A mere month into the season, the NBA rumor mill is running at full speed with several high-quality players reportedly on the trading block.
For varying reasons, a few NBA squads are looking to shake their rosters up early in the season. A devastating injury will test one team's resolve to compete and a new signing elsewhere has relegated a highly paid player to the bench.
Other teams are just hungry to change up a dull offering. Starting the season at a snail's pace could propel a club to drastically alter the franchise's future plans in search of immediate relief.
Let's circle the Association for the latest trade rumblings.
Cleveland Serving Waiters to Other Teams?
Before the season began, the Cleveland Cavaliers' revered second-year shooting guard Dion Waiters as a critical cog in the team's future. A month later, they're apparently tired of him.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Cavaliers "are actively shopping" the 21-year-old, who is currently replicating his rookie average of 14.7 points per game:
Three teams the Cavaliers are known to have spoken with are the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, the sources said. The Cavs' targets are Iman Shumpert in New York, Evan Turner in Philadelphia and Luol Deng in Chicago, sources said.
It is believed Cleveland has reached out to other clubs as well.
Waiters, whom the Cavaliers drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2012, has a contentious relationship with several teammates, including star point guard Kyrie Irving, and sources say he is open to being traded. In fact, although Waiters has not demanded a trade, he brought up the subject in a three-hour meeting last week with coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant, according to sources.
Waiters' numbers are a near mirror image of last year's stats, only he is shooting a much improved 41.2 percent from long range after faltering deep last year at 31.0 percent. Little has changed on the court for 2012's No. 4 pick, so there has to be some credence to reports of trouble off the court to warrant such a move.
It's just not a trade rumor unless Iman Shumpert is tossed into the fray, but Luol Deng is a former All-Star and Evan Turner is making a case for All-Star contention this season, tallying 21.3 points and 6.9 boards per game in a career year.
Cleveland is likely getting antsy after a 5-12 start, but the organization would be wise not to make any rash decisions involving one of its top young talents.
Houston's Asking Price for Omer Asik Labeled "Delusional"
Now that Dwight Howard is on board, the Houston Rockets have little need for center Omer Asik. But several teams would love to acquire a 7-footer who can lock down the paint on defense.
Trading Asik seems obvious, so what's the problem?
According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, a competing general manager said Houston's "delusional" price tag is preventing any deal:
The limiting factor, of course, is that 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.
As Houston's starting center last season, Asik posted 10.1 points per game on 54.1 percent shooting while grabbing 11.7 rebounds and swatting 1.1 blocks per contest. He's a throwback big man who generates his value down low, mostly on the defensive end.
He's a valuable player that should welcome some suitors, but the Rockets must realize his bloated salary will prevent interested parties from selling the farm for Asik.
Luol Deng Staying in Chicago?
Now that Derrick Rose is again out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, the Chicago Bulls must contemplate a rebuilding effort.
They could earn a playoff ticket in an underwhelming Eastern Conference, and perhaps they could even advance past the first round again. But the old, creaky bus full of overworked veterans would stop there.
The Bulls can wave out Luol Deng's expiring contracts and receive a nice tool kit of draft picks and young talent, but they're not looking to go down that road. According to USA Today's' Jeff Zillgitt, neither side wants to part ways with the other:
With that in mind, 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.
The Bulls' de facto top player in Rose's absence, Deng is registering 18.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and a career-high 3.9 assists per game. Deng is certainly a great forward, but great enough to ease the misery of the team's superstar sitting on the sidelines again?
With Deng and Joakim Noah each turning 29 before the season ends, it's time for Chicago to start thinking ahead before everything unravels even more.
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