The teams and players involved in the latest NBA trade buzz are faced with distinct but similar instances of adversity, with injury history playing a rather significant part in all of it.
Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum has not worked out as the squad had hoped, to say the least, and now is on the block. Bynum looks like a shell of his former at-times-dominant self, yet there are still some suitors reportedly interested in landing his services.
Another star with a reputedly volatile temperament is Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. However, in the midst of trade chatter swirling around him—particularly with the New York Knicks—he hasn't given any indication he'll leave.
Rondo is still recovering from a torn ACL, and the Celtics are surprising almost everyone with their contention for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, so that's quite a complicated situation.
Then there are the Memphis Grizzlies, who are below .500 in the far more competitive West and are seeking traction in the form of trade transactions amid a slip to 12th place in the conference.
Let's take a closer look at each of these situations, what the specific rumors are and how they bode for the futures of the teams involved.
Cavaliers to Cut or Trade Suspended Bynum?
General manager Chris Grant has made a lot of questionable decisions, and taking a flier on Bynum isn't helping his resume as he faces another wave of scrutiny.
Bynum is suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team and is shooting just 41.9 percent from the floor this season. A reunion with his former Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown hasn't revived his career.
Now the Cavaliers are floundering at 10-19 and seeking to trade Bynum, but the list of suitors could be small, per FoxSportsOhio.com's Sam Amico:
#Cavs looking to trade Bynum, league sources say. And his contract, which pays him $6 million if he's released by Jan. 7, drawing interest.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) December 28, 2013
However, the Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner reports that both the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat could be interested in landing Bynum.
Both of those would be far more thriving situations in which Bynum would not be forced to start, but to come off the bench and not face as much pressure to perform.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated threw in another interesting proposition—the disastrous Brooklyn Nets, who would count more on Bynum to play at a high level now that Brook Lopez is out for the season:
Just speculating, but if waived, don't be surprised to see Brooklyn try and take a flyer on Bynum. Gaping hole and not much to lose there— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) December 28, 2013
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cavs have to unload Bynum's contract by Jan. 7 to avoid paying a far larger sum:
It's very possible Bynum's played his final game for Cavs, sources tell Yahoo. In trade, a team can waive Bynum and save $6m of $12m salary.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 28, 2013
Wojnarowski's sources also pulled no punches in discussing Bynum and his future outlook:
About Bynum suspension, league source tells Yahoo: "He doesn't want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in first place."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 28, 2013
Cavs believe Bynum has been "disruptive" presence within team and lost hope partnership can be salvaged, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 28, 2013
It's nice that Bynum had a contract laden with incentives, and it shouldn't cost Cleveland too much in the long run. Nevertheless, it is another disappointment and an added misfire for Grant, whose seat has to be feeling hot if the Cavs can't make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.
Rondo's Remote Chances of Landing in New York
It doesn't sound too promising that Rajon Rondo will wind up trading in his Celtics jersey to play at Madison Square Garden.
According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, multiple league sources say New York will hold out hope that Rondo will try to force a trade from his current squad. There is a certain allure to playing in the Big Apple, but Boston is no slouch itself and has a rich history and tradition of NBA basketball.
The Knicks would love to have Rondo, sure. However, even as early as September, Rondo expressed support behind new head coach Brad Stevens, even saying they had become "best friends," per Boston.com's Gary Dzen.
Stevens has done a tremendous job in his first season at the helm, which enhances the odds that Rondo will stick it out and lead Boston into a new flourishing era.
This is Rondo's opportunity to run his own team. As well as the C's have played without him as a team, it will be exciting to see what they can do once Rondo does return to the hardwood.
The injury increases the Knicks' difficulty in landing Rondo, as does their lack of assets. If the 27-year-old is anything close to what he was before the ACL tear, no piece New York has could be any sort of upgrade for Boston, and sacrificing future draft picks is out of the question.
ESPN.com's Ethan Strauss is a bit skeptical that Rondo will return to his elite form, criticizing the Knicks for being so adamant in their pursuit:
It's so Knicks to want Rondo. Big name, probably overvalued, coming off injury, tail end of prime. So, so Knicks.— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) December 26, 2013
Rondo would certainly be an upgrade to run the show for the Celtics over Jordan Crawford, who, to be fair, has been very strong at the point this season.
Grizzlies Seeking to Reload, Still Compete
It's tough to go from having the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol at center to the likes of Kosta Koufos, but that's the situation in Memphis at the moment since Gasol is out with a knee injury.
The outlook is bluesy, an even darker shade than the team's navy jerseys, which is leading the Grizz to look toward the future with an eye still on the present, given the innate talent at their disposal.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has the latest on the organization's plans, outlining the ramifications of Rudy Gay's exodus in a trade and which players are part of the longer ranging vision:
With Gay's departure, the Grizzlies' Big Three has morphed into what the team refers to as its Core Four: Gasol, Randolph, Mike Conley and Tony Allen. The plan, according to league sources, is to find ways to maximize those four foundational pieces in the short term while building around Gasol and Conley in the long term.
Berger reports that the team is active in discussing a trade for athleticism on the wing. That's precisely what Gay would have provided if he were still there, yet that trade has seemed to work out for Memphis, funny enough.
Which team involved in trade rumors has the best model for future success at the moment?
Randolph makes the most sense because he offers a lot on both ends of the floor, is a beast on the boards and has a contract that expires (player option) after next season, per Spotrac.com.
Then again, this core doesn't have a ton of offensive firepower, which Randolph provides in a unique way as one of the few remaining pure post bigs in the Association. Z-Bo also has a good outside touch. That type of versatility is hard to find, much less replace.
The Grizzlies rank 25th in points scored per game but still remain among the best defensively. Dilemmas lie ahead and injuries have plagued this team in 2013-14, but there is still time for the 13-16 bunch to turn things around and compete for a playoff spot.
While a sustainable model for success may not be in place just yet, the foundation can be built with a hard-fought remainder of the current season to help lure others to join a promising nucleus in Memphis.