As is customary, the NBA rumor mill is starting to heat up now that we've reached the middle of November. Teams have played enough games for front offices around the league to start making honest assessments about their squads and whether changes are needed.
Blockbuster deals at this stage of the season are rare, because in most cases sellers don't have a ton of leverage until the deadline nears and contenders get more desperate for a major upgrade. That said, the names that pop up now are often the same ones you'll hear about come February.
So let's check out some of the latest buzz from around the NBA and analyze what it could mean for the teams and players involved moving forward.
DeMarcus Cousins Finally On The Move?
Cousins has been the focus of more trade rumors over the past couple of years than perhaps any other player in the NBA. He's remained a member of the Sacramento Kings throughout the annual drama, but that run might finally come to a close this season.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the current feeling around the league is that the Kings will finally trade the talented center, and in the near future. The report included comments from an unnamed Western Conference general manager about the situation.
"I'd say they have three months, tops," the GM said. "Probably more like a month, or month-and-a-half, because the closer they get to the (February trade) deadline, the less they're going to get back. If you're trying to trade him the week of the deadline, it's going to be tougher."
Meanwhile, former NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal, who's currently a TNT analyst and minority owner of the Kings, stated last week on Inside the NBA that he believes a move may be on the horizon if things don't change in the near future, per Slam Online.
"He's a hothead, so if they want to make a run, he has to be a leader," Shaq said. "He hasn't shown me those leadership qualities, and that's why I'm hearing talk of if things don't start to become correct, [the Kings] may be looking to go in another direction."
The one question that's lingered during the entire ordeal is exactly what Sacramento would seek in return for Cousins. He's averaging 26.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and one block this season and ranks 11th in the league in Player Efficiency Rating, according to ESPN's Hollinger Stats.
Those numbers suggest the Kings should receive a franchise-altering package of players and draft picks in return. But the center is rarely talked about as a top-tier asset, likely due to lingering attitude questions, which could impact the offers and explain why he's still on the team after constant rumors.
Klay Thompson Trade Talks Refuted
Thompson is off to a sluggish start as the Golden State Warriors work through the process of redefining roles following the addition of Kevin Durant. He's shooting just 31.3 percent from three, and his PER of 12.1 through 11 games would be the lowest mark of his career, per Basketball-Reference.com.
In turn, it doesn't come as much surprise that his name was tossed into the rumor mill. The Warriors were destined to have at least one of their superstars mentioned as a possible trade candidate based on the sky-high expectations after garnering the "superteam" label.
SiriusXM NBA Radio passed along comments from CSN New England analyst Brian Scalabrine, who spent a decade in the NBA, about Thompson on Monday:
Sam Amick of USA Today called the idea of the guard heading to the Boston Celtics "interesting," but noted the Warriors downplayed the talk:
Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group provided remarks from Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who immediately dismissed the notion.
"I think our guys know that most of that stuff is almost always just BS," Kerr said. "If that became a story, I would probably talk to Klay. But I didn't know it was a story until just now. I'll go home, get on the internet and decide whether to call Klay or not. There's a lot of fake news."
Ultimately, it seems like a situation where the potential pieces of a trade matched up, which created some trade buzz where it didn't actually exist. The Celtics have depth assets the top-heavy Warriors could use, but not if the Washington State product is the price tag.
Whether the outlook changes if Thompson isn't able to find his niche and heat up from beyond the arc is still something worth monitoring. But Golden State sounds content for the time being.
Omri Casspi Facing Uncertain Future
Casspi put together the most complete campaign of his career for the Kings last season. He averaged 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 48.1 percent from the field, including 40.9 percent from three-point range.
His role has severely diminished so far this season, however. He's appeared in six of the team's 12 games and received just 15.3 minutes per game in those contests. It led to questions about whether he, like Cousins, could be dealt by Sacramento.
Sportando translated a report from Israeli television outlet Sport 5 that suggested the forward requested a trade from the Kings amid interest from the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.
James Ham of CSN California reported that Casspi met with team officials last week in order to discuss his place within the team but did not place a trade request.
"Zero truth to that. Zero," Casspi told CSN California.
The 28-year-old forward would be a nice target for a contender. He's capable of providing an offensive spark off the bench and is under contract with a reasonable cap hit of just under $3 million for this season, according to Spotrac.
Though Casspi denied asking for a trade, it wouldn't come as a shock if he ended up getting dealt at some point this season. He's faded out of the rotation following the offseason addition of Matt Barnes and could receive a chance to play regularly elsewhere.