While the NBA season is just getting started, a team's early success—or lack thereof—can greatly affect personnel moves for the rest of the year.
After just a couple of weeks, squads that have started out with a few more losses than expected can start thinking about moving key pieces who might have interest from around the league. It is certainly better to make a trade when the value is high rather than waiting too long.
Even with months to go before the NBA trade deadline, it is never too early to think about a possible season-changing deal.
Here is a look at a few such possibilities based on the recent rumors regarding top players around the league.
Rudy Gay, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors acquired Rudy Gay in the middle of last season with the apparent hope that he could become a new face of the franchise. However, he could be sent back on his way if the team does not start winning.
Toronto has a respectable 3-4 record to start the year, but ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the squad might blow up the roster soon:
Even at this Week 1 juncture, there are strong indications in circulation that Toronto is exploring its trade options rather vigorously in hopes of constructing a roster that can finally halt a five-season playoff drought.
The strong sense now, though, is that the Raps are prepared to trade virtually anyone on the current roster if a suitable offer presents itself.
"Anyone but [Jonas] Valanciunas," says one plugged-in source.
Stein continues to discuss the possibility of trading Gay and his $18 million salary, saying the squad is "determined to find out" how tradable he is.
The small forward is currently averaging 17.9 points per game, but he is seriously struggling from the field. His shooting percentage of 37.4 percent would be a new career low, which was set last season when he only made 41.6 percent of his shots.
It is certainly possible that his inefficiency makes him less valuable than his cost would indicate, making him a poor trade target for squads around the league. Still, the star can still be a go-to scorer on a good team, which makes this case an interesting one to follow throughout the season.
Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings
When a team starts a season 1-5, management starts evaluating players who should be part of the immediate future. A former lottery pick who cannot get onto the floor might not make the list.
Jimmer Fredette came into the NBA with high expectations after shooting the lights out in college, but he has not lived up to them in his first two seasons. This year, he only has two appearances for the Kings and has scored six points.
This likely signals the end for his career in Sacramento. Sam Amick of USA Today reported that the club will not pick up next year's option, and that a trade is possible. He also tweeted about interest from around the league:
With Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Thomas and even Ray McCallum on the roster, the Kings have little use for another point guard. Rookie Ben McLemore has also taken the role as an elite outside shooter.
Still, there will always be teams looking for players who can spread the floor offensively. Fredette has that ability, and he can help out any squad that gives him a chance.
Considering the guard's value is as low as possible, it would not be surprising to see a deal go through.
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
Although Iman Shumpert has impressed many in the NBA in his first couple of seasons, he apparently still has more to prove with his own team.
As Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports, J.R. Smith's return could lead to Shumpert needing to find a new team:
“The rest of the league seems to value Iman more than the Knicks do,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “And his value is high.”
Including Shumpert in a deal for Rajon Rondo is something Mike Woodson would sign up for immediately but it’s also pure fantasy. Ask yourself, why would the Boston Celtics trade their best player to a hated rival that doesn’t have first-round picks to trade?
A more plausible scenario is moving Shumpert for Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, especially when you factor in the health of Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Plus, the Knicks believe they have insurance in the backcourt with rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Rajon Rondo trade does not make a lot of sense, but the Kenneth Faried deal does. Zach Lowe of Grantland reported prior to the start of the year that the Denver Nuggets would attempt to gauge Faried's trade value and they appear to have found it.
Injuries have limited the Knicks' options in the frontcourt, and they need a rebounding threat like Faried. Meanwhile, the Nuggets could use an athletic 2-guard who can take over the defensive role that Andre Iguodala had last season.
Of course if this trade does not happen, Shumpert will likely remain on the block in an effort to bring New York value in return.
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