ESPN Insider Please!
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Young players who could be traded
Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones among 5 players who might move
Originally Published: February 10, 2013
By Joe Kaiser | ESPN Insider
Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty ImagesCould the Oklahoma City Thunder deal Jeremy Lamb before the deadline?
A number of potential trades bubbled to the surface of the NBA's rumor mill this week, which is to be expected given how close we are to the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline.
On Thursday, ESPN's Marc Stein reported a potential deal with Chicago and Toronto involving a Carlos Boozer-for-Andrea Bargnani swap, and on Friday, ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that Charlotte and Brooklyn were talking about a Ben Gordon-for-Kris Humphries deal. Other reports in recent days have Brooklyn showing interest in Josh Smith, according to Broussard, and Milwaukee targeting J.J. Redick, per Stein.
And earlier in the week, Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com mentioned that San Antonio and Utah could be on the verge of a deal centered around Al Jefferson.
While it's easy to focus on the big-name centerpieces of such rumored deals, guys such as Marc Gasol and Nikola Vucevic have proved in recent years that sometimes the lesser-known, unproven players can make just as big of an impact (and at a cheaper rate).
So who are the players that fit that description this season? Which promising first- or second-year guys might be made available by playoff-caliber teams if it means landing the guy who can push them deep into the playoffs? What players have yet to scratch the surface on their vast potential and could break out on a different roster?
Here is a look at some of the top young players on contending teams who could end up being involved in a trade-deadline deal this season:
Jeremy Lamb | SG | Oklahoma City Thunder
Lamb has played only 64 minutes this season on a Thunder roster brimming with talent, and his chances for playing time have been very limited thanks to the presence of Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, there's a reason Houston selected him No. 12 overall last summer before shipping him to OKC in the James Harden deal: Lamb is a versatile wing with a long wingspan who can shoot, defend and become a key piece to a winning team.
The question is whether that will happen with the Thunder, which may be better off resigning the efficient Martin after the season and using Lamb in a deal for a center. Phoenix could be a good trade partner, since it has the prized big man to offer -- Marcin Gortat -- and a big need at the shooting guard position.
Terrence Jones | PF | Houston Rockets
Jones passed up a sure shot at the NBA lottery in 2011 and returned to Kentucky for his sophomore season. It proved to be a wise move in some regards -- UK blitzed the field on its way to the 2012 NCAA national championship -- but it cost him in terms of his draft stock. He slipped all the way to Houston at pick No. 18 last summer, and the combo forward has yet to work his way into the Rockets' rotation. He did make the D-League's All-Star team, though, averaging 18.8 points and 9.4 rebounds in 15 games with the Tulsa 66ers, and his upside remains high.
It's no secret that Houston would like to upgrade at the 4 spot, and including Jones in a package for Atlanta's Josh Smith is one scenario that would make a lot of sense.
Tobias Harris | SF | Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks passed on re-signing Carlos Delfino over the summer and entered the season with the 20-year-old Harris as their starting small forward, a big indication that the team believed in the versatile forward out of Tennessee. But Harris quickly fell out of favor with former coach Scott Skiles due to his struggles as a team defender and his inability to mesh well offensively with the Brandon Jennings-Monta Ellis backcourt.
A change of environment could be just what he needs to emerge as a starter in the league, and Milwaukee may be willing to make that happen for the right deal. However, Mike Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels are both free agents after the season and may not return, so Harris could be in line for a bigger role if he's still with the Bucks in 2013-14.
Nando de Colo | PG | San Antonio Spurs
With de Colo and Patty Mills, there's a bit of a logjam behind Tony Parker at point guard, and San Antonio could look to unload one of the two in a deal for a big man. For a number of reasons, the 25-year-old de Colo could have more appeal.
He stands 6-foot-5, 5 inches taller than Mills, and in limited opportunities this season has shown to be a creative distributor and capable shooter. Having played professionally in France and Spain for seven seasons before joining the Spurs, he's already more polished than most NBA rookies, and while he will never pass Parker on the depth chart in San Antonio, he could be a guy other teams target.
John Henson | PF | Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks like what they have in their 2012 lottery pick, that being a long, lanky rebounder and shot-blocker with some offensive game around the basket. In addition, Henson probably has just as good a chance at being the team's future at power forward as Ersan Ilyasova.
So why even consider trading him now? Because Ilyasova is the one with the big contract and thus the one currently getting the bulk of the minutes, which could very well continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. On the flip side, Henson is someone Milwaukee can keep around on a bargain rookie contract through 2015-16, so they'll probably only consider dealing him if it means bringing back an All-Star-caliber talent in return. Maybe someone like a Danny Granger, perhaps?
Others: Jordan Hamilton (Denver), Evan Fournier (Denver), Timofey Mozgov (Denver), Alec Burks (Utah), Jared Cunningham (Dallas), Fab Melo (Boston), Patty Mills (San Antonio)
Thanks man! I would really like to see Jeremy Lamb get traded, and a person who was in the others list, Alec Burks
The Jeremy Lamb for Gortat trade would be interesting. I am a big fan of Lamb, I can't wait to see him get some minutes....
Gortat is a proven big man, maybe not a great player but at least a starter level player and Lamb is just a nice young player with potential but hasn't proven he can play at the nba level. No way the Suns trade Gortat just for Lamb.
Should OKC decide they're going to keep Martin they could look to deal Lamb around draft time. Charlotte has 2 first rounders and is in desperate need of perimeter scoring as well as shooting, Lambs strengths. OKC could send Lamb to the Bobcats(or new/old Hornets lol) for one of their lotto picks. Charlotte gets to re create the 2011 national championship backcourt of Walker and Lamb. OKC adds two young talented prospects (they aslo possess Torontos pick) in an albeit weak draft but they're already an elite team so they will have time to develop players. Lamb will struggle to grab any PT with both Martin and Thabo ahead of him on the depth chart. You could argue, with G. Henderson's impending free agency, Lamb wil have every opportunity to start on the Bobcats and fits a need. Everyone wins.
I wouldn't call having De Colo and Mills as your back-up PGs a log-jam!
I'd have agreed with you on De Colo just based on the name if I hadn't seen the guy play, but he's actually a nice player. He seems to have decent court vision and is a willing passer, and he can score some if he needs to. He's not, you know, an All-Star or anything, but he could contribute to a lot of teams.