The 2013-14 NBA regular season has officially entered its second full month. Despite the brevity of the campaign, there are a growing number of trade rumors that could potentially reshape the landscape of the league.
While every team may be interested, only a select few are expressing what is reported as legitimate interest. The question on everyone's mind, of course, is whether or not they'll come to fruition.
While nothing is certain, the following rumors appear to hold the most weight from across the league.
Kings Still Aggressive
Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported via ESPN that the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves have completed a trade. Minnesota received defensive specialist Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, while Sacramento picked up embattled forward Derrick Williams.
According to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com, the Kings are still aggressive in pursuing another trade.
Just because [general manager Pete] D’Alessandro pulled the trigger on this trade with Minnesota doesn’t mean he’s done searching for ways to improve his team. Rival executives have said that the Kings have been the most active team in trade talks this season, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
There aren't many untouchable pieces on Sacramento's roster, so activity is to be expected.
The only players that have proven to be worth holding on to are center DeMarcus Cousins, shooting guard Ben McLemore and point guard Isaiah Thomas. Other attractive options that could be seen in either direction are shooting guard Marcus Thornton and point guards Jimmer Fredette and Greivis Vasquez.
From there, it all comes down to whether or not Sacramento would be willing to part ways with interior players Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson.
Due to the wide-open nature of the Kings' roster, it's more likely than not that Sacramento will swing another trade. Whether they acquire a draft choice or a quality player, the fact that general manager Pete D'Alessandro is open to moves should be encouraging enough.
Sacramento has a dramatically brighter future under its new management.
Deng to Remain in Chicago?
When Derrick Rose went down for the remainder of the 2013-14 regular season, the instant reaction was one of lost hope. The Chicago Bulls are an elite defensive team whether D-Rose is on the floor or not, but the offense is as weak as it has ever been.
With that in mind, [Luol] Deng, who will make $14.2 million this year in the final year of his six-year deal, probably will be with the Bulls for the long haul, a person familiar with both sides told USA TODAY Sports. Even though an expiring deal is ideal to trade, both sides appear to want to keep him on the team. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about a potential deal.
After years of low-legitimacy trade rumors, it's refreshing to hear that Deng will stay put.
There's a major pro and a significant con for trading Deng, with the most notable positive being that Chicago is entering a rebuilding process. It's no secret that the Bulls need a shot-creating off-guard to take the pressure off of D-Rose, and that's even more legitimate after he was lost for the season.
The issue for the Bulls is that, in a draft class as deep as 2014, the return would be limited. Deng is an All-Star, but he's also 28 with a relatively concerning history of injuries, and that could force Chicago to keep the two-way star.
That's not such a bad thing.
Deng will become a free agent, and re-signing him could be tricky from a financial perspective. If he makes a commitment to make the necessary sacrifices to re-sign, however, Deng is an invaluable weapon.
Deng's future beyond 2013-14 will depend heavily on his decision during the upcoming offseason.
Asik to Portland?
Since the Houston Rockets signed center Dwight Howard, it's been made clear that Omer Asik wants out of town. His first trade request was reported during July by Brian Windhorst of ESPN, and it's been a consistent string of please-and-no ever since.
The Trail Blazers are off to one of their best starts in years, but they’re not kidding themselves. They know they’ve taken advantage of a pillow-soft schedule and have surprised themselves with their shooting (45%). So they’re quietly looking to improve, talking to the Rockets about trading for Omer Asik. They can send back Robin Lopez in a deal, but don’t have the “stretch four’’ the Houston is looking for as it searches for a home for its disgruntled backup center.
That all makes sense.
Robin Lopez is quietly putting together a strong season, but Asik is viewed as the superior force. Lopez is the better offensive player, and he blocks shots at a higher rate than Asik, but the latter is one of the best energy guys in the game.
That adds up to Portland lacking the necessary trade pieces to get a deal done.
If you're wondering what Houston wants, the answer is a stretch-four who can space the floor for D-12. Howard experienced his best success with that type of player alongside him with the Orlando Magic, which ultimately resulted in Ryan Anderson winning the Most Improved Player of the Year award.
Per Lawrence, Anderson is the player whom Houston is interested in.
The Rockets want a power forward who can shoot threes to pair next to Dwight Howard. That led them, predictably, to the Pelicans, home of Ryan Anderson. But the Pelicans refused to part with Anderson, even though putting Asik in the middle and moving Anthony Davis to power forward makes a lot of sense.
Reuniting Anderson and Howard would be an excellent way to develop a stronger offensive game.
Due to the emergence of second-year forward Terrence Jones, the Rockets have developed leverage on the trade market. Jones is averaging 10.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.6 minutes per game, and he has the look of a potential full-time starter.
In turn, Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that Houston is asking for an unrealistically high return in a potential trade for Asik.
...while Asik counts only $8.4 million against the cap/tax, his actual salary next season is $15 million. Given those constraints and Asik's sad-sack demeanor, one rival GM described the Rockets as "delusional" as far as their asking price for him.
It adds up.
Houston has been unwilling to trade a player that has expressed no interest in playing for its team. While some are labeling Asik as an elite center, his energy, physicality and strength are matched with hands of stone and limited offensive know-how.
It's hard to imagine Houston keeping Asik until season's end, but fans shouldn't expect a major return for a starting role player.