league sources say that Bucks center Greg Monroe remains available via trade— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 19, 2016
Greg Monroe and Rudy Gay, league sources say, continue to be two of the NBA's most prominent proven vets known to be available via trade.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 19, 2016
The primary issues with Monroe involve his contract and fit with the Bucks. The former Georgetown star, who averaged 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first year with Milwaukee, will make around $35 million over the next two seasons. That's not an ureasonable amount, especially after this wild free agency period, for a big man who's adept at scoring, rebounding and passing. Defense is not a strength, however, and the Bucks regressed back into a lottery team one year after signing Monroe.
Gay, who turns 30 in August, is a scoring threat capable of dropping 20 or more in any game. The Baltimore native has always been cast incorrectly as a leading man, but could end up becoming a strong piece for a team looking to add more punch. He receives $13.3 million in 2016-17 and has a player option for $14.26 million the following season, though opting out to advantage of another salary cap spike is in play.
Of the two, Gay would make the most sense for a Wizards team that doesn't have a clear third scorer behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. That said, Washington has two recent first round picks in Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. at small forward.
Monroe and Gay aren't franchise-changing players, but with the right fit, either could improve an interesting team into a contender. Considering how few there are in the NBA right now, it would be cool if a deal got done.