The NBA has some very active rumor mills. And the one turning over trade ideas is running about as rampant as ever.
Some of the most common names coming to surface this summer have been Luol Deng and Danny Granger (who are on expiring contracts), Jimmer Fredette and Derrick Williams (young reclamation projects), and Rajon Rondo and Omer Asik (who are heading into drastically different situations).
Any specific deals are merely speculation at this point, but things can happen quickly in NBA front offices. I mean, where on earth did that Brooklyn/Boston trade come from?
That one surprised some people, as NBA moves often do, but it made sense on both sides.
Brooklyn wants to win now, so it added two future Hall of Famers on their last legs to an already star-studded roster.
Boston wants to rebuild, so it unloaded its two biggest contracts and picked up three future first-round picks as part of the deal.
The goal here is to sniff out some potential trades involving guys in the rumor mill that work within a theme similar to that of the Brooklyn/Boston deal: initially a little surprising but ultimately beneficial for all involved (hopefully).
Note: I ran each potential deal through ESPN's NBA Trade Machine to make sure it would be allowed under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Links to each trade are included on its accompanying slide.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
Why It Works for Houston
Right after the Rockets acquired star center Dwight Howard, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that incumbent Omer Asik had formally requested a trade. The Turkish big man is not looking forward to returning to a reserve role after averaging 11.7 rebounds and 10.1 points last year.
General manager Darryl Morey has said that coach Kevin McHale plans to experiment with Howard at power forward in an effort to appease Asik. Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal thinks that experiment could blow up in Houston's face because of a lack of spacing on offense.
Should Fromal's analysis prove prophetic, the Rockets should at least explore what kind of value Asik has in the trade market before relegating him to the role of backup center.
If they dangle the line and it comes back with a solid power forward, they might want to snag him—especially if it's a stretch 4 who can create space for the paint-dominating Howard.
And with the exception of the unavailable Kevin Love, is there a better stretch 4 in the NBA than Ryan Anderson?
New Orleans' 6'10" three-point specialist hoisted almost seven attempts a game and hit 38 percent of them. He finished with the second most threes in the league in 2013 and was first in that category in 2012.
He and Chandler Parsons would be perfect complements to a Howard/James Harden pick-and-roll tandem. After Harden turns the corner around Howard's screen, he would have at least four solid options: hit the diving Howard, kick to Parsons or Anderson on either wing or corner, or finish the play himself.
Why It Works for New Orleans
After losing Robin Lopez to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Pelicans' depth chart is looking sparse at center.
I've argued Jason Smith's case in the past, but his mid-range shooting may not be what the team needs to toughen a lineup that could feature three guards at once (Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans).
Asik is a true center—the kind of player who can anchor a defense and clean the boards. He would also allow New Orleans to move Anthony Davis to power forward.
The budding star's athleticism makes for exciting finishes around the rim, but his slender, Kevin Garnett-esque frame suggests he should develop a more potent mid-range game.
Why It Works for Utah
During the summer league, Jazz rookie Trey Burke shot 24 percent from the field, including 1-of-19 from three-point range. Regular season competition will be even tougher. And if he continues to struggle, Utah may need to look for a steady veteran presence at point guard.
Enter Captain Kirk. Hinrich is a 10-year veteran who could serve as a mentor for Burke and a steadying influence for an extremely young team. The average age of Utah's projected starting five is under 22.
He led the Bulls with an average of 5.2 assists in less than 30 minutes a game last year and shot 39 percent from three-point range.
In addition to backing up Burke, Hinrich could spend some time alongside him as well. He's 6'4" with a 6'6" wingspan and has the reputation of a tough perimeter defender who can match up against either guard position.
Why It Works for Chicago
This deal works on a couple of different levels for the Bulls.
First, they've needed a shooting guard for a few years, and Brandon Rush looks like a tailor-made Tom Thibodeau shooting guard.
He plays physical defense on the perimeter and would provide spacing for Derrick Rose on offense. He has hit 41 percent of his three-point attempts in his career.
Adding Rush could also make it easier to move Luol Deng's expiring contract (more on that later). His presence could move Jimmy Butler to his more natural position of small forward.
Butler is poised to break out after averaging 13 points in 41 minutes a game during the playoffs last year. But playing him at small forward would mean splitting time with the starter, unless of course Chicago can find someone to take Deng's $14 million expiring contract off its hands.
Why It Works for Sacramento
When Fredette got drafted, I thought, "There isn't a worse situation in the league for him." And then coach Paul Westphal—the only guy in the organization who seemed to still believe in Jimmermania—got canned seven games into Fredette's rookie season.
It's been all downhill from there. Despite being the team's most consistent three-point threat (42 percent last year), he could not find anything resembling consistency from coach Keith Smart. He would play 20 minutes one night and get a DNP-CD (did not play-coach's decision) the next.
His days look to be numbered now, after the team drafted shooting guard Ben McLemore in the first round and point guard Ray McCollum at the beginning of the second round—the two positions at which Fredette might have seen court time.
With the writing on the wall, Sacramento made it known that it would start listening to trade offers.
And Utah could offer an interesting deal.
Through a couple of trades (mostly the Andre Iguodala blockbuster they helped facilitate for Golden State), the Jazz have stockpiled assets. They have six future draft picks that weren't initially theirs. Three of them are second-rounders, and the Kings might be desperate enough to take them.
I included Jeremy Evans in the deal linked above to make the salaries work. At this point, the Jazz might be ready to concede he doesn't have much to offer them. Perhaps the athleticism of the 2012 dunk contest winner might intrigue the Kings, though.
Why It Works for Utah
The Jazz were in the bottom third of the NBA in threes made last year, and Fredette has the potential to be a top-notch specialist in that category.
Despite playing in a situation that deprived him of any opportunity to find a rhythm, he still finished the season with a top-20 three-point percentage. And he's not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He can also hit his jumper off the dribble.
Some suggest the pressure of playing in Utah could get to him, but I see it as a positive. He would instantly make the organization a ton of money in jersey and ticket sales, and he would be joining a rebuilding team that is willing to throw young guys out on the floor each night.
If the Jazz win, great. If not, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and the 2014 draft class are waiting.
Why It Works for Orlando
More than anything I could say about how Luol Deng might fit basketball-wise, this deal would be about money. And it would do a lot for this rebuilding team.
The Magic are starting fresh, and jettisoning midlevel veterans on inflated contracts would accelerate that process. Combined, Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo are owed more than $40 million over the next three years. Deng is owed $14 million this year and comes off the books next summer.
That opens up a lot of financial flexibility for the future, as well as space in which No. 2 pick Victor Oladipo can develop. The Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins reported that the Oladipo-at-point-guard experiment will continue into training camp, so Nelson's absence would mean more hands-on learning time.
Why It Works for Chicago
Nelson and Afflalo may not be great as primary options. But as complementary pieces to a team on the cusp of title contention? That makes a little more sense.
Afflalo may not be as efficient as Deng, but he averaged just as many points last season (16.5) despite an anomalous off-year from three-point range. From 2008-2012, he shot 42 percent from downtown, compared to 30 last year. That number could come back up if he doesn't have to carry as big of an offensive load.
He also fills a need that Chicago has had for years. As I mentioned in the "Brandon Rush for Kirk Hinrich" slide, the Bulls lack depth at shooting guard.
But think about the rotation if Bulls GM Gar Forman happens to stumble across this article.
Suddenly, the starting lineup could read Derrick Rose, Afflalo, Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer (even though I think this should be Taj Gibson's job) and Joakim Noah—with Jameer Nelson (who averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 assists last year) Rush, Mike Dunleavy, Gibson and Nazr Mohammed backing them up.
Why It Works for Boston
Much like my explanation for why acquiring Luol Deng works for the Magic, this would be all about the expiring contract for Boston.
It became clear the Celtics were kicking off a rebuilding phase when they traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Nets. The last remaining piece of the old guard is Rajon Rondo.
Danny Granger would clog up an already crowded frontcourt in Boston in the short term, but his deal is off the books next summer, and unloading money is a key part of a fresh start.
Why It Works for Indiana
I feel like I'm one of the only people pulling for the Pacers to go back to their old wing combo of Paul George and Danny Granger. But if Granger's expiring contract and once-dynamic scoring ability could be enough to acquire someone as valuable as Rondo, I'd jump ship.
His playmaking and defense could be exactly what Indiana needs to put a scare in the Miami Heat.
Let's start with the playmaking. According to Basketball-Reference.com, assist percentage is "an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor." Rondo's career mark is 40.87—good for fifth all time behind John Stockton, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Steve Nash.
Hill played a lot of shooting guard with the San Antonio Spurs and shot better when playing off the ball. And his lack of size wouldn't be too much of a liability on defense due to his 6'9" wingspan and the versatility of everyone else in the lineup.
A starting five of Rondo, Hill, George, West and Hibbert could potentially dominate on both sides of the ball.