NBA teams looking to upgrade the roster before the start of the 2014-15 season are in luck, because there are a number of talented players potentially available for the right price.
No one wants to trade an impact player if it can be avoided. However, struggling teams will try to make a deal if they can get great value in a trade or at the very least unload some high salaries. As a result, the contending squads will be ready to take them in with open arms.
There is a plenty of time before the start of the season to complete any deal, but here is a breakdown of the latest rumors surrounding potential blockbusters around the league.
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
After a poor season with the New York Knicks, J.R. Smith could be on the trading block. The question is whether the front office can find anyone willing to take the guard and his big contract.
Smith signed a four-year, $24-million deal before the start of last season, to which he responded with an average of 14.5 points and four rebounds per game while making just 41.5 percent of his shots from the field. All of these numbers were down from the year before.
Add in the current glut of backcourt players, and the Knicks are looking to make a move, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
Working to clear the logjam in the backcourt, the Knicks are discussing their potential trade options with guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, a league source said Sunday.
“They’re working on trying to make a move in the backcourt,” the NBA source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking said Sunday.
In an interview on ESPN's First Take, Smith admitted that he would not have blamed the team for trading him, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:
No, absolutely not. The way I was playing, I was playing like a person who didn’t want to be there, not looking as focused as a person should be in the situation we were in. I wouldn’t blame him at all. ...Unfortunately, it just so happened to be the worst year I believe I’ve had in the NBA, including my rookie year. I’m just looking to bounce back.
When the player admits he should be traded, it might be time for the team to make a deal.
Even with Carmelo Anthony re-signing, it seems unlikely the Knicks will go from 37-45 to legitimate contenders. As a result, it might be a smart move to trade the 28-year-old Smith for someone who could help out in the future.
Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons
Despite playing 10 years in the NBA, it still seems as though we do not quite know what type of player Josh Smith can be. He has averaged at least 15 points per game in each of the past eight seasons but has still never reached an All-Star game.
The Detroit Pistons signed the forward to a four-year deal worth $54 million last summer but had considered trading him this time around. The question is whether the organization is going to go through with it.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Sacramento Kings were interested, but a deal is no longer likely:
Detroit Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy reached out to forward Josh Smith to tell him that reports of the franchise engaging in substantive trade talks with Sacramento centered on Smith have been inaccurate and – barring an unexpected turn of events – Smith will be in training camp with the Pistons this fall, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
However, Zach Lowe of Grantland counters by saying "the talks were serious and could revive anytime."
Josh Eberly of Dime Magazine points out that this could be a good move for Smith:
If the Kings can keep Josh Smith at power forward and control his shot selection it's actually a good pick up.— Josh Eberley (@JoshEberley) July 17, 2014
The problem is that few coaches have been able to limit Smith's shot selection. Adding his inefficiency with that of Rudy Gay in the same lineup could be dangerous for Sacramento.
If the Kings continue to show interest, however, the Pistons should do what they can to try to complete a move.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
As soon as LeBron James signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the rumors started to fly concerning Kevin Love potentially joining him on a push for an NBA title. Although the squad did not want to part with No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, the front office has changed its mind.
ESPN's Marc Stein reports that a deal is close to completion:
Signals emanating from Cleveland are clear that Cavs think they'll ultimately construct a trade framework Minnesota will accept for KLove— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 22, 2014
Cavs know it'll cost Wiggins/Bennett/future first to get Love. If Wolves insist on moving Kevin Martin with Love, more pieces must be added— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 22, 2014
Cleveland also recently acquired a few players' non-guaranteed contracts, which could be used to help balance contracts in a potential trade.
This would be a pretty big haul for the Timberwolves to bring back, especially considering Love will likely leave at the end of the season as a free agent. If you are Cleveland, this is a major risk considering that both Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett have the ability to be stars in the league.
However, Love is already a superstar who has been to the All-Star game three times in his career. This past season he averaged an incredible 26.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Adding him could solidify the Cavaliers as the favorite to bring home a title.
Meanwhile, it will take this type of an offer for Cleveland to complete the deal with competition growing for Love's services. Although the Golden State Warriors have struggled to progress talks, the Chicago Bulls are reportedly now involved, according to Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
Although the full extent of the Bulls' offer wasn't immediately known, it is believed Minnesota would seek a package from Chicago featuring forward Taj Gibson and defensive ace Jimmy Butler in addition to other assets. The Bulls shelved their Love interest while trying to sign Carmelo Anthony away from the New York Knicks but, according to sources, have re-emerged as contenders.
Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald also reported that the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets have made offers for the talented player.
Still, Stein points out that the Cavaliers will present the best offer:
Why would A-Wiggins trump any offer for Love from Bulls or anyone else? Because Wiggins is potential superstar Wolves can't otherwise get— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 22, 2014
This seems like a deal that will eventually be done as Cleveland hopes to create a new Big Three of James, Love and Kyrie Irving.
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