As we all know, December 15th is an important date as far as making an NBA trade is concerned. By rule, it’s the first day that free agents signed during the summer can be traded. Typically, this flexibility opens up a lot of trade possibilities and triggers some shuffling. So, without further delay, here’s my list of the ten NBA players most likely to be traded beginning Dec. 15th.
10. Jermaine O’Neal – Trade rumors have been swirling around Jermaine O’Neal for a couple of years now, but his big contract combined with his injury history usually scares teams away from making a real offer. Still, he can make a difference on most teams in the league, and Indiana is interested in getting younger.
9. The New York Knicks – Until Isiah is fired, there’s always a chance that a NY Knick will be traded. With possibly one or two exceptions, every player on this team is available.
8. Jason Kidd – Even if you disregard the rumors surrounding Kidd’s supposedly “fake” migraine from a couple of weeks ago, he is still likely to be traded. Kidd is an all-star point guard that has a high market value, especially for his age. NJ may want to “get while the gettin’s good” and cash in on Kidd while he’s having a career year. Only his huge contract keeps him from being higher on this list.
7. Ron Artest – If it wasn’t for Artest’s domestic abuse problem back in March, he might have been moved this summer. Despite the possibility that Artest could go off the deep end at any time, he’s a tremendous and desirable talent that’s wasting away in Sacramento. And his contract is so cheap that he can go virtually anywhere…
6. Kwame Brown – Brown’s huge expiring contract is trade bait, and Kobe and Phil Jackson are both expecting the Lakers to make a move that will improve the team. Kwame is the Laker’s most trade-able player, so he’s as good as gone.
5. Jason Williams – Just like the situation in Los Angeles, something has to be done in Miami. Jason Williams has a huge expiring contract that will facilitate just about any trade, and there are more than a few teams looking for a way to reduce salary.
4. Mike Bibby – It’s no secret that Bibby was unhappy in Sacramento last season, and his skill set would be highly valued by a lot of teams looking for a scoring point guard (Cleveland and Miami, among others). Bibby and Artest don’t get along either, making it seem that one of them leaving Sac-Town is a foregone conclusion.
3. Pau Gasol – Chicago desperately needs some inside scoring, and Pau is a back-to-the-basket player that Chicago can probably get for a discount. The ownership in Memphis is trying to sell the team, and they might think that moving Gasol for some younger and less expensive players would make the sale easier. This will be an interesting trade — who will come out ahead? Chicago is desperate, but Memphis has no need for Gasol’s services as they try and structure their team for a sale.
2. Andre Miller – Philly has absolutely nothing to gain by keeping Andre Miller. Granted, the team plays better with him than they will without him, but let’s face it — Philly isn’t going to win anything this season. If they can move Miller for a young player or two and a draft pick/expiring contract, they should pull the trigger. Miller’s a great passer that can run an offense, and Philly will most likely get some solid offers. Just don’t expect Miller to go to Miami (Riley hates pudgy players).
1. The Chicago Bulls – Any one of the Bulls players, and I mean any one of them, are likely to be traded. Chicago has to do something to add a scoring big, and Pau Gasol and Jermaine O’Neal both fit the bill. Which Bulls players are more likely to go? Look for Nocioni and Ben Gordon to leave — they’re the easiest to replace.