The 2014 NBA trade deadline may be a couple of months away, but teams are already hard at work determining whether to pull the trigger on moves that will hopefully improve their place in the standings.
Fans have already seen Rudy Gay get swapped from the Toronto Raptors to the Sacramento Kings, and a few more impact trades appear likely to come before February 20. You've got the perfect confluence between teams looking to get better and those instead focusing on the 2014 draft.
Here are three of the main rumors making the rounds on Thursday.
Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling reported the Memphis Grizzlies are discussing a swap of Zach Randolph for Ryan Anderson. A source told him that a "trade centered around Randolph and Anderson should happen down the line this season."
While Randolph has established himself and become a fan favorite in Memphis, the team wouldn't be afraid to trade him, Zwerling wrote. In addition, "Z-Bo" would form a great frontcourt tandem with Anthony Davis in New Orleans.
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.
The Grizzlies have been down this road before, and they ultimately decided to trade Rudy Gay. That was done mostly to get out from under his massive contract and open up cap space, as is the motivation for trading Randolph.
At least by making this move, Memphis would get a solid piece back in Anderson. His shooting ability from long range could help an offense that ranks 29th in made three-pointers per game.
Don't go out buying your new Anderson jerseys yet, though. Zwerling updated his piece later in the day with another source who poured some cold water on this trade idea.
"New Orleans is not sure if they want to pull the trigger," the source told Zwerling. "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."
Kyle Lowry won't be going anywhere, at least until the Toronto Raptors lower their asking price. That's what ESPN's Chris Broussard reported on Thursday.
Knicks' pursuit of Kyle Lowry being held up by Knicks' refusal to give up 1st round pick, sources say— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) December 12, 2013
ESPN's Marc Stein went a little more in-depth to explain the problems on the New York Knicks' end.
Knicks don't want to burn first-rounder for Kyle Lowry and naturally prefer to keep Hardaway Jr. + save Shumpert (for another deal). But ...— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 12, 2013
Toronto insisting on a first since proposed trade not only sends Lowry to NYK but sticks Raps w/Felton's longer-term $. Let's see who bends— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 12, 2013
And at last report, Toronto was said to be seeking TWO of the following three: Shumpert, Hardaway Jr., Future First. A bit pricey, I'd say— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 12, 2013
Following the trade of Gay, Toronto has made Lowry expendable. You can't see the Raptors holding onto both him and Greivis Vasquez for much longer. Both guys are starting point guards, and of the two, Lowry has the higher trade value.
The only player considered untouchable for Toronto is Jonas Valanciunas. Everything else that's not tied down is available to the highest bidder. General manager Masai Ujiri is cleaning house, so it will be interesting to see if he stops at dealing Lowry, or if there's another move or two to come.
On the Knicks' end, owner James Dolan appears to be the big hurdle to overcome, per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
According to several reports, the Knicks were prepared to trade Raymond Felton and Metta World Peace plus Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. or a 2018 first-round pick. The Raptors preferred the first-round pick, but Dolan—who negotiated the Carmelo Anthony trade with Raptors GM Masai Ujiriwhen Ujiri was with the Denver Nuggets—got cold feet about trading a future asset.
Depending on your opinion of Iman Shumpert, this is either good news or bad news.
Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported that the Raptors aren't considering the Knicks guard/forward a target in any trade.
Shumpert fans, exhale: I'm told chances of him going to TOR in a Lowry deal are slim. Raps not high on him. Knicks prefer to keep (for now).— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) December 12, 2013
The third-year player has struggled a bit this season. His field-goal percentage of 39.4 is the lowest of his career, and he's only scoring 6.9 points a game. Shumpert appears to have regressed after looking solid during his first two years in the league.
To be fair, that left knee seems to be giving him problems, and he's listed as day to day after injuring it on Wednesday.
Only 23 years old, it's clear the best days are still ahead for Shumpert. But maybe he'd be better off leaving the Knicks and getting a fresh start with a new organization.