The NBA season features plenty of time for a team to change its fortunes after a bad start, but most teams know what they have and don't have at this point in the year.
Almost halfway into the season, the contenders and pretenders are starting to separate themselves. Those who have disappointed to this stage can either start looking toward the future or find ways to upgrade the roster.
The Feb. 23 trade deadline is still over a month away, but it is never too soon to improve your team. Here are some players who could help out a contender in the coming weeks.
P.J. Tucker to the Knicks?
The New York Knicks are reeling with six straight losses to fall to 16-19 on the season. While there is talent on the roster, defense remains a major issue while allowing 108.4 points per game.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek hasn't liked what he has seen from the performance on that side of the ball.
"I don't think our guys aren't trying. Maybe we're just not capable of it. I don't know," he said this week, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com.
The solution appears to be adding someone who is capable of playing defense, which is reportedly the plan. Begley reported the Knicks front office has targeted Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker for a potential trade before the deadline.
While Tucker has never put up big numbers in his career, he is a strong on-ball defender with the size and strength at 6'6", 245 lbs. to handle players on the perimeter. He also has a lot of familiarity with Hornacek after playing for him the past three seasons in Phoenix.
The coach obviously liked something about his play with Tucker starting 224 of his 241 games under Hornacek.
With Tucker on the final year of his contract and the Suns far out of the playoff picture already, it makes sense for the squad to try to deal him for whatever it can get.
Although this isn't the type of move that will steal headlines, it is a perfect fit for the Knicks.
Teams Interested in Andrew Bogut
It's easy to guess which players could be trade targets based on their situations, which Andrew Bogut has figured out himself.
"I'm not silly. I've been in this league long enough. I'm an expiring contract," the center explained, per Tim McMahon of ESPN.com. "I haven't asked for a trade, but I know in this league we're 11-24, and I was being honest. There's a chance that I get traded."
Useful players with expiring contracts on bad teams get traded; that's just how the league works.
McMahon also added that "multiple teams have interest in Bogut."
Bogut rarely makes an impact on the offensive end of the court, but he makes a living thanks to his defensive play. He is an excellent rebounder and interior defender, leading the 73-win Golden State Warriors last season in defensive rating and defensive box plus-minus, per Basketball Reference.
While this doesn't provide all that much help on one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, Bogut could be a huge addition to a contender for the second half of the season and beyond. His playoff experience will also be extremely valuable.
A team like the Portland Trail Blazers, while struggling so far, could use this type of addition as soon as possible.
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In what could be the most high-profile trade of the season, the Atlanta Hawks are currently listening to offers for Paul Millsap, according to Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.
The team is reportedly scared of losing him in free agency for nothing like Al Horford a year ago. Chris Haynes of ESPN also already reported the forward is planning on opting out of his contract to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Millsap might not have the name recognition of some other NBA stars, but he has been an All-Star in each of the last three years and is one of the best two-way players in the game.
Shane Young of BBall Breakdown provided his thoughts on the 31-year-old:
Shane Young @YoungNBA
Don't think people understand how great Paul Millsap is, though. By casual fans, not even a question he's the most underrated player.1/2/2017, 1:08:51 AM
The Hawks aren't in as bad of shape as the Suns or the Mavericks, but this is a team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference two years before falling to the middle of the pack. They have one solid piece for the future in Dennis Schroder, but otherwise the organization might be looking at a full rebuild before returning to contention.
Conversely, Millsap can help turn an average team into a contender thanks to his dominance on both ends of the court. The Boston Celtics are one option that could use an impact player like this while also having the assets necessary to complete a deal.
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