NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Whispers from Around the Association

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2014

Minnesota Timberwolves' Corey Brewer in action an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The NBA trade deadline may be months away, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors from circulating early and often.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets may have their eyes on a versatile forward who would boost their defenses, while the New York Knicks could trade one of their veteran guards to accelerate the rebuilding process. 

With that in mind, read on to see the latest trade rumors from around the Association.

Corey Brewer

Marc Stein of ESPN.com originally reported the latest rumors circulating around Corey Brewer of the Minnesota Timberwolves:

The Minnesota Timberwolves, fresh off heavy back-to-back losses in New Orleans and Dallas and in the latest indication of their growing focus on the future, are in active trade discussions with multiple contending teams pursuing veteran swingman Corey Brewer, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets have emerged as the most serious suitors for Brewer, whose arrival would be a notable boost for either team in terms of depth. 

Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio then provided the Cavaliers’ reaction on Monday:

The Cavs are unquestionably interested in a deal for Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer, as reported Sunday by ESPN. One team official told FOX Sports Ohio that Brewer would be the perfect fit. He defends wings, doesn't need the ball, and would allow Marion to move back to his role as James' backup at small forward. And yes, keep the often shot-happy Waiters coming off the bench and scoring points -- which is how the Cavs' really like him. 

Not to be outdone, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com noted that the Rockets will still be involved, but this trade may not be happening anytime soon:

Darren Wolfson @DWolfsonKSTP

No sense a Brewer trade is on the cusp. Recall: most trades discussed never happen. Rockets will continue to monitor. Prob. others. #twolves

There is a lot to digest here. The Rockets and Cavaliers are both incredibly intriguing options for Brewer considering the presence of Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston. Both teams are title contenders, and adding a versatile forward who can play a couple of different positions and serve as a defensive stopper would boost those chances.

Amico’s update immediately jumps out because Brewer fits so many needs for Cleveland.

For one, it would take the minutes burden off James’ back. James may be the best player in the league, but he will turn 30 years old in December. The team needs him fresh in the playoffs if it wants to win a title, and the best way to do that is by giving him more rest during the regular season and not forcing him to carry the load on offense while guarding the opponent’s best player on the other end.

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 15: Corey Brewer #13 of the Minnesota Timberwolves posts up against the Dallas Mavericks on November 15, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Glenn James/Getty Images

What’s more, Cleveland has allowed more than 100 points in seven of nine games this year. Brewer would bolster a defense that simply is not playing at a championship level with his length, quickness and athleticism. 

The Cavaliers are certainly a title contender in the Eastern Conference, but they have a number of issues to address. Brewer would provide an answer for multiple problems, which is why he is such an interesting option on the trade front.

J.R. Smith 

Ian Begley of ESPN New York noted that J.R. Smith could be on the way out in New York:

Ian Begley @IanBegley

Regarding the idea of moving J.R. Smith, the #Knicks have continued to discuss internally their options to deal him. Have done so since July

This makes perfect sense from New York’s perspective. The team is building toward the future, and Smith is 29 years old. His contract is also on the books until after the 2015-16 season unless he opts out before that, which matters for a team looking to accumulate valuable cap space.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert are both younger players who can play Smith’s shooting guard position. There is somewhat of a logjam at the spot right now, but Shumpert and Hardaway are both more promising pieces for the rebuilding efforts in New York given their age.

Trading Smith could expedite the rebuilding process with a couple of younger assets or draft considerations as well as alleviate that logjam at shooting guard. It is probably better for the Knicks to see if the younger Hardaway can thrive with significant minutes anyway.

Smith is a streaky scorer, but there are sure to be contenders that show interest in someone who averaged double-figure points a game in his last eight seasons. Thinking along those lines, the Knicks could get some younger pieces with a potential swap.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks shakes hands with his teammates during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York on November 16, 2014.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Those contenders may even appreciate Smith’s apparent maturity and team-first approach that was evident in his recent comments.

"Honestly I didn’t really know I was going to start until 20 minutes before the game," Smith said, via Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. "At this point in my career I’ve stopped focusing on that because when I focus on that it becomes too mental for me. The key for me is to just go out there and play, whether I’m starting or coming off the bench."

Smith may be starting or coming off the bench for a different team by season’s end.

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