The 2014 NBA trade deadline is a week away, as the league prepares for the upcoming All-Star break and midseason festivities in New Orleans.
Thursday, Feb. 20 marks the last day NBA teams can swap players and add key pieces for the playoff push. While a handful of title contenders will likely stay quiet this February, there's also no shortage of clubs pursuing deals to bolster their roster, free up cap space and better themselves for the future.
Let's take a closer look at some of the latest trade buzz surrounding some of the league's top young players ahead of this month's deadline.
Warriors Looking to Deal, Unlikely to Move Harrison Barnes
The Golden State Warriors are concerned about their lack of firepower off the bench as they eye another playoff run this coming spring. As a result, the Western Conference contenders are expected to be players at the trade deadline this February.
According to a person with knowledge of the Warriors' situation, Golden State is on the lookout for bench help and is hoping to use its trade exceptions as a way to facilitate such a deal that would likely need to involve three teams.
Amick adds that Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut are the only two names that appear to be off limits in terms of trade discussions this winter, and he singles out small forward Harrison Barnes as the most intriguing possibility for potential trade partners:
As for the possibility of a bigger deal being done before the deadline, rival executives told USA Today Sports last week that anyone outside of point guard Stephen Curry and center Andrew Bogut is, to varying degrees, up for discussion. That includes second-year small forward Harrison Barnes, the Warriors reserve who is known to have sparked serious interest from a long list of suitors but who is unlikely to be traded unless it was part of a package for a big-name player.
Although Barnes is coming off a forgettable January in which he averaged 6.9 points per game on 34 percent shooting from the field, a 23-point performance against the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 8 highlights the 21-year-old's immense potential.
Plus, Barnes was a breakout performer for Golden State in the playoffs last year, averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in a dozen starts.
While moving him would surely allow the Warriors to bolster their bench, Barnes' bright future will make pulling the trigger on a potential deal incredibly difficult.
Knicks Shopping Iman Shumpert?
New York Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert is in the midst of a disappointing season, shooting a career-low 38 percent from the floor and averaging just seven points per game.
But Shumpert's slumping numbers appear to be the least of his worries. According to ESPN NBA reporter Marc Stein, sources close to the Knicks highlight the 23-year-old as a potential trade chip ahead of the Feb. 20 deadline, particularly in regards to a potential swap with Denver:
Hearing that Knicks are trying again to re-engage Denver and sell Nuggets on idea of trade built around Shumpert-for-Faried before deadline— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 11, 2014
Denver's Kenneth Faried has seen his playing time decrease slightly this season after averaging a career-high 28.1 per game in 2012-13. However, it's difficult to see the Nuggets parting ways with the third-year power forward.
The 24-year-old is a fierce rebounder and lethal scorer inside. There's no doubt that both traits would certainly give the Knicks a boost. After all, New York ranks 26th in the league in rebounds per game and 28th in field goals made from less than five feet out, per NBA.com.
Still, some, including Bleacher Report's Ethan Norof, are wary of the Knicks parting ways with Shumpert:
There is literally nothing about the #Knicks desire to trade for Kenneth Faried (and trade Iman Shumpert) that makes any logical sense.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) February 11, 2014
Iman Shumpert is too valuable as an asset, and too talented on the court, to be traded for Kenneth Faried for this #Knicks team. That’s all.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) February 11, 2014
On top of his three-point prowess, Shumpert is an excellent perimeter defender who ranks second among all Knicks players in steals this season.
Pelicans Poised to Trade Austin Rivers?
The New Orleans Pelicans selected Austin Rivers with the No. 10-overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. However, the former Duke superstar has yet to pan out at the next level, averaging just 6.1 points per game on 38 percent shooting for his brief career.
Rivers' struggles have only fueled swirling trade rumors, and now it appears the 21-year-old shooting guard could be on the move ahead of the fast-approaching trade deadline.
According to Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler, the Pelicans have been preparing for a potential breakup with Rivers since the season began:
The Pelicans look like they are going to trade guard Austin Rivers at the deadline, sources close to the situation believe there has been agreement in place all season to move him if playing time and opportunity did not become available.
Although Rivers' shooting numbers are up slightly from a year ago, his minutes have decreased considerably and the lack of playing time likely means his time in the Big Easy will be coming to an end.
After starting 26 games a season ago, Rivers has yet to record a single start in 2013-14. Therefore, it will be very interesting to see what sort of offers New Orleans will receive this winter.
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