With the NBA Trade Deadline around a month away, it is a good time to check in on the 10 Most Tradeable Contracts in the NBA. Before we get to the deals, a few ground rules:
- No Rookie Scale contracts: All Rookie Scale contracts are inherently tradeable
- No expiring contracts: Even as the cap has jumped, most expiring contracts are still fairly easy to move.
- Contracts should have a minimum of two seasons left beyond the current season.
- No “generational” talents: The contract doesn’t matter for guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, etc.
- No one on a Maximum Contract: It is impossible to sign a better deal, so anyone who is a bargain on a Max Contract is automatically tradeable.
- Special consideration was given to players who signed a Max Contract under the previous cap/old CBA. The entire list could be made up of the following players: Jimmy Butler, John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, C.J. McCollum, Kyrie Irving and Paul George
All years/salary figures are for money owed beyond the 2016-2017 season. The 2016 list can be found here.
10. Al-Farouq Aminu (2 years/$14.3 million) – Aminu is the Trail Blazers' defensive anchor. Portland has a passable to good defense when he's on the floor. Without him, Portland's defense is amongst the worst in the league. His shooting and scoring numbers are down this year, but he’s battled some injuries and the Blazers have been inconsistent. But he’s a plus rebounder and an improved ball handler and passer. And he can still competently defend wings and switch onto point guards and centers when necessary. Beyond that, his bargain deal is crucial for a franchise that is carrying one of the most expensive rosters in the league.
9. Wilson Chandler (2 years/$24.8 million, last Player Option) – Chandler’s incredible comeback this season has seen him flip from one of the least tradeable contracts to one of the most. After missing all of the 15-16 season, Chandler is having what is arguably the best season of his career. He’s scored 16.1 PPG on solid shooting numbers, while grabbing a career-best 6.0 RPG. Chandler has swung back and forth from the bench to starting. Primarily a wing, he can also slide up to play the 4 in small ball lineups. His scoring and versatility make him a desirable player around the NBA.
8. Marcus Morris (2 years/$10.4 million) – Morris returns to the list because of his clear under-market contract. As a reminder: he signed his deal in conjunction with his brother Markieff signing, and they both took less to remain together with Phoenix before Marcus was traded in a salary dump. Morris has blossomed since joining the Pistons. He’s a solid double figure scorer and good rebounder, but his real growth has come as a playmaker and ball handler. The Pistons use him to start some actions and he’s a terrific ball mover. He can play both SF and PF and has even slid down to SG on occasion for Detroit. Once again, versatility on a cheap deal goes a long way in the NBA.
7. Markieff Morris (2 years/$16.6 million) – Marcus’ brother checks in on the list because of a bounce back season in his first full year with Washington. Freed from some of the off-court issues that were dragging him down in Phoenix, Morris has been excellent for the Wizards. He can still score, as seen by his 13.5 PPG as a third or fourth option on most nights. And he’s rebounding at a better rate than when he last played 30+ minutes per game. Most impressively, you aren’t hearing anything about the attitude issues that plagued him as his tenure finished with the Suns.
6. Evan Fournier (4 years/$68 million, last year Player Option) – When the Magic traded Victor Oladipo, they effectively chose Evan Fournier as their shooting guard for the foreseeable future. Fournier has delivered with career-high numbers across the board. He’s established himself as a playoff-caliber wing that is probably best as a second or third scorer on a good team. By prioritizing staying with Orlando and taking less money to do so, Fournier now has one of the best contracts in the league.
5. Maurice Harkless (3 years/$31 million) – Harkless has gone from a salary dump to valuable reserve to starting SF on a playoff team in the span of less than one full year. Harkless signed a four-year that was seen as a potential steal and everything he has done on the court has proven that to be true. Harkless has started every game he’s played in this season and is averaging career bests in every category. Harkless also doesn’t turn 24 until May. His ability to play 2-4 and continued development as a scorer would have teams lining up to trade him if Portland ever put him on the market.
4. Jae Crowder (3 years/$21.9 million) – Crowder checks in this year at the exact same spot he held down last year. After just missing out on All-Defensive honors in 2016, Crowder has taken his offensive game to new heights this season. He’s shooting 42.5% from behind the arc and 48.6% overall. He continues to improve as a rebounder and passer as well. His defense has fallen off some, as has the entire Boston defense this season, but he’s still viewed as a plus defender around the league. His ability to play 2-4 and willingness switch and battle anyone 1-5 is a key to the Celtics’ versatility on both ends of the floor. With three more years at just over $7 million per year on average, Crowder remains one of the best bargains in the entire NBA.
3. Kemba Walker (2 years/$24 million) – After being sixth on this list last year, Walker’s improvement and the explosion of contracts around the league pushes him up a few spots. His offensive game continues to grow, as he is averaging a career-high 23 PPG this year. He’s also shooting the best he has in his career and he’s carrying the Hornets in clutch situations. At just $12 million each year, Walker is a player that almost any team would love to have. He’s knocking on the door of being an All-Star and only an extraordinarily deep crop in the Eastern Conference may keep him from getting there this year.
2. Draymond Green (3 years/$52.4 million) – Green has been a dominant performer for one of the league’s best teams for three straight seasons. He signed an under-market deal as a restricted free agent in 2015, which in turn helped the Warriors turn into a juggernaut. Green is far and away the best playmaking big man in the NBA that isn’t named LeBron James. He’s averaging 7.7 APG, after averaging 7.4 last season. And he continues to be a plus rebounder, pulling down 8.7 per night. He’s a triple-double threat whenever he hits the floor. But none of that mentions him being one of, if not the, best defenders in the entire league. No other player can take on defensive assignments from 1-5 like Green can and take their opponent completely out of the game. Green is not only the key to the Warriors “Death Lineup”, but he’s the key to the Warriors period.
1. Khris Middleton (3 years/$40.1 million, last year Player Option, declines in value each year) – Middleton hasn't played yet this year, but that doesn’t lessen his trade value at all. He’s reportedly close to making a full recovery from his torn hamstring and should see the floor soon for Milwaukee. By the end of last season, Middleton was averaging 18.2 PPG on nearly 40% shooting from three. His assist rate also jumped from 12.7 to 18.9. He’s become a “3 and D” player extraordinaire by also adding a solid off the dribble game. His contract continues to be one of the absolutely most team friendly in the entire NBA. As Milwaukee’s younger stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker grow up and into new contracts of their own (as soon as next year for Antetokounmpo), Middleton’s value only increases for the Bucks. And on the court, he’s a perfect fit filling the wing and spacing to the arc alongside the two talented forwards. Combine it all and Middleton’s reign as the most tradeable contract in the NBA continues.