NBA Trades: 5 Players on expiring contracts likely to be moved this season

Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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The first quarter of the NBA season is in the books, and with the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament behind us, we can focus on the most exciting time of the year other than the playoffs: trade season. Many teams are already scouring the market for roster upgrades while others are already being rumored to be sellers.

It's not even Christmas, and the rumor mill is already buzzing. Naturally, this is the time of the year when fans are hoping their favorite team's front office staff are working tirelessly like Santa's elves to pull off a remarkable trade that puts a smile on their face greater than a child destroying the wrapping paper under the tree.

This is also the time of year when we usually start to see players on expiring deals negotiate a contract extension or get shipped out of town. With that in mind, let's focus on the latter and take a look at five players in the final year of their contract who are likely to be on the move before the trade deadline.

#5: Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets

As has been the case since he left the Utah Jazz to join the Boston Celtics, Gordon Hayward has had an inconsistent and injury-plagued four-year tenure with the Charlotte Hornets. But this season, he's looked the healthiest he's been in a long time, and he's been very productive for the Charlotte Hornets through the first quarter of the season. He's also been a mentor to the younger players on the team. 

Nonetheless, the Hornets have lost six of their last ten games and are 7-13 on the season. It doesn’t seem like their fortunes will change in the near future either, as they rank 19th and 29th in offensive and defensive rating, respectively.

With all signs pointing to letting him walk in free agency, it makes sense to cut bait and trade Hayward while he’s healthy and still has trade value while continuing to build around the young core of LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller, and Mark Williams.

Hayward would be a solid addition to any team in need of an offensive boost. His versatility allows him to thrive in virtually any system he’s placed in. He’s a three-level scorer who can create for himself and others.

The 13-year veteran is averaging 15.2 points and 4.5 assists per game and has scored at least 20 points seven times. He’s been pretty efficient as well, shooting just under 46 percent from the field and nearly 37 percent from long distance.

Whether it’s a team fighting for a playoff spot or a title contender looking to add the final piece to the puzzle, Hayward can give plenty of teams an offensive boost without losing much on defense.