One position at a time we will break down the most likely candidates to be traded before the NBA’s looming trade deadline of Feb.21. Next up, we take a look at five small forwards who could soon be on the move.
Rudy Gay – Memphis Grizzlies
2012-13 Stats: 17.8ppg, 2.5apg, 5.8rpg
Contract: 3 years, $54 million
Under new ownership and with a new group of advisors under general manager Chris Wallace, it seems change is coming in Memphis. In an attempt to stay competitive while cutting salary Rudy Gay may be the odd man out on a talented Grizzlies roster, where the success of their team hinges on an intimidating frontcourt pairing of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies have experienced playoff success previously with Gay out of the lineup and may view him as the easiest piece to replace while cutting costs.
While he would come at a hefty price, there is no shortage of teams that would be willing to take on the talented seven-year pro. With his scoring ability and elite athleticism, Gay could be thrust into a major role on a struggling team and treated by local media as a star. If Memphis can find cheaper parts to replace Gay’s wing scoring he will likely have a new home by the deadline, many teams are already in discussion with the Grizzlies for his services.
Jared Dudley – Phoenix Suns
2012-13 Stats: 11.9ppg, 2.7apg, 3.4rpg
Contract: 4 years, $17 million
The Phoenix Suns workhorse seems like an unlikely candidate at first. Playing well of late, Dudley is consistent, hardworking and gives great contributions to both sides of the floor. The Suns, however, are trying to land themselves a star, or at least someone they can promote as a star to the fans and as a result, Dudley’s value in a deal may exceed that which he can bring on court to a lottery team.
A solid defender, capable of knocking down shots, making the right pass and working on the glass he is an ideal role player that numerous teams would love to have. Combining the value contract of Dudley with draft picks or filler contracts the Suns may be able to deal for a volume-scoring wing player (see Gay, Rudy) who they could pin their hopes on going forward. If he is available, there would be no shortage of playoff teams who would love to add a player with Dudley’s skill set and attitude.
Michael Beasley – Phoenix Suns
2012-13 Stats: 9.6ppg, 2.1apg, 3.5rpg
Contract: 3 years, $18 million
The Suns signed Beasley in the offseason and early on he was given the green light offensively by coach Alvin Gentry. Steadily his role has diminished and in spot minutes he is averaging the poorest statistics of his four-year career across the board.
Beasley, who was the No. 2 overall pick just four seasons ago, is an offensively talented tweener forward who has struggled to adapt his game to the pros. While he could easily be a potent offensive weapon and solid rebounder his basketball iq and decision making on court has frustrated coaches, which may see him on the move again this season.
Perhaps in the right environment with veteran leadership, Beasley could flourish; his ability to score in bunches would be an asset to a number of contending teams if they were willing to take the risk. There is an ideal location and role for Beasley in the league, it’s just a matter of finding it.
Tyreke Evans – Sacramento Kings
2012-13 Stats: 14.6ppg, 3.2apg, 4.6rpg
Contract: 1 year, $5.2 million
After an impressive debut year in which he won Rookie of the Year honors, Tyreke Evans has thus far failed to live up to expectations. The Kings are seemingly at a loss as to how to maximise Evans’ immense talents and have tried playing him in both guard positions as well as at small forward. Evans’ ball-dominant style and lack of a consistent outside shot has proven difficult to manage and the Kings’ declined to offer an extension to the 6-6 swingman.
The Kings lack experience and maturity and it seems as though trades are needed in order to establish a team identity. Numerous teams are already in discussion with Sacramento to deal for Evans, although it is unclear whether the Kings desire veterans or more young talent. Even with his recent struggles, Evans and his agent would likely command a large contract in free agency. With the Kings seemingly unable to provide Evans the role he needs in order to succeed, he is one of the most likely candidates to be moved at the trade deadline.
Derrick Williams – Minnesota Timberwolves
2012-13 Stats: 8.8ppg, 0.4apg, 4.1rpg
Contract: 3 years, $16 million
Derrick Williams has yet to establish himself in the NBA after being the second overall pick just two years ago. Williams has shown flashes of his immense potential, but has also struggled to find comfort playing either the small or power forward positions.
If they are able to keep their starting frontcourt of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, it may be in the Timberwolves’ best interests to trade Williams while his value is still high based on his potential. They have long coveted an elite wing player and with the Brandon Roy signing seeming to be a failure, using Williams as a trade chip may be the quickest route in getting one.
With Love out for the next 8-10 weeks with a broken hand, the Wolves will get a chance to showcase Williams in heavy minutes in order to raise his value in trade talks.
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