NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Updates Leading into 2014 Deadline
As teams position themselves to make moves, the NBA trade rumor mill is running, even if the market itself is quiet.
The league has separated itself out into clear classes of buyers and sellers, with little confusion about who falls into what category. Contenders and other ascendant organizations are looking for one more piece, while cellar dwellers want to add long-term value in the lead-up to the stacked 2014 draft; the middle class of teams that could go either way doesn't really exist this year.
When February 20 passes by, the short- and long-term future of the Association will be altered. We can't say how for sure, but we can read into the rumors and prognosticate.
Andre Miller Staying Put?
A stretch without both Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson may have reminded the Denver Nuggets just how essential it is to have point guard play—that is, someone, anyone, who can play the point guard position.
Per Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the situation has become so dire that the Nuggets have worked out Andre Miller and may reintegrate him into the roster.
Though Berger notes a Yahoo! Sports report by Marc J. Spears that claims Miller is not interested in returning to the Nuggets, for whom he has not played since a December 30 argument with coach Brian Shaw, Miller did agree to participate in the workout; that much leaves open the possibility of the 37-year-old's return.
Of course, getting Miller back in a Nuggets jersey would mean Denver wouldn't trade him elsewhere. He's been available basically since the moment the schism between player and team formed, but a month-and-a-half later, Miller is still in Denver and still not playing.
At least he has proven he's still in playing shape, which could help his trade value after his time off, but it now looks more likely Miller suits up next for the desperate Nuggets rather than someone else.
Gary Neal to a Contender?
The 9-43 Milwaukee Bucks have half as many wins as any other team in the NBA does, so they're doing Gary Neal the kindness of shopping him to more successful franchises.
As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports puts it, the woeful Bucks are "helping" Neal, who spent much of January out of the rotation and is shooting just 38.9 percent from the field.
Nevertheless, Neal has a reputation as a capable bench scorer from his days with the San Antonio Spurs. Within the confines of a more competent offensive system, he would likely get more open looks and have less of a burden to carry the team by creating his own shots.
Milwaukee is just looking for whatever it can get out of a Neal deal, so expect this one to go down. When an unreserved seller is willing to accept a low offer, that's about as sure a thing as there is.
OKC Looking for a Shooter
It might be foolish to say Kevin Durant can't score all of the Oklahoma City Thunder's points, but the team is trying to get him some offensive support anyway.
Wojnarowski reports that the Thunder are pursuing a wing shooter to bolster the second unit and hopefully put the team over the top in its title hunt. Jeremy Lamb and Thabo Sefolosha both bring ranginess to the defensive side of the ball, but they are not hitting consistently enough from downtown to space the floor effectively around Durant.
But before you just pencil Neal in as a perfect fit, the Yahoo! Sports writer clarifies that OKC wants a swingman who can defend as well as shoot. Offense has to be the first priority for the Thunder right now, but they don't want to insert a weak link into a staunch unit of stoppers.
With Durant on the precipice of winning his first-ever MVP award, Oklahoma City has every incentive to try to win now. Picking up some more firepower is a no-brainer.
Philly Wants Picks
Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes are all available, as is anything else not bolted down at the Philadelphia 76ers front office. For everything the team has, the price is the same: draft picks, draft picks, draft picks.
According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers are coveting first-rounders—lottery picks if possible—for Turner, Young and Hawes, which could be deflating the market for their services.
Then again, even the tanking enthusiasts in Philly have no obligation to deal their best players for a less-than-acceptable price just to get rid of them. Young has a season and a player contract left on his deal, while the expiring Turner and Hawes could be useful sign-and-trade pieces this summer.
As Pompey mentions, Turner is the most likely to garner a worthy offer, with interest from such varied sources as the spunky Charlotte Bobcats and the traditionally dominant Spurs.
Philly might not get the right price for all its assets, but its hard selling will pay at least some dividends.
Quiet Deadline Ahead?
Then again, an urge to preserve cap space and draft picks might leave someone like Philly general manager Sam Hinkie disappointed when the deadline comes.
Berger cites one NBA executive curious about the relative inactivity in the final days of the NBA trade season:
Trade talk at All-Star weekend has been 'as slow as it's been in a long time,' said one executive who has not received a single phone call. A lot of teams have made it known which players they are open to moving, but the problem is finding trade partners. Very few teams are willing to part with premium draft picks or take on future salary, which are the two key drivers for trades.
Even the buyers have their eye on the upcoming draft, and given how young many of the league's stars are, juggernauts are just as interested in the long-run sustainability of their rosters as they are in their win-now capability.
So the contenders and the tankers are all in the marketplace, but the price might not be agreeable to both parties. As much interest as there is in trade activity, this deadline could be one full of missed connections.