The NBA trade deadline may not be until Feb. 20, but rumors about a number of players changing teams are continuing to come up, and some seem to be legitimate.
With key injuries and teams looking to rebuild, a few players keep coming up in trade rumors. Some names make a lot of sense in these rumors, but others just seem highly unlikely based off of how valuable the player mentioned is.
Let's take a look at some of the most recent trade rumors around the NBA and break down whether or not they are realistic.
Toronto Raptors Shopping Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan
Despite having a losing record, the Toronto Raptors still hold the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference, but this team seems more focused on trading away key pieces and rebuilding for the future.
Back on Dec. 13, Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports reported that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets were looking to push for Kyle Lowry. Bill Ingram from Hoopsworld.com tweeted on Dec. 18 that the Raptors were actively shopping both Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but the asking price is apparently quite high:
With only three teams in the Eastern Conference posting winning records right now, the rest of the conference appears to be more concerned with rebuilding, understanding that it will be very hard to take down a team like the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the playoffs.
Still, it seems a bit odd that the Raptors are trying to trade away arguably their two best players. Lowry is averaging 15.2 points and 7.0 assists per game with an impressive 3.0 assist to turnover ratio, while DeRozan is leading the team in scoring with 21 points per game.
Trading away these two players would cripple the backcourt of the Raptors, and while they may be looking for some help in the NBA draft, they wouldn't be able to find enough to replace these two players.
Dion Waiters Denies Asking for Trade
Dion Waiters is in just the second year of his short NBA career, and with the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the playoff picture in the East, reports have come up that the 22-year-old shooting guard is unhappy with his current team.
Bleacher Report's own Jared Zwerling reported on Dec. 17 that Waiters wanted out of Cleveland. In the report, Zwerling says:
According to a source close to Waiters, he "wants out" of Cleveland and "prefers to go to Philly because he thinks he'd be the best player on the team. That's his mindset."
"He thought he was going to come in and be a 2-guard and be a superstar," the source said. "He came in and was in the (Rising Stars Challenge) with half of his team last year. He worked really hard this offseason, and he came in with the mentality that this was going to be his team. And it's never going to be his team. It's always going to be Kyrie's team."
But Waiters is denying these rumors, at least for now. According to the Associated Press, Waiters denied the reports before the team's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, saying:
Why would I do that? It doesn't make sense. This is the team that drafted me. People come up with their own things, man. I know what I said and what I didn't say. That's one of the things I absolutely never said.
While he's only started in nine games and played in 22, Waiters has looked better this year compared to his rookie season. He's been shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from behind the arc, improving from 41.2 percent and 31.0 percent respectively in the 2012-13 season. He's averaging 14.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, making him a solid contributor for this team.
Although Waiters may publicly deny these reports, a trade could be mutually beneficial to both the team and the player if he wants to one day become a star for a franchise. He won't be able to do that with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, but a trade could give him an opportunity to do that elsewhere while giving the Cavaliers an opportunity to grab some different pieces for the future.
I'm not sure if this trade will happen, but it could be a realistic one if Waiters is actually unhappy in Cleveland.
Boston Celtics Still Pushing for Omer Asik
This is clearly a rebuilding year for the Boston Celtics as they wait for Rajon Rondo to get healthy and focus on implementing Brad Stevens' plan for the future. With a large number of expendable pieces, the Celtics have an opportunity to attract some bigger names over the next couple of years, and it looks like they really want Houston Rockets center Omer Asik.
Wojnarowski tweeted on Dec. 18 that the Celtics were in serious talks with the Rockets, reportedly offering Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first-round pick for the center:
A day later, Wojnarowski tweeted that the Rockets backed off of trade talks and let their self-imposed trade deadline on Asik pass:
While it seemed like trade talks had died between the two sides, it appears that they are still going on, as Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports had this to say about the potential trade on Dec. 23:
The Rockets let their self-imposed deadline to trade center Omer Asik pass, but Boston is still having trade discussions in hopes of landing him, a source said.
Honestly, I'm surprised this trade hasn't happened yet. It's been obvious that Asik wants out of Houston, as he's gone from being an impressive starter to backing up Dwight Howard and playing off of the bench.
Asik had a career year last season, starting in all 82 games while averaging 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 54.1 percent from the field. Now, he's played in just 17 games, averaging 4.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, making this quite a frustrating transition for the 27-year-old center.
Meanwhile, the Celtics really need help down low. The team lacks a true starting center, and they're struggling to get things going offensively. By grabbing Asik, they can strengthen their defense even more while also adding a reliable and efficient scoring option in the paint.
With how many rumors that have been coming up regarding Asik, this trade almost has to happen, and I think it will in the near future.