Who’s next: Five NBA stars most likely to be traded this season
This summer, it was Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but not Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving. There are always NBA trades to talk about — even if some never come to fruition.
So who is next?
The only sure things this NBA season are Luka Doncic will excessively whine to referees and a star player’s name will come up in trade rumors. But which stars? Who could be on the block next? Here are five names to look out for.
Draymond Green (Warriors)
Green’s name would not have made this list a couple of weeks ago. He probably still doesn’t get moved — several league sources told NBC Sports not to expect a trade, they think the Warriors will work it out — but nothing is off the table after the video of Green punching Jordan Poole in practice went viral.
Green is away from the Warriors right now by mutual decision. Kevon Looney was honest after the Warriors exhibition game Sunday saying Green has work to do to earn back the trust of the Golden State locker room.
If that trust cannot be repaired, and if the Warriors are serious about not extending his contract at the price he wants (instead inking Poole and Andrew Wiggins to new deals), they may have to consider this season as the chance to trade him. On the Lowe Post podcast, Bill Simmons threw out a three-way trade that sent Green to the Lakers and brought Myles Turner to the Warriors, which turned a few heads.
Green, however, may not have the market value people think. His ability to guard 1-5 and quarterback a defense is insanely valuable in the Warriors switching scheme, but it doesn’t fit with every team’s system. Plus, Green’s 3-point shooting has fallen way off, limiting his scoring largely to in the paint (he still makes great reads and passes). Green is a perfect fit and thrives in the Warriors eco-system, would he thrive the same way elsewhere? A lot of scouts and executives aren’t so sure.
Still, suddenly the idea of a Green trade is not crazy. It’s something to watch.
Russell Westbrook (Lakers)
An obvious addition to the list as Lakers GM Rob Pelinka spent all summer trying to find a deal for Westbrook they found acceptable.
Throughout training camp, Westbrook has said and done all the right things: playing defense, setting picks, being in the corner to shoot 3s on some sets, and being a team player. Let’s say people — and by people, we mean both league officials and Lakers fans — are skeptical about how long this will continue. If things start to go sideways with the Lakers, a Westbrook trade will be back on the table (and we will be back to discussing what it would take to get just-extended Rob Pelinka to send out both Lakers first-round picks he can trade (2027 and 2029).
Myles Turner (Pacers)
Another rumor that inevitably will come true, the only question is where Turner lands.
Turner has never been an All-Star and is underrated by fans, but he fits what teams are seeking in a modern big man — he is an elite shot blocker (2.8 per game last season, 3.4 per game two seasons ago), who is mobile enough to do a little switching. On offense, he shot 33.3% on four 3-pointers a game last season in Indiana. He is a stretch five that is easy to picture next to Anthony Davis in Los Angeles (the Lakers don’t want to give up two first-round picks for Turner and Buddy Hield), but also would fit next to any four who wants to score inside (Julius Randle, Zion Williamson, etc.). The Pacers are waiting for the right deal, but they also don’t want to start winning a lot of games in a rebuilding year and mess up their lottery odds, so there is pressure to find the right trade sooner rather than later.
John Collins (Hawks)
He is another player who has been on the trade block for more than a year, but the Hawks haven’t found a deal they like so he is still in Atlanta. At Media Day both Collins and Atlanta GM Landry Fields talked about putting those rumors in the past and working on winning a lot of games, but as the trade deadline nears expect those rumors to pop up again (especially if the Hawks don’t live up to expectations).
Collins is a bouncy four who averaged 16.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last season — he could help a lot of teams. Expect those teams to call again as we move closer to the NBA trade deadline.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder)
The Thunder are young and don’t want to win many games this season as they continue to stockpile young talent during their rebuild (put bluntly, they want to be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes). Gilgeous-Alexander is an outstanding player and wins games. The Thunder will keep him around to start the season (even with him they are not going to win much) but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him sat down deeper into the season as the Thunder want to tank player their young guys. A team that needs a point guard and floor general could come calling, and if that team will surrender picks or young players the Thunder will listen.
Other names to watch on the ride market: Buddy Hield (Pacers), Mike Conley (Jazz), Lauri Markkanen (Jazz), Bojan Bogdanovic (Pistons), Alec Burks (Pistons), Julius Randle (Knicks).
(Note: Bradley Beal was listed in the original article, but because he signed a supermax deal he cannot be traded this year. In addition, he has a no-trade clause beyond that so Beal could control when and where he gets traded, if it ever comes to that.)