With the NBA approaching its unofficial midseason point, it is time to look at NBA trades with newly eligible players from last summers free agent class. The majority of players who signed a new contract during the summer are ineligible to be traded for three months from the date they signed or until December 15th, whichever occurs later. Due to the complex nature of the CBA, there is also a small group of players who are not trade eligible until January 15th.
The long and the short of it is there are over 100 players that will be newly eligible for trades by January 15th. This is a great opportunity for the contenders to stock up for a playoff run, for the weakest teams to improve their odds for the draft lottery in June and for teams with long-term planning to get out from a contract or stockpile assets.
Here is a list of some of the biggest trade targets for this newly eligible group, and some potential landing spots for each.
NBA Midseason Trade Eligible Targets
While Mirotic is able to veto a trade, he must be chomping at the bit for any opportunity to move to a new situation. He is definitely the most likely player to be moved on this list. Assimilating back into the locker room after his altercation with Bobby Portis is going to be next to impossible. It appears Chicago is more willing to move Mirotic. They need to continue its rebuild, and trading Mirotic for a valuable asset makes sense for them. Trade partners should be easy to find, considering his reasonable contract at $12.5 million for this one season plus a team option for one additional season.
In today’s NBA, Mirotic is an ideal fit as a combo forward for virtually any team in the league. He is an excellent scorer with range all the way out to the 3-point arc. He has the skillset to score in a multitude of ways. While he is below average athletically for an NBA player, he is a hustle player with a nose for the ball and finds multiple ways to contribute on both ends of the floor.
Best fits: Utah, Portland, Detroit
Blake Griffin: Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin is one of the top finishing post players in the league and creates matchup problems for virtually every defender. Though he has struggled with injuries throughout his career, he continues to be a phenomenal athlete. That makes it somewhat surprising to see him on this list, however this is based purely on the current state of the Clippers.
The Clippers have some really good pieces, including a point guard and two post players that are ideal fits for the pace of the NBA. The problem is they have no suitable wing players (including Gallinari) and no depth. While they may be able to sneak into the playoffs in the Western Conference, the best years for this core are over with Chris Paul‘s departure and DeAndre Jordan‘s potential departure after this season.
Can they actually expect to seriously compete with the elite teams in the West over the next few years… the answer is no. Griffin is entering his prime at 28 years old, and despite the huge contract (4 years, $140 million left after this season) and injury concerns, he is too tantalizing a talent and some GM’s would start a bidding war for his services. Adding a couple draft picks and a rotation player or two would be possible.
Best Fits: Heat, Pacers, Pistons
Hill is a steady, effective, dull player in a flashy league. This makes him one of the most underrated guys in the NBA. A great team defender, he does things that do not show up in the boxscore but contribute to a successful team. He has the size and strength to play either guard position well, and would contribute over 10 points a game while being the cliche “glue guy”. A coaches dream, his ability to be low maintenance should allow him to slide into most line-ups without a hitch.
Hill signed a 3-year, $57 million contract during the off-season, which is the only factor that could limit his movement. Sacramento is obviously on an express train to nowhere and should continue to hoard assets wherever they can. In addition to being a great add for a championship contender, Hill would also make an impact on a young, talented team that needs a steadying, professional figure.
Best Fits: Knicks, 76ers, Spurs
A pure rental, as his contract is only for this year at a spectacular 3.3 million. Evans is the perfect piece for any team looking to add a strong combo guard to the rotation for the playoffs. He is a gifted scorer, capable passer and has the size to play both guard positions. Evans has stepped into the starting point guard role with Mike Conley‘s injury and is playing well for the Grizzlies. He is currently averaging over 19 points, 5 boards, and 4.5 assists. He is also doing all of his scoring quite efficiently, including a career best 42% from beyond the arc.
Best fits: Cavaliers, Rockets, Celtics
Atlanta is a tire fire, and they should be open to trading away anyone for any draft pick available. Stripping it down to the wood and starting over through the draft is likely the only solution to assemble a contending team. They are not going to attract free agents the way the Lakers can even when they are bad. There are serviceable players they signed this past summer that may have some trade value. The main ones include Ersan Ilyasova, Dewayne Dedmon and Mike Muscala.
Best fits: Anybody with a draft pick
LOS ANGELES, USA – DECEMBER 12: Blake Griffin (32) of LA Clippers is seen during NBA between Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, USA on December 12, 2016. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)