12 NBA players on the trade block before next season starts

Player movement typically comes in waves during the NBA offseason, and it feels like the first wave is officially over for the summer of 2024. The draft has come and gone with some big surprises (Zach Edey to the Grizzlies!), major trades have gone down (Mikal Bridges to the Knicks!), and free agency has settled with all the headline names off the board — including Paul George to the 76ers, DeMar DeRozan to the Kings, and Isaiah Hartenstein to the Thunder.

This year’s free agent crop is completely picked over already, but there are still opportunities for teams to improve on the trade market. It feels like another wave of player movement is coming before next season opens, and there are still a number of talented players in limbo despite being under contract.

Here’s a look at the best players who could be traded before the end of the summer ahead of the 2024-2025 NBA season.

Lauri Markkanen, F, Utah Jazz

Top Jazz executive Danny Ainge saw Mikal Bridges get traded for five first-round draft picks and immediately started listening on Markkanen. Will anyone meet Ainge’s asking price? While Markkanen is an on-court fit almost anywhere as an off-ball scorer, there are only so many teams who even own the draft capital required for such a trade. After looking at the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell deals Ainge has already made in Utah, it’s hard to imagine him parting with the one-time All-Star forward for anything less than three unprotected first-round picks, some pick swaps, and a decent young player.

Markkanen’s ultra team-friendly contract expires after this season, and he’s going to want a huge new deal. That’s fine for a player entering his age-27 season, but it’s worth wondering if he fits Utah’s timeline. The Jazz could enter the Cooper Flagg derby by selling off Markkanen, but it’s starting to get crowded at the bottom with the Nets and Bulls joining the tanking crew this season. Markkanen isn’t the only Jazz player potentially on the move this offseason. Trading John Collins, Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson could make sense, too. While it’s hard to find an exact match for a Markkanen deal at this point, there’s been so much smoke on a potential trade in recent weeks that no one should be surprised if it actually happens.

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans

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Brandon Ingram, F, New Orleans Pelicans

There’s a perfect storm brewing for Ingram’s departure from New Orleans. Ingram is entering the final year of his contract, and is due for a huge extension on his next deal. The Pelicans have some younger wings who need more minutes in Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones, and both of them will also be up for a new contract soon. The team can’t pay everyone, and it just feels like they’ve reached the end of the line with Ingram.

Ingram, who turns 27 years old in September, remains a very good player. Over his five seasons in New Orleans, he’s averaged 23.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and five assists per game while finishing at or above league-average in true shooting percentage in all but one season. He should have a real market for his services, but it’s hard to find a team excited about giving him the max contract he’ll surely ask for. For as good as Ingram is, he regularly misses games, he’s only been an All-Star once, and he’s never been named to an All-NBA team.

Kyle Kuzma, F, Washington Wizards

The Wizards’ rebuild is still years away from taking the next step. The team has a clear plan to be near the bottom of the league this season with favorable odds at Cooper Flagg, and that makes someone like Kuzma highly expendable. The Wizards reportedly had an agreement to send Kuzma to Dallas at the trade deadline before the veteran forward blocked the deal. Kuzma is under contract for the next three years on a descending deal that should help his market value as he enters his age-29 season.

Kuzma has put up numbers (nearly 22 points per game) the last two seasons in Washington, but he hasn’t shot the ball well from deep or scored efficiently, and his defense often remains an adventure. It would be interesting to see how effectively he could scale down on a better team. The Wizards might not get as much as they want for him, but he feels as likely to be dealt as any player on this list.

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls

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Zach LaVine, G, Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are trying to give LaVine away, but at this point no one will take him. Chicago was reportedly rejected in trying to trade LaVine to the Golden State Warriors for Chris Paul and/or Andrew Wiggins earlier this offseason. LaVine should be in the prime of his career at age-29, but a long injury history (he played only 25 games last season before foot surgery) and a massive contract (three years, $137 million remaining) have made him too big of a risk in a league currently treating the second apron like a hard cap.

LaVine’s combination of athletic rim pressure and three-point shooting has made him an efficient volume scorer in the recent past. His spotty decision-making and poor defensive ability are real questions even after taking his injury history and contract into account. LaVine’s value is at an all-time low right now, and it might behoove some sharp team to steal him for nothing and try to rehab his value. At this point, it feels like LaVine may have to prove himself to other teams with a strong start in Chicago before a real market develops.

Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith, Brooklyn Nets

The Nets picked a direction by trading Mikal Bridges and reacquiring their own draft picks in separate deals at the start of this summer. Brooklyn is tanking hard this year and will take a long-term approach to rebuilding. It feels like all of the Nets’ veterans are now suddenly up for grabs, and Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith bring obvious value for contenders.

Johnson has one of the league’s most pure three-point shots as a 6’9 forward. Finney-Smith is a capable shooter himself if not an elite one, but he brings more value than Johnson defensively. It will take a better offer to pry Johnson away, but both players can help a playoff hopeful. Bojan Bogdanovic is another wing shooter the Nets would be very happy to trade if there’s any interest in his services. It feels like only a matter of time before Brooklyn sells off all of its veterans to improve its lottery odds.

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers

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Jarrett Allen, C, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs learned a couple things about their team last season, mainly that it works better with one guard and one big man on the floor surrounded by shooters. After Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley re-upped on max extensions, attention now turns to what Cleveland will do with its other talented big man and guard in Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland. The market for Garland just doesn’t seem to be there at the moment, which makes Allen the more likely trade candidate. There’s an outline of an Allen-for-Brandon Ingram deal if you squint hard enough, but to this point neither team has been willing to bite.

Allen recovered from a nightmare first round series against the Knicks in the 2023 NBA Playoffs to enjoy arguably the best season of his career in Cleveland last year. He’s a classic rim roller/rim protector big man who can perform well in a narrow role of blocking shots in drop coverage, slamming home lobs and put backs, and finishing well from the dunker’s spot. If the Cavs ready to move Mobley to the five full-time, some team can swipe Allen

Bruce Brown, G, Toronto Raptors

It was only a year ago that Brown was a key role player on the Denver Nuggets’ championship run. He cashed in on his momentum in a big way in free agency, signing an inflated two-year deal with the Pacers. Brown wasn’t as impactful in Indiana before eventually being sent to the Raptors in the Pascal Siakam trade. Toronto picked up his $23 million option this year. With the Raptors seemingly set to undergo a full rebuild, Brown should be very available, and his big expiring deal makes him appealing for multiple reasons. Brown is at his best as a bench guard who can do a little bit of everything, but he needs to rediscover his shooting stroke after it fell off last year. He can probably be had without a huge return coming back to Toronto.

4 other names who could be traded

  • Nikola Vucevic, C, Chicago Bulls: Vucevic is very available right now as the Bulls pivot to a rebuild. There’s only one problem: Chicago overpaid him to the point where no one wants to take the two years, $40 million remaining on his contract. Vucevic still has some skills as a rebounder, high post passing hub, and potentially as a floor spacer if his three-point shot comes back after a terrible display last season.
  • Clint Capela, C, Atlanta Hawks: Capela is entering the final year of his contract for $22 million, and the Hawks have a replacement center lined up in Onyeka Okongwu. It feels like Capela could be had for the right price, with the Hawks needing another ball handler or more shooting in return. Atlanta does not own its first round pick next year (sent to the Spurs in the original Dejounte Murray trade), so there is no incentive to tank here. It’s going to take a real chip back to Atlanta if some team out there wants Capela.
  • Jerami Grant, F, Portland Trail Blazers: Grant doesn’t fit the Blazers’ competitive timeline and still has four years, $132.5 million left on his deal. The 30-year-old forward has hit better than 40 percent of his threes the last two years, but has stopped making some of the hustle plays he was once known for. Grant would be at his best in a smaller role on a good team, but how willing is he to stop being a primary option? It would be fascinating to see what Grant looks like in a different team context.
  • Tyler Herro, G, Miami Heat: It feels odd that the Heat have been so quiet the last couple offseaons. If Miami is ready to take it’s next big swing, both Herro and Duncan Robinson make sense to move. There has been so much smoke around Herro trades the last couple years that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he finally gets dealt.

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