Bill Simmons published Part 1 of his annual NBA Trade Value column yesterday and it's a must-read for all basketball fans. In case you are unfamiliar with the Sports Guy's yearly blockbuster post, the title says it all -- he ranks the top NBA players in terms of their trade value.
In Simmons' words, there are some notable NBA trade rules...
1. Salaries matter. Would you rather pay Serge Ibaka $12.4 million a year or Chris Bosh $20.6 million?
2. Age matters. Would you rather have Dirk for the next three seasons or Boogie for the next 12?
3. Contract length matters - a newish wrinkle in an era defined by shorter guarantees, swollen caps and forward-thinking GMs who hoard cap space like it's Walter White's crystal meth recipe.
4. Pretend the league passed the following rule: For 24 hours, any player can be traded without cap ramifications, but with luxury-tax and next-day-cap ramifications. If Team A tells Team B, "We'll trade you Player X for Player Y," would Team B make the deal?
5. Concentrate on degrees. For instance, a Klay Thompson-Dwyane Wade swap ain't happening, but Miami would at least say, "Wow, Thompson's available?" while GSW would say, "We can't trade Klay for someone who's eight years older." That counts in the big scheme of things.
6. This list runs in reverse order. If Thompson is no. 18, then players 1 through 17 are all players about whom GSW's braintrust would either say, "We hate giving up Klay, but let's have a meeting ASAP," or, "Done! Call this deal in!" And GSW wouldn't trade him straight-up for any player listed between nos. 19 and 60.
In Part 1, Simmons got to a handful of honorable mentions and players 60-38. He paid homage to Rockets big Donatas Motiejunas, awarding him a honorable mention along with Steven Adams and Mason Plumlee in a "Three Young Bigs" paragraph. On DMo, " [Motiejunas] shone for Houston when Dwight Howard went down and might secretly be an 18-9 guy."
The Sports Guy also shouted out Patrick Beverley, citing his impending restricted free agency. Beverley truly doesn't have much trade value as a defensive point guard on an expiring deal playing a loaded position. In my opinion, he's more valuable to the Rockets than he would be to 25 other NBA teams.
Now, without further adieu, here is the definitive guide of the Houston Rockets trade values. Remember, this is not necessarily a ranking of talent. Recall the NBA Trade Rules and general criteria.
Group 1: You Can Have Him -- Please and Thank You!
15: Clint Capela
In and out of the D-League, Capela has virtually no trade enticement. Sure, he has some upside as a 19 year old with a 7'4 wingspan, but he will likely never get a chance to play for the Rockets with the type of front court depth we have.
14: Alexey Shved
If I had to describe him in one word, it would be "anonymous." Shved hasn't done a single thing as a Rocket to distinguish himself from any other young player on the team. It says something about your trade value when you have been on three teams in 2 and a half seasons. Shved has been on the Rockets for a little over a month now, but his Twitter bio still says he plays for the Timberwolves.
13: Joey Dorsey
The only reason Houston kept him was because his contract it would cost more to cut him than to part ways with Tarik Black. Dorsey's most impressive skill is his ability to be Dwight Howard's long-lost brother.
Thanks to someone on Reddit for combining the dopplegangers.
12: Nick Johnson
I actually kind of like Nick Johnson, but I think the idea of Nick Johnson is better than Nick Johnson the player. The fact of the matter is, I just wrote "Nick Johnson" three times in the same sentence and that is definitely a record. Johnson is young and promising, but there's no room for him on this team and if he was gone, nobody would notice him leave or remember him.
Group 2: Rotation-ish Guys
11: Kostas Papanikolaou
Papanikolaou's value comes with his versatility and potential. His team-friendly contract expires in 2017, but his salary isn't a main factor in his value.
The Greek rookie really isn't as young as you'd think he is (24) and I personally think he's overrated in the Rockets community. His dismal 7.65 PER is underwhelming for all of the minutes he's playing (over 20 minutes per game). But hey, his potential that everyone likes to think he has proves he's just a little better than, "Here, you can have him!" status.
10: Isaiah Canaan
Canaan was awesome when he was given the chance. He was so great when Beverley was out, that I wrote this post, praising his potential and talent. Canaan is quick, can shoot, and plays hard. He's now hidden behind Patrick Beverley and (for some odd reason) Jason Terry in the point guard hierarchy and has only played 3 minutes per game in the last 10 games.
Despite the lack of opportunity, I truly believe Canaan has everything a young player needs to be successful in the league. I would be ecstatic if my team took a flyer on CanaanBall.
9: Jason Terry
There's really not much left of Jason Terry to trade. If a team were to trade for The Jet, they wouldn't necessarily want Jason Terry the player. They would be adding his leadership, old-man locker room savvy, and his expiring contract to help out the cap. Terry has the biggest expiring contract on the Rockets, but his lack of basketball skills at his age keep him in Group 2.
8: Corey Brewer
I love Brewer's game. Even though his shot is painful to watch, he leaks out on the break and plays hard on defense. He's lightning quick and can defend both two guards and small forwards. I think he's a very good piece on this Rockets team and I think he could affect a playoff game.
With that said, his contract expires next year and if he were to be traded, it would likely be soon.
Group 3: Interesting Pieces
7: Josh Smith
Smoove has already been cut this season and it seems like every team he leaves instantly improves (The Rudy Gay Factor). There's no way anyone trades for Smith unless he starts to rip off some efficient 15/7 games. Smith is in Houston for less than a million dollars on a one-year deal.
6: Patrick Beverley
You know what you're getting with Beverley, solid defense and a reliable three-point shot. However, Beverley's shooting is really just a product of Harden's passing. Seemingly every single shot Bev takes is a spot-up, catch-and-shoot, wide open three. He's hitting them, but his job is pretty easy. He's 40th in the league in PER for point guards and really doesn't handle the ball at all on offense.
In the big scheme of things, how many teams would consider Beverley an upgrade over their current point guard? 15 teams? 10 teams? He's the definition of average and there's really no market for average points guards; every team has an average point guard.
5: Terrence Jones
Players coming off of injuries are generally tough to trade, but Jones definitely has ability. He's on a very cheap, absorbable contract that teams love trading for. Simply put, he's a young, good player that could help any type of team.
4: Donatas Motiejunas
"Might secretly be a 18/9 guy." Well said, Simmons.
Group 4: The Untouchables
3: Trevor Ariza
Although Ariza's shot is missing in action, he defends the opposing team's best player every night while playing the fourth most minutes in the NBA. Ariza came to the NBA straight out of high school, so he's only 29 years old but has playoff experience. It would take a lot to pry Ariza away from the Rockets considering how much he brings to the table. Plus, he is set to be in Houston through 2018.
2: Dwight Howard
Everyone knows all about Howard. He's one of the 5 best big men in the league. He's probably the second best center in the league right now and he gets it done on both sides of the court. Unless I'm getting Marc Gasol back, I'm not trading Dwight Howard straight up for any center in the league (and I probably wouldn't even accept just Gasol because his contract expires this season).
Bill Simmons had Dwight Howard at 18th last year in his Trade Value column. I don't expect that spot to fluctuate too much, maybe down 5 spots maximum.
1: Kevin Martin/Jeremy Lamb/Pick that became Steven Adams
That's what the Rockets got for James Harden in 2012 and now, in 2015, there's only a handful of players in the NBA that I would trade straight up for James Harden*. Harden is the frontrunner for league MVP this year and he's on pace to join Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade to average 27 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals per game in a season.
*That short list includes Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis. That's it.
Harden is having a historic season and it will be interesting to see where Bill Simmons ranks him among the league's most valuable trade assets. Last year, he was ranked fifth, right behind Russell Westbrook and ahead of Carmelo Anthony. I predict he will surpass Westbrook because of RWB's injuries but remain behind Curry, LeBron, and Durant.
Stay tuned to Grantland for the next parts of Bill Simmons' Trade Value columns. He still has at least 3 more parts to go if he wants to rank 60 players like he says he will. I'm intrigued to see where Ariza, Howard, and Harden fall.
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