Even though the NBA season has just gotten started, trade rumblings have already bubbled up to the surface for a number of notable players who can make a huge difference for teams.
Making trades at the beginning of a season in any sport is unusual, as teams often like to see where they are at before making rash decisions. The NBA is in a unique position because there's such a wide gap between the top and bottom of the league.
In some cases, there's also real strife between the player and team that makes their current marriage unstable and seemingly impossible to repair.
Here are the latest rumblings on the NBA's trade market as the calendar is on the verge of turning to November.
Eric Bledsoe's Uncertain Future
It's apparent the Phoenix Suns will have to trade Eric Bledsoe at some point, though ideally it will happen sooner than later.
Bledsoe appeared to make a trade demand on Twitter last Sunday, writing "I Dont wanna be here." Suns general manager Ryan McDonough later told reporters Bledsoe wouldn't be with the team moving forward.
Racine Journal Times columnist and Milwaukee Bucks beat writer Gery Woelfel (via Arizona Sports' Kevin Zimmerman) offered some insight into what the Suns are looking to receive in a Bledsoe deal, reporting Thursday they were interested in "a combination of players, with reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon being the major one."
Brogdon has been a terrific find for the Bucks. He was drafted in the second round last year and turned in a solid debut season with 10.2 points and 4.2 assists per game en route to being named NBA Rookie of the Year.
This season, Brogdon has gotten better, with 15.8 points and 4.0 assists in four games.
However, per USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt, the Bucks are unwilling to use Brogdon as a trade chip to acquire Bledsoe.
The problem from Phoenix's side is everyone knows Bledsoe has to be dealt, so it has no leverage in negotiations. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski also noted Bledsoe's value around the NBA "isn't at an apex."
Bledsoe is owed $29.5 million over the last two years of his contract, per Spotrac. His shooting percentage has dropped from 45.3 in 2015-16 to 43.4 percent last season and 40.0 percent through three games this season.
As a rotation piece on a contending team, Bledsoe wouldn't be a bad pickup. The problem is the Suns seem to be looking for a package that can help them kick-start their rebuild, and teams don't appear anxious to give up anything of significant value.
Tyson Chandler Dangled by Suns
Bledsoe isn't the only piece the Suns could move in the near future, as Tyson Chandler also finds himself on the trade block. But there is a catch.
Per Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Suns have explored trying to package Chandler in a deal with Bledsoe.
This would seem to create more problems for the Suns as they try to part ways with Bledsoe. Chandler is signed through next season with a $13 million salary this season and $13.585 million in 2018-19, per Spotrac.
Even though Chandler's salary isn't exorbitant in this NBA era, having one more year after 2017-18 on his contract could complicate matters.
Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com noted the dilemma interested teams would have if Bledsoe and Chandler are packaged together:
"Because Bledsoe's contract is manageable for most teams at $14.5 million this season and $15 million next season, a traditional two-team trade would generally work perfectly. But now that the Suns could involve Chandler and the remaining two years and $26.5 million on his contract, that would pretty much exclude any contender from being able or willing to complete the deal."
According to Spotrac, there are four teams with at least $10 million in practical cap space. Since the Suns are among that group, they only have three teams with substantial money available to pull off a deal involving the contracts of Bledsoe and Chandler.
Of those three teams, the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks should not be looking to add big contracts given where they are from a talent perspective. That leaves the Philadelphia 76ers, who have $15.1 million, as the most attractive option for the Suns.
But the Sixers would seem to be set at center, assuming Joel Embiid can stay healthy.
Teams can pull off deals involving big contracts as long they have an expensive contract or two of their own to send back, but the Suns are not operating from a leveraged position right now.
Chandler still has value and is productive with 7.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this season. He might be an interesting trade chip on his own, but packaging him with Bledsoe would be a mistake for the Suns.
Nikola Mirotic Saga
It only felt like a matter of time before either Bobby Portis or Nikola Mirotic were involved in trade rumors.
The Chicago Bulls teammates were involved in an altercation during a practice on Oct. 17 that led to Mirotic being hospitalized with a concussion and likely undergoing surgery to repair maxillary fractures.
Nearly two weeks later, per Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago, Mirotic would like to be traded by the Bulls:
"It's becoming increasingly apparent the Bulls will have to make a move regarding Nikola Mirotic as the Bulls are aware of his unhappiness following his incident with Bobby Portis.
"Mirotic prefers a trade out of Chicago—which won't be available to the Bulls until mid-January at the earliest because he was a free agent this summer—and is willing to waive his no-trade clause to do so, sources tell NBCSportsChicago.com."
Mirotic could be an attractive option for a contending team that needs size and scoring off the bench. He has averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in his career. The 26-year-old shot 39.0 percent from three-point range during the 2015-16 season.
Even though Mirotic is unable to be traded until January, his return to the court has yet to be determined. Goodwill noted once Mirotic is out of the NBA's concussion protocol, his facial injuries will have to be addressed and could require an additional four to six weeks of recovery.
Mirotic would need time to get his body back into game shape before taking the court anyway, so it's not like he will be missing games he'd otherwise be able to play in.
Given the nature of Mirotic's injuries in the altercation with Portis, the Bulls have to do something. Mirotic is apparently making it clear he wants out, so it will be up to the front office to figure out a deal that works.