NBA Rumors: 8 Players Who Could Be Moved Well Before the Trade Deadline
The NBA trade deadline is still months away, but it's never too early to speculate about which players may be on the block.
The 2012-2013 season is still very young, only in its third week, but GM's and team front offices are surely evaluating ways to improve their rosters already.
Whether a player is underperforming or the team simply wants to shed salary, there will likely be movement well before the trade deadline.
There are already several big names that are floating around the rumor mill. Most of them won't surprise you as they are players that have been talked about as trade bait in the past.
Regardless, here are eight players who could be moved before the the February 21 trade deadline.
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
This situation is very similar to when a budding Paul Millsap backed up Carlos Boozer several years back, and the Utah Jazz decided to allow Boozer to walk in favor of the younger, rising Millsap.
Now, Millsap has the younger, rising Derrick Favors scratching at his heels and could find himself on the block with the emergence of Favors.
Millsap turned down a contract extension last year and appears ready to test free agency at the end of the season.
With the Jazz likely unwilling to lose Millsap for nothing in free agency and the security of having an up-and-coming big man in Favors, they may put Millsap on the block as the season progresses.
Utah is off to a decent start in the West, so dealing a major piece like Millsap would be tough, but if they begin to taper off, Millsap could be on the market a lot sooner than expected.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anderson Varejao has been a fixture on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster over the last nine years, but it might be a smart time to part ways with the 30-year-old forward.
The Cavaliers have their young core of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters in place, and they are clearly the future of the team.
With the Cavaliers having plenty of youth in their frontcourt, Varejao is a perfect trade asset if they can get more young players or draft picks in return.
Varejao is an excellent rebounder and reliable post scorer with ample playoff experience, meaning his name will come up in trade discussions over the next few weeks in order to allow their younger players to get increased playing time
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons
Tayshaun Prince is the lone member remaining from the Detroit Pistons' 2004 championship squad. Quite frankly, Prince no longer needs to be stuck in the disaster that Detroit currently is in.
The 33-year-old Prince doesn't fit on a Pistons team with a slew of young players, and would serve a contending team much better.
Prince, who has played his entire 10-year career with the Pistons, is still a very capable shooter and would be a great scorer off the bench in the right situation.
Prince has three years left on his contract, but his championship experience is very beneficial for a team that feels they need one more piece to get over the hump. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Pistons, who currently sit at 0-8, deal Prince as they continue to rebuild around Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight.
Al Harrington, Orlando Magic
Al Harrington was a throw-in to make the blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard work. The Orlando Magic have no plans of making Harrington part of its long-term future as they are clearly in rebuild mode.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan said at the team's annual media day that he is focused on progressing the team's younger players, like Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic and E'Twaun Moore, and that he will explore a variety of trade options for the team's veterans if necessary.
Well, Harrington isn't exactly going to bring this Magic team to the next level, and there is no reason to keep him other than to be a mentor for the younger players. Since the Magic already have plenty of other veteran options under contract who can fill that role, Harrington is more than expendable.
Harrington hasn't played a game yet in a Magic uniform as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. However, as HoopsWorld writer Alex Kennedy said, Harrington has an attractive contract "because the final two years and $14,758,400 remaining on his deal are only 50 percent guaranteed."
Harrington has been a solid player throughout his career and he would be useful on a contender.
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
Jose Calderon has been on the block for quite some time now, and that was further cemented when the Toronto Raptors acquired point guard Kyle Lowry in the offseason.
With Lowry in the starting role and the Raptors having the depth to back him up with John Lucas on the roster, it seems smart to get rid of Calderon's $10.5 million expiring contract.
Plenty of teams need a solid point guard like Calderon, and the Spain native might have just improved his stock after a 20 point, 17 assist effort against Utah last night.
Calderon's bloated contract is expiring, so plenty of playoff teams could use his services for the remainder of the year.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
How many times have we heard Josh Smith's name thrown around in trade rumors? It feels like every year Smith is on the block.
However, a potential trade is much more serious this year as Smith will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Smith publicly stated his frustration with the franchise last season and demanded a trade. The Atlanta Hawks have lost ground in the Eastern Conference as teams like Miami, New York, Indiana and Boston have made moves to stay ahead of them.
Smith and the Hawks are accustomed to second-round defeats in the playoffs over the last few seasons, and he will likely want to test the free agent market.
If Smith doesn't give the Hawks any indication he is going to re-sign, Atlanta will be forced to shop him so they can get something in return for its star forward.
Despite his ill-advised shot selection, Smith has plenty of value, and the Hawks could get draft picks and/or a solid young player.
Richard Hamilton, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls's season is sort of in limbo. They have the pieces to be a contender in the Eastern Conference, except for the fact they are missing their MVP point guard. Derrick Rose is recovering from a torn ACL, and his return date is up in the air, meaning how the Bulls will finish in the standings is a complete mystery.
Rose's competitive spirit will urge him to come back sometime this season, but it may be pointless if Chicago is simply vying for a seventh or eighth seed.
Richard Hamilton was brought on board to fill Chicago's void at shooting guard, as well as provide a second scoring option. However, Hamitlon's first season was marred by injuries, as he only played in 28 games last year.
While he is currently third on the Bulls in scoring, it may be wise for the Bulls to deal Rip as they have a team option on him at the end of the season, making him essentially an expiring contract.
As the season progresses, contenders could use a veteran with championship experience like Hamilton, and it would be wise for Chicago to get something in return for him in a year that's likely heading nowhere.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks took a risk trading for Monta Ellis last season, hoping him and Brandon Jennings would form a formidable backcourt duo.
However, the pairing hasn't amounted to anything overly special in the short time that Ellis has been a member of the Bucks.
More importantly, as noted by HoopsWorld writer Alex Kennedy, is that Ellis is expected to exercise his Early Termination option after this season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.
"The general consensus around the league is that Ellis is going to exercise his Early Termination Option after this season, leaving $11,000,000 on the table to become an unrestricted free agent."
Being that Milwaukee relinquished its former first overall pick in center Andrew Bogut for Ellis, they aren't prepared to lose him for nothing.
Monta has been a scoring machine throughout his career…but always on lowly teams. He will want to finally play for a contender, and there are plenty of teams that would vie his services.
This scenario is moot if Ellis gives Milwaukee a commitment, but that is rather unlikely during the season.