The following is a list of 10 players who would be better served on another team’s roster. Teams that could deal for this list of players is mainly speculation, mixed in with some reports.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Detroit
After a brief pit stop in Grand Rapids, Jennings returned from a torn Achilles’ exactly one year and five days later on Dec. 29. In the 35 days since, Jennings is still trying to regain his skill out on the court.
“I’m all right, close to getting back to where I need to get to,” Jennings told SheridanHoops before Monday’s win in Brooklyn. “It’s been a long process, 12 months out, and it’s definitely been tough. I’m just happy to be back playing.”
Jennings said that it might take the entire season for him to get into proper form but has no doubt that he will come back and play at the level of a starting caliber point guard in this league.
“I show glimpses even now,” Jennings said. “Last game in Toronto [on Saturday], I felt good just running the show. I just have to play more basketball every day, as much as I can.”
Jennings scored a season-high 22 points that day and felt good about it. But he must know that his future is probably not in the Motor City. With Reggie Jackson fully entrenched as the starter and just 49 games into a five-year, $80 million contract, Jennings will probably never be the starter in Detroit.
Teams looking for a quality backup down the stretch have inquired about Jennings, whose contract expires at season’s end. The Knicks could certainly use an upgrade over Jerian Grant and Sasha Vujacic, and Jennings would certainly fit the bill for Phil Jackson.
“If I’m here, if I’m not here, who knows,” Jennings said. “The trade deadline is coming up, so just be ready at all times.”
Ryan Anderson, PF, New Orleans
A player with the ability to shoot and space the floor as one of the original, modern day stretch-fours, Anderson’s talents are being wasted with the 18-29 Pelicans. He is hitting over 40 percent of his threes – up from 34 percent last season – and averaging 17.5 points, most among NBA reserves. His defense is a problem – 94th out of 95 eligible power forwards this season according to ESPN’s Real Plus Minus metric, but he can provide an offensive spark to any team.
Stan Van Gundy would reportedly love Anderson back in Detroit, and playoff contenders Miami, Memphis and Boston all rank in the bottom third in 3-point percentage. Anderson is on the last year of his contract, which would likely limit the return New Orleans can get.
Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn
Lopez is averaging more than 20 points and is on the first year of a three-year, $63 million deal that will probably look better as the salary cap grows. Assuming the Nets aren’t really contenders for the length of his contract, one appealing option would be to gut the current roster and really start from scratch.
Would the Celtics give the Nets back their first-round pick this year along with expiring salary matcher David Lee? Oklahoma City nearly traded for him a season ago for Jackson, who ended up in Detroit. Would the Thunder have interest again? Probably not to both of these, but the new Brooklyn GM should consider all his (or her) options.
Timofey Mozgov, C, Cleveland
I discussed at length a couple of weeks ago about how Mozgov’s lack of minutes in a contract year could be costing him millions in free agency. Cleveland has been strong defensively with him on the floor, but it would seem unlikely that the Cavs would re-sign him given how that would impact their luxury tax payments and the financial commitments they just made to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
A championship contender looking for an available rim protector could do worse than Mozgov, whose trade value appears to be as low as it’s going to get.
Lou Williams, SG, LA Lakers
In my Lakers season preview, one of the biggest questions posed was what Los Angeles was going to do with its glut of guards. It still hasn’t really been answered.
Williams is playing close to 30 minutes a game and scoring more than 15 points, but every minute he plays for the horrific Lakers is one that either Jordan Clarkson or rookie D’Angelo Russell should be playing. The regining Sixth Man Award winner is in the first year of a three-year, $21 million deal that will look very friendly to a contender in need of a scoring guard.
Mitch Kupchak should be on the phones looking for an asset to help the Lakers in the future, ideally an asset that doesn’t play guard.
Kevin Martin, SG, Minnesota
The veteran sharpshooter does have a couple of things going against him, including a sore wrist that has kept him out the last several games and a $7.37 million guaranteed deal for next season. Martin turned 33 on Monday but is still shooting 36.4 percent from three and can help a playoff team in need of a shooter.
Martin is on the bench for the Wolves behind their young players, and rightfully so. We will see if Minnesota’s asking price in a trade decreases, because many teams would vie for his services if that occurred. Memphis would probably be at the front of that line, with others right behind.
Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta
The Hawks seem to have a bit of a crisis on their hands, albeit a good one. Who is their point guard of the future? If it’s German Dennis Schroeder, then shipping Teague out makes sense, given that Al Horford and Kent Bazemore come off the books this summer and could very well cost Atlanta close to $35 million per season to retain them.
Teague is just 27 and on a bargain-level contract for a player who is a good distributor and is shooting over 40 percent from three. Atlanta would get a good haul for him if it decides to go that route at the deadline. The direction the Hawks go in will be one of the more compelling storylines in the league over the next two weeks.
Channing Frye, PF, Orlando
The Magic are 2-13 since Jan. 1, and Frye has played more than 20 minutes just twice in that span. The two Orlando wins came against Brooklyn and Boston, the latter of which Frye missed. Not surprisingly, the Magic are trying to ship out Frye, per Sporting News, to give more minutes to Aaron Gordon and rookie Mario Hezonja.
The problem for Orlando is that Frye turns 33 in May and has $7.8 million due next year and $7.4 million the following year. But like Martin, teams will always value shooters who can space the floor. ESPN’s Real Plus Minus ranks Frye the fourth-ranked power forward this season, behind Kevin Love, Paul Millsap and Draymond Green, although he doesn’t play anywhere near as much as them. Frye can really help a contender’s offense, but it has yet to be seen if a team is willing to take on his remaining salary.
Mirza Teletovic, SF, Phoenix
The 30-year-old Bosnian is having a career year for the Suns and on an expiring contract. He is another guy who is a really good 3-point shooter and a really good locker room presence (you won’t find many nicer guys in the league). Phoenix probably wouldn’t ask for that much for him.
It wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see Teletovic involved in a last-minute deal to a contending team like the Bulls or Spurs (speculating). Playoff teams could certainly do a lot worse.
J.J. Hickson, PF, Denver
On his fourth NBA team, it feels like Hickson is older than 27. But he can still rebound, shoot over 50 percent from the field and defend at close to an average level for his position. Hickson has played just over 300 total minutes this season, so Denver probably wouldn’t require much if he wanted to play for a better team. Hickson will probably be one of the many veterans who could easily find a new home by the deadline.
Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for SheridanHoops who focuses on analytics, profiles and features. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. Follow him on Twitter.