The NBA trade deadline is roughly one month out, but the midseason shopping has already begun for teams looking to add talent and others looking to unload valuable assets.
A few major trades are brewing, ones significant enough to shape the trajectory of both the Eastern and Western Conferences. Typical contenders have been involved in talks thus far, with more teams sure to enter discussions as the Feb. 19 deadline approaches.
With teams looking to buy and others looking to sell, expect more activity than we've seen so far. Teams usually take until the change of calendar to commit to making moves. Now that we're more than two weeks into 2015, the dominoes should start falling.
Below is an analysis of the most intriguing trade rumors of the past several days.
Few centers have the touch around the rim that Brook Lopez possesses. He is converting on 50.4 percent of his attempts from the field, which is actually a tick lower than his career mark of 51 percent.
The 7-footer isn't much of a rebounder, however, averaging under seven boards per game each year since he recorded 8.6 per game in 2009-10. That type of player still commands a market, though, so it's not surprising to hear ESPN's Chris Broussard's rumor that a three-team deal with Lopez at the center is on the cusp of happening:
A string of tweets from Broussard late Thursday evening described the deal in its early stages:
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski added another wrinkle that could complicate things: "'Standing pat at this time,' one Nets source told Yahoo Sports. 'There was nothing we liked.'"
The Oklahoma City Thunder definitely need a scoring upgrade in the post to help out Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Kendrick Perkins has never been a viable option offensively, and he has bogged down the lineup since he began in OKC. He no longer starts for this team, but the fact that he plays nearly 20 minutes per night indicates just how thin this team is in the frontcourt.
A trio of Durant, Westbrook and Lopez would certainly be enough to improve OKC's standing in the West. Just 18-20, the Thunder have struggled to find consistency on both offense and defense.
Two of their last three losses have also come against conference rivals in Houston and Golden State. Winning those games is imperative, especially as a litmus test for how well the team will perform against one of them in a potential playoff series.
Both Houston and Golden State have capable big men in Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut to keep up with. Perkins and current starter Steven Adams can't do that. Lopez can.
This is a smart deal for the Thunder. It deepens the starting lineup and gives them a big man who can go shot-for-shot with the best centers in the West. He's the complementary piece this team needs to get over the hump.
Arron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler
The Denver Nuggets have struggled to find consistency this season, but a few of their most valuable players have performed well enough to garner interest on the market. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne has the latest:
Arron Afflalo is on pace to record at least 15 points per game for his fourth-consecutive season, and he's also one of the best perimeter defenders the NBA has to offer. Wilson Chandler doesn't offer the same defense, but he's averaging 14.2 points per contest in 37 games.
Of the teams Shelburne lists, the Los Angeles Clippers are the best fit for either player. The Clips desperately need help at small forward and overall team depth. Chandler and Afflalo are both underrated assets, but Denver likely values them highly.
I just have to try to do a good job of assuring them that I'm not, and we're not, actively shopping them and putting them out there. Obviously calls come in, and we field calls. But we're not saying, 'Hey, we're trying to get rid of Arron, we're trying to get rid of Wilson.' That's not the case at all. That's all we can really tell them.
Shaw is likely holding on to hope of a second-half surge, and it's definitely possible at 18-20. But the possible returns for Afflalo and Chandler would be great enough to seriously consider shopping them.
If the Clippers don't have enough to wet their whistle, then the Nuggets could approach the Portland Trail Blazers. Starving for potency off the bench, the Blazers are an ideal fit for Chandler.
The Philadelphia 76ers need to continue trading assets and acquiring future picks, and Michael Carter-Williams is their most accomplished player. That means he's a candidate to be dealt.
The 2014 Rookie of the Year is averaging 15.3 points, 7.2 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game, but he's also shooting just 38.1 percent from the field and 23.7 percent from downtown. He has value, but it's likely that the Sixers think more highly of him than other organizations do.
ESPN's Chad Ford hears that Philly has made him available:
I've heard a lot of rumblings from GMs that Carter-Williams is available. There are some in ownership and in the front office, though not all, that don't see him as a long-term piece of the puzzle. There was a lot of chatter that direction before the draft and in the past few weeks I know several teams have had exploratory discussions with the Sixers. I think the challenge right now is that the Sixers will want a lot in return and MCW's play, to date this season, hasn't warranted multiple first round picks for him. That makes him tough to deal.
Trading Carter-Williams now is ideal, especially if he continues to regress from his rookie year. His assists and rebounds are up from last season, but his points total is down and his shooting percentages have also taken a noticeable hit.
A player who's trending downward often doesn't command multiple first-round picks, though general manager Sam Hinkie could be banking on his ceiling and ability to fill the stat sheet.
There are teams out there who would benefit from Carter-Williams—the Los Angeles Lakers, for one—but it remains to be seen if the Sixers will be motivated to move him if the return isn't just right.
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