NBA Trade Deadline 2014: Hottest Names to Watch Between Now and Feb. 20

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NBA Trade Deadline 2014: Hottest Names to Watch Between Now and Feb. 20
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

We're just two weeks away from the NBA trade deadline and rumors are heating up. ESPN.com's Chad Ford predicts this trade deadline could be epic due to so many teams tanking for better draft position.

The closer we get to the Feb. 20 deadline, the more we'll hear about potential swaps, and completed deals. Will it all be much ado about nothing? Or will we actually see the whirlwind of deals that Ford forecasts?

Either way, expect to hear the following names a lot over the next 14 days.

 

Evan Turner

Allen Einstein/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers swingman is averaging 17.8 points per game and having his best season. He'll be a restricted free agent this summer, and with the 76ers rebuilding, the team is looking to move him, per Sean Deveney of Sporting News.

The Charlotte Bobcats are among the teams interested, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer

Turner isn't a great outside shooter, as evidenced by his 28 percent three-point shooting and 43 percent overall shooting, but he does excel at taking the ball to the rim, and he's a solid perimeter defender.

A team like the Bobcats could use Turner because it lacks consistent scoring options from its wings.

Turner could feasibly step in and start at small forward in Charlotte. He, Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Josh McRoberts and Gerald Henderson wouldn't be a bad starting five.

The Bobcats seem to be the most prominent team associated with Turner right now, but that could change over the next two weeks. Expect Turner's name to be thrown around as much as anyone's leading up to the deadline.

 

Arron Afflalo

Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

According to Ford, Afflalo is likely to draw the most interest of any of the Orlando Magic's potentially available players. That seems logical considering he's averaging 20 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

Afflalo isn't heading into free agency, but his $7.5 million salary this year and the next is a bargain considering his production.

Orlando could hold on to Afflalo and include him in next year's rebuilding plan, or sit tight and move him next season. Afflalo has a player option for the 2015-16 season, but it stays at the same affordable rate as the previous two years.

If his strong play continues, he could opt out for a bigger deal and a change of scenery, or he could stay put. We'll see if Orlando makes the decision for him.

 

Pau Gasol

Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Gasol probably hates February. Every year he has to sweat out the first two-and-a-half weeks of the month while his name is circulated in trade rumors.

The latest was a potential deal to the Phoenix Suns, but it seems things have cooled on that front. Gasol's recovery from an injured groin has reportedly stagnated talks between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Suns. However, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne says the Lakers haven't given up hope of moving Gasol to Phoenix, or elsewhere:

As usual, keep your eyes peeled for Gasol trade rumors. One of these days the Lakers are bound to pull the trigger. With the Spaniard heading for unrestricted free agency this summer, the time to pull the trigger on a deal has likely arrived.

 

Taj Gibson

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

The Chicago Bulls have already moved one of their centerpieces this season. Trading Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the right to cut Andrew Bynum and save some dough sent a message.

Who is most likely to be moved?

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The Bulls are serious about retooling their squad, and that could mean moving Gibson. He's always been a solid rebounder and defender, but this season his offense has really picked up.

Along with his 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots, Gibson is scoring a career-high 12.2 points per game. Gibson is due to make $8.5 million next season and $8.95 million in 2015-16.

It's not an insane amount to pay Gibson considering how he's blossomed, but it is too much for the Bulls to fork over if the team plans to chase a major free agent and Nikola Mirotic. The latter is the Euroleague star the team acquired the rights to during the 2011 NBA draft.

Even if the team amnesties Carlos Boozer as expected, it won't have enough cap room for a max free agent and Mirotic without moving Gibson.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley reports sources have indicated that the Lakers, Bobcats and Washington Wizards have already expressed interest in Gibson.

Do the Bulls have another bold move in them this season?

 

Carmelo Anthony

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In many ways, players like Anthony are the straw stirring the player-movement drink. His impending free agency, as well as that of players like the Miami Heat's LeBron James and Chris Bosh, has to have teams excited about the possibilities of acquiring the stars.

That could be the primary motivation behind the Bulls potentially moving Gibson.

The New York Knicks could hold on to their star, but it's a huge gamble because Melo could walk away from New York and the Knicks would get nothing in return for him.

Melo says he's focused on winning, and that would appear to be the driving force in his decision on whether to return to Gotham or to go elsewhere. Per Ian Begley of ESPN.com, Anthony said:

Championship is the only thing that’s on my mind, is the only thing I want to accomplish, I want to achieve, and I’m going to do what I got to do to get that. That’s my motivating factor. Nothing else even motivates me anymore, just that.

At some point, general manager Steve Mills and owner James Dolan have to decide if they truly believe they have a legitimate chance to lock Melo up with an extension. If the answer to that question is no, the team has to seriously consider trading him at the deadline.

 

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