- Amin Elhassan, ESPN Staff Writer
It's early, but we have a pretty clear idea of which teams are playing for now (a playoff berth, division title, shot to win it all) and which teams are playing for later (a better draft choice in June, accumulation of draft picks in general, cap space). As the season progresses, we will start to see that divide grow, and the "win now" teams will seek to strengthen their rosters in the short term by engaging in trade talks with the "win later" teams.
For the "win nows," it's an opportunity to acquire a veteran who can step in and contribute right away; for the "win laters," it's a chance to acquire some future value (young player, draft pick) for someone who can't help the cause at the time being. An excellent example of this dynamic in action was the trade of Marcin Gortat from Phoenix to Washington in exchange for the injured Emeka Okafor and a first-round draft choice. While Gortat is a productive big in this league, he isn't good enough to alter the Suns' fortunes on his own, and as such is more valuable to a team like the Wizards, who are fighting to make the playoffs this season.
In a season like 2013-14, with probably the most parity at the top of the league in decades and a significant number of teams planning on not competing from Day 1, we can expect there to be a "fire sale" on vets who can contribute.
Here are 10 players who might be highly coveted during fire-sale season.
Young is an athletic tweener forward who can space the floor a bit, put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. He's inconsistent from 3-point range, but some of that has to do with the Sixers' past philosophy under Doug Collins, which has probably stunted his development in that aspect. He's not a good rebounder and he struggles defensively with his size disadvantage, but if paired alongside a dominant defensive big (for example Dwight Howard), his flaws can be masked while his strengths are magnified. Young's deal is a bit of a turnoff, with three fully guaranteed years remaining at more than $9.3 million average annual value (AAV), but he might be the perfect fit for a team looking to go over the top.
Turner has been a disappointment as a No. 2 overall draft choice, but much of that has to do with the poor fit he's had in Philadelphia. As a ball-dominant wing, he's had to play off the ball alongside Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. Given the reins of the offense, Turner has opened the season with gaudy numbers, but has a penchant to hold the ball too long on offense, looking for his own shot before conceding to pass, and defensively, he gets lost off the ball repeatedly.
At this point, he's best suited as an off-the-bench offensive focal point. Ultimately, making a move for Turner might represent more of an investment in the future of a 24-year-old once deemed the draft's second-best prospect. Turner's $6.7 million deal expires at the end of the season, and he becomes a restricted free agent, giving the team some flexibility as to what to do with him.
Amin Elhassan provides his list of 11 veteran players who could be part of "fire sale" trades this season. Celtics guard Courtney Lee, a strong 3-point shooter and defender, would be a solid addition for teams hoping to go deep in the playoffs.