NBA Trade Rumors: Ranking the Hottest Trade Targets on the Block

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2011

NBA Trade Rumors: Ranking the Hottest Trade Targets on the Block

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    There has been no shortage of trade rumors since the NBA came back to life, and it is likely such a trend continues.

    Since teams, players and agents were allowed to resume contact, athletes that were on the block prior to the work stoppage have returned, and many new faces have emerged. The list of eligible players is as long as it as ever been, and it is only growing.

    While there are a plethora of players on the chopping block, there are a few names that stand out the most. Certain athletes have generated both more interest and chatter than others, and have been dominating headlines as a result.

    These hot commodities are only going to get hotter as time progresses, and it will be interesting to see how their situation is resolved. 

No. 6: Monta Ellis

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    Prior to the lockout, the Golden State Warriors were shopping Monta Ellis around the league, and generated the strongest amount of interest from the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. Other interested teams included the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls.

    It is very rare that a player with the scoring abilities of Ellis finds his way onto the block. He is extremely versatile and can fill a void at either of the guard positions.

    Rumors surrounding Ellis died down once the lockout hit, and have yet to regain serious momentum, but despite Mark Jackson's insistence that he wants the guard on the team, Golden State's need for defense is evident.

    Until the trade deadline passes or another announcement comes regarding Ellis' future, his name will not be removed from the block.

No. 5: Paul Millsap

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    Paul Millsap's name only recently appeared in the rumor mill, and he is an intriguing prospect for many teams.

    The Indiana Pacers have been most heavily linked to the power forward, but other teams in need of a strong inside presence could emerge as well. Teams like the New Jersey Nets, who are looking at guys like Nene Hilario, among others, may also want to get involved.

    Millsap, while undersized for his position, is an excellent rebounder and tough defender. He is an underrated scorer and has the potential to continue to develop, perhaps even reaching star caliber under the right circumstances.

    There is no shortage of talent on Millsap's end, meaning their will be no shortage of interest in acquiring him.

No. 4: Rajon Rondo

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    The Boston Celtics took the basketball world by surprise when it was reported that the team was open to dealing star point guard Rajon Rondo.

    The most prevalent of potential deals have been squashed, and Danny Aingne has entered damage control mode, but whether Boston likes it or not, Rondo's name is out there. There are bound to be teams interested in Rondo's services, and the Celtics are going to field inquiries as a result.

    Are we to believe Ainge and be of the mind that Rondo isn't going anywhere? Certainly, because after Boston's supposed Chris Paul aspirations fell through, this may indeed be the team's stance.

    For now.

No. 3: Josh Smith

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    The Atlanta Hawks were assessing trade interest in Josh Smith just before the lockout went into effect, and now that it's over, it appears the forward himself officially wants to be dealt.

    Smith is a talented player on both ends of the floor, and could help any number of teams reach the next level. His list of preferred teams includes the Nets, Celtics, Magic and Rockets, and there are others who could come into play as well.

    What makes Smith such a hot commodity is his ability to be a game-changer. He can play both forward positions and is a strong defender, as well as explosive scorer. His talents are not unknown, but he isn't mentioned in the same breath as some of the other stars in the league, yet he deserves to be.

    Smith may have run his course in Atlanta, but there are plenty of teams out there who wouldn't mind offering him a fresh start.

No. 2: Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard would be the hottest trade target on the market, if it weren't for the fact that the Orlando Magic have yet to officially put him on the block.

    The closest we have come to an actual Howard offer has been reports that the Lakers are pursuing both the big man and Chris Paul, and that the Nets had a package set to bring to the table for Orlando.

    Howard is a franchise-altering player, who is perfect for both a contender and a team looking to rebuild. He is a defensive guru and has developed into quite the low-post scorer.

    There are few players with the ability to be as effective as Howard, which is why the market for him will never taper off.

No. 1: Chris Paul

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    Chris Paul trade rumors kicked it into high-gear after Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported that the point guard has requested a trade from New Orleans to New York.

    After the news broke, Paul quickly became the hottest target as Dwight Howard has not yet asked to be dealt from his Magic.

    Like Howard, Paul is a franchise-altering player. He has proven with the Hornets that he can carry a team on his own, yet his talents make it obvious he can thrive on a contender as well.

    Will Paul ultimately wind up with the Knicks? Perhaps, but there will be plenty other organizations who will stand in the way of such a pairing.

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