The 2013-14 NBA season has already seen a handful of intriguing trades occur well ahead of the February deadline, a strong indicator that there is likely to be much more movement over the next few months.
There are always plenty of reasons to make a deal in this league, whether teams are looking to add a missing piece for a playoff run or to dump veterans and salary to clear space for the upcoming offseason.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest buzz surrounding the hottest players on the block in the rumor roundup.
Toronto Still Wheeling and Dealing
The Toronto Raptors made a splash earlier this season when they traded Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings less than a year after acquiring the star swingman.
Now there is talk that the organization will continue its rebuilding effort and improve its position in the upcoming draft by dealing away Kyle Lowry, the best player remaining on the roster.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears, the club is looking to move the veteran point guard “eventually.”
It doesn’t seem likely that Lowry will be heading to the Big Apple, however, as Howard Beck of Bleacher Report found that the New York Knicks' pursuit of the 27-year-old has ended after Toronto insisted on acquiring a first-round pick in exchange for his services.
Lowry is averaging 15.2 points, 7.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game this season. He’s stepped up as a leader and recently helped guide his squad past the red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder with 22 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals in the game.
If Lowry continues on his blistering December pace for another month or so, the Raptors should have no problem acquiring a first-rounder from a point guard-starved rival.
However, it may be difficult for general manager Masai Ujiri to give him up due to this stellar play. It will definitely be interesting to see what happens over the next few months.
Magic Exercising Caution
The Orlando Magic have been no stranger to deals over the past few seasons, notably trading away Dwight Howard to kick-start a rebuilding effort they are now in the second year of.
However, the team is understandably quiet at this juncture and doesn’t seem to be active in the trading frenzy that has engulfed certain teams around the league.
According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, the Magic are “value shoppers” and have been entertaining the idea of moving certain veterans, but aren’t tripping over themselves to make a deal.
Kyler noted that the club isn’t listening to offers for guard Arron Afflalo, who is having a career year, but would ship Glen “Big Baby” Davis or Jameer Nelson off for the right price.
Considering Afflalo is averaging 21.9 points on 47.2 percent field-goal shooting and 43.7 three-point shooting, plus contributing 4.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, it is easy to see why the Magic aren’t in any rush to deal him.
He’s under contract through the 2015-16 season and locked in at $7.5 million per season, an extremely fair value for the league’s tenth-leading scorer and an elite defender.
Perhaps Magic GM Rob Hennigan is waiting for the rest of the league to realize this and start offering more as teams become desperate to bolster their backcourt ahead of the playoffs.
Either way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Afflalo stay put as Orlando focuses on ridding itself of Davis and Nelson, two veterans that are each playing over 30 minutes per game and potentially blocking the development of younger talent.
Hedo Turkoglu is another player on the Magic roster that the team would love to get rid of. He’s currently in exile but under contract for $12 million this season, with $6 million guaranteed.
Kyler noted that teams looking for some immediate salary relief may be willing to take this veteran off Orlando’s hands, but the issue is having to send back assets worth roughly $9 million to facilitate it under the league’s strict cap rules.
Because the Magic aren’t looking to take on long-term or bad contracts, it’s going to be very tough to find a taker for Hedo and, to a lesser extent, Big Baby and Nelson.