Here is part 4 of my trade value rankings. To reiterate: the criteria centers around talent, age, contract status, and ability to put asses in seats. Again this is NOT a ranking of the best players, it is a ranking based on who I believe the majority of teams would prefer if they could choose to acquire a player for their team along with their contract. Another thing to consider is that there are more rebuilding teams than legit contenders, so young players have more value to a larger amount of the teams in the league boosting their ranking. The list is structured by categorizing players into tiers, which has similar players based on age, skill, and contract status. However, not all players in the same tier have the same value, so their actual ranking in the overall trade value list will be beside each player’s name.. When the series is over I will publish the whole list in order.
Tier 9: Let’s See How He Gets Paid
60. Nikola Vucevic
58. Tobias Harris
41. Khris Middleton
40. Kemba Walker
Each of these guys will be free agents at the end of the season and their future earning follow a certain food chain. The superstars at the top of the free agent class: Durant, Kawhi, Kyrie, Klay, and Butler will all receive whatever contract they want, but there will be more teams looking for stars than stars available. With the cap projecting to increase to $109 million next season and some of the horrendous contracts signed in the infamous summer of 2016 will expire, many teams will have cash burning a hole in their pockets. And so begins the trickle down of money as the marquee players come off the board. Walker is the best of the impending free agents in this group, but he could be in line for the supermax if he makes an All-NBA Team, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Nonetheless, even he does get the honor, he probably won’t receive the $219 million contract because it’s usually reserved for the elite of the elite which Kemba is not. You never know with Michael Jordan though because the competitive fire that made him such a great player has also lead to him being a poor executive. Kemba’s current contract is so team-friendly that even acquiring him as a rental has value, but I would not want my team paying him more than $150 million as he enters his 30s. Same goes for Middleton who is on a great contract right now, but he could shock some casual fans come this summer when he lands a contract well north of $130 million. Harris, acquired in the Blake Griffin trade, has had a great season thus far for the spunky Clippers and would be next in line to receive huge offers once the players above him find their home. The same applies for Vucevic who has been otherworldly so far in 2018 as he looks to cash in. It will be fascinating to see which teams open their wallets for these “Class B” free agents if they strike out on the big fish.
38. Draymond Green
Draymond really is the classic, “he’s more valuable to us than he is to you”, so it will be beyond interesting to see how much he gets paid. Like Walker, if he meets a certain criteria, for Green it is being the Defensive Player of the Year, he is supermax eligible. Everyone knows Green won’t get offered it, but many doubt that he will even get the standard max, or max salary at all. If Kevin Durant decides to stay in Golden State past this year, Green is likely gone, and his free agency will prove whether this “trade value” ranking is accurate because despite all his flaws, Green is absolutely a top 25 player in the league, but how good can your team be if he’s your best and highest paid player? Regardless, he still has two more years at a cost-effective salary which notches him above Middleton.
Tier 8: What’s Your Favorite Flavor of Young Player?
36. Kyle Kuzma
35. Pascal Siakam
Siakam and Kuzma were the 27th picks in the 2016 and 2017 drafts respectively, and both have been the steals of their classes. Kuzma has exhibited tremendous offensive upside and has excelled next to LeBron James as a secondary option while Siakam is threatening Kyle Lowry to be the second best player on the loaded Raptors. While Kuzma is the bigger name by virtue of donning the purple and gold, Siakam’s defensive abilities make him a higher floor player while not being too far off from Kuzma on the offensive end. Many teams would love to have both guys on the books at around $2 million the next couple of seasons.
33. Brandon Ingram
32. Jaylen Brown
Much to the chagrin of Celtics and Lakers fans in the dogged pursuit of Anthony Davis, both Brown and Ingram have struggled with heightened expectations following breakout sophomore seasons. You could easily make the argument that the three players below them have been much better than the second and third picks in the 2016 Draft, but there will always be a shine to top 5 selections. Despite rocky starts to their 2018 seasons, both of these guys have the most star potential in this tier and could easily get back to their “he could be the centerpiece of an AD deal” status.
Photo: Harry How