With the 2012-13 NBA season in full swing, most teams are in the final stages of jelling into cohesive units. Players are figuring out their roles, coaches are figuring out their lineups and most teams are figuring out exactly who they are this season.
That isn’t the case for all players, of course. The NBA is a trade-driven league, and as the February trade deadline draws near, there are many big-name players who could see themselves relocated.
Here are six highly talked-about players who might be on the trading block this season.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
According to Cindy Boren of The Washington Post, Josh Smith asked for a trade from the Hawks at the trade deadline of last season. With his contract expiring and free agency looming for the 26-year-old swingman, the time might be coming for the Hawks to make a move.
Boren wrote back in March that Smith wanted to be traded to a team more committed to winning a championship. The Hawks took a step back this offseason when they traded away guard Joe Johnson to the Nets.
Atlanta currently sits at 3-3 on the year, but if they struggle as the season goes on, rebuilding should look better and better. That means a greater chance Smith gets his new home come the trade deadline.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans was on the trading block at the end of last season, according to The Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin. While he remains with the Kings, his future is in doubt and the Kings did not attempt to offer him any extension for next season.
The Kings may very well wait out the year and see what Evans is offered on the open market—he will be a restricted free agent and the Kings could match any contract. He’s had a poor start to the season, averaging 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds a contest for Sacramento while shooting 36.9 percent from the floor.
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
Calderon has been on the trading block for months since the Raptors acquired guard Kyle Lowry. Canada.com writer Hasan Alanam translated an interview Calderon had with marca.com in which the veteran admitted he was on the trading block.
“Bryan (Colangelo) has said that I’m a candidate to be traded because I have a big contract and it’s my last year. They have talked about this more than anything else.”
Calderon is coming off the bench behind Lowry but having a fine season, averaging 11.0 points and 6.4 assists in 28.6 minutes a game. As the season drags on, expect teams that are struggling at the point-guard position to take a good look at the talented Spaniard.
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Paul Millsap has started all eight contests for the Jazz this season, but the increased pressure from young players behind him might see him out of Utah come February.
With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter backing both Millsap and center Al Jefferson, the Jazz are very deep in the post. Favors especially is making the case for starter minutes, averaging 9.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a contest.
Millsap is putting up impressive numbers of his own with 15.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, but his future in Utah is uncertain. The Jazz did not reach an agreement with him in the offseason on an extension, which leaves the big man open to free agency next summer.
Utah isn’t as deep at the guard positions as they are in the paint. Should the young bigs continue to thrive, his expiring contract and post skills could fetch a high price on the trading block.
Raja Bell, Utah Jazz
Bell hasn’t played with the Utah Jazz this season after agreeing not to attend training camp. He currently counts on Utah’s 15-man roster, and the Jazz have looked into trade offers according to Shams Charania of RealGM.com.
Charania linked in the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers as teams that might covet Bell back in late October.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, Ellis is expected to exercise his Early Termination Option next summer. Should Ellis exercise his ETO, he would become a free agent and leave his current $11 million contract with Milwaukee.
Kennedy speculates that if the Bucks feel Ellis is unlikely to remain in Milwaukee past this season that they would look to trade him rather than let him walk.
The Bucks obtained Ellis for center Andrew Bogut in a trade with Golden State last season.