By Josh Echeron
The NBA trade deadline isn’t until February 23, but we’re already starting to hear a lot of names and rumors floating around. The Kyle Korver trade from Atlanta to Cleveland seemed to unofficially signify the start of the trade season. While it’s impossible to predict what deals we’ll see in the next month and-a-half, we’re starting to get a handle on some of the players who could be moved.
Here are 10 of the players to keep an eye on as the rumors swirl in the weeks ahead.
Millsap’s name has been the hottest on the rumor mill. When the Hawks made the decision to deal Kyle Korver for the Cavaliers’ first round pick, it seemed that they were ready to “blow it up” and start rebuilding. However, the latest word is that Millsap is no longer available. That may be the case, but it doesn’t make much sense. Expect his name to continue to be involved in rumors.
Rondo has clearly worn out his welcome in Chicago. He’s being discussed as a possible trade candidate for the Cavaliers, who are looking for a backup point guard for Kyrie Irving. However, it’s also possible that his contract could be bought out, in which case he’d be a free agent looking to sign on for the playoffs.
The current word is that the Bulls are listening to offers on Jimmy Butler. That would likely make him the biggest name on the trade market, with the Celtics (who have an inexhaustible stockpile of assets and need a star) and the Timberwolves (led by Butler’s former coach Tom Thibodeau and in need of a veteran) likely emerging as contenders for Butler’s services.
The growing consensus is that the Raptors need to make a deal if they’re really going to try to knock off Cleveland in the East. The popularly discussed target is Millsap but the Raptors would likely have to surrender talented and affordable backup guard Terrence Ross in any deal. He and Patrick Patterson are the team’s most logical trade chips.
This is more speculative, but the Blazers, who were expected to contend in the Northwest Division during the preseason, have failed to live up to expectations or divisional odds. They’re attempting to build a regular contender with McCollum and Damian Lillard, but one might have to go if the team is to strengthen its weak frontcourt. Expect to hear McCollum’s name come up for this reason.
Dunleavy is a potential buyout candidate for the Hawks, but he could also be flipped for a minor asset now that he’s been acquired from Cleveland in the Korver deal.
As we’ve mentioned before, Bogut expects to be traded. He’s simply not doing any good on a horrible Mavericks team, but has proven multiple times that he can be a handy playoff asset on a contending side. The Mavericks will likely trade him to a team with a chance to make a deep playoff run.
Many are screaming for the Kings to trade enigmatic big man DeMarcus Cousins, but the organization seems very reluctant to do so. However, they do have too many bigs, and could look to deal Koufos for a minor asset instead.
Noel may be the odd man out in the 76ers’ big man trio also consisting of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. Noel is further along in his rookie contract and would seem to have more value at this stage than Okafor—and Embiid, who’s a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year, isn’t going anywhere. It seems quite likely, then, that Noel could be dealt. The Blazers have been suggested by some in the media as a logical destination.
This is speculative as well, but the Magic are terrible and simply have too many big men. Ibaka is the best of the bunch, but also by far the most valuable on the trade market. There isn’t much chatter yet, but should the Magic embrace their inevitable tanking future, it would make sense to trade the former Thunder star.