Change happens quickly in the NBA, and that has been even more true throughout the last decade or so. Players often get unhappy with their roles, discontent with their front office or coaching staff, or simply feel like they need a change of environment.
Front office executives are often the initiators of deals as well, constantly scanning the league for ways to improve their rosters or maximize the value of a given asset. For example, if a team that is likely to miss the NBA Playoffs has a player who could notably contribute to another roster on an expiring deal, they look to flip them.
Assuming a conversation has already been had with the said player regarding their looming free agency, there is a decent chance they will prefer to walk, and trading him would be the best use of assets.
Then, compared to someone leaving with no return, the organization could be looking at an additional draft pick or another NBA player with additional time left on his contract.
Winning on the margins is essential in the NBA, particularly for small markets.
Here are five players that are likely to be involved in trade conversations during the 2021-22 NBA season. I opted not to include Ben Simmons on this list, since his movement has been covered incessantly.
Potential trades in the 2021-22 NBA season
#5 Buddy Hield
Buddy Hield has not been shy in stating that he feels he deserves to be a starter in the NBA. This initially came up when he was benched for Bogdan Bogdanovic in 2019-20, but is now relevant again with the emergence of Tyrese Haliburton in Sacramento.
The Kings' current backcourt consists of De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis II, and Buddy Hield. Unless the team plans on rolling some of these smaller players out at small forward (which they have before), then some changes will need to be made.
With Hield's apparent annoyance with coming off the bench, his name constantly being thrown in trade rumors, and him nearly being a Los Angeles Lakers player, Buddy Hield seems like the odd man out.
Before Russell Westbrook requested a trade out of Washington, a deal was in place to send Buddy Hield to the Lakers in exchange for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. If that doesn't make it obvious he is being shopped around the NBA, I don't know what does.
We've heard this for over a year now, but don't expect Buddy Hield to remain in Sacramento for the full season.
#4 Kyle Anderson
Kyle "SloMo" Anderson had a breakout year for the Memphis Grizzlies last season. He started in all 69 games he was available for while averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals and converted 46.8 attempts from the field and 36.0 percent from three.
Anderson's three-point volume also took a significant jump to 3.8 attempts per night compared to 1.3 on average in 2019-20. His name was mentioned here and there near the last deadline, and with his contract expiring after this NBA season the incentive to trade him should increase.
The Grizzlies, who are clearly committed to youth and the future, may not be intent on re-signing the 6'9" wing to his newly increased market value. Anderson's mentioned offensive improvements while being a premier wing stopper could lead to his value being near $20-million annually.
Even if the Grizzlies are thin on the wing, letting Kyle Anderson walk in the offseason with no return would be bad business.
#3 Myles Turner
We've heard for years now that Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis do not idealize one another. Both bigs are more than deserving of starting spots in the NBA, but Sabonis is certainly on another level of player with an All-Star appearance under his belt last season.
They have made it work for a few seasons now, but the idea that Sabonis would be more maximized at center with more wings alongside side him could be a path to improvement for the Indiana Pacers.
Turner likely holds significant value around the NBA as an elite three-and-D role player at 6'11". For the last two seasons, Myles Turner has attempted upwards of four threes per showing and knocked down 34.0 percent of them. He is also deservedly regarded as one of the best rim protectors in the league, and Indiana's defensive scheme is fitted to that.
The aforementioned combination of size and skillset is both rare and highly sought after in the modern game. If the Pacers can use Turner to acquire additional perimeter talent, it could even out their roster and optimize the play of Domantas Sabonis.
#2 Eric Gordon
John Wall could have made this list, but the Rockets' search for a trade partner for Wall has been well documented. Less mentioned is the idea of Eric Gordon spending his last season suting up in Houston after six years. The shooting guard has been inconsistent at times, but his ability to score in bunches should be valued throughout the NBA.
Injuries also play a factor with Gordon, who recorded just 27 games last season, and 36 in total the year prior. But the Houston Rockets are fully embracing the youth movement centered around the recent number two selection, Jalen Green. Along with Green, Houston should be enabling the growth of Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Christian Wood, Usman Garuba, Jae'Sean Tate, and Josh Christopher.
Playoff rosters who are seeking scoring threats could look towards Gordon's skillset. The complication lies around his lucrative three-years and $58-million remaining on his contract, with the final season being non-guaranteed.
If another NBA team is able to find expiring matching salary, I would imagine that little more would need to be included to convince Houston to move on from Eric Gordon this season.
#1 Coby White
Coby White has already shown the ability to score the ball in the NBA at just 21 years old. Yet the former seventh overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft found his name in trade rumors last offseason, likely due to his unideal fit alongside Zach LaVine and the rest of the Chicago Bulls roster.
Throughout his sophomore campaign in the NBA, the 6'1'" guard averaged 15.1 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.1 rebounds on 41.6 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per night. While his playmaking capabilities make him better suited as someone who plays alongside other high-level creators, his scoring acumen can be complimentary in the right scenario.
Zach LaVine is phenomenal, but a point guard who can make life easier for him (Lonzo Ball) could take his game to another level. Coby White should garner a decent return, and the Chicago Bulls could use a defensive boost to their roster, primarily in the frontcourt.