5 NBA Players Already Being Shopped Around
With the never-ending flood of intrigue happening on and off the court thus far, it's hard to believe that we're not even at the quarter mark of the 2012-13 NBA season.
That fact is especially astonishing when talking about the NBA trade rumor mill. The James Harden trade proved teams aren't afraid to pull the trigger, and the flurry of Pau Gasol rumors shows that pure speculation can oftentimes overwhelm the on-court action.
Still, Gasol isn't the only player whose name has been tossed around in trade talks. With that in mind, here is a look at a few players showing up regularly in the trade rumor mill.
Jose Calderon (PG, Toronto Raptors)
By now, it's the worst-kept secret in the Great White North that Jose Calderon is available for a trade. The team has explored moving its backup point guard since acquiring Kyle Lowry in the offseason, but the Raptors have yet to find the correct match.
The latest rumor being given the old stick-to-the-wall treatment is Calderon and Andrea Bargnani being the centerpieces for a possible Pau Gasol trade. That information comes via ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne:
Stretch power forward Andrea Bargnani, veteran point guard Jose Calderon and fellow vet Linas Kleiza are among the players, sources say, whom the Raptors have discussed making available to the Lakers in a deal for Gasol.
While nothing seems imminent on the Lakers, there's almost no chance Calderon is still with the Raptors come March. His contract is expiring and he's proved this season that he can play the good soldier as a backup and be excellent in spot-starting duty as well.
Calderon may never have become the Spanish Steve Nash, but he'll be a worthwhile rental item for a contender at some point.
Pau Gasol (PF, Los Angeles Lakers)
Do we know for sure that the Lakers are shopping Pau Gasol? Of course not. For every Sheridan Hoops report saying management already has a short list of players they're targeting, there is something like CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher revealing that the team had guaranteed Steve Nash a chance to play with Gasol.
Using my top-notch inference skills, it seems like the Lakers would move Gasol, but it would take the right offer to make it happen. Likely a stretch power forward that would fit into Mike D'Antoni's system swimmingly and another veteran presence able to fill a top bench role.
However, until Gasol returns to the court, it seems impossible to gauge when (or if) the team will get that offer. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, interested teams are already questioning whether the 32-year-old forward's knee injuries are affecting his play:
Pau's trade value dropping. a GM with past interest told me 2day "now u have to wonder if some of his performance issues are knee-related."— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) December 6, 2012
With similar sentiments undoubtedly echoing throughout the league, it's becoming less likely by the day that this saga ends anytime soon.
Anderson Varejao (PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers)
Unlike Gasol, Anderson Varejao's play this season has done nothing but send his trade value skyrocketing. The 30-year-old forward-center is in the midst of setting an agglomeration of career highs, including points (15.0) and rebounds (15.4) per game and PER (23.63).
Unfortunately, Varejao's brilliance hasn't rubbed off on his teammates, and the Cavaliers are tied for the league's second-worst record at 4-15. That chasm between Varejao's play and Cleveland's team trajectory is the overarching reason he's been available since the summer—but only at the right price.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto, the Cavs' trouble moving Varejao stems from interested teams not having the right pieces to make a deal happen:
Their price has always been high -- something like a lottery pick and perhaps other young players. The teams that treasure Varejao's skills are contenders with low draft picks. That has not created suitable trading partners.
On the surface, Cleveland's stance makes sense. Varejao comes extremely cheap ($18.9 million the next two seasons) and plays a premium position. Still, by the time the Cavs' core is ready to compete, Varejao will likely be on the downside of his career.
It would be advantageous for management to make a trade while is value is still high and the team can get building blocks in return.
Raja Bell (SG, Utah Jazz)
Raja Bell has been exiled from the Jazz for the entire 2012-13 season, meaning the end has already come for his time with the team. Nevertheless, he's still under contract, and until the team trades him or reaches a buyout agreement, the guard is essentially stuck in NBA purgatory.
For the most part, it seems like the two sides are focused on a buyout for now. According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Lakers are patiently waiting for those negotiations to find a middle ground so they can sign Bell:
For those reasons, league sources say D'Antoni is using whatever organizational capital he has to push for the signing of Raja Bell, whose agent, Herb Rudoy, is in the midst of buyout negotiations with the Jazz. Bell would immediately slow the wing penetration that is collapsing the Lakers' defense and exposing their rotational deficiencies on the back side
Nevertheless, if a trade offer comes up, don’t think Utah will hesitate to pull the trigger. Real GM had already reported the team was making overtures on the trade market earlier this year, but nothing wound up happening.
At least teams looking for a serviceable backup guard won’t have to look far for a trade partner.
Drew Gooden (PF, Milwaukee Bucks)
While it would be an overstatement to call his stint with the Bucks a complete bust, it's difficult to envision a scenario where the team doesn't have buyer's remorse about Drew Gooden. The veteran forward signed a five-year, $32 million deal in 2010 and has played just 91 games since, including an extended stint on the inactive list to begin this season.
According to the Racine Journal Times' Gery Woelfel, Milwaukee has begun searching for a remedy to its problem by trading Gooden:
The Bucks don’t comment on trade speculation but the scuttlebutt around the league is the team is trying to move the 31-year-old Gooden, who is being paid $6.68 million for this season and the next two seasons as well.
Gooden is yet to touch the floor this season, so it's highly unlikely the Bucks could get much in return. However, history tells us some team will eventually cough up a minuscule return in exchange for Gooden's services.
The 31-year-old forward has already played for nine teams in his 11-year career. Look for him to hit the double-digit mark sooner rather than later.