The 2021-22 NBA season has reached Decmeber, with about a quarter of the games played. Teams have already started to separate themselves from the pack in both directions, and that usually creates the environment for trade rumors to start swirling. Most teams are quite set in their long-term direction but there are a few organizations who will make moves to pivot based on current performance.
Trades can be made to push the team to the next level on the court, increase financial flexibility for free agency or acquire key assets as part of a rebuilding effort. Here are the players likely to be in trade rumors as the NBA season enters December.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Because of his unique contract, Hield is going to be the biggest trade target out there. The Kings are going nowhere once again, and the Hield has expressed his displeasure with the organization before. The sharpshooter is averaging 16.7 points per game and shooting 37.2 percent from deep. The Lakers are going to be considered favorites but watch out for the Clippers, 76ers and Hornets here, among other teams.
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
Grant has been the lone bright spot in Detroit, and probably shouldn’t be sticking through a rebuild. The 27-year old has established himself as a two-way starter and can definitely boost a contender over the next few seasons. The price point might make it difficult to acquire him, but the Pistons could be willing to eat some salary in a deal. Grant is averaging 19.5 points per game, and his efficiency should improve as the players around him get better.
Christian Wood, Houston Rockets
Wood is averaging 16.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for the struggling Rockets and will be a target for contenders. He’s got one more year left on his contract, but it’s an affordable deal at $14 million. Wood provides strong interior scoring while also hitting the occasional triple.
Gary Harris, Orlando Magic
The Magic are going nowhere this season, and Harris is on an expiring deal. The Nuggets dealt him to Orlando in the Aaron Gordon deal and he was somewhat forgotten as a rising star. The guard is still only 27 years old and can be a valuable asset to a contender. The price point is somewhat high for the lackluster production so far but the potential is there for a fringe contender to take a swing.
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans center is having one of the best seasons of his career, putting up 19.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. He’s also been steadily improving his range, currently shooting 51.7 percent from deep on 2.5 attempts per game. The contract, which is for two more years after this season, is manageable at $30 million total. If the shooting remains real, the rebuilding Pelicans will get a lot of calls on Valanciuanas.
Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs
Young is the high-quality role player who can be the difference in a playoff series. He’s averaging 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for the Spurs, who are going to have to accept they are about to enter a rebuild. Young is on an expiring deal, so contending teams could be willing to swap out a part of their rotation for the experienced forward.
Names to watch
- Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving and John Wall are going to be in trade rumors all season long. It’s actually unclear whether Simmons and Irving want to play basketball this season, while Wall is trying to get himself out of Houston.
- Lou Williams and Dennis Schroder won’t exactly move the needle in terms of headlines, but both are on affordable deals and have playoff experience. As a rotation piece, either guard is serviceable and can likely be had for cheap.