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"Top 10 NBA trade chips"
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Posted by U-Trains #116 on 2013-01-09 08:31:45

Top 10 NBA 'trade chips'
Part-timers Amir Johnson, Jordan Hill, Tobias Harris could be easy to move
Updated: January 9, 2013, 12:33 PM ET
By Joe Kaiser | ESPN Insider

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Jordan HillChris Humphreys/US PresswireJordan Hill's bounce and rebounding prowess could be coveted by the Celtics and Spurs.

The NBA trade deadline of Feb. 21 is just over six weeks away, and as contending teams look to improve their rosters for a push to the playoffs, the trade talk is already starting to pick up.

Memphis' Rudy Gay was the hot topic yesterday, but others like Anderson Varejao, Marcin Gortat, Jose Calderon and J.J. Redick have all frequently been mentioned as well in recent weeks. But when you talk trades, you can't just focus on the big names.

What you really have to do is consider quite a few of the smaller pieces, the guys that make such deals work. You look for young guys with some upside, underpaid guys who offer value, underused veterans or just backups looking for an opportunity to start or more minutes. These aren't trade centerpieces -- they're "trade chips," if you will.

Here are 10 players I believe will become hot commodities leading up to the trade deadline:

1. Jose Juan Barea (15.07 PER) | Minnesota Timberwolves
Barea

Still just 28 and relegated to the bench behind Luke Ridnour as Ricky Rubio slowly makes his way back to form, Barea is signed for right around $4.5 million annually through 2014-15 and can help as a crafty scoring point guard off the bench or even in a starter's capacity if needed.

A Barea-for-Jordan Hill swap would be mutually beneficial to the Wolves and Lakers, even if it meant L.A. having to cut ties with one of their other three backup point guards (and for contract reasons, it'd likely be Darius Morris).

Good fits: Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies

2. Jordan Hill (18.65 PER) | Los Angeles Lakers

*Can't be traded until Jan. 15
Hill

Hill leads the league in offensive rebounding rate, and it isn't really even close. When on the floor, he's pulling down 20.1 percent of the Lakers' misses this season -- Anderson Varejao ranks second in the league with a 16.8 ORR.

The problem is, Hill doesn't fit into the Lakers' long-term plans because he isn't the up-tempo, sweet-shooting big man who can thrive in coach Mike D'Antoni's system. For a team that needs help on the offensive glass -- and Miami, Boston and San Antonio are three of the four worst in the NBA in that department -- adding Hill could be wise.

Good fits: Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers

3. Amir Johnson (17.63) | Toronto Raptors

Johnson

Johnson is playing well after a down year in the truncated 2011-12 season, and is signed long-term; he's owed $6.5 million next season and $7 million in 2014-15. Problem is, the rebuilding Raptors already have another emerging power forward in third-year man Ed Davis, who's both younger and cheaper.

For that reason, it wouldn't be surprising to see Toronto shop Johnson to a team in need of an experienced power forward who can rebound, block shots and finish at the rim.

Good fits: Houston Rockets, Heat

4. Derrick Williams (16.06 PER) | Minnesota Timberwolves

Williams

Teams that still believe in the former No. 2 overall pick, either as a small forward or power forward, might look to deal for him while his trade value is still relatively low. Though Williams is playing less in his second year in the league, his numbers are improved across the board and he still has a chance to become a strong offensive player in this league.

Teams like Houston and Denver might look at Williams for more offense at the 4, while Golden State could use him as an immediate upgrade at the 3. The Rockets and Nuggets have more pieces to offer in a deal than the Warriors.

Good fits: Rockets, Warriors, Nuggets

5. Jordan Crawford (16.58 PER)| Washington Wizards

Crawford

The 24-year-old leads the Wizards in scoring, is playing the best ball of his career and still has another full season remaining on his bargain rookie contract. Why would Washington consider trading him? For one, it is already heavily invested in Bradley Beal as its 2-guard of the future.

Secondly, while very talented offensively, Crawford lacks size and hurts the Wizards on the other end of the court. Finally, his trade value might never be higher. Might a team like Memphis consider a deal that involves Rudy Gay for Crawford, Chris Singleton and Emeka Okafor? It'd save the Grizzlies' the $19 million-plus owed to Gay in 2014-15 and plug a few key holes, all while giving the Wizards a projected starting five of Wall, Beal, Gay, Kevin Seraphin and Nene.

Good fits: Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Jazz

6. Luke Ridnour (13.03 PER) | Minnesota Timberwolves

Ridnour

Three years older than Barea and signed through 2013-14, Ridnour is on the wrong side of 30 and his game might be trending in the wrong direction (his PER indicates as much). But he still can provide a steady presence at the point and run an offense, ideally in a reserve capacity.

Minnesota would be wise to deal some of its depth at point guard (Barea or Ridnour) as a means of addressing another area (shooting guard, perhaps?), and if Barea isn't dealt expect Ridnour to be the one who ends up on another roster.

Good fits: Jazz, Lakers, Grizzlies

7. Brandon Bass (11.50 PER) | Boston Celtics

Bass

*Can't be traded until Jan. 15

It's no secret that Boston is looking to add a key big man who can take some of the load off 36-year-old Kevin Garnett, and dealing Bass is one of the ways it might be able to do so. The tricky part in any deal that involves moving Bass to a contender will be getting a quality big man back in return.

One trade that could make sense might be Denver's Kosta Koufos and a throw-in like Anthony Randolph for Bass, but it's doubtful that the Nuggets would want to take on the nearly $14 million owed to Bass beyond this season. And Koufos might not be enough to move the needle, with the window of opportunity for a championship rapidly closing in Beantown.

Good fits: Pacers, Nuggets, Rockets, Trail Blazers

8. Gustavo Ayon (11.31 PER) | Orlando Magic

Ayon

Ayon is the perfect backup big man -- an energy guy who rebounds, defends and comes at a low cost. But if you're Orlando, a loser of nine straight with its sights suddenly more on next season and its future wrapped up around Nikola Vucevic, it's probably worth seeing what contending teams might be willing to offer for him.

Ayon's signed for $1.5 million this season with a team-option at the same rate for 2013-14, so any team that trades for him can conceivably keep him at a bargain price next season. If the Magic can find a taker willing to give up a decent first-round pick, it'll likely be enough to work out a deal.

Good fits: Heat, Bulls, Celtics, Warriors, Spurs, Knicks, Pacers

9. Tobias Harris (14.29 PER) | Milwaukee Bucks

Harris

It remains to be seen whether Harris will be used more under Jim Boylan than he was under Scott Skiles, but if Tuesday's game against Phoenix was any indication, the answer is probably no -- he received a DNP-CD. Still, Harris is a versatile, offensive-minded forward with rare natural abilities, and at age 20 his best years are almost certainly ahead of him.

With guys like Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson ahead of him on the depth chart, Harris' future in Milwaukee is somewhat in doubt despite his obvious upside. Don't be surprised if Harris is included as a key piece in any deal the Bucks make for a center or wing.

Good fits: Pacers, Trail Blazers

10. Brandan Wright (21.61 PER)| Dallas Mavericks

Wright

Say what you want about Wright, but his PER numbers are off-the-charts good over the last two seasons in Dallas. With the Mavericks having few attractive trade chips, Wright might be the most likely to find his way to another team.

He's been one of the league's highest-percentage shooters over the last two seasons and is a capable shot-blocker as well. That being said, Wright could play an important role as a 15-20 minute guy coming off the bench for a team like Indiana or Chicago that lacks frontcourt depth.

Good fits: Pacers, Bulls

Others who could be made available in trades: Jason Maxiell | Detroit Pistons; DeJuan Blair | San Antonio Spurs; Anthony Morrow | Atlanta Hawks; Jordan Hamilton | Denver Nuggets; Jermaine O'Neal, Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown | Phoenix Suns; Chris Singleton | Washington Wizards; Dorell Wright and Nick Young | Philadelphia 76ers; Aaron Brooks and Jimmer Fredette | Sacramento Kings; MarShon Brooks | Brooklyn Nets; Timofey Mozgov | Denver Nuggets; Al-Farouq Aminu | New Orleans Hornets; Courtney Lee | Boston Celtics



"Nobody does that kind of stuff," Myers said. "I think he's grabbed onto that identity. It's huge that he embraces it, because we need it. Every team needs it. I can tell you that any team in the NBA would love to have him, because all he does is help you win."

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