Although the NBA trade market has been a little slow to develop this season, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a flurry of activity once the first blockbuster is complete. Front offices are waiting for an aggressive team to set the market price for the top names available.
Exactly when that could happen is unclear. The rumor mill hasn't produced any talk where it seems like a high-profile deal is imminent. That said, the season is reaching a point where contenders will want to make moves as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors lead the conferences once again.
With that in mind, let's check out some of the latest buzz from around the league. We'll also analyze what the trade rumors could mean for the players and teams involved.
Rudy Gay Remains Likely Trade Candidate
Rudy Gay is no stranger to trade talk. The 30-year-old forward has been a popular target for much of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and now the Sacramento Kings. He's already been traded twice, and it could become three times before this season's trade deadline on Feb. 23.
RealGM passed along comments Adrian Wojnarowski made about the situation on The Vertical Podcast. The NBA insider noted the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets are among the interested teams should the Kings decide to make a move:
The one player who is going to have to move between now and the trade deadline is Rudy Gay. I don't think the Kings can make the same mistake New Orleans made last year with Ryan Anderson. Ryan Anderson was pretty clear he was not going to re-sign there and they lost him for nothing. Especially for a team so devoid of assets, they couldn't let him walk for nothing.
Gay carries a $13.3 million cap number this season and holds a player option for 2017-18, which means he can opt out and hit the free-agent market after the campaign, per Spotrac. It puts an onus on Sacramento to acquire assets for him over the next few months.
The UConn product is doing his part to maintain solid value. He's averaging 18.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals through 23 games. His versatility and across-the-board production would help him fit in with just about any contender.
Oklahoma City has always felt like a logical destination. The Thunder feature Russell Westbrook as their go-to scorer and have good frontcourt depth. They could use a wing scorer to take some of the offensive pressure off Westbrook, however, and that's exactly what Gay could provide.
DeMarcus Cousins Offers Underwhelming
DeMarcus Cousins is another member of the Kings roster who has often found himself the center of attention when it comes to trade rumors. Nobody has ever doubted the 26-year-old frontcourt stalwart's talent, which he's displayed once again to the tune of 28.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game so far this season.
His attitude has been a problem, though. Sacramento Bee executive editor Joyce Terhaar provided the details of the latest incident: a profanity-laced tirade directed at one of the outlet's reporters following a column he didn't like. Terhaar called it an effort at "controlling and censoring the media."
Moments like that are why the Kings front office struggles to find fair value for Cousins. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported the team has been listening to trade offers for a year but hasn't found anything that would warrant moving such an impact player:
Kings ownership is unwilling to give away arguably the top center in the game for what amounts to a handful of young guys and the promise of future draft picks that amount to a handful of magic beans. Sure, the Kings could land someone new in the draft, but they are invested in Cousins and believe the best scenario for them is to build around him, even if there is risk somewhere down the road.
As one source close to the situation said recently, 'If you know the return is bad, why make the deal?' And the Kings know the return is bad.
Another team may eventually decide the on-court production Cousins provides makes it worth taking a risk on him via a blockbuster trade. But it makes no sense for the Kings to trade him for pennies on the dollar since he's under contract through the end of next season.
His player efficiency rating ranks him as a top-10 player in the NBA, according to ESPN. Dealing him for anything less than those type of numbers command, even when taking the occasional off-court drama into account, would be a mistake that could hurt the franchise for an extended period.
Andrew Bogut May Become Available Before Deadline
Teams unwilling to meet the asking price for Cousins may view Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut as a less costly alternative to their frontcourt needs. The 32-year-old veteran remains a stabilizing force on the interior despite a diminished offensive impact.
He's averaging just 3.8 points this season as an afterthought in the Dallas offensive game plan, but he's still pulling down 10.4 rebounds per game and playing rock-solid defense. Those attributes carry plenty of value for teams in the title conversation.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN previously reported the Mavericks haven't completely given up on the season despite a dreadful start, so a trade in the immediate future isn't likely. He noted the front office understands the center's value to other teams should the outlook change:
Sources tell ESPN that Mavs have no immediate intention to shop C Andrew Bogut, as their focus for now is trying to salvage their season. However, Mavs management recognizes that Bogut has significant value in the trade market as a proven championship-caliber complementary piece in a contract year and could become motivated to move him if and when it becomes clear that the Mavs have no hope of making the playoffs this season. Several league sources said the Mavs should be able to get a first-round pick from a contender for Bogut.
While trading a first-round pick for Bogut may sound like a lot on the surface, the teams most likely to consider that move are those going to finish near the top of the standings. So it would be a late first, which isn't an unrealistic asking price given the post defense he can provide.
The Boston Celtics are a team that could use his presence on the interior as they look to challenge the Cavs for supremacy in the East. But there isn't a major sense of urgency, especially since Bogut has missed the last few weeks with a knee injury. Things could heat up once he returns to full strength.