Much of the focus during the NBA offseason is currently on big-ticket free agents making their decisions. In the meantime, though, the trade market has started to heat up.
Trades can accomplish several different goals at this juncture on the NBA calendar. Some teams are looking for a missing piece, while others are trying to move assets to open up salary-cap space or create room for younger players to emerge.
There are plenty of teams that either don't have enough money to participate in free agency or are unable to attract impact players. Going the trade route opens up some possibilities, though, and adds yet another wrinkle to the offseason.
Here is the latest on some of the biggest names potentially available on the trade market, including Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Kevin Love and much more.
There is no hotter commodity than Love on the trade block currently. The 25-year-old power forward is coming off a season in which he averaged over 26 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest. He is a legitimate superstar in the NBA and could instantly make several teams title contenders in the event of a trade.
One particularly interesting scenario regarding Love includes the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. The Cavs successfully signed LeBron away from the Miami Heat Thursday, per Lee Jenkins of SI.com. Now that the local hero is back home, the Cavs may not be done.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cavaliers considered the possibility of dealing for Love if they could sign James:
Cavaliers are pursuing a Kevin Love trade with Minnesota, contingent on the signing of LeBron James, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
There is mutual interest as well, with Love willing to sign a long-term deal should the Cavs ultimately acquire him, per ESPN's Marc Stein:
Source close to situation says Kevin Love indeed "intrigued" by idea of being dealt to Cavs and would commit long there if traded there— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2014
One potential stumbling block, though, is that Cleveland is reluctant to include Andrew Wiggins, according to Sam Amico and Zac Jackson of FoxSports.com. Wiggins was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft and has superstar ability. If the Cavs want to land a proven star, then they may have to give up a future one.
Even if the Cavaliers want Love, however, they may have some competition. The Boston Celtics are in hot pursuit of Love, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. This is despite the fact that general manager Danny Ainge has remained coy about his intentions.
"You never know what to expect," Ainge said. "When you have conversations, I have a great deal of respect in the league and what they're all trying to accomplish. I don't know what’s going to shake out when it's all said and done."
The Cavs have to realize that they have a huge opportunity with LeBron and Kyrie Irving already in place. Wiggins could develop into a star alongside them, but Love is a sure thing. If trading Wiggins is what it takes to land Love, then it is something that Cleveland has to take under strong consideration before the Celtics potentially undercut them.
The New York Knicks thought they were getting a vital piece when they acquired 7-footer Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors last offseason, but the Italian veteran turned out to be a major disappointment. Bargnani did average over 13 points per game, but she shot less than 28 percent from three-point range and wasn't the stretch 5 that the Knicks envisioned.
New York is on the hook for $12 million this season as it relates to Bargnani, according to HoopsHype.com. That severely limits what New York can do in free agency. When adding Amar'e Stoudemire to the mix, the Knicks have more than half of their salary cap tied up in two fairly ineffective players, per Lang Greene of BasketballInsiders.com:
Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani combine to account for $34.9 million of the Knicks salary cap next season.— Lang Greene (@LangGreene) July 11, 2014
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the Knicks are searching for potential trade suitors. According to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, though, dealing Bargnani won't be easy. It is expected that New York would have to give up two first-round picks in a trade to dump Bargnani's salary. That is a challenge since the Knicks don't have a 2015 first-rounder, which prompted Berger to speculate that they may have to trade Tim Hardaway Jr. as well.
As much as New York would love to get rid of Bargnani and Stoudemire in order to get involved in the free-agent frenzy, the price of doing so may prove to be too steep. Next year's free-agent class may not be as enticing as the current one, but patience could be a virtue for the Knicks if they opt to wait on the Bargnani and Stoudemire contracts to expire rather than trading them.
Which is most likely to happen?
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson already in place, the Golden State Warriors have a glut of scoring guards. Because of that, Jordan Crawford looks like the odd man out. Crawford has bounced around the league, but he is a talented offensive player who is still just 25 years of age.
Several teams across the league figure to be interested in a player of Crawford's ilk, so the Warriors are considering a sign-and-trade deal involving him, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Spears listed the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks as intrigued parties.
The Heat weren't mentioned, but they have a fairly wide-open roster now that LeBron has returned to Cleveland. Crawford seemingly took notice of that fact in a tweet following James' decision:
South beach!!! Whatupdoe? 👀— Jordan Crawford (@jcraw55) July 11, 2014
Miami desperately needs bodies, and Crawford is a guy who could potentially thrive in a featured role. The power is ultimately in his hands, though, as several teams are likely to inquire. One thing that is for sure, though, is that the likelihood of Crawford staying with Golden State is low.
The Warriors simply don't have a need for him, so his name will be one worth monitoring closely in the coming days.
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