The NBA trade deadline is just three weeks away. Although the action has been slow to develop so far, the rumor mill is beginning to heat up as teams around the league consider bolstering their roster for a playoff run or start looking ahead to next season.
One key reason there probably hasn't been a rash of moves quite yet is the close playoff races. Only a small percentage of the teams are completely out of the mix at this point, which means the few early sellers are able to demand higher returns.
That should begin to change as more teams fall out of the race in the coming weeks and the deadline creates a greater sense of urgency. With that in mind, let's examine some of the buzz making its way around the league.
The Cleveland Cavaliers must do everything in their power to make sure Irving remains with the franchise as a cornerstone. The third-year point guard is averaging over 21 points and six assists per game for a team that's lacked secondary offensive contributors.
They might be running out of time to convince him to stay, though. Chad Ford of ESPN reports the Duke product is already telling people he doesn't want to stick around in Cleveland, which puts pressure on the Cavs to add pieces to change his tune:
Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment. Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can't afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.
Cleveland has already had to rebuild from the ground up once after LeBron James left, and the entire process would have to start again if Irving followed suit. It's a long-term concern that could be avoided if it makes the right moves in the short term.
Few players have been involved in more trade rumors in recent years than Rondo. It seems a month doesn't go by without the Boston Celtics star being connected to some type of talks, and the frequency picks up during the offseason and around the trade deadline.
Bill Ingram of Basketball Insiders reports one team consistently linked to a Rondo deal is the Houston Rockets. He states concerns about Omer Asik, who asked for a trade after his role diminished, would make any potential deal difficult:
For Houston to land Rondo, then, the Celtics would have to be interested in a package that centered around Asik, which is hardly a given. While a strong argument can be made that the Rockets could finally rise to contender status with Rondo sharing a backcourt with Harden, it’s not as easy to see why the Celtics would make such a deal.
If the Celtics are going to move Rondo, they are going to want some building blocks for the future. While Asik is a solid player who's capable of providing solid production in the post, he's not a star. So it's easy to see why the rumors haven't turned into anything substantial on that front.
Bynum appeared in 24 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season before they cut him loose. He wasn't performing well, but there was still a prevailing thought a contending team in need of frontcourt depth would give him a chance.
It hasn't happened yet. Marc Stein of ESPN reports there are two main reasons for that, both of which surround the center's demands and what teams think the return on investment would be:
ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi notes several weeks have now passed without Bynum latching on with a new team:
Even though Bynum is only a couple years removed from being a very productive member of the Los Angeles Lakers, the risk is seemingly outweighing the potential reward for teams right now. That might change as they get more desperate down the stretch, of course.