With the NBA season already almost a third of the way through and teams planning ahead for the New Year, below are a few trades that are being discussed and some notes regarding future player contracts.
Keep in mind that no trades are imminent, according to sources—a mixture of agents, players, business reps and scouts—who spoke with Bleacher Report.
We start in Memphis:
Several sources said the Grizzlies are currently shopping power forward Zach Randolph, and two of them are hearing there's a destination and main trade piece involved: New Orleans and stretch-4 Ryan Anderson, who's averaging a team-high 21.7 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting from three-point range.
"A trade centered around Randolph and Anderson should happen down the line this season," one source said.
Randolph wants to stay put; he told ESPN.com last month that he would "like to retire (in Memphis)." In fact, he's so committed to the city that on Wednesday the NBA presented him with the November Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable efforts and contributions in the community.
But Randolph is 32—seven years older than Anderson—and the Grizzlies likely don't want to pick up his expensive $16.9 million player option for 2014-15. They're a capped-out team that sees promise in younger power forward Ed Davis, who's a restricted free agent.
On the Pelicans' front, they'd get a player in Randolph who would command the low post and help them push further forward in the competitive Western Conference. When Anthony Davis returns in a few weeks from a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, his All-Star ability to pick-and-roll and spread the floor, as well as defend the paint, would complement Randolph's interior game. But Randolph does have an expiring contract, which is something
Anderson is compelling because of his scoring versatility at 6'10" in the low- and mid-post, pick-and-pops and spot-ups from downtown, which would complement Grizzlies center Marc Gasol's inside game. Anderson is also an underrated offensive rebounder.
Through 21 games, the 10-11 Grizzlies are one of the worst scoring teams and are dead-last in three-pointers made (97). Anderson is leading the league in that category per game (3.7), 0.3 more than each of the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Because of Randolph's $18.2 million current salary, the Pelicans' incoming aggregate salaries would have to be within $5 million of the aggregate outgoing salaries going to the Grizzlies. Therefore, in addition to Anderson ($8.3 million), the Pelicans could consider including Al-Farouq Aminu ($3.7 million) and Austin Rivers ($2.3 million) in the deal. According to two sources, Rivers is unhappy with his playing time and would be open to a trade.
The Grizzlies could use a younger small forward in Aminu—which would make Tayshaun Prince the team's sixth man—and their starting shooting guard position is still in flux. Because of Rivers' talent and scoring ability, perhaps he has what it takes to eventually play alongside Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley. Rivers is only 21, and has been buried this season at the 2 position behind Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Morrow. Sometimes a kid as talented as Rivers simply needs more reps.
Speaking of Gordon, a source believes he will be traded this season in a move to wipe off the maximum deal he signed with the Phoenix Suns in 2012 (through 2016 with a player option), and to make Evans, who signed a long-term deal with the Pelicans this past summer, the starting shooting guard.
One thing to keep in mind is that Pau Gasol told NBA.com on Wednesday that it would be "appealing" to play for the Grizzlies next season to team up with his brother. So the Grizzlies might want to wait until the offseason to meet with the Lakers big man, who's in the last year of his contract. The Grizzlies, however, would need to convince Gasol to sign for much less than his $19.2 million this season.
Update: On Thursday, another source commented on a potential Randolph-Anderson trade: "New Orleans is not sure if they want to pull the trigger. They are playing OK without Davis, so I don't think they want to pull the trigger until they can see what they have at full strength." While the Pelicans admire Anderson, Randolph's expiring contract could benefit the team in the short and long term.
From New York:
Could the Knicks trade for a point guard?
A source said Raymond Felton's hamstring injury is "pretty bad," and the Knicks have shown little interest in playing rookie Toure' Murry. So a point-guard move could be in the cards, especially for someone who can attack the paint consistently and create more movement in the team's offense besides Carmelo Anthony.
Tyson Chandler is missed for his screening effectiveness to open up lanes and shooting opportunities, and after Wednesday's win over the Chicago Bulls, Anthony said the offense needs a spark.
"(My teammates) are just looking for me to make something happen," he said. "We’ve got to get away from that."
On Thursday, a source said the Knicks are exploring a trade that would send Felton and another asset to the Toronto Raptors for point guard Kyle Lowry. He makes $6.2 million this season, so it would require the Knicks to move two players, most likely Felton and shooting guard Iman Shumpert. The Knicks and Raptors have a trading history together, from Glen Grunwald's connection and this past summer's deal involving Andrea Bargnani.
Regarding Shumpert, a source said many teams "still like Shump," and the Knicks need frontcourt help even though Chandler is planning to return before the New Year (via CBS Sports). Kenneth Faried remains their best option, especially because of the similar price point with Shumpert, but will the Denver Nuggets trade him?
"I don't think [Nuggets GM Tim Connelly] will move Faried for him," the source said. "Faried is more valuable, and there's no reason to make a move before they get [JaVale] McGee back."
But another source believes Faried's time in Denver is nearing its end, and the Big Apple awaits.
"I do think they trade him, and I think New York ends up being the spot," the source said.
So this story, which has been brewing for a few weeks, sounds like it's still without an ending.
On a related note, either of the Morris brothers in Phoenix would be a great fit for the Knicks, but it's unlikely that they would be traded. Cheap young talent is a bigger commodity within the new CBA culture of the league, and that's a big reason why the Knicks have been hesitant to trade Shumpert. If Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to emerge, the Knicks might be more inclined to make a move, despite the defensive downgrade.
A source said Rockets center Omer Asik, who just switched agents to power broker Arn Tellem, is "going to be moved really soon."
Two sources said "it makes a lot of sense" for Asik to be traded to the Atlanta Hawks for power forward Paul Millsap. In that scenario, Asik would slip into the starting center position in Atlanta alongside Al Horford, and Millsap would become the starting power forward in Houston next to Dwight Howard.
One NBA scout said the trade would be more beneficial to the Rockets.
"Asik is a liability for Atlanta," the scout said. "I think he's a talented rebounder and a pretty good basketball player all around, but Atlanta needs better point guard play besides Jeff Teague."
Two sources said the 76ers are worried about next summer's contract demands of Evan Turner—who's averaging a team-high 20.3 points per game—and they might want to find cheaper talent this season through a trade. Their target should be, according to one source, Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters.
"They would trade Evan Turner for him in a heartbeat," the source said. "Philly is starting over. Waiters works because he's a second-year player on the rookie scale and under team control."
Turner played college ball at Ohio State and might welcome a return to the state. As for Waiters, he's open to being traded, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, and the Suns could also be a landing spot, according to a source. While they're fortunate now to have Eric Bledsoe, two sources said the combo guard, who's having a career year, could seek a deal next summer worth at least $10 million—and he'll be in hot demand.
A source said the Celtics are "going to make a lot of moves in the next year." While the source said Courtney Lee, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries are on the market, the team's biggest personnel question this season revolves around Avery Bradley, who they feel is their starting shooting guard for the future.
In fact, that's why, according to a source, the Celtics offered him a four-year, $24 million deal (with a team option on the fourth year) this past offseason, but he turned it down. That's because he wants at least $8 million per year, which another source confirmed. Bradley will be a restricted free agent next summer, so things could get "tricky," as one source said, for the Celtics to keep him.
While Bradley had been considered limited offensively coming into this season, he has improved in that category from November to December. So far this month, he's averaging 15.2 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range.
Bradley is reading pick-and-rolls better and showing a craftier and smoother touch with his pull-ups off the dribble. He's become a knock-down outside shooter playing off temporary point guard Jordan Crawford. Defensively, Bradley is arguably the best perimeter defender in the game with his timing, long arms, quick lateral movement and consistent full-court ball pressure.
From the D-League:
Keep an eye on sharpshooter Troy Daniels, who's averaging 25.1 points per game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Could the Rockets, who are affiliated with the D-League team, come calling? Houston adores the three-point shot—the team has 220 makes this season (second-best in the league)—and Daniels is on pace to surpass even Stephen Curry's NBA mark of 272 made, set last season.