Once All-Star Weekend festivities conclude, NBA front offices will have a few days to decide if they want to swing a deal before the league’s trade deadline on Feb. 19. For whatever reason, the team-player partnerships below haven’t panned out as expected, and it’s time for each side to cut their respective losses and move on.
In some scenarios, veterans haven’t played up to their usual standards on a sub-.500 team that would be better off shipping them away for future assets. In others, legit playoff contenders are giving too many minutes to a player who’s providing a net-loss on the court.
Either way, it’s safe to say that these five players may be on the move soon (all statistics through Feb. 11).
Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Garnett is still an elite rebounder (13.3 boards per 40 minutes), but he’s posted the two worst field goal percentages and PERs of his career during his ill-fated Nets tenure. It’s entirely possible Garnett still has something left in the tank. His struggles could just a byproduct of Lionel Hollins’ unimaginative offense. With either Brook Lopez or Mason Plumlee routinely clogging the post, Garnett has been forced to take a staggering amount of long mid-range shots. The results haven’t been ideal.
Garnett’s no-trade clause could complicate a possible deal before next week’s trading deadline -- and he's reportedly not interested in a buyout. But if Brooklyn (currently on a three-game losing streak) continues to toil away at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, it’s possible to imagine Garnett accepting a trade to reunite with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles or latch onto another one of the Western Conference powers.
Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets
When Trevor Ariza’s four-year, $32 million deal with Houston was announced during the off-season, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Ariza was a killer from the corners during his two-year stint in Washington, the type of three-and-D guy who plays right into the ideal analytical formula of Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.
Ariza has lived up to his billing on the defensive end, so the Rockets don’t necessarily need to discard him. Even if they want to explore a trade, they’re quite hamstrung at the moment because on offense Ariza has been more disappointing than Anchorman 2.
The 29-year-old has shot more than ever before this season, and has only a career-worst 38.0 field goal percentage to show for it. His scorching 40.7 conversion rate on threes last season with Washington is looking more and more like an anomaly, as he’s been mediocre, at best, from every three-point zone with Houston. His output from downtown this season is far closer to his career mark (34.5%) than the efficiency he showcased with the Wizards.
Note: You can see the shooting percentages for each zone by hovering over it. The shot chart automatically updates, so its shooting percentages might not reflect the statistics written in this article.
Unfortunately for Houston, it really doesn’t have any in-house options at small forward who could replace Ariza’s mediocre shooting, unless it thinks Smith's surprising success there is sustainable. Corey Brewer (29%) and Kostas Papanikolaou (31%) have been even worse from three-point land this year, bucking the notion that the Rockets have a stable full of long-range shooters.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
Miami’s point guard situation was a weakness even in the LeBron James era, but now it has become an absolute Dumpster fire.
Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier have all tried and failed to claim the starting job, but it’s “Super Mario” who fits as the most likely trade candidate. He has a semi-tradable contract (signed through next season at $4.3 million) that could interest teams in need of a better backup point guard, such as Washington and New Orleans.
Chalmers’ shooting percentage on three-pointers above the break is 21.7%, yet he still launches 21.1% of his attempts from there.
Miami, accordingly, has scored nearly four more points per 100 possessions when Chalmers is off the court. The Heat have a better offensive rating with Cole running the show, and Napier boosts the team defensively and is a viable threat from beyond the arc (35.4 three-point field goal percentage).
By continuously giving time to Chalmers, Miami isn’t necessarily bettering their playoff chances, so Erik Spoelstra might as well let their younger options gain some experience to see if Cole is worth re-signing after this season and if Napier can morph into the long-term answer.
Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
Wilson Chandler is the main wing in Denver now, and unless he gets traded before next week’s deadline, Gallinari seems doomed to keep hopelessly chucking away on a flailing Nuggets squad that’s lost 13 of its last 15 games. Gallinari has been no help, going a dreadful 13-for-49 (26.5%) on three-pointers since returning from another injury in mid-January. This stretch is just part of a season that has been, by far, the worst of the Italian’s professional career.
Gallinari is still just 26 years old, and it’s definitely possible a team near the salary cap floor could acquire his soon-to-be-expiring contract over the summer. The former No. 6 overall pick could use a season to rebuild his value by inflating his stats on a rebuilding team before hitting the open market in the summer of 2016.
Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings
Though selecting Jason Thompson with the No. 12 overall pick back in the 2008 draft was a surprise at the time, the Kings did enjoy a few productive campaigns from the 6’11” power forward. After an encouraging fourth season in the league, the Kings extended Thompson for five years and $34 million in the summer of 2012. The contract looked more than defensible at the time, and even had the potential to be team-friendly if Thompson continued his promising upward trajectory.
Instead of entering his prime as he aged into his late-20s, Thompson regressed. The former Rider University standout has seen his PER tumble each season since he re-upped with Sacramento, all the way down to a ghastly 8.7 mark this year.
Thompson simply hasn’t progressed on offense as one would have expected. His field goal percentage is at a career-low 46.3%, and he has only made 49.1% of his shots in the restricted zone, a poor figure for someone of Thompson’s size.
The Kings still have Thompson under contract through 2016-17 at around $6.5 million per year, which isn’t horrible. But, if general manager Pete D’Alessandro somehow gets the chance to unload Thompson in a trade, he shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
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