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NBA Rumors: Ranking the Five Players Most Likely to Get Traded During the 2022 Offseason

The 2022 summer offseason is sure to be a wild one in the NBA. Who among the league's stars is most likely to be traded this summer? Ryan Kirskey breaks down the five most likely players to get traded during the NBA offseason.
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NBA Rumors: Ranking the Five Players Most Likely to Get Traded During the 2022 Offseason

The 2022 summer offseason is sure to be a wild one in the NBA. A number of teams are looking to unload massive financial assets while others are in the midst of rebuilding and are looking to add free agents and tradable pieces for the right price. Who among the league's stars is most likely to be traded this summer?

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5. Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers made several high-profile trades at the February 2022 trade deadline. They shipped off veteran commodities in CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Norman Powell, and in return, they received a first-round pick, four second-round picks, and some younger, cheaper assets in Josh Hart and Justise Winslow. They also got 2023 expiring contracts in Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, and Joe Ingles. The unspoken theory of the deadline, however, was that Portland would have also traded Damian Lillard and the $136 million remaining on his contract if he wasn't hurt.

With Anfernee Simons, Winslow, Nassir Little, and Jusuf Nurkic (just 28 years old) still on board, the Blazers might choose to build around that core and get as many draft picks and young assets as they can for Dame. The question then becomes which contender trades for 32-year-old Lillard to try and squeeze out the last good years he has left. He will be 35 after the end of his player-option year of 2025-2026 and Portland surely doesn't want to be on the hook for that salary when the time comes.

4. Russell Westbrook

There is a very strong case to be made that for the minutes he played last season, Russell Westbrook was the worst player in the league in 2021-2022. What's worse is he was fourth-highest paid ($44 million) and that goes up to $47 million in 2022-2023. The Los Angeles Lakers' experiment of building a big three around LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook has been a disaster and they are undoubtedly looking to trade him.

The question then becomes, who would be willing (or able) to take on that large of a contact knowing what kind of lackadaisical production they are likely to get. John Wall, further down on this list, makes essentially the same money as Westbrook. Would the Rockets be willing to trade Wall for Westbrook and a second-round pick? Doesn't make much sense for Houston, but both teams are desperate to find someone willing to take on these bloated expiring contracts. What's likely to happen is the Lakers will likely eat a large chunk of Westbrook's salary in a trade, but you know Lebron is pushing the brass to get Westbrook out of town.

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3. Myles Turner or Malcolm Brogdon

The Indiana Pacers began the first phase of a team rebuild when they traded franchise cornerstone Domantas Sabonis for young guards Tyrese Halliburton and Buddy Hield this past season. They were also able to grab a first-round draft pick and two second-round draft picks for Caris LeVert. They did try to get rid of Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon, but with no success.

Now the Pacers are fully ready to turn over the team to Halliburton, Hield, and dynamic rookie Chris Duarte. They are in a good position with both Brogdon and Turner as both are relatively young (Brogdon will be 30 next season, Turner will be 26), and they are both on expiring deals that are not in the Russell-Westbrook-crazy territory. Brogdon makes $22.6 million in the last year of his deal next season while Turner is at $17.5 million. The Pacers went into full-time tank mode last season, so you know they are eager to part with these expensive pieces in exchange for more draft picks and cheap assets.

2. John Wall

John Wall may make $100,000 more than Russell Westbrook next season, but he at least has two things going for him that might make him easier to trade. First, he is more than two years younger than Westbrook, so he presumably has more juice. And second, he didn't just have a season proving to the rest of the NBA that he is the stone-cold worst player money can buy. He might be the biggest injury risk money can buy, but the expiring number on that contract might be appealing to someone like the Lakers.

The expiring part is the good for teams, but the sheer size of the contract is the bad. Not many teams can take on that level of money without completely gutting his team. It would have to be a team like the Lakers or Knicks who want to cut bait with their own overpaid stars to make this work. If the Knicks wanted to pull the trigger and get a stud point guard to complement RJ Barrett, they still would have to send back picks of young pieces.

There is still the possibility that Wall does not opt into his last year on the deal. Doing so limits the chances he plays next season because the Rockets aren't going to be playing him and other teams can't afford him. Does he leave massive money on the table because he wants to play so badly after four lost seasons? We will find out this summer.

1. Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert

Well, the Jazz made an early exit from the playoffs again. Who could have ever predicted it? That's now no Conference Finals appearances since 2007 and it has been reported tensions are starting to rise between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. It is an almost certain that one or both of them will be gone before 2022-2023 tips off.

Mitchell is owed $100 million over the next three seasons, but by the time his contract ends, he won't yet be 30 years old and that might look like a bargain compared to some of the deals getting thrown around now. I'm sure behind the scenes Mitchell is itching for a new place to play, somewhere that he can take advantage of his star brand and capitalize on it more than he can in Utah. If the Jazz don't concoct a trade this summer, look for the rumors to start that Mitchell is unhappy, leading the Jazz to force their hand in trading him.

Rudy Gobert is four years older and is also under contract for four more seasons. That ends with him making over $46 million as a 33-year-old in 2026. For that reason, Gobert looks like the more untradeable asset. I'm sure the Jazz don't want an entire rebuild so perhaps they trade Mitchell for another star and draft picks to make one more run with defensive wizard Gobert, Jordan Clarkson, and a new-look starting five.

The stars run this league and it looks like Mitchell wants out. I'm calling it a virtual certainty that he is gone by the next trade deadline.

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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