The NBA trade deadline is just under a month away, but teams are already looking for ways to improve their roster either for this season or the future.
Whether a squad is looking for a final piece of the puzzle to make a playoff run or simply trying to sell off pieces that could benefit the organization in the future, almost everyone is looking to make a deal. The question is: Which ones are more likely to be completed?
A lot of things must happen for any of these trades to be completed, but these squads seem the most likely to make a deal before the Feb. 20 deadline.
New York Knicks
After a 15-26 start to the season, it is about time for the Knicks to start thinking about the future. One key factor to consider is what to do with impending free agent Carmelo Anthony.
Al Iannazzone of Newsday looks at the team's plans before the deadline:
The Knicks have a month to make moves to entice Anthony to stay or to explore what they can get for him. That's the primary job of the Knicks' front office between now and the Feb. 20 trade deadline: Find out whether Anthony is fully committed to returning and what it will take.
If there is a shred of doubt, Knicks officials should make calls about Anthony—and the Clippers should be the first call.
Iannazzone then goes onto discuss a possible trade for Blake Griffin or deals with the Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks certainly do not want to be left with nothing, so they should do whatever it takes to find out if Anthony intends on staying next season.
Of course, Anthony is not the only player who requires the attention of the front office, according to Ian Begley of ESPN:
New York Knicks point guard Beno Udrih has requested a trade, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
League sources say the 31-year-old veteran communicated his wishes to the Knicks in recent days and the team will try to honor the request.
Although Udrih has not made much of an impact for the Knicks this season, he still has plenty of talent and experience that playoff contenders would love. He is only averaging 5.7 points and 3.6 assists on the year, but he did average 10.2 points and 6.2 assists in 27 games with the Orlando Magic a year ago.
He could bring a limited return, but it is still a start to a much-needed rebuilding process in New York.
Even after two NBA titles, the Miami Heat remain active in improving the roster. David Aldridge of NBA.com examines the trade season for the team:
With [Greg] Oden looking like he can be a contributor, the Heat sent veteran center Joel Anthony to Boston last week as part of a three-team deal that brought guard Toney Douglas to Miami. But people around the league think the Heat are still looking to make another deal, for a wing, before the trade deadline.
Adding a perimeter player could be vital if Dwyane Wade continues to miss games. The All-NBA star has missed the past three games with knee issues and has been out for 12 of the squad's 42 games this year.
Reigning MVP LeBron James discussed how hard it has been to replace Wade, per Michael Wallace of ESPN:
With some of the guys being in and out, and with the concern with D-Wade, it's been tough on all of us trying to fill that. We've just got to be able to do a little bit more consistently, and go in with the mindset sometimes that he's not playing instead of [he is] playing.
Obviously, there are few players with Wade's ability on the open market. However, the Heat still need to find some depth to help minimize the drop-off in the lineup. Otherwise, it will be extremely tough to catch the Indiana Pacers, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN notes:
Pacers now have 5-game lead on Miami. Heat have tougher schedule left + they're 5-6 when Wade rests & he'll keep getting games off.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) January 21, 2014
One more guard or wing could end up being the difference in earning a third title in a row.
The Boston Celtics were not expected to do much this season, so the poor record is not an indictment on the players or coaching staff. Still the front office needs to figure out a way to help rebuild for the future.
One big decision that must be made will be to figure out what to do with Rajon Rondo. According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, this remains a possibility despite the fact general manager Danny Ainge is not specially looking to make a deal:
League sources say Ainge is not actively shopping Rondo, but like any good GM, he isn't ignoring the phone calls, either. He's only come close to trading Rondo once before, in a deal that would've landed him Chris Paul. To all other inquiries about his prized point guard, Ainge keeps saying the same thing: "No."
On the other hand, almost everyone else expects the All-Star point guard to be dealt soon, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
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 probably isn’t going to accept a role in a rebuilding situation with a rookie coach, Brad Stevens, so look for Ainge to try to move him to the West, with Phoenix and Houston seen as two potential destinations.
The point guard has started slow in his return from ACL surgery. He has played in three games, averaging five points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds. Still, he has plenty of ability that could help out a contender this season.
Meanwhile, Sam Smith of Bulls.com hears that "more executives think the Celtics want to trade Jeff Green" instead of Rondo. This is a deal that would certainly intrigue teams with the small forward averaging a team-high 15.7 points per game.
Green is proving to be a legitimate star in the NBA and could be quite valuable on the trade market this month.
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