NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Speculation Surrounding Top Trade Targets

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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Speculation Surrounding Top Trade Targets
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the calendar year is a time when many NBA teams can take stock of their play so far in the season and assess what they must do to improve.

As a result, players who have spent the 2012-13 campaign constantly seeing their names in trade rumors will be examined yet again by their own clubs, as well as by prospective buyers.

From intriguing young talents like DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Williams—who have had their share of difficulties—to established veterans like Pau Gasol and Al Jefferson, plenty of high-profile players have been mentioned in potential deals.

As the midseason trade deadline looms, let's update the futures of some of the biggest trade targets in the association.

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DeMarcus Cousins

Another year full of immature antics landed DeMarcus Cousins a one-game suspension for unprofessional conduct, and the talented but troubled big man may be in for a change of scenery. ESPN's Chad Ford reports that Cousins' agent will aggressively pursue a deal.

However, Ford notes Sacramento's management is not sure whether they want to try to acquire young prospects and draft picks or look for an established player to help them immediately.

While no clear trade proposals have been offered and Cousins has been reinstated, Sacramento Bee writer Jason Jones reported that the former Kentucky star did not travel with his team to Portland and will have the dreaded "DNP - Coach's Decision" tag.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Josh Smith

Prior to the 2012-13 season, there were rumors that Josh Smith would be the next player the Atlanta Hawks dealt in their rebuilding effort. However, the team has jumped out to a 16-9 record and is in the hunt for playoff home-court advantage.

All this has factored into the Hawks' decision to not pursue a trade involving Smith, according to Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld.com.

Smith is a free agent at the end of the season and will likely command a hefty paycheck, but as Kyler writes, the Hawks "believe they have the inside track on re-signing him in July."

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap

The two talented Utah Jazz big men have been mentioned regularly in trade rumors over the past two seasons, and now, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Jazz will very likely deal one of them in an attempt to acquire a top-shelf point guard.

Both Millsap and Jefferson will be free agents when the season ends, and with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter waiting in the wings, there is no reason for the organization to keep both of their current starters.

Stein does not know which of the pair Utah will look to trade more aggressively, but in light of Mo Williams' recent thumb injury, the team is all the more desperate for a starting-caliber point guard to run their offense.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Amar'e Stoudemire

After missing the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Amar'e Stoudemire is gearing up for his return with the New York Knicks. However, if it were up to New York, Stoudemire would have been dealt long ago.

Per Howard Beck of the New York Times, the Knicks were shopping Stoudemire and willing to take essentially any offer for the former All-Star's services. According to Beck, deals involving Toronto's Andrea Bargnani and Dwight Howard during his Orlando tenure were discussed but never came to fruition.

Stoudemire has three years remaining on a five-year, $100 million contract he signed in the summer of 2010 and that, combined with his injuries and declining production, has made it incredibly hard for the Knicks to find a willing buyer for Stat.

Ian Begley of ESPN New York reported that Stoudemire is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team, including potentially coming off the bench. However, the organization have already tried to deal him several times in the past, and he will need to prove that he can blend with the new-look Knicks quickly.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Pau Gasol

When the Lakers were struggling, it appeared a foregone conclusion that Pau Gasol would be dealt prior to the midseason trade deadline, but five straight wins have helped to right the ship somewhat. In addition, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported that Gasol and coach Mike D'Antoni met on December 19th to hash out their differences.

While a meeting like this does not guarantee that Gasol will remain with L.A. for the long haul, it is certainly a positive sign for the power forward who helped the Lakers to back-to-back championships.

In the same piece on Josh Smith, Steve Kyler wrote that no team was making a home-run offer for Pau, and given their recent success, the team may not opt to pull the trigger on an underwhelming deal.

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Anderson Varejao

The Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled mightily due to poor defensive play and Kyrie Irving's injury troubles, but Anderson Varejao cannot be counted among the Cav's problems.

In the midst of the best season of his career, Varejao is averaging 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 47.8 percent shooting from the field.

With his stock so high and Cleveland going nowhere in 2012-13, Hoopsworld.com's Alex Kennedy writes that it is quite possible the team will opt to deal the Brazilian center.

Kennedy notes that the 30-year-old Varejao is much older than Cleveland's youthful core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, while his relatively inexpensive contract makes him an incredibly attractive option.

The Cavaliers have some nice young pieces like Thompson and Tyler Zeller in their frontcourt, and according to Kennedy, the prevailing consensus around the league is that the Cavs should look to deal the high-energy rebounder.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams had an up-and-down rookie season after being drafted second overall in 2011, but the combo forward has had an incredibly trying 2012-13 campaign as his minutes have been jerked around by Rick Adleman.

Williams is playing just 17.5 minutes per game and posting averages of eight points and 4.4 rebounds on 40.6 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent from three-point range. He has not played in several games this season despite being fully healthy.

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Now, ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson reports that Williams' agent has asked the Minnesota front office about the possibility of a trade.

According to Wolfson, the Timberwolves discussed a deal involving center Nikola Pekovic and Williams for Pau Gasol in "numerous conversations," but a move was never made.

Williams is still incredibly young and brimming with potential, but it seems that his days with Minnesota may be numbered.

Statistics are courtesy of ESPN and accurate as of December 26th, 2012.

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