As the NBA season is in full swing, everyone is excited about possible trades. Teams are planning and hoping to strengthen their teams with smart moves.
But, there are special rules that stop some players from being traded until January 15, 2024.
These players are the ones who were signed with Bird or Early Bird rights.
1. Herbert Jones – A Strong Defender with an Expanding Offense
Herbert Jones, the 35th pick in the 2021 draft, has become a key player for the New Orleans Pelicans. His recent four-year contract extension worth $53.8 million, signed through early bird rights, has confirmed his important role in the team.
Jones is having a standout year, showing great versatility in his game. He has improved in all areas, with averages of 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game.
His impressive shooting percentages – 50.3% from the field, 34.2% from three-point range, and 87.5% from the free-throw line – highlight his offensive growth.
At 6-foot-7, Jones’s defensive skills are outstanding. He’s a top-notch perimeter defender and is one of the few players averaging at least one steal and one block per game this season.
His high-level defensive play makes him a vital part of the Pelicans and could make him a sought-after player once he’s eligible for trade.
2. Cameron Johnson – A Key Trade Piece for the Nets
Cameron Johnson was picked 11th in the draft and has had an interesting journey from the Phoenix Suns to the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets signed him to a four-year contract extension worth $94.5 million, using early bird rights.
This season, Johnson has had to deal with an injury that caused him to miss seven games. But he’s bounced back in his last 12 games, averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3 assists with shooting percentages of .486/.423/.850.
His season averages are 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, showing that he’s a well-rounded offensive player.
The Nets, who already have a lot of offensive talent, are in a tricky situation. Johnson, who is currently their third or fourth scoring option, could be a key piece in a trade.
His history of injuries and his role as a secondary scorer could make him the main piece in a potential trade for a star player like Zach LaVine or Pascal Siakam.
3. Brook Lopez – The Bucks’ Defensive Pillar
With his 16 years of experience, Brook Lopez has been a cornerstone for the Milwaukee Bucks, especially during their recent championship journey.
Secured through bird rights with a two-year contract worth $48 million in the offseason, Lopez continues to be a defensive powerhouse.
Even with the arrival of Damian Lillard, Lopez has had an impressive season. With an average of 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, his stats have seen a slight decrease due to changes in offensive strategies.
Yet, his defensive contributions remain strong, topping the league with an average of 2.8 blocks per game.
As a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year, his defensive skills are vital for the Bucks’ triumphs, making him an indispensable asset unless a game-changing deal comes up.
4. Austin Reaves – Potential Sixth Man for the Lakers
Austin Reaves has proven his mettle by transitioning from an undrafted free agent to a significant player for the Los Angeles Lakers, demonstrating his tenacity.
The Lakers utilized their early bird rights to sign him for a four-year term.
Reaves has become an essential part of the Lakers’ bench strength. With averages of 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, his adaptability and ingenuity are evident.
His statistics have improved since being assigned to the bench, reflecting enhanced shooting splits of .497/.361/.889.
Reaves’s ability to deliver in high-pressure situations has raised his profile. His exceptional performances in the In-Season Tournament, including a decisive 3-pointer against the Suns and a 28-point game in the championship, have cemented his position as the Lakers’ third star.
5. Miles Bridges – Hornets’ Dilemma
Contract complexities have characterized Miles Bridges’ sixth season in the league. Following a suspension, the Charlotte Hornets extended him a qualifying offer using early bird rights, which has resulted in his current contract status.
Despite sitting out an entire season, Bridges has effortlessly bounced back to top form. With averages of 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, his enhanced shooting skills have been vital in the modern NBA.
Bridges’ off-court issues have posed a challenging situation for the Hornets. Despite his stellar performance on the court, the decision to trade might be affected by apprehensions about the public perception of acquiring a player with a record of domestic violence.
6. Jerami Grant – Offensive Force for the Trail Blazers
Following his significant contribution to the Denver Nuggets’ 2020 conference championship journey, Jerami Grant entered into a profitable five-year agreement worth $160 million with the Portland Trail Blazers, facilitated by bird rights.
Grant has effortlessly stepped up to a more dominant position with the Trail Blazers. With an average of 22.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, he has emerged as a key player in their offensive strategy.
Despite his clear offensive skills, Grant’s defensive abilities, albeit slightly reduced, are still present.
His potential trade value is rooted in his offensive performance, providing teams with a flexible 3-and-D wing for a playoff push.
7. Kyle Kuzma – A Ray of Hope for the Struggling Wizards
Kyle Kuzma’s journey from being a champion with the Lakers to a pivotal player for the struggling Washington Wizards is a captivating story. The Wizards acquired him on a four-year, $102 million contract using bird rights.
Despite the Wizards’ difficult season, Kuzma’s exceptional performance shines through. With career-best averages of 22.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, he has been a pillar of stability for a team grappling with a 3-19 record.
Being a 28-year-old player in a team lacking a clear path, Kuzma’s tenure with the Wizards could be uncertain.
His impressive performances could make him an attractive prospect for a team aiming for the championship, potentially leading to a trade that suits both the player’s goals and the team’s reconstruction efforts.
As we get closer to January 15, these seven players are interesting trade options. They each have different skills and values. Some are key to their teams’ success, while others might end up in trades that could change the NBA’s trade season.