by Rob Joyce
There is still over a week to go before the NBA trade deadline, but there is already movement in the league, including one blockbuster. The first domino fell when the Clippers traded Blake Griffin and two others to the Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a pair of picks. Less than seven month after signing a max deal to stay in Los Angeles, Griffin leaves as the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer.
With one blockbuster down, what else could happen over the next week that will drastically shakeup the league? Here are the top five players rumored to be available:
5) Larry Nance Jr:
It’s not exactly a secret the Lakers are looking to clear out enough cap space to sign a couple of guys to max contracts (ahem, LeBron James and Paul George). Of the group available, including Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Nance is the most enticing. His uber-athleticism shows in his highlight-reel dunks, but the advanced stats also like the 25-year-old. He leads Los Angeles in Player Efficiency Rating (PER), he can defend multiple positions and would be a good secondary scorer and rebounder (8.9 points, 6.8 rebounds).
4) Enes Kanter:
He’s been in the headlines numerous times this year for some on-court beefs, but his play is worthy of some attention, too. He’s nearly averaging a double-double with the Knicks (13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds), thriving on an arsenal of superior positioning, mid-range jumpers and second-chance finishing. His defense is suspect, and he’ll be owed $18.6 million next season if he picks up a player option. But if there’s someone willing to pony up, he’ll be a valuable low-post presence.
3) Lou Williams:
Griffin’s departure is a clear sign that the Clippers are starting to hit the reset button, and could look to gain a valuable asset for Williams. The 31-year-old has always been a steady player in his career, but the last month he’s exploded. His 31.6 points per game since December 22 leads the NBA and he’s considered the biggest snub on this year’s All-Star team. Last year Williams was a rental, garnering a first-round pick from Houston in return. There’s the baseline for the Clippers to negotiate.
2) Kemba Walker:
He would probably top this list, but it seems the likelihood of the 27-year-leaving Charlotte is small. The Hornets’ lone bright spot on an old and expensive roster, Walker would be a clear sign that the franchise is blowing it up and starting from scratch. Any team that wants the All-Star would also have to take one of the Hornets’ bloated contracts, plus send an All-Star caliber player in return (at least according to Michael Jordan).
In a potential suitor’s favor, however, is the fact that Walker is a free agent in 2020. Charlotte could keep him, but risk losing him for nothing in free agency as the organization sits in neutral.
1) Tyreke Evans:
Finally healthy after playing 65 games the previous two years, the 28-year-old’s has found a resurgence in his first season with the Grizzlies, averaging 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 46 percent shooting. More importantly for teams looking for a rental, he’s signed on a one-year, $3.3 million deal. In return a first-round pick is likely, but a team like Miami or Boston could certainly use the added offense at a low, low price.