With just over a week, at most, left in the 2020-21 regular season, we get ever closer to what could be a very interesting summer on the trade market, with various major players being mentioned in trade rumors consistently as we end the campaign.
Because free agency in 2021 took a big hit with many big-name players opting to sign extensions with their current teams rather than test the open market, franchises looking to make a splash will have to look at the trade market to do so, meaning we could see some fireworks over the coming months.
Below, check out the next edition of our Trade Rumor Rankings series, which ranks the five players who have appeared most on our Trade Rumors Page over the previous seven days.
Jaylen Brown (Boston)
Obviously, the Boston Celtics aren’t moving a player as proven and still-promising as Jaylen Brown without landing an absolute superstar in return, something that was reiterated over this past week through reports. This week, Sports Illustrated’sChris Mannixreported the following about Brown and what it would take for Boston to part with him:
“There are a couple of players out there that I think the Celtics would move for Jaylen Brown,” Mannix said. “One would be Bradley Beal, who has to make a decision of his own the next couple weeks if he wants to sign that extension with Washington. If he doesn’t, that’s tantamount to a trade request and he can become available. And we all know at this point about the relationship between Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum.”
“The other is Damian Lillard. It’s still very much up in the air, Lillard’s future in Portland. If in the coming weeks the Blazers decide that they have to trade Damian Lillard, I think Boston would be in a pretty good position to make a strong offer that would have to include Jaylen Brown. So, you don’t just move him to shake things up, but if one of those two players becomes available I think you have to look long and hard about trading Jaylen Brown.”
So yeah, all it would take for the Celtics to consider moving their young All-Star is getting back one of the two best scorers in basketball in Damian Lillard, who we’ll talk more about in just a bit, or Bradley Beal, who just missed the cut for these rankings. That tells us it’s much more likely than not that Brown is in a Celtics uniform for a very long time, something that should be music to the ears of Boston fans considering his ceiling and recent year-to-year improvements. For the latest on the Jaylen Brown trade front, click here.
Buddy Hield (Sacramento)
Sacramento Kings 2-guard Buddy Hield has been no stranger to trade rumors over the past year, particularly those attaching him to teams lacking outside shooting like the Philadelphia 76ers, but things have been mostly quiet on that front recently. That is, until this week when the Sacramento Beeposited to a league executive about whether a package centered around Hield would potentially be enough for the Kings to net back Ben Simmons. His response? Pipe dream.
One of the most popular hypothetical trades among fans in Sacramento would send Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III to Philadelphia as part of a package for Ben Simmons. One league source felt Simmons was a “pipe dream” for Sacramento, saying the 76ers would want Hield, Bagley and a minimum of three future first-round draft picks, including the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft. The source felt there was a better chance of an alternate deal involving 76ers forward Tobias Harris, suggesting Philadelphia might prefer to move Harris to clear salary cap space.
He probably wouldn’t be enough to get back a Simmons-level talent, but Hield should garner a good amount of trade interest if he were to be put up on the block, considering his off-the-dribble three-point shooting and decreasing salary structure over the next three seasons. By 2023-24, Hield will be making just $19.1 million, a more-than-fair sum for a player who can score off the bounce like Hield who’ll still be in his early-30s at that point. Either way, Hield will remain a name to keep an eye on the trade market as we head into the offseason. For more on the Buddy Hield trade front, click here.
Damian Lillard (Portland)
Much of the talk over the past week regarding Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers came from various team beat writers speculating on what it would take for the teams they cover to land the superstar lead guard. There was also an article from Bleacher Report’sEric Pincus where he talked to various executives from around the Association to figure out what a Lillard trade package might look like, what teams might be interested and could make happen, and breaking down whether the Blazers or Lillard would hold the leverage if the multi-time All-Star does demand a trade at some point. The one bit of actual reporting we got this week about Lillard and a potential trade came out of Indiana when J. Michael tweeted that the Pacers and Sixers haven’t talked draft-day trades because Philadelphia is busy angling for a move for Lillard: https://twitter.com/ThisIsJMichael/status/1411428961490452487 Whether anything comes of it or not remains to be seen, but trading for Lillard is such a Daryl Morey move that it almost wouldn’t be surprising to see it happen. After all, this is the same decision-maker who swung enormous deals for Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook when no one saw them coming. Nonetheless, we continue to await something substantial out of Lillard’s camp, as in either a trade request or an announcement of some sort that he’s happy in Portland, which could happen after the Olympics, in which the star ball-handler is participating. For the latest on the Damian Lillard trade front, click here.
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)
After what can only be described as a disastrous playoff run for himself personally, Simmons’ trade value cratered heading into a crucial offseason for Philadelphia. At least that’s what fans and some media believed to be the case, though, according to reports this week, that might not be totally true. While on a podcast with The Ringer, Mannix shared that he’s hearing Simmons’ value on the trade market is actually higher than what’s been reported publicly:
Chris Mannix: I hear from executives all the time that are loving this ‘Ben Simmons trade value has cratered’ conversation because they hope that Philadelphia believes that. I think his trade value is actually higher than what’s being publicly portrayed. But you’re going to continue to hear a lot of the negativity around Ben Simmons. In other words, I think people value him pretty high across the league because I do think there’s a belief that someone’s going to figure the shooting thing out.
For what it’s worth, Simmons got two votes of confidence this week from the 76ers, from two very high places – through Morey and his head coach, Doc Rivers. Morey, this week, spent nearly $4,500 on a Simmons NBA Top Shot, one of the most expensive collectibles for the Australian All-Star. And Rivers, while being accosted by TMZ, said that Simmons is “terrific” and that he wants him back with Philadelphia next season. So for now, Simmons’ standing with the Sixers appears to be on firm ground, though that could always change quickly with how fast things move in the NBA when blockbuster transactions are involved. For the latest on the Ben Simmons trade front, click here.
Marvin Bagley (Sacramento)
It’s no secret Marvin Bagley’s career with the Kings has gotten off to a rocky start, a start made even worse over the past year with Bagley’s family getting involved in wanting the big man shipped out of Sacramento and, more recently, with the former Duke standout himself removing mention of the Kings on his social media pages and, even worse, liking a tweet from a fan saying “we got to get Marvin Bagley out of Sacramento”. How did Bagley respond to the recent drama surrounding his usage of social media? Not well, if you’re a decision-maker for the Kings (via the Sacramento Bee):
Kings forward Marvin Bagley III doesn’t understand why fans got so upset when he liked a tweet saying “we gotta get @MB3FIVE outta Sac” and removed any mention of the Kings from his social media bios. Bagley addressed his latest social media controversy on an episode of the “Halfway Decent Pod,” saying he can do whatever he wants on his personal Twitter profile. “First of all, it’s my Twitter, bro,” Bagley said. “It’s my Twitter. It has my name on it. I can like whatever I choose and please, and whatever I feel like liking.”
For a player with maturity questions surrounding him like Bagley, those comments are the opposite of what you wanted to hear if you’re someone with a vested interest in the big man to succeed as a King. Bagley would go on to say him liking that tweet came from a place of frustration after watching Trae Young explode for nearly 50 in a recent playoff game, and would continue:
“… For me, personally, my personal goals and where I’m trying to get to in my career, I’ve got to make it happen. I’ve got to do everything I’ve got to do to make it happen. I think liking that tweet, that’s where that came from and it is what it is. People (are) going to take it and run with it. It is what it is. I did it. It’s my Twitter. I can like and do whatever I want on my account. I’m not hurting nobody. I’m not harming nobody, but you already know how the fans take stuff and want to run with something.”
At least Bagley is taking some personal responsibility there. Regardless, it’s not surprising to find out from that same article that the Kings “explored their options” regarding a Bagley trade at the deadline this past year, though were unable to find something “equitable” out there, according to beat reporter Jason Anderson. The rocky start for Bagley and the Kings continues, and things might get even uglier until the young frontcourt player takes even more responsibility for the early shortcomings of his career. If he doesn’t, Sacramento could very well decide to trade him for cents on the dollar this very offseason. For the latest on the Marvin Bagley trade front, click here.