The 2019-20 season is now well underway, and we’re getting a good feel for what tier each team belongs in. However, what’s exciting is the fact that no team has to stick with its current roster. Teams can make moves to improve their rosters and bolster their chances to move up a tier. On December 15, the players who signed deals over the offseason will be eligible to be traded, and we could witness a contender become a prohibitive favorite or a pretender jump to contender status. In the same vein, bubble teams hoping to make the postseason could make the right move to get them there.
With trade season just around the corner and the trade deadline fast approaching, let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing trade targets and which team would make the most sense for them.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Love is more than a little available. He’s been at the center of trade talks for just over a year now, and the rumblings have just grown louder with each Cavs loss. Love is far removed from the 26-12-4 Kevin Love we saw in Minnesota, but he’s still a good player.
On a team where the guards, just…wont pass the ball, Love has still found a way to be productive. He’s averaging 15.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game, and shooting 35.4 percent from 3 on 5.7 attempts. Let’s take a look at the team that could most use a player like Love:
- Portland Trailblazers: The Blazers and Love have been linked for some time now, and the idea of a move happening seems closer than it’s ever been. Portland signed Carmelo Anthony in an attempt to improve their power forward position and provide a much-needed scoring option outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. And while Melo has been solid, the Blazers need more, especially with Rodney Hood rupturing his left Achilles tendon. Love would be a perfect fit in coach Terry Stott’s system. The defensive attention drawn by Portland’s high-scoring backcourt would open up better-scoring opportunities for Love. Especially on catch-and-shoot triple attempts–where Love shoots 39.8 percent. Most importantly, Love can be relied on as a playmaker, whether in halfcourt sets or to kickstart a fastbreak. If the Blazers can find a way to keep Anfernee Simons out of any deal to acquire Love then adding the veteran big man is a no brainer.
Andre Iguodala, Memphis Grizzlies
Iguodala has probably become a forgotten man to a lot of casual NBA fans. They’ve forgotten that Iguodala was jettisoned to Memphis over the offseason, and has yet to suit up for his new team. And there’s a 99.9 percent chance he’ll never suit up for them.
There was hope–especially from some of the top teams in the league–that Iguodala would be bought out, but the Grizzlies have no intention of buying him out and are hellbent on making a trade happen. I’ve got the perfect team for Iggy’s services:
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers sit in the no. 2 spot in the Western Conference with a record of 19-7. They have the no. 8 offense, the no. 6 defense, and have a net rating of plus-7.1 (fourth). In other words, this team is already great. And moreover, they are still load managing Kawhi Leonard, who at the same time is trying to develop chemistry with his new running mate Paul George. Iguodala might be a player the Clippers actually need. Because I’ll ask, in a playoff series would you trust either one of Maurice Harkless, JaMychal Green, or Rodney McGruder over someone of Iguodala’s caliber? The answer, if you’re a rational human being, is no. Iggy is far removed from his heyday, but adding him to a team like this: one with two elite wings, would make the Los Angeles Clippers the prohibitive favorites to win the championship.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards
The Wizards have been a delight to watch this season. They hemorrhage points like they’re just trying to get the ball back as soon as possible, but they have the fifth-best offense in the league, and a huge part of that is the play of Bertans. The Latvian Laser (his official nickname), has lived up to his alias–by shooting the ball with laser-like precision.
There are a number of teams that could use a 6-foot-10 player who shoots just north of 46 percent on his triples on an insane 8.6 attempts per game. I have one team in mind, in particular, that should find a way to add Bertans to their roster:
The Rockets haven’t been bad this season, in fact, they’ve actually been really good. They have the third-best offense in the league and have dug themselves from the trenches of the league on defense to the 15th spot. On the other hand, if you’re watching closely, you can start to see exactly how this team might fall apart when the games matter most. James Harden is having another all-time scoring season, and it’s because of him Houston has stayed in the top four in the West. But, Russell Westbrook’s addition is looking like a true disaster waiting to happen.
Russ’ inability to hit spot-up 3s at an average–shoot not even close to average–rate should worry Rockets fans. Harden is being doubled as soon as he crosses halfcourt, due in part to his offensive genius, but also because many times there are two non-shooters on the floor with him: Clint Capela and Westbrook. Switch out Capela for Bertans, and suddenly you have an offense that I’m confident would force defenses to abort on trapping Harden near midcourt. Plant Russ at the foul line with Danuel House Jr., P.J. Tucker, and Bertans spreading the floor ready to catch a pass from Russ or Harden. If the Rockets can engineer a move to land Bertans, they would, in my opinion, jump to the tier owned by both L.A. teams in the West.
Robert Covington, Minnesota Timberwolves
Covington is one of the survivors of “The Process”, the Sixers masterplan to becoming contenders. He may no longer play for the City of Brotherly Love, but he gained his notoriety there. Specifically as one of the leagues’ premier 3-and-D players. RoCo is the poster child for what teams look for in complementary role players: shoot 3s and guard multiple positions.
The Timberwolves are on a six-game slide, and at this point, it might be time to see what they can get for Covington. Especially considering Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are still young, and there isn’t a rush to compete right now; the right thing to do is see what other pieces you can add around the young duo. There’s a team in the West that hasn’t played up to expectations that could really use Covington:
The moves the Jazz made over the summer–bringing in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic–have not reaped the benefits I originally thought they would. While I have faith coach Quinn Snyder will find a way to make his new roster work, I think Utah should explore a move for Covington. The Jazz rank in the bottom eight in offense and a big problem comes at their power forward position. Right now the Jazz are starting Royce O’Neale at the four, with spot minutes from Jeff Green and Georges Niang. Replace the production those three are giving you with Covington’s production–12.6 points, 1.3 steals, and 36 percent shooting from 3 on 5.7 attempts–and you have the start of a solution for Utah.
A Couple other players to keep an eye on the closer we get to the deadline:
- Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder: Gallo is continuing his terrific play from last year, despite playing on a team full of “trade for me” players. There are countless teams that could use a tall, versatile 3-point marksman who will be off the books after this season.
- J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans: Redick has been to the playoffs every year he’s been in the league; that’s 13 years straight. Before the season started Redick jokingly told Zion Williamson, “don’t f— this up for me.” The way things are looking the shooting guard out of Duke will miss the postseason unless the Pelicans trade him to one of the teams locked into the playoff race. Redick has been superb despite playing on such a poorly performing team–he’s averaging 15.2 points per game while shooting 44 percent from 3 on 7.3 attempts.
- Marcus Morris, New York Knicks: The Knicks and their fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for this season. They are last in the East, fired their head coach, and worse of all, James Dolan is still the owner. But what they can do is find a way to trade Morris–who signed over the summer with the Knicks after bailing on a previous agreement with the Spurs. Morris might be a bit of a black hole on offense, but he could help bolster a team’s bench with his ability to create offense for himself in isolation and knock down 3s, where he’s shooting 49 percent.
I anticipate this deadline will be less chaotic than last seasons’ deadline when the Sixers added Tobias Harris and the Raptors went for Marc Gasol. But guys like Iguodala and Love could swing the fortunes of a number of teams, and I’ve been itching to see where both guys will finally end up. I just hope we see some other moves along the way.