With NBA free agents allowed to meet with teams on Wednesday, several organizations are looking to make trades. Only a few teams have enough room under the salary cap to offer max contracts, and making a few deals can be the difference between signing a potential franchise player and missing out on a top free agent.
Even before July 1, a few players have already been traded. Lance Stephenson was the biggest name to be moved, going from the Charlotte Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers, and Nicolas Batum was sent to Charlotte from the Portland Trail Blazers. Luke Ridnour was most recently sent to the Toronto Raptors, being traded for the fourth time in a week.
Below are a look at three of the best players that have been involved in recent NBA trade rumors.
The Phoenix Suns gave the point guard a five-year contract less than a year ago, but the team is reportedly already looking to move on. Phoenix acquired Brandon Knight at the trade deadline, and ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Suns will explore trading Bledsoe if they can get a new deal done with Knight.
Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough has said the team isn’t looking to trade Bledsoe, and it’s unknown what kind of offer the Suns might get. But a deal could make sense, considering Knight’s reported deal will force Phoenix to pay two point guards $24 million per season. The Suns have been much better with Bledsoe on the court and he missed just one game last season, but his injury history could force Phoenix to choose the younger Knight as their point guard for the future.
The Sacramento Kings have been linked to Bledsoe as a possible trade partner for Phoenix. Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reports that the Kings are focused on improving at point guard. It doesn’t look like Sacramento will trade DeMarcus Cousins, and the Kings might try to pair together the former Kentucky teammates.
Johnson is entering the final year of his max contract, and the Brooklyn Nets appear to have little interest in paying him the $24.9 million that he’s owed. Brooklyn is reportedly looking to trade the swingman, who is coming off his lowest scoring average (14.4 points per game) since the 2002-2003 season.
It might not be easy for the Nets to find a taker for Johnson. His salary is the second-highest in the league, and his days of being an All-Star might be long gone. Brooklyn was unsuccessful in trying to trade Johnson to the Memphis Grizzlies, but ESPN reports that the team believes they’ll be able to deal Johnson. The Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons are considered possible destinations for the veteran.
Even though he’s set to make a lot of money, Johnson is entering the final year of his contract, which makes his deal easier for teams to accept. The Nets likely want him off their roster if they can re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, looking to avoid paying millions in luxury taxes.
The San Antonio Spurs don’t usually make a big play for free agents, but that will change this summer. The 2014 NBA champs are looking to sign LaMarcus Aldridge to a max contract, and in doing so, they’ll have to shed some salary. Splitter could be a casualty if the Spurs are able to add the Portland Trail Blazers’ big man.
It would make sense for the Spurs to move Splitter, since he’s set to make $8.5 million and Aldridge would take some of his playing time anyway. Splitter was an important part of the last two Spurs teams that reached the NBA Finals, especially on the defensive end. The center averaged 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 52 contests last year.