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15 players NBA contenders should trade for

With Dec. 15 approaching, trade season is nearly upon us. Here are 15 players who could be on the move.

A collage of Andre Iguodala, LaMarcus Aldridge, and D’Angelo Russell.
Andre Iguodala, LaMarcus Aldridge, and D’Angelo Russell are three players who could be traded this season.

On Dec. 15, all NBA players who were signed during the offseason will become trade eligible. That means it’s officially gossip season, as the league passes through its quarter-of-the-year mark and most of the NBA is technically on the market.

This year, maybe even more than most, could be a hot trade year leading up to the Feb. 6 deadline. The NBA is no longer ruled by a LeBron James or Golden State Warriors dynasty. Two-superstar teams have filled the NBA with parity to create a wide open title picture. More teams feel like they have a better chance than ever to win it all, and maybe one mid-season addition could make the difference.

Trades might not come to fruition until closer to February, but now is the period for teams to really start evaluating what they have. While the Bucks and Lakers are cruising like the contenders we thought they’d be, other teams are falling flat. The Jazz are shaky, the Nuggets are underwhelming, the Nets aren’t improving, and the Rockets still appear to be missing something.

So who’s on the market? And who should be interested?

Kevin Love

Maybe the biggest name on the market is Kevin Love, who’s been criticized for his lack of effort and visible frustration playing for a slumping and rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers team. As the only player over 30, and the only all-star-quality talent on the team, Love doesn’t fit with what Cleveland’s doing. He’s much better served on a competing team.

The problem lies in who will want Love, who’s had just an OK year. He’s averaging 16 points with 11 rebounds on 44 percent shooting from the field and 35 percent from three. That’s fine, but he’s also owed a maximum contract worth $90 million over the next three years after this one. That’s a steep price for someone on the decline at age 31, but maybe he’ll be worth that in the interim.

Who should be interested: Spurs, Suns, Heat, Trail Blazers

San Antonio Spurs v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan is 30 years old, and still yet to find where his talent can be used best. What’s clear is that it isn’t in San Antonio, where the Spurs are a mess, and DeRozan isn’t equipped to play with LaMarcus Aldridge. One of the two (at least) has to go.

DeRozan’s averaging 21 points, six rebounds and five assists on 51 percent shooting, the best of his career, but he isn’t a good team’s No. 1 option. Will he accept a supporting role? DeRozan’s due more than $27 million this year and next year, if he opts in. He’s pricy, but worth the gamble if his playmaking can unlock others’ scoring talents.

Who should be interested: Magic, Pistons, Timberwolves

LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge is also slogging through a crumby fit on a disappointing Spurs team. At 34 years old, he’s on the back end of his career, and he’s still without a title.

He’s serviceable with the right team. Aldridge is scoring 19 points with seven rebounds per game on 51 percent shooting from the field, and 36 percent from deep. He’s due a lofty $26 million this year, and $24 million the next. Small-market teams should only take a chance on Aldridge if they’re unlikely to use their cap space next season anyway. He’s a panic option, but there could be worse.

Who should be interested: Trail Blazers, Pacers

Robert Covington

An elite three-and-D player, even Covington hasn’t been the answer in Minnesota. The Wolves should probably look to shake up the core aside from Karl-Anthony Towns, and Covington should yield the highest prize. The 29-year-old is averaging 13 points on 36 percent three-point shooting with five rebounds. He’s also on one of the most affordable contracts in the game, owed just $11 million this year, and $24 million over the next two. Covington is a difference-maker for a competent team.

Who should be interested: Rockets, Celtics, and everyone else

Danilo Gallinari

The Thunder are somewhere between blowing the team up and riding it out to see how far they can compete. What they do with Gallinari will be the tell. The 31-year-old is amidst a 50/40/90 season, averaging 18 points with six rebounds. He’s having one of his best seasons to date, and his contract is also expiring.

Who should be interested: Heat, Trail Blazers, Raptors, Pacers, Pistons, Mavericks, Rockets, Suns, Timberwolves

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Jrue Holiday

Let’s get spicy. If the Pelicans aren’t ready to compete, maybe they should go into full rebuild mode and ship Holiday elsewhere. The 29-year-old is averaging 19 points with seven assists and six rebounds, and two steals. He’s a starter somewhere.

Holiday’s owed $26 million this year, and $51 million over the next two. Any team in need of a chance at guard should big high for a great starter in his prime.

Who should be interested: Heat, Magic, Pistons, Kings, Timberwolves

D’Angelo Russell

Russell is left alone on Warriors Island without Steph Curry or Klay Thompson in action, and he’s showing how great he is as a scorer. He’s averaging 23 points on 36 percent three-point shooting with six assists. Is he a part of Golden State’s long-term vision? It’s hard to tell. But even though he’s owed a max contract, he should have buyers on the market. The 23-year-old hasn’t even neared his ceiling.

Who should be interested: Magic, Timberwolves

Andre Iguodala

Iguodala is still holding out from the Grizzlies in hopes of being traded or bought out, though nothing is imminent yet. Every team in the league should want a defensive player like Iguodala who’s more than proven his worth on the championship Warriors teams.

Time is ticking for him to play a game this season. One side will have to give in, eventually.

Who should be interested: Lakers and everyone else

Marcus Morris

Morris is rotting away on a terrible Knicks team. He needs saving, and plenty of teams should be calling. He’s averaging 19 points per game on 49 percent three-point shooting and six rebounds. He’s a capable role-player who can defend and space the floor for anyone looking to play into the postseason, and he’s on an expiring contract.

Who should be interested: Heat, Pacers, Raptors, Nuggets, Rockets, Mavericks, Kings, Suns and more

Davis Bertans

Bertans is one of the biggest surprise stories of the NBA season, as he’s turned from a quality role-player into a sharpshooting starter. For the Wizards, Bertans is averaging 16 points with five rebounds on 47 percent three-point shooting. He isn’t the defender Morris is, but he’s even better offensively. He’s also on an expiring contract.

Who should be interested: Same as with Morris, and then some

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

J.J. Redick

The Pelicans stink, and even if they improve when Zion Williamson returns from injury, it isn’t likely to be by enough to matter this year. The Pelicans can’t compete right now, which is fine for their long-term vision, but isn’t what Redick hoped for at age 35. He’s owed $13 million over this season and next season, but a contender should be willing to pay that price for a 45 percent three-point shooter on seven attempts per night.

Who should be interested: Heat, Pacers, Mavericks, Rockets, Celtics, Bucks

Derrick Favors

Like Redick, Favors is also stuck on the Pelicans. At 28 years old, Favors is in the prime of his career, and probably doesn’t want to wait for Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to hit their peak. Favors is still a quality undersized big, averaging eight points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes per game. His contract is expiring, making any trade a short-term gamble.

Who should be interested: Celtics, Heat, Lakers, Bucks

Phoenix Suns v Orlando Magic Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Aaron Gordon

It’s year six for Gordon in Orlando, and he’s yet to make the leap the Magic need to become relevant. It might be time to move on. Gordon’s scoring 14 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field, and 31 percent from three. He’s owed nearly $20 million this year, and $34 million over the next two. Take a chance on the 24-year-old, if you can afford to.

Who should be interested: Mavericks, Kings

Jordan Clarkson

Clarkson is 27 years old, and has no place in Cleveland’s rebuild. He’s a trade candidate, averaging 14 points on 35 percent three-point shooting with an expiring contract. Anyone looking for supporting guard play to provide a boost off the bench should be calling.

Who should be interested: Jazz, Suns, Pistons

Marvin Williams

A stretch-shooting 6’8 role-playing veteran, Williams is exactly the type of bench talent teams might be willing to trade second-round picks for by the deadline. He’s only scoring eight points with three rebounds in 20 minutes for a bad Hornets team, but Williams can be plugged into most systems in a similarly limited role. His contract is also expiring.

Who should be interested: Thunder, Celtics, Mavericks, Jazz