With the New Year right around the corner, trade conversations and rumors have already begun. I think it’s safe to say that we will see a lot of different players on the move between now and the trade deadline which is February 23rd. A trade isn’t always a bad thing, and players aren’t always traded because they aren’t performing. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t quite right and adjustments need to be made for both parties to be more successful. There are many players who will be traded because they just aren’t putting forth the effort. However, there are a few players I think should be traded, and their names will probably surprise you. With Klay Thompson as the biggest name you will see on this list you will want to keep reading to see why.
Emmanuel Mudiay-Denver Nuggets
Emmanuel Mudiay was selected by the Denver Nuggets in the 2015 draft after foregoing college to play a year of professional basketball in China. Being thrust into a leadership role at such a young age can’t be easy and one year in Mudiay is really struggling with his role on the team. His biggest weakness lies in his inability to facilitate the offense—failing to set up plays for his teammates to execute. He appears to want the scoring glory for himself as he regularly keeps the ball for far too long looking for his own shot before trying to find a teammate to share the ball with. Often, he’s nearly surrounded by defenders by the time he looks to pass and at that point it’s too late. Once he’s in hot water he makes a bad pass usually resulting in a turnover.
Recently he gave what was, in my opinion, a very passive aggressive interview about Coach Mike Malone. When asked to describe his coach in a few words he couldn’t think of anything nice to say. Instead he described how his coach was tough, and how he really likes things a certain way. My interpretation of that is an inability to submit to leadership. Any good leader must first be a good follower, and Mudiay appears to be showing serious signs of trouble that is very hard to correct. With rookie stud Jamal Murray on board, the Nuggets need to part ways with Mudiay and stop the bleeding. Mudiay brings in 12.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Modest stats for a point guard, but if he can mature a little he has the potential to be a solid contributor off the bench for a team who needs a good backup.
Carmelo Anthony– New York Knicks
Look, it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Carmelo Anthony. However, I will give credit where credit is due. Melo is a Hall of Fame player, and one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. Averaging 24.9 points per game at 34% from three and 45% from the field over his career, Anthony is statistically a player that any team would love to have. He’s made multiple all-star appearances and won Gold Medals with Team USA Basketball.
But, let’s get down to the facts that count. Basketball is a team sport. Five players working together for a common goal. While Melo is an incredible player individually, there is a disconnect between his ability to play ball, and his ability to lead a team to win. I know the Knicks are doing ‘OK’ this season, but this is the first season in long time that they’ve been playing at this level–I believe the addition of Derrick Rose has been the difference maker. In the 7 years Melo has played for New York he hasn’t been able to get it done. Perhaps you can blame it on the people around him, but you can only do that for so many seasons before it’s time to look at the common denominator. The last winning season the Knicks had was 4 years ago and ever since then they’ve struggled mightily. According to ESPN, Anthony has the worst winning percentage for any player in NBA history with at least 50 playoff games. The proof is in the pudding. The Knicks need to cut ties with Melo and trade for a better leader who will come in and complement Rose and Kristaps Porzingis. Melo would make a great addition to a team that has an alpha leader he can come work with. The Chicago Bulls, under the leadership of Dwayne Wade would be a great place where Melo could focus on what he’s good at, and leave the leadership to someone else.
Anthony Davis– New Orleans Pelicans
Let’s all take a moment to understand the incredible talent that is Anthony Davis. This season he is averaging, yes averaging, 30.7 points at 49% from the field, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. We are only just a quarter of the way through the season and Davis has already recorded 4 games with over 40 points. You can always find him doing work in the paint drawing fouls, and with an 82% free throw percentage he’ll take all the fouls he can get. But, something isn’t adding up. Even with Davis putting in all that work the Pelicans still sit at just 9-18 for the season.
Anthony Davis is a role player. He’s a formidable power forward that knows how to come in and get his job done. It’s clear that he brings consistent effort and energy every game, but it’s also clear that he’s not the alpha personality that a team needs to go from mediocre to good, or from good to great. For example, we all know that Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant bring in the big numbers for the Warriors, but it’s Draymond Green that is the alpha personality that brings all the ingredients together. As such, Davis would be better served playing for a team that has an alpha but is in need of a big numbers guy. This will free up cap space for the Pelicans so they can go get the leader they need to build an organization around. Both Davis and the Pelicans organization will be more successful if they part ways and look for a better fit.
Klay Thompson- Golden State Warriors
I know you’re thinking that I must be crazy. However, my reasons for suggesting a Thompson trade aren’t what you might think. He is incredible. He’s the type of selfless player a team wants, but he also has the fire to come in and get the win. Last season, when the Warriors were having a hard time in the playoffs vs OKC, it was Klay who came in to finish the job. He was one of the only Warriors who remained consistent and brought energy throughout.
Thompson should move on because he’s getting lost in all the noise about the Warriors this year. With Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green in the lineup Thompson has become just another cog in the super team machine versus taking a spotlight role as the superstar that he is. With Thompson’s experience and leadership he deserves his own team where he can grow an organization into a dynasty. A developing team like the Boston Celtics or the Denver Nuggets would be a great place for Klay to settle in and build his own brand. I’m always going to be a proponent of dividing up the superstar talent between the teams in the league–not only to see who the best player is, but who the best leader is. A Klay Thompson trade may be a pipe dream but I’d love to see him shine on his own.
Time will tell what happens by February 23rd, but I am expecting we will see some very big surprises come 2017. In the meantime, all we can do is speculate and I’d love to hear your opinion!