The 10 NBA Players with the Most Trade Value Right Now

Speculation is in the air.

So too is stuffing. And gravy. Maybe that’s what we’re smelling. But we’re also detecting a hint of NBA trade speculation.

The league is months away from incessant trade chatter, but here at Bleacher Report, we—like crazed Thanksgiving evening shoppers minus the craziness—put stock in head starts. That brings us here, speculating and hypothesizing, reflecting and deliberating, trying to figure out who the NBA’s most valuable trade pieces are to start 2014-15.

Rankings for this Off-Broadway exercise will rely heavily on a number of things. Performance and statistics will matter as usual. Contract statuses will also hold weight—meaning a Josh Smith-for-anyone-of-value scenario will not follow. Perhaps a player is entering free agency and prepared to leave or his team doesn’t want to pay him. Whatever the case, it will matter.

Listed players must also be expendable to the point that they could wind up on the trade market. Anthony Davis isn’t on here, folks. He’s chillaxing atop Untouchable Mountain with LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, among many others.

There has to be a case for players to be here. That’s the point. And in the end, using all our criteria, rankings are determined by keeping one question in mind: Which players can help broker significant trades as contractual or talent centerpieces?

Come hither, friends—with or without your gravy-drenched stuffing. The time for speculation is upon us.

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4 UConn Players Suspended for Violating Team Rules: Latest Details and Reaction

The UConn basketball program suspended four players for a “violation of team rules” against West Virginia on Sunday, per Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant:

Freshman Rakim Lubin, junior Omar Calhoun, and walk-ons Dan Guest and Marcel Lewis were suspended, and were not at the arena with the team, but coach Kevin Ollie would not say what the violation was, or whether or not the players were sent back home.

‘I have no comment on it,’ Ollie said, after the Huskies’ 78-68 loss in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-off. ‘We have to do what we have to do. They violated team rules, and we’ll assess the situation when we get back to Connecticut.’

Per Amore, the only player that likely would have played against West Virginia in the first place was Lubin, since Calhoun is injured and Guest and Lewis have yet to appear for the team.   

Lubin is only averaging five minutes per game, however, and has yet to score on the season while averaging 1.8 rebounds per game.

For the moment, these suspensions are undoubtedly a distraction but seem unlikely to affect the Huskies on the court. For a 3-1 UConn team looking to defend its surprising national championship from a year ago, however, distractions won’t be welcomed. 

 

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Chicago Bulls’ Most Surprising Players of the Early Season

Everybody likes surprises.

It’s early, but there are a handful of Chicago Bulls players who are turning heads this season with their play on the court.

Tony Snell isn’t one of those guys, at least not yet. Following an up-and-down rookie campaign, the 6’7” New Mexico product was supposed to have a breakout sophomore year.

However, he hasn’t received much playing time (11.1 minutes per game) and is averaging 2.9 points on 35 percent shooting.   

Perhaps he can make a “Most Surprising Player” list at some other point in time.

Let’s look at five players who actually have been surprises for the Bulls.

 

All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com. and accurate as of Nov. 21, 2014.

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Grizzlies players battling team-wide stomach virus

 

The stomach bug is alive and well in the Memphis Grizzlies locker room.
 
Seven players are questionable for Friday night’s game against the Boston Celtics because of a stomach virus that kept five players, including Tony Allen, out of their game Wednesday night.
The two new players with the bug are Courtney Lee and Jarnell Stokes. The Grizzlies were without Beno Udrih, Kosta Koufos, Jon Leuer, Quincy Pondexter and Allen in their loss against the Toronto Raptors, but they only managed to lose by four points despite missing nearly half of their team.
Now with more players getting sick, the Grizzlies might want to invest in some disinfectants and a large supply of tissue paper rolls. It appeared Friday morning that all the sick players will be a go for the game, but they might want to avoid eating whatever they ate that caused all of this, regardless.
The Celtics, for their part, are taking no chances.

Celtics staff sanitized bballs today before players touched them. C’s had shootaroun

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Kobe Bryant Scoffs at Hometown Discounts as a ‘Coup’ Against Players

Kobe Bryant isn’t about to pat Dirk Nowitzki on the back.

More pointedly, Bryant won’t ever placate NBA owners by accepting a hometown discount or below-market contract.

“It’s the popular thing to do,” Bryant said of player pay cuts ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Friday night matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, per ESPNDallas.com’s Tim McMahon. “The player takes less, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money. Because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it.”

Hometown discounts and pay cuts have become mighty popular in recent years.

The Miami Heat’s Big Three took (slight) pay cuts to join forces in 2010; Nowitzki accepted a three-year, $25 million deal to remain in Dallas, despite fielding max-contract offers from the Lakers and Houston Rockets, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein; and Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski says contract-extension talks between fourth-year guard Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls broke down because the former wouldn’t acquiesce to the latter’s request for a hometown discount.

Bryant himself has also been widely criticized for the two-year, $48.5 million extension he signed with the Lakers last season. Some have painted him as selfish and greedy for not taking less so that the Lakers could enjoy more financial flexibility moving forward.

“So did I take a discount? Yeah,” Bryant said. “Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah.”

The 36-year-old has a point here. The Lakers could have still added a superstar this past summer, and they’ll have enough cap space to sign one this upcoming offseason while footing the bill for Bryant, per ShamSports.

Criticism of his deal often fails to recognize the business side of player-team relationships as well.

Owners aren’t selling teams at a discount. The NBA also signed a nine-year, $24 billion television deal with ESPN and Turner Sports. If the league isn’t selling itself short financially, why would the players?

Michele Roberts, the NBA Players Association’s executive director, has made it her mission to address player salaries since assuming her post. She firmly lands in Bryant’s camp, as someone who isn’t for capping earning potential or, for that matter, having players take discounts.

“Why don’t we have the owners play half the games?” Roberts said when arguing her case to ESPN The Magazine‘s Pablo S. Torre. ”There would be no money if not for the players.”

Besides some of the NBA’s superstars being irreplaceable from a branding standpoint, players like Bryant also have to ask themselves: What will this pay cut actually do for my team?

Like NBA writer Andrew Ungvari points out, discounted deals don’t always translate into success:

There is no guarantee a smaller contract attracts additional talent. To believe the Lakers would have landed a superstar free agent over the summer had Bryant taken less is dangerously presumptuous.

In the end, the only party promised to gain anything from player cuts is ownership. Not only do they save money, but what they do with those savings is up to them.

Complicated still, perception tends to be on their side. People aren’t congratulating Carmelo Anthony for taking a nine-figure deal from the New York Knicks; they’re wondering why he didn’t accept less to chase championships with the Bulls or Rockets.

But how many of you readers would take less money so your bosses could save a few dollars?

Exactly.

That doesn’t mean Bryant terming the concept of pay cuts a “coup” for owners is irrefutably accurate. More money is at play here than most places. At the same time, the money is relative to the field, and Bryant’s comments are a reminder that the NBA is more than a sporting entity.

It’s a business.

And because it’s a business, this will remain a problem. The players will fight for their money; the owners will contend for theirs. Fans, meanwhile, can only hope they’re not the ones forced to pay dearly for this issue—the price being a future lockout.

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7 Breakout NBA Players Who Nobody Saw Coming

We see guys break out every season, and for the most part, there are warning signs. You knew Anthony Davis would erupt this year. It’s not that surprising Derrick Favors has emerged as a monster inside or that Klay Thompson has become one of the game’s elite scorers. 

But some guys seemingly come out of nowhere. 

These are the young players who nobody would have predicted would take giant steps in 2014-15. They’re not All-Stars, but they’ve each made huge strides so far toward becoming one.

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7 Grizzlies players dealing with stomach virus

Team-wide stomach virus could leave Grizzlies short-handed for Friday’s game against Celtics

      
 

 

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7 Grizzlies Players Battling Stomach Virus Ahead of Friday’s Game vs. Celtics

The Memphis Grizzlies sit atop the Western Conference with an impressive 10-2 record to start the 2014-15 NBA season, but a fluky medical situation may harm their immediate future.

According to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com), seven Grizzlies have a stomach virus and are questionable to play in Friday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

The ill players are swingman Quincy Pondexter, center Kosta Koufos, forwards Jarnell Stokes and Jon Leuer and guards Tony Allen, Beno Udrih and Courtney Lee.

That will certainly make Friday’s matchup more interesting. Boston enters Thursday as the third-highest scoring team in the Association, while the Grizzlies sport the No. 2 scoring defense. Since Memphis’ formidable big man tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph doesn’t appear to be impacted by the stomach bug, the Grizzlies could still handle their business.

The fact that Mike Conley Jr. isn’t named among the sick players gives Memphis a better chance to carry on its early year momentum, too, in that he can match up better with Celtics star point guard Rajon Rondo.

The Grizzlies picked up their second loss of the season on Wednesday to the Toronto Raptors

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Ranking Connecticut Basketball’s Top 5 Players of All Time

Selecting and then ranking the top five players in Connecticut basketball history is no easy task.

The school has won four national championships since 1999, has produced a slew of top NBA players and has attracted some of the top talent from across the country. Future NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen and current NBA players Caron Butler, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gay and Kemba Walker are just a few of the players who first made an impact at UConn before moving on to produce at a high level in the Association.

Storrs, Connecticut, is a small town full of trees and leaves and is dominated by the expansive terrain of the University of Connecticut. It’s cold for a large portion of the year, it snows quite a bit and it’s not located in or close to a major metropolitan area with a big market. When Jim Calhoun took over Connecticut’s program in 1986, the program wasn’t even close to relevant.

Turning a small school that no one associated with basketball into a national powerhouse, Calhoun gave the reins to assistant coach Kevin Ollie after recording an incredible 629 wins in 874 games coached for the Huskies.

Winners of the NCAA Championship in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014, the Huskies have won double the amount of titles of more traditional “powerhouse” programs such as Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas since 1999. As you might expect, in order to achieve the success that the school has been able to experience, a number of star players have passed through the program.

Here are the top five players in Connecticut basketball history. You might find it surprising that Ray Allen did not make the list! Find out who did…

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7 NBA Players Who Look Like They’ve Made Huge Improvements Since Last Season

If the first few weeks of the 2014-15 NBA season are any indication, this year’s Most Improved Player award field is going to be crowded.

Stars are being born, role players are becoming cornerstones and ceilings are being raised all across the basketball world.

The seven players here didn’t finish last season in the same spot. Some had already flashed superstar ability, while others had only hinted at a bright future if they could tap into their full potential.

No matter where they left off, all have since sent their stocks soaring.

In order to compile this list, a couple requirements were put in place.

One, all players had to have a player efficiency rating of at least 20 (league average is 15.0). It isn’t easy jumping from bad to mediocre, but it’s not something that should be celebrated like a guy pushing himself somewhere between good and great.

Also, players need to have seen at least 20 minutes of action a night. As incredible as Dennis Schroder and his 22.3 PER have been out of the gate, it’s hard to fully gauge the level of his improvement when he’s spending more than 60 percent of the game on the sideline.

Other than that, everyone was eligible for selection. And these are the seven who stood above the rest.

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