1 Player Every Team Should Dump at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline
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Every NBA team has something it hopes to add at the Feb. 9 trade deadline, be that a win-now contributor, a long-term draft asset or anything in between.
While some clubs won’t admit this publicly, they all have someone they’d prefer to unload too—or, at the least, someone who’d bring back more value in a trade than he’d supply on the hardwood.
The aim here is spotlight each team’s most expendable player for a variety of factors that will be discussed in more detail as it pertains to the situation.
Atlanta Hawks: John Collins
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John Collins has seemingly spent the bulk of his six-year career in the rumor mill. With his production trending down and his pay rate going up, this trade chatter will only get louder.
The Hawks have never leaned on the 25-year-old forward less. His 10.3 shots per game are the fewest since his 2017-18 rookie season. His 17.3 usage percentage is a career low. On a quite-possibly-related note, he’s also recording a personal-worst minus-1.2 box plus/minus.
A change of scenery seems best for Collins, and his subtraction should free up floor time for dynamic defender Onyeka Okongwu.
Boston Celtics: Danilo Gallinari
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Danilo Gallinari hasn’t given up hope of helping Boston this season, but the Shamrocks should dismiss that notion without a second thought.
He is 34 years old and four-odd months removed from tearing his left ACL. Even if he crushes his rehab process, he’s unlikely to be cleared until the playoffs are well underway. Would the Celtics really trust him in a major moment when he’s yet to log a second for this franchise? Do they feel so starved for second-unit scoring that they’d be willing to overlook his defensive shortcomings, which could have exponentially grown after his injury?
The C’s, who need more reliable depth in the frontcourt, should package Gallo’s $6.5 million salary with a sweetener or two to find a capable contributor who doesn’t carry nearly as many question marks.
Brooklyn Nets: Day’Ron Sharpe
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The Brooklyn Nets are on the hunt for upgrades, per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who listed Seth Curry, Joe Harris and Patty Mills as candidates for a trade, presumably one that sacrifices perimeter scoring for better depth up front.
No matter which of those players are moved, it would behoove Brooklyn to attach Day’Ron Sharpe to the deal. He can’t have a ton of trade value, but rebuilders might see the appeal of grabbing a flier on a 2021 first-round pick.
The Nets, as you’ve surely heard a thousand times this season, could stand to add size at the center spot. Sharpe is the team’s biggest player (6’11”, 265 lbs), but that hasn’t been enough to get him regular run. Five of his last six few-and-far-between appearances lasted fewer than seven minutes.
Charlotte Hornets: Terry Rozier
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It’s easy (and accurate) to say the Charlotte Hornets should be shopping all of their upcoming free agents (yes, including P.J. Washington). If they don’t unload both of Mason Plumlee and Kelly Oubre Jr. at the deadline, that might warrant an offseason investigation for front-office malpractice. Trading Washington isn’t a necessity, but the Hornets have to at least know his market with restricted free agency awaiting him.
Charlotte, though, needs to think even bigger. It should be fully embracing asset-collection mode, and if it is, it’ll be aggressively shopping Terry Rozier.
Unlike the oft-injured Gordon Hayward (a pipe dream of a trade candidate), Rozier could have real value around the Association. He’s on course to average at least 18 points and 4.0 assists for the fourth consecutive season, a distinction shared with 19 other players, many of them annual All-Stars. Rozier also has 50 playoff outings under his belt, a tenacity on the defensive end and a $21.5 million salary that could be more easily stomached by a team better built for success than Charlotte.
Chicago Bulls: Coby White
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This should be a tricky question to answer given all of the uncertainty swirling around the Windy City. Buying, selling and holding all feel like they could be on the table for this franchise.
But what’s the direction that would make keeping Coby White, who has generally disappointed since arriving as the No. 7 pick in 2019, a sensible strategy?
If the Bulls wind up buying or holding—i.e., still trying to compete—why would they suddenly start leaning on White, who’s averaging career lows in minutes, shots and usage? Conversely, if they lean into a top-to-bottom rebuild, do they want to start that project off by covering the cost of his upcoming restricted free agency?
Cleveland Cavaliers: Caris LeVert
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Caris LeVert is a good player, but he’s probably a better trade chip for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The fact that he’s the most talented player in the mix for the starting small forward gig but still hasn’t locked it down speaks to his imperfect fit with this team. Cleveland’s backcourt combo of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell could use a lockdown defender at the 3. The interior tandem of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley would benefit from a floor-spacing small forward.
LeVert doesn’t check either box. He’s a crafty shot-creator but not good enough in that role to take touches away from Garland and Mitchell. That might presumably make LeVert an intriguing sixth man, but he’s been awful in 22 games as a reserve (9.6 points on 42.4/27.1/68.5 shooting). Cleveland should shop him and his expiring $18.8 million salary in search of a cleaner fit.
Dallas Mavericks: JaVale McGee
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Surface stats can’t capture the degree of disappointment tied to JaVale McGee’s first season with the Dallas Mavericks. If all you saw were his traditional numbers, you’d never figure out why he struggles to find the floor. Last season, he averaged 20.9 points and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 62.9 percent from the field. This season, those numbers are 17.8, 2.5 and 62.0, respectively.
So, why has he fallen so far out of favor in such little time after inking a three-year, $17.2 million deal last offseason? Because while his breakdowns at both ends rarely show themselves on the stat sheet, they have absolutely malfunctioned the Mavericks.
Dallas is a soul-crushing 23.6 points worse per 100 possessions with him than without. He’s in the 1st percentile for net differential and the 0th percentile for offensive differential (minus-16 points per 100 possessions). The Mavs can’t remove him from their equation quickly enough.
Denver Nuggets: Zeke Nnaji
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If no-trades-needed exceptions were allowed, this might be the spot to use it. The Denver Nuggets have a great thing going, and there aren’t obvious candidates on the roster. I briefly entertained the idea of Peyton Watson, but Denver snatched him up at 30th overall last summer with both eyes on the future. He isn’t bringing back a big enough return to abandon ship already.
Zeke Nnaji might be a trade candidate in theory only too. Denver is finally relying on him with some consistency, and he’s mostly delivering.
Still, the Nuggets might have enough depth up front to live without him—if not, they could always hit the buyout market to fill in the cracks—and maybe that’s reason to flip him to address a greater need. A perimeter stopper could have a better chance of cracking the playoff rotation than Nnaji.
Detroit Pistons: Bojan Bogdanović
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It’s possible Bojan Bogdanović will be the best player moved at this deadline. Assuming, you know, that he actually gets dealt. Believe it or not, the Detroit Pistons keep telling anyone who will listen that they aren’t married to the idea of moving the 33-year-old swingman, per The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III:
“Per league sources, as of late January, the Pistons, who have aspirations of turning a corner next season, would need significant value in return to consider moving Bogdanović within the next two weeks, with the minimum starting point being an unprotected first-round pick. Detroit values Bogdanović highly and doesn’t want to move him unless an overwhelming offer makes too much sense.”
The Pistons may be using this as a leverage play to elicit that “overwhelming offer.” They have the Eastern Conference’s worst winning percentage at .260 (second-worst overall) and perhaps the NBA’s most sought-after trade target. That combination has to produce a deal.
Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman
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Here’s the list of Golden State Warriors who are making more money than James Wiseman this season: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.
Here’s the list of Warriors who have contributed more win shares than Wiseman: Actually, for time constraints, I’ll spare you the full list and just let you know it’s 12 players long.
This isn’t working. No matter how Golden State feels about his development, it clearly doesn’t trust him to contribute. And with Curry still in the heart of an all-time prime, the Warriors should be solely focused on right now. They have the top-level talent to compete for a title, but they have to fix the supporting cast. Sacrificing Wiseman’s potential for present production is a no-brainer.
Houston Rockets: Eric Gordon
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At some point between now and the Feb. 9 trade deadline, the #FreeEricGordon movement better result in a freed Eric Gordon.
The 34-year-old can’t possibly have more wisdom to impart on the rebuilding Houston Rockets. At least, not enough of it to pass up whatever assets he could fetch on the open market.
Houston reportedly turned down an offer of four second-round picks from the Milwaukee Bucks in hopes of landing a first-round selection instead, per NBA reporter Marc Stein. Whether that offer materializes or not, the Rockets have to get a deal done. This is almost certainly Houston’s last chance to turn Gordon into an asset, as his contract for next season is non-guaranteed.
Indiana Pacers: Buddy Hield
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Losing (likely) All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton to elbow and knee injuries could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Pacers. Indiana has flat-lined without its floor general, dropping eight of its last nine contests. That should free the franchise from harboring any false hopes of snagging a top-six seed and clearing the runway for more future-focused trades.
Dealing Myles Turner ahead of his upcoming venture into free agency is certainly an option. Shipping out Buddy Hield, though, seems more of a necessity.
The 26-year-old Turner is theoretically young enough to re-sign so he can grow with this core. The same can’t be said of the 30-year-old Hield, whose $18.6 million base salary would put a strain on next season’s payroll. Despite the pricey pact, he could command a good return from a shooting-starved buyer. He’s a career 40.1 percent shooter from distance and leads the Association with 191 triples this season.
Los Angeles Clippers: Luke Kennard
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The Los Angeles Clippers should be committed to chasing a championship. With Kawhi Leonard perhaps returning to superstardom (20.9 points on 51.0 percent shooting), Paul George playing at an All-Star level and the Western Conference being wide-open (the fifth-seeded Clippers are only 2.5 games up on the 13th-seeded Lakers), the time to strike is now.
Not to mention, Leonard and George can both wiggle out of their contracts in 2024. L.A. can’t bank on having more than two cracks with this core.
That’s why moving a player like Luke Kennard makes sense. L.A. can’t make marginal moves; it might need both a starting point guard and a backup big to make its championship dream a reality. If a mega-move does go down, Kennard will likely land on the chopping block. His 42.8 percent career three-point rate should have his suitors, and his $13.7 million salary can help make the math work.
Los Angeles Lakers: Russell Westbrook
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Some will argue against the Los Angeles Lakers doing anything major at the deadline, claiming the ceiling isn’t high enough to part with future assets (like one or both of their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks).
That’s off the mark in my eyes, which have seen LeBron James and Anthony Davis summon their superpowers only to watch them undone by a supporting cast that seldom provides even adequate support. The idea that help could be on the way this summer took a hit with the recent trade for Rui Hachimura, who holds an $18.8 million cap hold until his restricted free agency is decided.
They have to push their chips in now. The West may never be this wide-open again, and time only knows how much longer James (38) and Davis (29) can keep this up. More specifically, L.A. needs to turn Russell Westbrook and his cap-crushing $47.1 million salary into a player (or players) who fit alongside its stars.
Westbrook’s .023 win shares per 48 minutes are at an all-time low, while his 18.0 turnover percentage matches his all-time high.
Memphis Grizzlies: Danny Green
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The Memphis Grizzlies seem convinced that Danny Green, who tore his ACL in May and turned 35 in June, can contribute to their championship push. It sounds like he’ll get that chance too, as he’s eyeballing a Feb. 1 return.
It’s hard to imagine Memphis will see enough to know how much he can help by the time the deadline arrives. Even if the Grizzlies are bullish about his play by then, there’s no telling how long his body will hold up.
That’s too many question marks for a club that might be one player away from taking the title. An impact two-way wing—a player not unlike Green at his peak—could be the missing puzzle piece. If Memphis uncovers a path to one, it likely involves shedding Green’s expiring $10 million salary.
Miami Heat: Duncan Robinson
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Some might argue for Kyle Lowry here, but there is value in his ability to organize this group at both ends.
What value is Duncan Robinson providing? He’s not simply having a brutal season for a $16.9 million player. This is a bad year by any measure. The shooting specialist is converting just 36.8 percent of his field goals and 33.1 percent of his threes. His minus-4.8 box plus/minus ranks 301st among the 304 players who have logged 500-plus minutes this season.
The Heat, who need more scoring in the half court and more size up front, should be aiming high this trade season. Turning the overpaid Robinson and a sweetener or two into someone who can see significant floor time in the playoffs would be a massive win.
Milwaukee Bucks: Grayson Allen
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While Grayson Allen has more utility than, say, George Hill, trade partners have that information too. So, they won’t send anything of value to Milwaukee for Hill, but they might for Allen, who’s shooting above the league average from three for the fourth consecutive campaign and averaging double-digit points for the third straight season.
That matters, because if Milwaukee opts to make a deal—and it doesn’t have to go that route—then it needs to add a player (more specifically, a wing) who’s good enough to get postseason minutes.
That’s why Allen’s name keeps popping in trade rumors, with HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto most recently connecting Allen to the New York Knicks in a deal involving Cam Reddish. Milwaukee learned the importance of wing depth the hard way during the 2022 playoffs, when the loss of Khris Middleton effectively short-circuited this squad. If the Bucks want to beef up their wing ranks, then Allen likely has to go.
Minnesota Timberwolves: D’Angelo Russell
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Is it too early to say the Minnesota Timberwolves should reverse course and break apart their frontcourt combo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert? Probably.
Clearly, though, this funky roster hasn’t jelled, and it might take a top-flight floor general to figure that part out. D’Angelo Russell isn’t that.
He’s a skilled scorer (if not always an efficient one) and creative passer, but he’ll never challenge for an assists title. His defensive effort is perhaps most favorably described as indifferent. His ball-dominant style might also be keeping Anthony Edwards from fully spreading his wings.
The Timberwolves should take the best offer they can fetch for Russell now and let someone else figure out what he’ll be worth as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
New Orleans Pelicans: Devonte’ Graham
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Devonte’ Graham is fifth on the Pelicans in salary and 10th in total minutes. He’d land another spot lower in the latter category if not for Brandon Ingram’s floor time being limited by repeat run-ins with the injury bug.
That math alone makes Graham the odd-man out, and deeper diving doesn’t change that.
Graham, who stands just 6’1″ and isn’t a great athlete, is in his fifth NBA season and still awaiting his first field-goal percentage north of 39. His three-point shooting has tailed off since last season (34.1 percent), and even his free throws have fallen to a career low (73.7). The Pels should package him with a pick or two to land someone more capable of helping this club.
New York Knicks: Evan Fournier
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Last season, Evan Fournier ostensibly did his job as a spacing specialist. He averaged a personal-best 3.0 triples per outing and splashed his long-range looks at a 38.9 percent clip.
Even then, though, his limitations in other areas torpedoed his impact, as he wound up with a minus-3.8 net differential that slotted him in the 30th percentile leaguewide.
Guess what’s happened to Fournier this time around with even his jumper failing him to the sad tune of a 34.8/31.0/82.4 slash line? Nothing good. That net differential is now minus-4.6, which slides him back to the 28th percentile. He and his $18 million salary should be on the next flight out of New York.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Darius Bazley
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Is Darius Bazley good? Decent? Not good?
Four years into his NBA career, that still isn’t clear. His physical tools and defensive versatility are intriguing, but his nonexistent offense is troubling. He’s down to the 7th percentile in points per shot attempt (101.2 per 100 shots), and that percentile merely matches the worst mark of his career.
Someone will soon need to assess Bazley and project his career going forward, as restricted free agency awaits him this summer. The Thunder don’t seem super interested in being that someone. He’s down to just 14.2 minutes per night in January, a month in which OKC has gone 8-4 with the league’s second-best net rating (plus-8.5).
Orlando Magic: Mo Bamba
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Things are mostly looking up for the rebuilding Orlando Magic—who are 5-1 against the Celtics and Warriors, last year’s finalists—but Mo Bamba is one of the exceptions.
And it isn’t even his fault. His shooting rates are among the best of his career, yet he’s getting nearly nine minutes less per night than he did last season.
A crowded Orlando frontcourt is to blame for Bamba’s shrinking role, and Jonathan Isaac’s recent return from an ACL injury only created more congestion. Bamba isn’t Orlando’s only trade candidate (hello, Terrence Ross), but his age (24), upside and unique blend of paint protection and floor-spacing mean he might command the greatest return.
Philadelphia 76ers: Furkan Korkmaz
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This was a tough call, because Philly really needs all of its rotation regulars. And with the Sixers in the heart of a championship race, they’ll give zero thought to using a Tobias Harris trade to balance the books. He might be overpaid for a fourth option ($37.6 million this season, $39.3 million in 2023-24), but he’s still too prominently placed in the pecking order to part with.
Now that Matisse Thybulle has worked his way back into the rotation, that probably removes him from consideration too. He’ll still be tough to price in restricted free agency this summer, but in the meantime, his disruptive defense and energy will be helpful to have around.
So, the spotlight lands on Furkan Korkmaz, a shooter who’s struggling to find his shot (29.6 percent from three-point range since the start of last season). He is no longer guaranteed consistent minutes, but maybe the right shopper has enough of them available to help him find his rhythm.
Phoenix Suns: Jae Crowder
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This is the no-brainiest of all no-brainers.
Jae Crowder has awaited his trade out of town since before the season started. The fact that he hasn’t been moved yet says nothing about the deal’s necessity.
He is tricky to trade, though, since the Phoenix Suns ostensibly need a Crowder-type player to replace him. Still, you have to think a three- (or more) team trade will fall into place at some point and potentially give both Crowder and the Suns the chance to compete for a title this season—just not together.
Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Hart
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You could probably argue for anyone not named Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant or Shaedon Sharpe here. Oh, and if you’re at all worried about Grant’s next contract—he’ll turn 29 before he signs it, so…fingers crossed—you might consider him a candidate too.
Josh Hart gets the nod from me for a couple of reasons, though.
For starters, he holds a $13 million player option for next season, and he can likely beat that on the open market. His offensive role has never been quite what you’d hope it would be, and there’s only so much he can do defensively as a 6’5″ wing with a 6’7½” wingspan. But he’s a great rebounder, a smart player and an asset in the open court.
Second, Portland should be able to fetch something decent for Hart. That might be harder to make happen with Jusuf Nurkić, whom Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer highlighted with Hart as the players Portland is most open to discuss dealing.
Sacramento Kings: Terence Davis
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Are we all comfortable buying into the Sacramento Kings now? Because I think I’m there. Sure, it would be nice to see a defensive stop every now and then. But this campaign is past the halfway point, and the Kings are seven games above .500 with the league’s best offense.
Leave all of your fake Harrison Barnes trades in 2022. Sacramento, which is finally on course to snap its historic playoff drought, isn’t letting go of a starter for anyone less than star.
The Kings should try finding another helpful contributor, and I’d wager that would be easier to get for Terence Davis, a two-way wing on a reasonably priced expiring contract, than it would be for Richaun Holmes, an eight-figure-salary center who isn’t an elite shot-blocker and has made 46 threes in 407 career games.
San Antonio Spurs: Josh Richardson
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The rebuilding San Antonio Spurs have three obvious trade candidates in veterans Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson. Theoretically, that should make this exercise extra tricky.
In actuality, though, this feels surprisingly straightforward.
You could argue that Poeltl is young enough (27) and helpful enough as a defender and low-maintenance offensive player to keep around and re-sign this summer. That’s not the route I’d take, but there’s a sensible side to it. McDermott, meanwhile, is signed through next season, so he doesn’t have to be moved now. San Antonio can keep its ears open and pounce on a favorable swap, but if one never surfaces, it can just revisit his trade market this summer. It’s not like teams will suddenly stop wanting his perimeter shooting.
As for Richardson, his contract only spans the rest of this campaign. You trade him now or watch him walk this offseason. Re-signing him is a no-go, since San Antonio needs to prioritize the development of its young wings. He won’t fetch a massive return, but as a plucky defender with a serviceable-or-better outside shot, he’ll have suitors.
Toronto Raptors: Khem Birch
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All eyes will be north of the border over the coming weeks, as contenders can’t wait to get their hands on one of the Toronto Raptors’ many desirable trade targets.
But that’s the thing: Toronto has a ton of talent—at the top, at least. Sure, it hasn’t come together this season, but this same core secured 48 wins in 2021-22 and seemed like it had a chance to build off that success. Maybe the formula simply doesn’t calculate, but breaking up a talented core midseason seems suboptimal.
If the Raptors feel comfortable keeping Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. in free agency (both have player options), they shouldn’t be desperate to deal a core contributor. But Khem Birch? He makes rotation-regular money ($13.7 million over this season and next) despite not having a regular role. Maybe turning his salary into something more useful would be a step toward fixing this broken bench.
Utah Jazz: Mike Conley
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The “Jazz don’t actually have to tank” talk has nearly silenced at this point. As it should have. Utah always needed a top-to-bottom restart after trading so much talent in the past calendar year. The fact that this group started strong (10-3) simply meant the front office hadn’t shipped out enough players yet.
The Jazz, who are 15-23 since that opening stretch, seem to have accepted that fate. Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler are their only untouchables, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.
That leaves a ton of candidates for this spot, but Mike Conley is the one who most clearly needs to go. He can offer a ton to a contender as a two-way court leader, but he needs to get to his next locker room sooner than later, since his 2023-24 salary is only partially guaranteed.
Washington Wizards: Will Barton
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I’d like to argue for a bigger change here, since the Washington Wizards might need an organizational overhaul as much as anyone. But Bradley Beal has a no-trade clause (somehow), Kristaps Porziņģis must stay healthy longer to rebuild any trade value, and Washington reportedly tells anyone who asks that Kyle Kuzma “is not available for trade,” per Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer.
If the Wizards wouldn’t even consider a reset, then it doesn’t make a ton of sense to spend a bunch of digital ink discussing that notion.
The move, then, would be to at least ship out Will Barton. The 32-year-old hasn’t had a great season, which should torpedo any idea of re-signing him this summer. A win-now team that’s desperate for some shot-creation, though, might give him the benefit of the doubt because of his track record and send something of value back to the District for him.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference, NBA.com and Cleaning the Glass and accurate through Thursday. Salary information via Spotrac.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.