The NBA trade rumor front has been rather quiet in recent days, but there are still some exciting potential developments among the latest chatter that could have a big impact on the Association overall.
Most prominent in the current buzz is New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon, who's been somewhat of an enigma for much of his young career. Gordon may be on his way out, and the various factors involved make that proposition all the more interesting to weigh.
Then there's the case of Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. The veteran has played well for the surprising squad, which is fourth in the Eastern Conference, but always seems to be on the block.
Let's take a closer look at the situations surrounding both of those marquee backcourt players, along with other trade rumblings around the NBA.
Pelicans Vying for Frontcourt Upgrade in Exchange for Eric Gordon
Even with a sensational athlete in Anthony Davis on the front line, New Orleans is getting crushed on the defensive end.
Sharpshooting power forward Ryan Anderson is injured at the moment, but his status as a stretch 4 doesn't give the Pelicans enough overall size to contain opponents. Davis can't do it on his own; it seems the team recognizes that.
According to Sean Deveney of SportingNews.com, trading Gordon could be the move New Orleans needs to secure another big man. The Pelicans have even put forth three-team scenarios in an effort to get Gordon out of town.
One impediment is Gordon's exorbitant salary—a figure his play hasn't warranted to date:
“He has been healthy and he has played better,” one league executive told Sporting News. “But he is a still a long way from living up to what you have to pay him. His contract is still the big reason they are not able to do anything with him at this point.”
Zach Lowe of Grantland believes that Gordon will be a tough sell for prospective suitors:
After pouring in at least 20 points in three consecutive games, Gordon came up small in Monday's loss to San Antonio with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting, with three of those points coming after halftime.
Michael McNamara of BourbonStreetShots.com observed a big weakness Gordon has displayed on defense:
Love Gordon’s offense lately, but I really wish the league would allow Eric Gordon to hold a red cape on defense. #TheMatador— Michael McNamara (@McNamara247) January 14, 2014
Gordon has shown flashes of a difference-maker at the 2-guard position, yet he is still not quite a franchise-caliber player. Granted, at 25 years old, Gordon still has room to grow on and off the court, which makes it difficult to ship him away.
New Orleans is on the fringe of playoff contention in the West amid a six-game losing streak and has lost All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday indefinitely with a stress fracture. Dumping Gordon might mean more losing in the immediate future, but it could also net the Pelicans a high draft pick in 2014.
Raptors Settling in With Kyle Lowry, Potential Playoff Berth?
Which player is likeliest to get traded?
While that may prevent them from securing a blue-chip player in the draft, it seems the current regime is settling in on the reality that the postseason may come. Along with that is the revelation that Lowry and some of the pieces in place can in fact be part of a foundation for sustainable success.
Lowry is a sound perimeter defender, a savvy distributor and a capable scorer, which has to be part of the reason that he could be safe in the Queen City, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein:
For the first time, there are certifiable rumbles emanating from Toronto suggesting that the Raptors might well keep point guard Kyle Lowry for the rest of the season...GM Masai Ujiri continues to resist locking into any sort of firm position...but team officials appear to be growing increasingly comfortable with the idea that it’s better to go for what would be just Toronto's third playoff berth in 13 seasons rather than try to do the absolute uber-tanking it would take...to get into Andrew Wiggins range now.
Plenty of teams had inquired about Lowry, but as the Toronto Star's Doug Smith reported on Jan. 12, the rising star did not pay heed to any of it and focused on improving his game:
...[Lowry] was dangled in trade talks with the New York Knicks, the Nets called about him, the Golden State Warriors were intrigued and...Ujiri was listening. But he did not succumb to that chatter and sulk. Rather, he has elevated his game to levels unseen in his almost year and a half with the Raptors.
The 27-year-old floor general is averaging 15.9 points and 7.3 assists to just 2.1 turnovers per contest, showcasing stellar efficiency, and also contributes greatly to a top-five scoring defense.
In a 116-94 win over Milwaukee on Monday, Lowry showed off all his skills in making six of eight shots from the field, including four threes and all seven of his free-throw attempts for 23 points. He added two rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block without a turnover to boot.
What more could the Raptors' regime want in a starting point guard?
No one in the NBA has more assists and a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Lowry other than Los Angeles Clippers superstar Chris Paul. That's some good company to keep, and should be enough to keep Lowry with the Raptors to see the promising season through.
Tyson Chandler, Arron Afflalo Likely Staying Put
More from Stein's Jan. 11 report suggests that the discombobulated but resurgent New York Knicks are vying for Denver Nuggets point guard Andre Miller, but they don't have many assets to offer.
One literally big one New York does have in the fold is center Tyson Chandler, but the front office reportedly won't even consider letting him leave the Big Apple:
The Knicks continue to get calls for center Tyson Chandler and, according to sources close to the situation, continue to scoff at every one. New York, to this point, has no interest in parting with its defensive anchor. (Which is smart if the Knicks are set on re-signing Carmelo Anthony to that megadeal this summer.)
Chandler is an important fixture for the Knicks in the paint but had missed three straight games with an illness—all of them New York victories. That has unlocked more opportunities for Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire to step up, but this squad already struggles so mightily in rebounding, so losing Chandler would emaciate the front line.
Of course, there's the matter of convincing Carmelo Anthony not to flee in free agency. Moving Chandler wouldn't help that cause.
Afflalo is one of many promising young players for the Orlando Magic, so it makes sense that the team is spurning offers for him. However, Stein reports that the staunch stance the Magic are taking may not be what it seems:
Some rival clubs aren't convinced that the Magic’s stance is as absolute as the Knicks’ stance is with Chandler. Has Afflalo played well enough, in this breakout half-season, that the Magic will eventually be offered a first-round pick closer to the deadline that can pry Afflalo loose?
This sounds more speculative than anything, because as much promise as Afflalo has shown in averaging 20.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 2013-14, he isn't worth a first-rounder in the loaded impending draft class.
The danger is that Afflalo could not live up to expectations wherever his new destination would be, and the fact that it has taken him until his seventh pro season to play at this level suggests he's at his absolute peak.