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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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10 NBA Players Who Could Be Traded This Summer After Surviving The 2024 Trade Deadline

The 2024 NBA trade deadline was uneventful for a lack of better words. The Knicks and Mavericks came out big winners while the other 28 teams made smaller moves or stood pat and did nothing. Despite all the rumors, this left a long list of players who could be switching addresses this summer as teams look to improve outside of the draft and free agency in the offseason. 

The 10 players below are some of the biggest names in the sport and will be hot commodities when the window opens for moves to be made at the end of the season. All that is left is to see if their teams will be willing to play ball just a few months down the line.

1. Donovan Mitchell

Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2023-24 season began, rumors were swirling about a potential Donovan Mitchell deal as he approaches the end of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mitchell is signed through the 2024-25 season with a player option he will most likely decline in 2025-26. Considering that Cleveland gave up to land Mitchell last season, they are likely going to look for the biggest return possible, and that is if they are even willing to deal Mitchell.

Things have changed in Cleveland who are winners of 17 of their last 18 games and currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, just 4.5 games behind the Boston Celtics. Mitchell earned his second straight All-Star appearance with the Cavaliers and is headed for his second consecutive All-NBA Team selection as well.

This only adds to Mitchell’s value this summer should Cleveland become willing to listen. When it comes to draft capital and what teams can offer in addition to it, the New York Knicks seem poised to land a superstar. Having been born in New York and with the way the Knicks have set themselves up for future success, Mitchell would welcome the move with open arms.

2. Zach LaVine

Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Another shooting guard who was as close as it gets to being dealt at this year’s trade deadline is Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls. He must have heard the rumors about going to Detroit though because as soon as they came out, LaVine was opting for season-ending surgery on his right foot, derailing any deal that could have been in the works at the time

It has never been more clear that a player and a team equally need fresh starts than what it has looked like between Zach LaVine and the Bulls this season. You can expect LaVine’s market to be abundant but cautious as well given his history and coming off another major lower leg surgery.

Still, I expect teams like the Lakers, Knicks, and yes, the Pistons to be in on LaVine this summer should he become available once again. Other teams such as the Spurs will likely get involved if Chicago is willing to drop their price after the injury and surgery.

3. Lauri Markkanen

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The idea that Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen could be traded this offseason is a long shot but far from impossible. Since arriving in Utah for the 2022-23 season, Markkanen has made a name for himself with an All-Star selection and the Most Improved Player award last season and another solid start to 2023-24, averaging 23.7 points per game on 50/40/88 shooting splits.

Markkanen will be headed into the final year of his deal in 2024-25, making just $18 million. Due to his clear improvement on the court, he will likely demand a large pay increase which Utah may not be willing to play ball with. Therefore, it only makes sense to move Markkanen and get something in return before they lose him for nothing in 2025 in free agency.

Markkanen would instantly be one of the hottest names on the trade market. Teams such as the Mavericks and Heat would be solid fits for the 7’0’’ forward as he brings instant offense and efficient scoring, both things that each of those teams could use right now and will likely be in the hunt for this summer.

4. Nikola Vucevic

Credit: USA TODAY Sports

As the Chicago Bulls teeter on the line between rebuilding and competing, no player is safe regardless of their stature on the court. Maybe the most likely name to move for Chicago after LaVine is center Nikola Vucevic, who inked an extension with the Bulls this past offseason worth over $20 million per year through 2025-26.

While his contract makes it a bit more difficult to find a trade partner, and he has lost a step on the court, Vucevic is still going to be a player teams look to acquire for the right price. He remains a double-double machine, averaging over 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in each of his last three seasons in Chicago.

Look for a team like the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, or Memphis Grizzlies to make a move for Vucevic if the Bulls bring his price tag down a bit as they become more and more eager to move on from the mistake of acquiring Vucevic from Orlando two-plus years ago.

5. Trae Young

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of teams teetering on the cusp of a rebuild, the Atlanta Hawks may be in an even more peculiar position than the Bulls. On paper, the Hawks should be much better than their 24-29 record and 10th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. After all, this is a team that was an Eastern Conference finalist just three years ago in 2021.

This brings us to the curious case of Trae Young. Obviously, Atlanta would like to keep Young and continue to build around him as they try and get back to a deep playoff run. However, if the Hawks continue to lose and Young becomes more and more fed up, the situation becomes volatile and they run the risk of losing him for nothing come free agency in 2027.

Now, if any team is going to make it work for a trade for Young, it is going to be the Los Angeles Lakers who have had their eyes on him for some time. A Trae Young to Anthony Davis lob threat mixed with the pressure he takes off LeBron James as a playmaker would be the perfect fit for him should he leave Atlanta. Ultimately, it will be up to Young and the organization at the end of the 2024 season.

6. DeMar DeRozan

Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Bulls came out as an organization and said they would like to build around DeMar DeRozan in the future, and they hope he is around for a long time. With DeRozan turning 35 before the start of the 2024-25 season and the rebuild the Bulls seem to be headed toward, it may just be that it is going to take more for teams to pry him away from the Bulls than say LaVine and Vucevic.

If DeRozan is made available, he will be aggressively pursued by teams with championship aspirations. Even at 34 years old, DeRozan is still producing with 22.5 points and 5.2 assists per game on 46.8% shooting in 2023-24. Teams like the Lakers, Sixers, and Miami will certainly be looking to add a wing who can create for himself and others on the offensive end while not necessarily being a liability on defense.

I do not see a scenario in which Chicago rid themselves of Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic and hang onto DeRozan. If one of them goes, all three are likely to be traded this summer.

7. Dejounte Murray

Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Dejounte Murray was one of the most talked about players heading into this year’s trade deadline but shockingly, a move was never made for the two-way shooting guard who arrived in Atlanta last season after a deal with the Spurs.

Murray staying put says this to me. Atlanta was not ready to pull the trigger on a rebuild so soon into Quin Snyder’s coaching tenure in Atlanta. They decided to give the team the rest of the season together, see where they end up, and come to a conclusion on their future once the dust has settled.

However, I do believe that whichever way the Hawks decide to go this offseason, Dejounte Murray will not be a part of their plans. There is just no way that a team can keep a player after going that deep into trade talks during the season and everything to be fine just a few months later. Expect the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat to be at the forefront of trade talks but sleeper teams such as the Sixers or even the Suns to get involved as well.

8. Kyle Kuzma

Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing I know, it is that no NBA player who is a competitor can handle losing for too long of a period. That is the situation that has arisen in Washington with Kyle Kuzma and where his future stands with the organization. After being dealt to the Wizards in 2021, Kuzma elected to re-sign with the Wizards this summer through 2027 for just over $90 million.

The Wizards have gone from bad to worse during that time, winning just nine of their 52 games so far in 2023-24. Since arriving in Washington, Kuzma has been playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 19.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. There is no doubt that he could be a piece that puts a contender over the top in their pursuit of a championship.

For this reason, I would not rule out a return to the Los Angeles Lakers or seeing a team like the Sixers and Heat heavily pursue his services on the trade market this summer.

9. Andrew Wiggins

Credit: Kevin Jaira-USA TODAY Sports

The troubles that the Golden State Warriors have faced since winning the NBA championship in 2022 have come on fast and strong over the last two years. One of the most surprising reasons for their struggles has been the unexpected decline in play and production from forward Andrew Wiggins.

In their pursuit of the 2022 title, Wiggins was arguably the second-most important piece to the puzzle for Golden State. Since then, personal matters and injuries have left Wiggins looking like a shell of his former self at times, leading many of us to believe that he will be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Given the fact that he is about to turn just 29 years old, there are at least a few teams that will pursue Wiggins this summer even if it is primarily for what he brings to a defensive unit. I would expect to see Dallas, both L.A. teams and a team like the Sixers heavily pursue Wiggins should he be available once again this summer.

10. D’Angelo Russell

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to his much-improved play over the last month, Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell secured his position with the Lakers at least for the rest of the 2023-24 season. In his last 17 games, Russell is averaging 22.6 points and 6.3 assists per game on 46.4% shooting overall and 45.0% from three on 8.9 attempts. With his name swirling in trade rumors practically all season, Russell played his way out of a deal and instilled confidence in his abilities from his teammates and coaches.

This doesn’t mean that Russell’s job is safe past this season. It is no secret that the Lakers are in search of a third star to play next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis and Russell could be the missing piece in any deal that is made for that player. Russell’s play the rest of the season will also dictate his value in such a deal which could end up helping the Lakers in the long run.

If he is made available with the $18.7 million due to him in 2024-25, Russell will be highly sought-after by teams looking for a guard such as the Bulls in a deal for LaVine or DeRozan or the Hawks in a deal for Trae Young or Dejounte Murray. 

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