As NBA teams continue to get a better evaluation of their own teams, the trade buzz begins to pick up as front offices look for ways to improve their organizations.
The league's trade deadline is not until Feb. 20, but there are plenty of deals that could be made well before this date. The Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors already proved as much with a seven-player deal centered around Rudy Gay.
With the league as competitive as it is, squads will want to try to make moves as soon as possible before someone else swoops in on a potential target.
This leaves a lot of trade buzz around the league for possible deals to be complete in the coming weeks.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have already been aggressive on the trade market, but it is clear that they are not finished. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the squad is attempting to deal point guard Kyle Lowry to the New York Knicks:
ESPN.com reported Sunday that the Raptors' next move, after finding a taker for Gay, would be finding a new home for Lowry, who is in the final year of his contract at a palatable $6.2 million.
Yet, it remains to be seen if the Raptors and Knicks can reach a consensus on deal terms this time, with Toronto said to be seeking two of the Knicks' three best trade assets—Iman Shumpert, rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. and a future first-round pick—in addition to Raymond Felton in exchange for Lowry.
After Toronto's 7-13 start, it seems like a smart plan to trade an impending free agent for future assets. However, the Knicks have been unable to complete a deal due to the disapproval of team owner James Dolan.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports that Dolan overruled his front office and stopped a trade from happening:
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 Ujiri when Ujiri was with the Denver Nuggets—got cold feet about trading a future asset. That could open the door for the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Lowry instead.
Dolan is not necessarily wrong to be cautious with this deal—giving up talent for a free agent that could leave for nothing in the summer is always risky—but the idea that he is stopping his upper management from doing its job is inexcusable.
As a result, the Knicks might lose out on the opportunity to bring in a talented point guard who could help the team. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reports that the Brooklyn Nets are moving in on Lowry:
Knicks front office regrouping on Kyle Lowry with Dolan, but Nets gaining traction as a possibility to land point guard, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 13, 2013
If this ends up coming through, Dolan will have a lot of answering to do.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets
While every team has until the end of February to make a trade, the Houston Rockets have imposed their own deadline on dealing Omer Asik.
David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that the center will be moved on Dec. 18 or 19:
ICYMI: Rockets will trade Asik next Wednesday or Thursday. And do not discount Cleveland/Varejao. Would be perfect fit next to Howard.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) December 13, 2013
This narrow window certainly makes completing a deal difficult, especially when you consider the asking price. However, Steve Kyler of Hoops World notes that this has dropped recently:
The Houston Rockets have been aggressive in setting the stage for an Asik deal this week. They have come off their two first-round draft pick asking prices, and it seems that a deal for Asik could drop sometime after Sunday.
Still, the question remains as to which teams are interested in acquiring the talented defensive player. Aldridge stated that the Cleveland Cavaliers could offer Anderson Varejao as an even swap.
ESPN's Marc Stein agrees with Aldridge on the Cavaliers front, but also offers Paul Millsap as a power forward that could be dealt from the Atlanta Hawks. The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks are other possibilities as the Rockets look to work with an Eastern Conference team.
Zach Lowe of Grantland also points out that Asik's salary could prevent a trade from getting done:
Whatever team gets Asik will have to pay him $15 million in actual money in 2014-15 because of the balloon payment built into Asik's weird contract, and that payment is a meaningful obstacle in the ongoing talks, per several sources.
There are many levels in this negotiation, but it seems clear that Asik does not fit in with the Rockets as long as Dwight Howard is patrolling the middle of the court, and he will need to be sent somewhere else.
The good news is this saga will be over within a week.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
It has almost become a yearly tradition that Pau Gasol is on the trading block. However, this time might actually lead to a completed deal.
Sean Deveney of Sporting News reports that tensions between the big man and head coach Mike D'Antoni could finally lead to a transaction:
League sources told Sporting News that the Lakers have been fielding trade offers for Gasol for a while now, and finally could find a new home for their disgruntled big man.
Gasol will earn $19.3 million this year, an obstacle to any deal. But he is in the final year of his contract, making him a workable target for a team hoping to find a short-term big man who won’t sit on the books past this season.
The All-Star's humongous salary has long been the thing holding a move back. However, the burden is not as bad considering this is his final year before becoming a free agent.
His expiring contract could end up being a positive for a team looking to sign big names in the offseason.
However, the feud between Gasol and D'Antoni is very real. Since taking over for the Lakers last season, the coach has tried to use the forward on the perimeter. The center finally expressed his anger after his last game, via Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:
The fact that I'm not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness. When I'm not getting the ball where I want to, where I'm most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity.
This sounds like someone who has had enough with his coach's system and is ready for a change.
If Los Angeles can find a suitor willing to take on the salary and provide something in return, you can expect Gasol to be traded in a hurry.
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