NBA trade rumors have swirled since the onset of the season, and the most recent batch of buzz focuses on a few of the Association's more consistent guards.
Guard play is integral to having a quality team. Without strong scorers on the perimeter or facilitators in the backcourt, NBA teams will struggle to get the ball in the basket. That's where the following players come in. Currently playing on underachieving squads, these guards have the potential to make a major impact on their new teams if they indeed get dealt.
The names reportedly available won't come cheaply, however. At least one will require a major return, while the others will likely also require some talent to acquire. In the end, it will be the asking price that determines whether or not they're traded.
Generating interest won't be a factor. Finding teams willing to maximize their offer will be.
The following guards might be on the move in the not-too-distant future.
Mike Dunleavy, a small forward who is also very capable of playing shooting guard, just signed with the Chicago Bulls this past offseason. That doesn't make him untouchable, however.
It appears the Bulls will have the chance to deal Dunleavy if they can match up well with one of the interested teams. The 12-year veteran is posting his typical numbers in 2013-14 (10.8 points and 2.0 assists per game with 40.8 percent shooting from three-point range), and teams would line up to acquire that type of production off the bench.
Consistency is key with Dunleavy. He hasn't averaged under 10.0 points per game since 2009-10. That year he averaged 9.9. His effectiveness from deep makes him an asset, as his career mark of 37.4 percent indicates that he's reliable from three.
On how he'll handle the trade rumors, Dunleavy told Cowley that he isn't going to let them get to him: "The amount of rumors that are out there compared to the amount of times someone gets traded...it’s not even worth giving too much thought to. That’s the way you handle it.’’
All the stars are aligned in Boston for a Rajon Rondo trade.
With a rookie head coach (Brad Stevens) and a rebuilding team not expected to compete for a title in the immediate future, the Boston Celtics' star point guard could look for a way out. The Celtics are obviously a better team with him than without him, but the picks they would be able to get in return would help to rebuild the franchise.
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News cites the beliefs of a few general managers from around the NBA when discussing Rondo's future in Boston:
More than a few GMs around the league expect Rondo to be on the move, if not at the trading deadline next month, then maybe in June at draft time.
Rondo, who hadn't played in nearly a year prior to his recent return, might need to build up some of his value before GM Danny Ainge looks to deal him. Rondo is arguably a top-five point guard in the league. That being said, he will have to prove that he's completely healthy for the long run before a team invests several picks and possibly expiring contracts to pick him up.
Potential playoff squads in need of guard help would improve drastically if they netted Rondo. He is a game-changer and a difference-maker with a playoff pedigree. That type of talent is hard to come by.
Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon
The New Orleans Pelicans were active this offseason in trying to improve their young nucleus of stars. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday were brought aboard to make this team young and exciting to watch.
Unfortunately, only the "young" part of the expectation has held up.
Now, it might be time to start taking advantage of those younger pieces in a different way—via trade. Lawrence believes that a few Pelicans guards might be dealt:
The Pelicans signed Tyreke Evans this past summer to a four-year, $44 million free-agent deal and then added veteran PG Jrue Holiday via a trade with the Sixers to join Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis. But all the moves haven't exactly clicked. In fact, they've backfired, with New Orleans losing 13 of its last 17 games after starting out 11-10. The front office's take? Team execs are saying at least those are assets that can be moved. Davis and Holiday are the keepers.
Gordon and Evans are two guys that are capable of posting great numbers when healthy and consistent. Unfortunately, Gordon has a history of health problems, and Evans' status as a volume scorer makes consistency hard to come by at times. This might impact their value just a bit.
In this case, the Pelicans likely aren't looking to unload salary. They're probably just looking to make a change at the heart of the roster to see if it sparks a difference in the team's play.
Don't be surprised if Gordon, Evans or even both are dealt in the future.