Monday's Blake Griffin trade came out of nowhere. There were rumors about his teammates, but few expected the Los Angeles Clippers to move him just months after he signed a five-year, $171 million contract. This bit of business should remind us that not every trade discussion is leaked to the media and not every completed trade is preceded by months of speculation.
With that in mind, here is a list of players who could conceivably be moved before next Thursday's trade deadline, excluding the names that everybody is already talking about.
Aaron Gordon - Orlando
Let's start with a guy who has been compared to Griffin since high school. He is 22 years old and having an All-Star-caliber season, and this type of player is almost never available on the trade market. Gordon might be an exception simply because the Magic might not be excited about giving him a maximum contract. Gordon will be a restricted free agent in the summer, and if Orlando isn't fully committed to him, it could probably get great value for him on the trade market. While I like the idea of him and Jonathan Isaac sharing the frontcourt for a long time, there is an argument for turning Gordon into another pick that will not take up as much cap space for the next few years.
C.J. McCollum, Damian Lillard - Portland
This season has actually been encouraging when it comes to these two playing together long-term. The case for moving one was that they needed a bigger, stronger defensive player in the backcourt, but the Blazers have had a top-10 defense this season. Still, Portland could come to the conclusion that sticking with Lillard and McCollum is a misallocation of resources, especially considering how highly they are valued on the trade market. All it takes is one opposing general manager who sees McCollum as the next James Harden, and Portland might be able to shed an onerous contract and acquire a high first-round pick in a potential deal. (And if the Blazers see McCollum as the next Harden, maybe they'd even consider trading Lillard.)
Jusuf Nurkic - Portland
Portland is in a tough spot with Nurkic. He is 23 and his talent is obvious, but he hasn't produced the way he did for those magical 20 games last season and hasn't definitively established himself as part of the team's core. Like Gordon, he will be a restricted free agent this summer, and he will be looking for a large payday. If the Blazers aren't sure that he'll be worth the money, they could try to get ahead of the game and move him now. The tricky part is that there aren't a ton of teams looking for centers and Portland would probably want to get someone back who can keep it in the playoff picture.
Hassan Whiteside - Miami
He's 28 years old and he is going to be making $27 million two seasons from now. While his numbers are still excellent, he is averaging only 25.8 minutes and the Heat might not really need him now that Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk are on the roster. This might be a more urgent move if Miami didn't have so much long-term money tied up in Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson and Olynyk -- dumping his salary won't actually give the front office much flexibility -- but if Miami can find a way to get off of that money, it has to at least consider it.
Jabari Parker - Milwaukee
It is a bit cruel to put Parker on this list the day that he returns from rehabbing a second torn left ACL. There is still a chance he develops into a star, and the best version of the Bucks could feature Parker getting buckets next to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, a combination that the organization has never been able to properly evaluate over a significant period of time. There is also, however, a chance that Parker doesn't fit with this group, especially now that Eric Bledsoe is running the offense. His upcoming restricted free agency is an impossible riddle to solve based on his injury history, and, depending on his market value, Milwaukee might prefer to make that somebody else's problem. The timing is extremely awkward, though.
Andre Drummond - Detroit
This is not a response to Drummond finding himself on the bench in crunch time of the Pistons' 104-102 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, their first game with Griffin in the lineup. That decision, though, didn't exactly suggest he shouldn't be on this list, either. The 24-year-old center has improved his free-throw shooting and playmaking on the perimeter this season (which makes him more appealing to the rest of the league), but still doesn't dominate defensively like his physicality and agility imply he should (which might mean Pistons head coach and president Stan Van Gundy is willing to trade him in the middle of a career year). It's not as if Detroit hasn't discussed moving Drummond before, and if it likes the idea of Griffin playing significant minutes at center, it must at least see what's out there.
Otto Porter - Washington
A shakeup in Washington seemed more likely a week ago, before wins against the Hawks (in a blowout), Thunder and Raptors without the injured John Wall. Porter is in the first season of a four-year, $106.5 million deal, and if the Wizards aren't willing to trade Wall or first-time All-Star Bradley Beal, then moving the versatile forward could be their only way to address their lack of depth. The front office had no choice but to pay Porter in restricted free agency, but that does not mean he will remain in Washington for the life of his contract. I'm not saying Porter should be moved, but it's a bit scary to think about him, Wall and Beal making a combined $98 million in the 2020-21 season.
Paul Millsap - Denver
Would it be kind of messed up for the Nuggets to break up with their marquee free-agent addition so quickly? Yeah, but it wouldn't be that difficult to rationalize: Millsap is turning 33 next week, and the other parts of their core -- Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray -- are turning 23 and 21, respectively, later this month. Denver was 9-7 with Millsap before his wrist injury (and he still has the best net rating on the team), but his absence has not destroyed the season -- it is 27-25 and eighth in the West now. Millsap is expected to be back shortly after the All-Star break. What if a team like the Cavaliers got desperate and gave the Nuggets an offer they couldn't refuse?
Carmelo Anthony - Oklahoma City
Let's have some fun here. Do you think the Rockets would be a better team for Anthony? Do you think they'd part with Ryan Anderson and Nene to get him? What would the Thunder think of that deal? Personally, I'd be shocked if they made a move this major, but it's pretty clear that Anthony is Oklahoma City's fourth-most important player. If he didn't have a no-trade clause, he'd probably be my favorite under-the-radar trade candidate.
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