Training camp battles can show which players around the league may not be around their current team for much longer. Whether being squeezed out by younger talent or an expendable contract that the team may need for something elsewhere, a player in this league can begin to see the writing on the wall. Injuries may change the way these play out, but all things considered there are some safe bets for the trade market.
Here's a look at five players that may get dealt this season and where some of their best/ most likely trade partners or locations might be:
1. PF Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Faried stated at the beginning of training camp that he isn't a bench player, and it seems that his performance early in the preseason has echoed that sentiment. He's still a super-talented, hard-working post that fits an up-tempo scheme where he's surrounded by shooters. Denver has that, but as long as the minutes are difficult to come by, the fit doesn't really matter. With the Nuggets needs for another wing or two, trading a guy like Faried (with two years left on his deal) almost feels like a necessity.
Five likely landing spots:
1. Brooklyn Nets - Brooklyn is out of space to absorb deals, but has some bigger contracts they can trade and shed right away. Faried in their up-tempo system would be a great get for Atkinson. The issue is that DeMarre Carroll himself isn't good enough to trade straight up for the Manimal.
2. Phoenix Suns - Another team without a franchise center in the long-term (and a few names that may show up on this list later), the Suns should think about bringing in Faried and trying him as a center in their switch 1 thru 5 scheme.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves - If the Wolves can unload themselves of a few extra years of Gorgui Dieng's deal and get Faried instead, it might be the perfect fit between coach and player. Faried would still have to battle Taj Gibson for a starting role, though, and the four-years left on Dieng's deal are going to be tough to move.
4. Washington Wizards - Faried would make for the perfect backup big in D.C. and seeing him pair with John Wall would be spectacular. Logistically speaking, the Wizards would have to find a home for Ian Mahinmi to pull this off – an incredibly difficult task.
5. Chicago Bulls - Since Chicago has financial abilities to eat players' contracts and pick up picks from those desperate to unload players, their name will pop up a lot on this list. Faried isn't actually a bad pickup for them, especially if they continue to play a more up-tempo style that fits coach Fred Hoiberg's stylistic tendencies.
2. F Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns
Suns GM Ryan McDonough knows he'll field calls around the mid-season mark for both Dudley and C Tyson Chandler. A veteran like Dudley, who can defend the 3 and the 4 while shooting from deep, is a coveted asset, and Jared helps the locker room wherever he goes. He's also on a modest contract that declines in scale. His name will be mentioned frequently between January and February's trade deadline.
Five likely landing spots:
1. Toronto Raptors - This one almost feels too good to be true. The Raps don't have an experienced backup to Serge Ibaka and possess a trade exception that allows them to absorb Dudley. If the Raps are really going to keep up a modern offense all season, Dudley makes a ton of sense as an addition.
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Milwaukee has second-round picks aplenty to work with, and a Dudley upgrade over Mirza Teletovic may justify giving away one of them. It's not a great haul for Phoenix, but they could use the picks.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - We've mentioned the Suns as a team in the market for a franchise-caliber center, and the Sixers may be selling one in Jahlil Okafor. Depending on the health of Joel Embiid and Richaun Holmes, Philadelphia may be the right team to make a trade with.
4. Utah Jazz - At some point the experiment with Favors and Gobert playing together has to either yield great results or be abandoned. Before the Jazz let Favors walk away next summer, they could flip him to a team that would covet his Bird Rights, in exchange for a stretch-4 option like Dudley.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers - If the Cavs are certain LeBron will return next summer, trading Channing Frye for Jared Dudley might be the best upgrade they can make this winter. Dudley is a much better defender, and Cleveland has the trade exceptions to absorb the extra cost. For the extra year of money, it may be worth it.
3. G Marco Belinelli, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks seem like they're rebuilding, although you never tell fully can prescribe a team's outlook before Christmas. Should the Hawks be out of the picture, the veteran on a modest expiring contract could head to a contender looking to add some outside shooting – a skill that's always sought after around the deadline. If the Hawks are looking to get younger, they could give up Belinelli in exchange for some wing on a rookie deal.
Five likely landing spots:
1. Denver Nuggets - Denver needs another wing badly, and may have to cough up a first-round pick to somebody in order to find a team that will be able to eat some salary. Atlanta would willingly take that deal, likely eating Darrell Arthur and his player option for next season if it gets them a chance at even a protected first-rounder.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder - Atlanta would likely have to eat Kyle Singler to deal with OKC directly, but could be able to squeeze a first-round pick out of this somehow. Belinelli would be a huge addition for the Thunder bench, and the team would love to get a hold of his Bird rights.
3. Toronto Raptors - The Raptors would use their Cory Joseph trade exception to acquire Belinelli while also staying under the tax apron (they're hard-capped). This is a great deal for the Raptors, and would have to give up a pick in order to make it one for the Hawks, too.
4. New Orleans Pelicans - Hear me out on flipping Ian Clark for Belinelli. It's a good gamble for the Pels to take if they're in postseason mode; they don't have Clark's Bird rights, so retaining him and Cousins this summer is tough. By using Hield's exception, they could absorb Marco and would do so while barely trimming the luxury tax. That may be the best loot the Hawks get outside of a first-round pick.
5. Los Angeles Clippers - Spacing will be tight in Los Angeles, and their backs may be up against the wall next summer if many of their top guys opt out of player options and look for more money. One way to combat that: get rid of a guy like Wes Johnson in exchange for Belinelli, so the Clipps can get more flexibility. Oh yeah... that'll likely cost them a second-rounder, too.
4. PG JJ Barea, Dallas Mavericks
Dallas got their franchise point guard in the draft this year, and now is facing the task of retaining Seth Curry long-term. With two guards that are defensive liabilities in their long-term plans, Dallas may now have to break up the famed Barea-Dirk Pick-and-Roll. It's a great year to shop an experienced veteran at the point, as many teams may be looking for a backup in that spot.
Five likely landing spots:
1. Memphis Grizzlies - Barea would be a good get for the Grizzlies, who have a rather thin backcourt behind Mike Conley. They'd have to give up one of their youngsters (Deyonta Davis, Rade Zagorac, Wade Baldwin) to get him, but if the Grizz are knocking on the door of the postseason, it might be a good addition to make. Plus they've shown they're willing to part with young draft picks early if they disappoint.
2. Washington Wizards - The offense in Washington can be a little ball-dominant at times, with point guard pounding the rock and moving through ball screens. Barea is a great PnR operator, making him a natural insurance policy to John Wall. It might be worth giving up young European Tomas Satoransky for.
3. Charlotte Hornets - Similarly to Washington, Barea is a natural fit to replace Kemba Walker in Charlotte off the bench. The Hornets have an even more dire need for point guards than Washington, but they also don't have many assets to part with. The Hornets can will only find themselves in this race if they're knocking on the door of a solid playoff seed come February.
4. Detroit Pistons - Stan Van Gundy loves the spread pick-and-roll, and Barea is a natural fit to pick that up late in the season. If it costs the Pistons Reggie Bullock and a second-rounder to bump Ish Smith to third-string and give the Pistons an additional bench presence, this may be a solid move.
5. Houston Rockets - Insurance policy galore. Barea inside a D'Antoni scheme would produce off the bench, making him the right guy to target for Houston's thin backcourt depth. It may be worth giving up a guy like Zhou Qi or Chinanu Onuaku if it means propelling the Rockets above other teams atop the West.
5. C Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers
Is this the year the Sixers finally find a home for Okafor? He's seemingly been on the trading block since he was drafted, and yet scoring a lot as a rookie hasn't saved him. I wrote an extended piece about his trade stock these days, but here we'll dive more into the teams that may be clamoring for a shot at him. The Sixers will keep a high asking price, which hurts the ability to find a home for him.
Five likely landing spots:
1. Chicago Bulls - Okafor is from Chicago, and the Bulls right now are touting Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio as their top big men. The Bulls are kind of in no-man's land right now, but a team with Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Jahlil Okafor to build around? That could be an offensive dynamo.
2. Phoenix Suns - The Suns will appear on any list that could get them a franchise-caliber center. If the Suns find a team willing to take on Tyson Chandler, their next call could be to the Sixers to try and get Okafor. The Suns' biggest flaw: interior scoring, something Okafor would fulfill.
3. Boston Celtics - I hate that I'm putting this name here, but he's a guy that's come up a ton whenever the Sixers and Okafor are mentioned in trade ideas. Could and should are different discussions, and it's plausible that the Celtics could pull off a fair-value deal for Okafor.
4. Orlando Magic - Frank Vogel is more of a slow-down coach, and if the new Magic front office wants to conform to his desires, Okafor might make sense to pursue. What Orlando would give up that Philly would want, though, is an interesting dilemma.
5. Sacramento Kings - Who is the Kings' best center? Is Willie Cauley-Stein a guy they want to keep around long-term? Who is their best offensive player long-term? An Okafor-Labissiere tandem would be deadly down low, though a PG like De'Aaron Fox wouldn't mesh great with Jahlil.
Head Boys Basketball Coach, Boys' Latin School (MD).