There is very little balance between the two conferences in the NBA right now. Any time the East meets the West, it's like looking at a southpaw in a right-handed arm wrestling competition.
With the lopsided situation at hand, it stands to reason that a few NBA teams are trying to tip the balance in their favor with some good, old-fashioned wheeling and dealing.
In the Eastern Conference, the majority of teams outside of the current top eight still have to feel they have a chance at making a playoff push. It's a wide-open, watered-down conference.
In the West, it's all about incremental advantages, the kinds of moves that will allow a team to slip past the other heavyweights in the conference and rise to the top of the standings. Or if you're at the bottom of said conference, building for the future might be the best possible strategy.
Either way, the roster building never ends in the NBA—and neither do the trade rumors.
Here's a look at three players whose names have reportedly been thrown into possible trade discussions.
Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, and the Utah Jazz could very well tap into this sentiment and placate fans frustrated by a 5-15 start to the season. According to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, the Brooklyn Nets could very well trade Andrei Kirilenko to the Utah Jazz in mid-December:
Kirilenko spent his first 10 NBA seasons with the Jazz. Fans would presumably welcome him with open arms, but that doesn't necessarily mean this move is motivated by feelings.
The Jazz have a solid core of young players in Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Alec Burks, as well as a pair of project rookies in Dante Exum and Rodney Hood.
Adding a veteran like Kirilenko could provide a much-needed boost on the defensive end, where the Jazz are absolutely getting killed, allowing 110.4 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN.com.
Kirilenko enjoyed his best defensive seasons with his Jazz, using his spidery limbs to swat shots and pick pockets on a routine basis. Kirilenko could ideally serve as a mentor for Hood on defense while also providing quality minutes off the bench or as an occasional starter.
The 33-year-old Russian has hardly played with the Brooklyn Nets this season, but this doesn't seem like a bad bit of business for the Jazz. Should a return to Salt Lake City spark Kirilenko, it might even turn out to be a minor coup for this young organization.
Toure' Murry and Jeremy Evans are both non-factors right now in Utah. The Nets might not find much use for them either, but the franchise could at least free up some cap space by trading Kirilenko. In the short term, it's a move that makes sense for both teams.
However, Kirilenko's production with the Nets is nowhere close to what it was with the Jazz. If he turns out to be dead weight, fans might wonder why the Jazz bothered to bring him in considering how far out of contention they are in a loaded Western Conference.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone from league afterthought in 2013 to championship-or-bust mode this season thanks to the high-profile offseason acquisitions of LeBron James and Kevin Love. Even with a revamped roster, the Cavs got off to a rough start this season. However, the turbulent times appear to be confined to the past, as the team is currently riding a six-game win streak.
Still, it appears the front office could be looking to add yet another veteran with a championship pedigree to the team. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, via ESPN Cleveland, the Cavs reportedly have their sights set on forward Tayshaun Prince of the Memphis Grizzlies:
Prince is averaging 7.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 22.4 minutes per game this season. However, he's not always part of the regular rotation in Memphis, appearing in just 10 of 19 games this season.
If he can't steal minutes from the likes of Vince Carter, it's difficult to imagine him providing quality competition for a struggling Shawn Marion.
The Cavs do need help on defense, but not in the areas where Prince might have an impact. Opponents are shooting 63.8 percent from within five feet of the basket against the Cavs, per NBA.com. That's the second-worst defensive rate in the league. The likes of Love and Anderson Varejao aren't faring well when it comes to altering players' shots on the inside.
Prince might be able to prevent a few drives from ever reaching the basket with his long limbs, but a rim protector is what's needed in Ohio.
Prince won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004, so he might at least offer some insight and perspective to the younger guns on Cleveland who haven't had much success yet in the NBA.
Now that Cleveland is rounding into form, this potential move seems highly unnecessary. Pro Basketball Talk's Dan Feldman also noted a potential hangup for the Cavs:
The Cavaliers’ trade exception is not large enough to obtain Prince. It also can’t be aggregated with another player to make salaries match.
The only player the Cavaliers could trade straight up for Prince is Tristan Thompson, and that deal would be lopsidedly in favor of Memphis. Prince could be part of a larger trade, but that gets complicated.
Few Cavaliers fans would want to see Tristan Thompson depart for a 34-year-old swingman whose best days are behind him.
The Portland Trail Blazers might look like a team that has all the pieces put together, but that doesn't mean there isn't an odd man out in the Pacific Northwest.
According to EuroBasket.com's David Pick, small forward Victor Claver could be on his way out of Portland:
The Blazers are 15-4 and don't appear to need the services of the third-year man. After appearing in 49 games his rookie year at a rate of 16.6 minutes per contest, Claver's career trajectory has gone south in a hurry. He played just 8.8 minutes per game in 2013-14 and has yet to play a single minute of Blazer basketball this season.
With the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Thomas Robinson soaking up minutes at the forward spots and the team gelling so well, it's perhaps no surprise that Claver's future in Portland appears to be short-lived.
Claver has been diplomatic in his comments regarding the situation and denies having asked for a trade, per Comcast SportsNet's Jabari Young:
The 26-year-old Spaniard is a solid rebounder who unfortunately has never really found the touch from beyond the arc despite launching 45.5 percent of his shots from downtown, per Basketball-Reference.com. On the bright side, he has a solid frame and could yet be of some use to a team with a need at small forward.
Claver's contract expires at the end of this season, per Spotrac, so if the Blazers want to get some value out of Claver, they will have to act quickly and try to line up a trade with a team looking to make a salary dump of some sort.