After posting my first two trade values of 2018, this is my final (and most important) 19 players who possess the highest trade value.
Here are the rules of the game (courtesy Bill Simmons of course) you probably know by now:
- “Salaries matter”
Would you rather be paying Donovan Mitchell $12 million for the next three years, or Mike Conley $60 million for the next 3?
- “Age matters”
Would you rather have Karl Anthony-Towns for the next 15 years or Russ for the next 8?
- “Pretend the salary cap suddenly disappeared.”
If either team was offered a theoretical trade, they could technically consider without salary cap restrictions.
- “Concentrate on degrees.”
If a call was made to that team, they would either hang up and throw the phone across the room, hang up and yell a profanity, hang up gently and shake their head, consider the deal, make the deal, and make the deal and celebrate. Basically, there are varying degrees to a response that dictates how legitimate the trade offer was.
For instance, I don’t think the Bucks and T-Wolves would make a Giannis for Karl Anthony-Towns swap, but the T-Wolves would at least sit there and think, “Giannis is on the table?” while the Bucks would hang up the phone immediately without a second thought.
I’m going to separate the players into tiers based on what kind of player they are and what kind of contract they possess.
Note: The list is in reverse order, meaning if the Thunder offered Russ for Lonzo Ball, the Lakers would say yes and Lavar would probably make Lonzo retire (or send him to Prienai, Lithuania as some kind of weird leverage).
Here we go.
19. Gordon Hayward
Just think of this Celtics team with Hayward playing. Tatum would have never had a breakout rookie season, Jaylen Brown wouldn’t be an all-star snub, and Terry would have never been scary. Nonetheless, Hayward returns next year from a broken leg injury that surely won’t be debilitating (knock on wood). His injury joined Kevin Ware’s ankle injury, Derrick Rose’s heartbreaking ACL (tears trickled down my face) tear, Shaun Livingston’s leg injury (my heart dropped at the sight of this one), and Paul George (his leg snapped like a turtle) as one of the most gruesome injuries in basketball. The season prior, Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists and broke Jazz fans hearts with his departure to Boston. In the end, his injury does not impact his trade value whatsoever.
18. Jaylen Brown
3 years $20 million. Bargain.
17. Lauri Markkanen
There are so many quality nicknames for Lauri that there’s almost too much. It’s like that saying, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” Lauri has 5 good nicknames, which means he has none. I can already picture Stacy King fumbling after a dunk, “King of the marksman! I mean king of the Dirk! No wait, The Finnisher with a slam!” We have to figure out a nickname for him ASAP (note: my favorite is Lauri Legend, it’s swift and to the point).
16. Kristaps Porzingis
It’s almost impossible to rank the worst moves the Knicks have made in a decade. I tried anyway.
1) Phil Jackson stated publicly that he was listening to trade offers for Kristaps. First, Knicks ownership should have kept this under wraps if they were. Second, Kristaps is 7’3” unicorn who also shoots threes. Third, these kinds of things only happen in a James Dolan regime.
2) Hiring Phil Jackson.
3) Trading Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Ray Felton, and $3 million when for Melo. Melo was a free agent that Summer and was rumored to come to the Knicks anyway. Him plus those solid young role players could have actually competed.
4) Trading Tim Hardaway Jr. for Jerian Grant, only to sign Hardway Jr. back for 4 years $71 million.
5) Signed Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million deal. I thought he was going to retire after his last season with the Bulls. Joakim’s definitely thankful that he did not.
6) Letting Linsanity walk. This guy literally set New York on fire every time he played.
7) Hiring Derek Fisher. Remember when he got in that fight with Matt Barnes. Good times.
8) Drafting a tweener guard, Frank Nkilitina, over Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr. This is more of a forgivable offense, but if your going to draft Frank, then you have to give him minutes.
9) Signing Emanuel Mudiay and actually giving him minutes over Nkilitina.
10) Signing J.R. Smith’s brother to the team…just so they could sign J.R. Leading to a hilarious Brandon Jennings tweet and J.R. Smith threatening to call one of his “street homies to put Detroit on smash for a min.”
When signing Lamar Odom in 2014, who was 20 pounds overweight, is not even mentioned and signing J.R. Smith’s brother as a leverage tactic to get J.R. Smith is only number 10, you’re in trouble. The Knicks and Browns management could swap places ‘Freaky Friday’ style and no one would bat an eye.
There’s a 99.99% chance Kristaps goes to bed every night hoping he wakes up in San Antonio.
15. Russell Westbrook
Can a team win with Russ as a number one option?
His VORP and box plus/minus, are its lowest in the past 4 years, he shot 41% on 2’s in the playoffs, put up 25-10-11 in wins and 25-11-10 in losses. He’s the epitome of stat-stuffers, boxing out Carmelo and Steven Adams in the last game more times than I can count to garner a triple-double average for the season.
14. Klay Thompson
How fun would Klay Thompson be as a number one option?
If he were to be traded to a team like say, the Magic, his career would continue like the Han Solo character. He was great for scenes like; who shot first, Han or Greedo? When Han confirmed the Millenium Falcon was the fastest ship in the galaxy, or when he made a move on Princess Leia. So it was long awaited for Solo to get a solo (see what I did there) film. He finally got one in 2018 and no one really went to it and it vastly disappointed (71% on Rotten Tomatoes). Klay Thompson leaving Golden State would be like Han Solo getting his own movie. I’m sure it would be loads of fun, Klay would hit a bunch of threes, fill the seats, and probably have a cool nickname (I was thinking: Slay Klay, Klay Filet, Klay trey, Splash single, or my favorite one: Klaymation. I know, Genius) but he would ultimately struggle to create shots and the team would rattle off 5 consecutive 45 win seasons.
13. Kyrie Irving
Taken took everyone by surprise the first year it came out, a unique movie about an ex-CIA operative, now protective dad whose daughter was taken (hence the title) by some bad guys. At first I thought, Okay Bryan, Neeson’s character, just walked in some horrible luck, it clearly wasn’t his fault. He even swore to exact revenge on the bad guy, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” Then he went on a vintage Liam Neeson kill sequence; gunshot-choke-gunshot-stab-gunshot and saved his daughter. Great dad, saved his daughter. Then, in Taken 2 Bryan and his wife are taken hostage, but not before an epic phone call to his daughter, “Listen to me carefully, your mother and I are going to be taken.” The daughter, at this point, probably thought Bryan was caught up in a whole bunch of illegal things, like maybe; gambling, mob debt, mortgage debt, or point shaving. Anyway, Brian got his wife in this mess because he killed a bad guy to save his daughter and now that bad guy’s dad (confusing, I know) was going to kill Bryan’s wife. To add, Bryan chose Istanbul as a vacationing spot even though he knew his daughter was taken by people that live in Istanbul. Where’s the logic there? Below average dad, his wife and daughter are taken on two separate occasions. In Taken 3, he found his wife brutally murdered on her bed. The cops blamed the murder on Bryan and proceeded to handcuff him. Not a good idea, as Bryan reacted instinctively, punching both cops and jumping out the window. Obviously, the LAPD now suspected Bryan of the murder of his wife. If he just pleaded innocence, as he had no motive and had an alibi, but Bryan being Bryan, he jumped out the window and went on the run before OJ Simpson could say, “Absolutely, 100% not guilty.” For god’s sake Forest Whitaker (playing the head FBI agent), remarked at the end that he knew Bryan did not committed the murder all along, “I had to ask myself, what kind of guy gets warm bagels, then commits murder.” They thought you were an innocent man Bryan! Then, the daughter names her baby girl after her mom, which is a travesty in itself because her name was Lenore (horrendous name). So let’s recap Bryan’s costly mistakes; his daughter was kidnapped, not totally his fault (Taken 1), his wife and him were kidnapped because he travelled to the one place he shouldn’t have (Taken 2), and finally, his wife is murdered because he went to go get warm bagels (Taken 3)(bonus mistake: let’s his daughter name her baby girl Lenore). Strike 4 and you’re out Bryan. Worst dad of all time (and arguably the worst movies of all time).
What does the Taken series have to do with Kyrie Irving, one-time champion, and flat Earth believer? Irving has appeared in only 76% of possible regular season games in his seven seasons. Penny Hardaway appeared in 78% through his first seven seasons, Brandon Roy appeared in 78% in his first 5 seasons, Grant Hill appeared in 79% in seven seasons. Bryan was an irresponsible parent, not a hero, just like Kyrie is damaged goods and not a young superstar. It’s time for people to recognize that.
One year ago, Kawhi totally would have been an untouchable, but after a year of Gregg Popovich sifting through trade offers, he simply falls short. Nonetheless, no one is a better fit to guard today’s point forwards; Lebron, Giannis, Jayson Tatum, and Ben Simmons. Whoever gets Kawhi will be getting a two-way, Scottie Pippen-like talent.
11. Devin Booker
Keep the champagne on ice. Booker still has a lot to improve in his game. But has any player looked like more of a sure thing than Booker?
Do we realize what a stud Karl Anthony-Towns is? Karl Anthony Towns hit 120 threes this past season, which Dirk Nowitzki hit only 6 times in his 19 year career. He took 150 less 2-pointers, yet he still shot his highest field goal percentage. Stick with me if you’ve seen the computer-animated film Robots (2005) or if you like my movie references. So basically the premise of the movie is that to be a rich robot, you must be made up of the newest modernized parts while poor robots are made up of scrap metals. The poor robots live in suburbs and are destroyed by these garbage men, and whose parts are ultimately recycled for a new generation of poor robots. It really is a horrible cycle. A poor robot, for example, would be Derrick Williams. What I’m getting at is that KAT is a rich robot, made up of the best parts existing on the market; Karl Malone’s stamina (82 games each season), Dirk’s deep shot, Hakeem’s post moves, and Moses Malone’s strength. I love the movie Robots just as I love KAT.
9. Donovan Mitchell
Wow, the Trey Lyles-Donovan Mitchell swap is looking like it will go down as our generations Vlade Divac-Kobe Bryant swap. Lyles is a solid backup for Denver, but he’s going to have to do his best Carlos Boozer impersonation and average 20-10 for the next 4 years for that trade to look even average. How about the Luke Kennard pick over Donnie Mitchell? Who would pick Luke Kennard, who definitely rocks the frat dude starter pack (sperrys, pink khaki shorts, etc.) over the next D-Wade? The answer is Stan Van Gundy, who was coaching for his job immediately after he got the job in Detroit.
8. Stephen Curry
There was this one 5’10’’ guy that sauntered into the YMCA dripping in swag, sagging his shorts to his ankles and donning three arm sleeves (I had no idea that was possible). Me and my friends just kind of laughed and at least three of us remarked that this kid was going to get run out of the gym by the more athletic players. So we went on playing in our game on the other side against the younger kids and (obviously dominated), but there was so much commotion on the other court that our opponents stopped playing. So I turned my head and justly expected a lopsided game. The 5’10’’ dude with the saggy shorts and three arm sleeves just tossed it threw two guys legs for an easy layup. Me and my friends were all hype like that one “But I’m not a rapper” meme. Next, this kid was walking it up the court and performed a Shammgod with ease, faking to his right and stepping back for a 35-foot jumper that fell through the net without making a noise. The third possession, he bounced it off his knee to himself and caught the defense reaching like Uncle Drew when he says, “don’t reach youngblood” and proceeded for a floater that bounced off the backboard and into the hoop. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and neither could my friends. We went over to the dude and rightfully asked for his autograph, and obviously he looked at us like we were insane. Hey, we were in eighth grade, we didn’t see this sort of stuff a lot. Nonetheless, being me, I needed to give this 5’10’’ guy wearing three arm sleeves and saggy shorts a nickname that fit his game. ‘The Clinic.’ Stephen Curry is the Clinic of the NBA.
7. Joel Embiid
Jo-Jo is treading toward Hakeem, Shaq, Yao Ming waters. No seriously, Embiid grabbed scored 27 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes. He also has Shaq-like charisma, with his tweets toward Rihanna and Bryan Colangelo (burner accounts), vacationing with models, and being downright hilarious. Embiid proving he wasn’t the next Greg Oden was the gift from the basketball gods. PS. I predict a movie with Joel Embiid as a supporting actor will come out in the next 12 months PPS. This movie will either be a catastrophe (12% on rotten tomatoes) or be the highest grossing movie of the year (86% on rotten tomatoes). No in-between here.
PPPPS. The movie will be called The Process.
6. Jayson Tatum
Baby Paul Pierce.
A rookie hasn’t played this well in the playoffs since 04-05 D-Wade. It’s a scary thought that the Celtics will have Tatum, Brown, Hayward, and Irving, its an even scarier thought that The Sixers could have had Tatum, Simmons, and Embiid. Whew. How does Bryan Colangelo still have a job?
Note: The Nets could have had Brown and Tatum if not for thinking they could have won a championship with a 32-year-old Joe Johnson, 36-year-old Paul Pierce, 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, and an overweight Deron Williams. Mikhail Prokhorov, natural wonder.
5. Lebron James
Witness. Throw away any Lebron vs. MJ talk. I hope by now everyone realizes Kobe isn’t even in the discussion of Lebron. Lebron has averaged 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.3 is incredible in itself. Now consider this: his worst year from year two to year fourteen was 25.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. Oh and this year might be his best, he is producing 37.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 10.7 rebounds. He may even steal Finals MVP in spite of a sweep. Witness unparalleled consistency.
4. Anthony Davis
The Giannis and Milwaukee relationship just isn’t made to last. It’s like the Batman vs. Superman Movie. You really want the movie to be really good, but there’s a deep down feeling that the movies going to be absolutely horrible. But who knows, you thought, DC might actually create its first quality superhero movie, but you also knew it was going to be like the rest. And with Ben Affleck in the lead, who is basically a B-list actor at this point, and a sappy storyline portrayed, all signs pointed to a box office disaster. Well, with Giannis playing with a bunch of B-list players, in a second-class market, I just don’t see this story ends without a Kevin Durant “My next Chapter”-type departure from Milwaukee.
2. Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is a 6’10’’ point guard, two inches taller than Magic Johnson and four inches taller than Penny Hardaway and the same height as Dwight Howard. He will also be 21 going into next season, younger than Donovan Mitchell by a month and even Mikal Bridges by two months. He’s already this good and he’s just getting started.
1. Kevin Durant
Is Kevin Durant the best player in the NBA? I’m not sure. Is Kevin Durant the best small forward in the NBA? Still not sure. Does Kevin Durant have the best trade value in the NBA? Easily. Through last year, he was signed to a $51 million for 2 years, which is the same salary as Otto Porter.
Finally, thank you, Bill Simmons, for the trade value idea. He wrote a myriad of trade value articles since 2001 but abruptly stopped in 2015. He gave me the inspiration to create a one of my own and couldn’t do it without the confines of his intricate rules.