The 2021/22 NBA season is past the quarter mark and come December 15, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement of the NBA, players who signed free agent contracts over the off-season will become eligible to be traded. Considered the un-official start date of the trade season, which runs through the deadline on February 10, it is the period the front offices of Franchises make moves to strengthen their roster aimed at making teams more competitive. Here are some players that become potential trade candidates in a few days: KEMBA WALKER
The 4-time All Star’s decline may have occurred quite faster than many envisaged. Tom Thibodeau removed Walker from the Knicks’ rotation despite him being just two years removed from being selected as an All-Star starter. The decision was due to defense as the Knicks’ starting lineup with Walker has a 118.9 defensive rating, which is the most among lineup combinations that have played at least 100 minutes together. Walker should become available for trade assuming his exile from the rotation is permanent. After seeing the Celtics and Knicks give up on him, it’s hard to imagine what kind of role he will have in the league going forward. Seeing how he is just making $8.7 million this season and $9.2 million the next, it should not be a hard sell for interested teams to acquire him and they can justifiably bring him off the bench at his salary. Teams who could improve their bench scoring like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Toronto could take a chance on him.
Kemba Walker this season: 11.7 PPG 2.6 RPG 3.1 APG 24.5 MPG All career-lows The Knicks have been outscored by 122 points with Kemba on the floor this season, the worst +/- by any player on a winning team. pic.twitter.com/OBiaO2DBkH — StatMuse (@statmuse) November 29, 2021
KELLY OUBRE JR. Kelly Oubre Jr. is proving to be an asset for the Hornets this season. The Hornets hold the league’s fourth-best offensive rating and Oubre’s 15 points per game off the bench contributes towards that. They play a very thin bench and are below league-average in bench scoring and differential. Oubre has been an important part in keeping their bench production afloat and at $12 million this season, the Hornets are certainly getting their money’s worth. Charlotte has a lot of offensive talent on their roster but is also well below league average defensively, and their defensive rating has plummeted to league-bottom over the past few weeks. While they’ve been able to outscore their opponents enough to stay afloat so far, it may not be sustainable. If they decide to make a move to improve their defensive personnel, Oubre makes sense to move mostly because of his large salary slot which Charlotte lacks.
Kelly Oubre over his last 7 games: 25.3 PPG 3.4 RPG 1.6 SPG 52.8% FG 44.3% 3PT pic.twitter.com/ZjCigq28sI — NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 8, 2021
Schroeder’s numbers and efficiency are comparable with where he left off at Oklahoma City in 2019-20. He’s had to start the majority of Boston’s games so far with Jaylen Brown missing time with a hamstring injury and has held his own in those games. He has certainly exceeded his $5.9 million salary and should get a considerable raise this offseason. Schroeder’s contractual situation could make it difficult for the Celtics to retain him and thus could consider trading him. Boston holds his non-Bird rights which limits them to re-signing him to a four-year, $30.4 million deal with a starting salary of $7.1 million. While very few teams are projected to have significant cap space this offseason, offers for Schroeder can begin at the full mid-level exception. It is projected with a starting salary of $10.1 million with teams being able to offer him up to four years, $43.4 million. Boston is not projected to have access to the full mid-level exception next offseason to increase their offer, nor may they want to go over the luxury tax to keep him or become hard capped doing so. If the Celtics are still hovering above .500 around the trade deadline and they are unsure about keeping him long-term, it would make sense to trade him.
Dennis Schroder has taken his game to the next level during back-to-back sets this season: 5 games: 25 PTS 53.0 FG% 48.4 3PT% 95.7 FT% Can he still maintain his 50/40/90 pace as the season progresses? 🤔🍀 pic.twitter.com/SB9rhid67b — Fadeaway World (@FadeawayWorld) December 6, 2021
WILL BARTON The Denver Nuggets are looking at a potentially lost season due to the team’s injury woes. Provided Nikola Jokic is healthy, he will keep the them in the mix for the play-in. The injuries apart, things are already looking very shaky as their defense has fallen off a cliff after starting the season at the top. Their performance towards the trade deadline could be worth keeping an eye on because if things fall off the rails, they could potentially be open to moving role players. One such player that comes to mind is Will Barton. He is so far having a career year across the board on great efficiency, largely thanks to his higher usage. If he continues to play well and Denver slides, it could make sense to trade him if there are strong offers. A package with a good young guard or perhaps even a late-first round pick might be enticing enough to accept. Alternatively, Denver could look to consolidate him with a future first-round pick for an upgrade at shooting guard.
DOUG McDERMOTT The Spurs continue to tread as competitively as possible while simultaneously developing their young players. They may continue this path for as long as Gregg Popovich remains head coach. If the Spurs go in another direction and fully embrace a rebuild, McDermott would be a prime trade candidate at some point. McDermott got a raise last offseason and he’s playing up to the value of his deal. He is currently averaging career highs in three-pointers made per game and three-point percentage at 42.6 percent. The Spurs are dead last in the league in three-pointers, so McDermott and Bryn Forbes still hold a lot of value for them. At $13.7 million annually, any team needing three-point shooting should be able to acquire him in the future.