With just about a month left of the 2013-14 NBA season, the playoffs will begin and another champion will be crowned. Just like every year, we saw teams overachieve and underachieve, with surprises and disappointments. Something all I want to ask all NBA fans is did anyone think the New York Knicks would miss the playoffs before the Charlotte Bobcats? If the disappointing Knicks can’t turn it around soon, it’s destined to happen. Also, what happened to the Detroit Pistons who had a promising offseason last summer? And did anyone expect the Portland Trail Blazers or Phoenix Suns to overachieve as much as they have so far?
It’s easy to point out the disappointing Eastern Conference beyond the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, as basketball fans aspire to see more competitive balance from the Eastern Conference teams to measure up with teams from the West. Operation “tank” could be in place by several teams in the remaining month of basketball, but there’s nothing like the drama of shocking NBA offseason trades of the summer.
First, let’s face it: bad players with horrific contracts who aren’t worth their money–such as O.J. Mayo or even arguably Tyreke Evans–won’t be on the move this summer as teams will stay away from picking up players with their guaranteed contracts. From players or management unhappy about their certain roles to intriguing contract situations, I made my best guess compiling a list of five big name players who could possibly be on the move this NBA offseason.
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5. Rajon Rondo
If the Boston Celtics are serious about rebuilding and pronounce they are in rebuild mode, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo has to go. Although he hasn’t publicly demanded a trade out of Boston, at this point in his career, do you think Rondo really wants to be a part of a rebuilding team?
When Rondo’s contract expires after the 2014-15 season, reports have stated that he could be looking forward to free agency as he is “intrigued” by testing the free agent process. Again, Rondo being the face of a Celtic franchise with a lot to prove without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may keep him in the Irish green just to show everyone that he could win and still be an elite player without them. But if Rondo really has his eyes set on testing free agency next summer, the Celtics have to keep his name in mind to shop this offseason. He’s their most prized player–any team desperate for an elite point guard would want him.
4. Josh Smith
It’s been a nightmare and a disastrous season for the Detroit Pistons, who looked to have a ton of promise considering all the moves they made last summer. Signing Josh Smith to be their franchise player, along with the addition of a young Brandon Jennings and veteran Chauncey Billups looked pretty good on paper before the start of this season. But instead, the struggling Pistons find themselves this season with a 25-40 losing record, short of a playoff spot as of now.
Believe it or not, Detroit management was so fed up with their losing record that reports indicated they even shopped Josh Smith around this year’s trade deadline. Even then, they couldn’t find a suitor for J-Smoove, who’s shooting a career-worst 42 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc. Recently, Brandon Jennings even chimed into the Pistons frustrating season, saying they’re losing games because the players don’t trust one another.
As Smith approaches the last month of his dreadful Detroit season, management has already displayed interest in parting ways with him. With more time on hand, what makes you believe he won’t be shopped again this offseason by frustrated Detroit management?
3. Harrison Barnes
This may sound like a pretty big stretch, but yet, this trade isn’t impossible. As much as the Golden State Warriors may love Harrison Barnes, he’s probably their biggest player who receives the most interest from teams, as well he should. When Andre Iguodala signed a four-year, $48 million deal last summer, it immediately sent the second-year pro to the bench.
As a natural small forward, Barnes has too much potential in his game to be playing behind Iguodala and coming off the bench for the next three seasons. It may hinder his development as a player after Barnes had a decent rookie year as a starter, but an even better postseason once more responsibility was turned over to him. There are plenty of teams that could use him now to start right away. For these reasons, you can see why the Dubs probably receive a lot of interest for the 2012 seventh overall pick. Perhaps, Barnes to Cleveland may keep his good friend Kyrie Irving happy, but I don’t see that happening unless the Cavs send one of their starters, along with an unprotected future first-round pick.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire
Although Iman Shumpert‘s name has been discussed a ton at the trade deadline, the New York Knicks are in a lot of trouble if they can’t re-sign their hometown franchise player, Carmelo Anthony. In order for Anthony to stay in New York, he’s going to want better players around him. Exploring the options of trading an injury-prone Amar’e Stoudemire, who’s been a disappointment these last few seasons, may certainly clear some cap space for the Knicks to bring in another superstar to co-exist alongside Anthony.
Perhaps, if the Knicks can unload Stoudemire’s last year of his deal, I can see Anthony likely taking the option of $23 million that he would be owed next season, giving the Knicks at least one more chance before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Unloading Stoudemire’s contract would be huge for the Knicks. Paying high salaries to Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, at the same time, is costly for a team that’s been nothing short of a disappointment this season.
1. Omer Asik
As of now, Omer Asik may be going through the toughest stretch of his short NBA career. When he signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Houston Rockets after the 2011-2012 season, he was ready to prove many of his critics wrong who questioned Houston’s contract offer for someone averaging just 2.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in a two-year stint with the Chicago Bulls. In his first full season last year as the starting center for the Rockets, Asik averaged a double-double, recording 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds. The signing didn’t look so bad for Houston after the numbers he put up. Matter of fact, the signing of Asik made Houston look like they’d signed a diamond in the rough in a 26-year-old who happened to be beginning the prime years of his career.
With that said, you can easily see why Asik is frustrated this season with his new role coming off the bench. Before the season even started, he made it clear to management that he wanted a trade out as soon as Dwight Howard took the spotlight.
As the Rockets will do their best to trade their disgruntled big man, Asik’s contract next season could scare a lot of teams away. After making $5 million in his first two seasons of his deal, Asik is owed nearly $15 million next season, a backdoor poison pill contract that the Chicago Bulls decided not to match. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s exactly the way his teammate Jeremy Lin‘s contract is structured, which prevented the New York Knicks from re-signing “Linsanity” in the Big Apple.
Although Asik’s contract could make him a difficult trade piece, his tolerance continues to drop the more successful the Rockets are without him having much to do with it. You should expect Houston to certainly explore the market for Asik this offseason as it’s in both parties best interest to split ways very soon.
Who do you think will get traded this summer?
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