6 NBA Players Whose Names Are Already Swirling in Trade Rumors

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2012

6 NBA Players Whose Names Are Already Swirling in Trade Rumors

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    The NBA season is only a week old, but we're already seeing names swirl around the rumor mill.

    In a few weeks, we will have a firmer grasp on which teams will likely be buyers and sellers at the deadline, but for now, it's time to investigate who could ultimately be dealt.

    From superstars with expiring deals to players who simply have bad contracts, there are a number of intriguing names on the block that could be moved as we approach the February trade deadline.

    Here, we present to you a list of six players whose names are already involved in trade rumors.

6. Jose Calderon

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    When the Toronto Raptors traded (via CBSSports.com) for point guard Kyle Lowry this past summer, it was clear that Jose Calderon was being bumped from his starting role and onto the trade block.

    Now, with one year remaining on his current deal, Calderon looks like a prime trade candidate as we approach the deadline.

    According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, it's well-known that Calderon can be had in a deal:

    Calderon remains on the block and his name is going to come up a lot between now and the trade deadline. The Raptors like Calderon and believe he’ll thrive as a sixth man, making everyone in the second unit better. However, they have a lot of holes to fill and moving Calderon’s $10,561,985 expiring contract seems to make more sense than keeping him in a limited role.

    As a pass-first guard, Calderon could be a very nice backcourt complement to Lowry, but he could prove to be even more valuable to a contender in need of a veteran point man.

5. Al Jefferson

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    It appears that the Utah Jazz will have some very tough personnel decisions to make over the next few months.

    Frontcourt staples Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are both impending free agents, and the Jazz are likely to use the first half of this season to evaluate which big man they value more.

    Millsap's game lends itself to more offensive versatility, and Utah's depth at the center position may ultimately make Jefferson more expendable.

    According to Hoopsworld, both talents are in danger of being dealt, but the emergence of Enes Kanter could determine if Jefferson is the first one let go:

    There’s a chance that the 27-year-old big man re-signs with Utah, but there’s also the possibility that he signs elsewhere and the Jazz miss their opportunity to cash in. Just as Millsap has Favors nipping at his heels, Jefferson is backed up by Enes Kanter, who seems ready to take on a bigger role in his sophomore season. Kanter was outstanding during the preseason and it’s only a matter of time before the 20-year-old becomes Utah’s starting center.

    With Millsap more of a conventional 4 and Derrick Favors capable of playing both the 4 and 5, Jefferson is looking like he could be the odd man out in the Jazz frontcourt.

4. Tyreke Evans

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    After a phenomenal rookie season, it appeared as if the Sacramento Kings had found the dominant scorer they had been longing for.

    The winner of the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year award, Tyreke Evans flashed a complete and aggressive offensive repertoire in his first year, but has struggled to find that same spark in the two seasons since.

    In year two, Evans shot just over 40 percent from the field and has never shot over 30 percent from three-point range in a single season. Now, playing for a new deal, Evans looks like he could be on the block. 

    According to Hoopsworld, Evans could be dealt if the Kings decide they don't view him as a part of the franchise's long-term future:

    Evans is still an attractive trade chip because he’s young and his best basketball is likely still ahead of him. There are plenty of executives around the league who love his versatility and unique skill set. Evans isn’t necessarily on the block, but he could be moved if Sacramento decides to go in a new direction.

    One of the NBA's true enigmas, the 2012-13 campaign will be a crucial in helping shape the future of Evans and the Kings franchise.

3. Monta Ellis

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    Since being dealt (via Yahoo!) to the Milwaukee Bucks last season, there have been lingering questions about how well Monta Ellis and backcourt mate Brandon Jennings have been able to mesh.

    Both seen as dominant on-ball presences, Ellis and Jennings thrive when the offense runs through them. Ellis and Jennings are both elite NBA scorers, but according to Hoopsworld, it looks like Ellis' stay in Milwaukee may be short-lived:

    Milwaukee missed the playoffs last year and enters this season as a bubble team in the Eastern Conference, so Ellis may be eyeing greener pastures. If the Bucks aren’t confident that they can retain Ellis, they may decide to trade him prior to the deadline. After parting ways with Andrew Bogut to land the 26-year-old guard, they can’t afford to lose him for nothing.

    While it may be tough for the Bucks to persuade Ellis that Milwaukee is the place for him long-term, some early success in 2012-13 alongside a young core comprised of Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova and Tobias Harris could help change his mind.

2. Rudy Gay

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    Rudy Gay is one of the NBA's most talented two-way wings whose athleticism and length make him a matchup nightmare for opponents.

    However, with over $50 million (via HoopsHype) left on his current deal, Gay could be a tough sell to many teams despite his rare talent. With so much money changing hands, it makes you wonder whether a deal involving Gay would require three or more teams.

    Such a trade would be a deadline blockbuster, and as Alex Kennedy notes, it's conceivable that Gay could be dealt if the Grizzlies are intrigued by a big offer:

    The general consensus around the league is that Memphis would be willing to move Gay if the right offer comes along. If he becomes available, there are plenty of teams that would love to acquire the 26-year-old, who has improved every year he’s been in the league and still has plenty of potential.

    A franchise building block, Gay could be a huge get for a young team looking to start fresh. Based on what we've seen early from the James Harden-led Houston Rockets, Gay's value as a potential franchise centerpiece could be climbing.

1. Josh Smith

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    Josh Smith is arguably one of the NBA's top-20 players, making him the most intriguing name mentioned in rumors thus far.

    While there have been no indications that there's a deal currently in the works, Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy makes a great case for why Smith may ultimately be dealt:

    Smith will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and he has made it clear that he’s going to test the market and explore his options. If the Hawks aren’t confident that they can re-sign Smith, they may decide to trade him rather than lose him without receiving anything in return.

    Smith's situation is one that Danny Ferry and the Hawks' front office must handle delicately. A versatile forward who can play all three frontcourt positions, Smith has paired up with teammate Al Horford to create one of the league's most feared frontcourt tandems, and breaking them up could be detrimental to team chemistry.

    Now, like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Hawks are facing a potential lose-lose situation. Trade Smith, and the franchise could be set back a few years. Hold onto him, and Smith could walk in favor of a better opportunity this summer.

    After defeating (via ESPN) the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday evening, you can sense that the Hawks are having none of this rebuilding (via NBA.com) talk.

    Ferry made fiscally responsible moves over the summer to free up cap space, which will ideally lead to the Hawks' re-signing Smith to a monster deal in the summer of 2013.