While the NBA rumor mill won't kick into high gear until the 2017 calendar year with the Feb. 23 trade deadline looming, there is already some early speculation surrounding marquee players in the 2016-17 season.
It is shaping up to be a lost campaign for the Dallas Mavericks, and they may move big man Andrew Bogut as a result. Elsewhere, the Indiana Pacers are stuck in neutral and could shake things up by trading Monta Ellis.
With that in mind, here is the latest buzz surrounding the two playmakers.
Middling Pacers Looking to Trade Ellis
The Pacers were 10-10 entering Monday's game against the Golden State Warriors despite plenty of talent in place with Paul George, Jeff Teague and Myles Turner, among others. They are yet to establish much consistency as a potential Eastern Conference contender in the early going.
According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Pacers have been "open to moving" Ellis as a trade that wouldn't impact their core. Kyler suggested the Orlando Magic as a potential landing spot because former Indiana coach Frank Vogel is coaching there but added "at this point, nothing is there."
The 31-year-old Ellis has been a productive scorer in the past, but he is nowhere near as integral to Indiana's future as the superstar George or the 20-year-old Turner. Ellis is not an unrestricted free agent until 2019, per Spotrac, but that could inspire teams to give up more in a hypothetical swap because he would still be under team control for a couple more seasons.
Entering play Monday, the guard was averaging 10.5 points per game behind 44.1 percent shooting from the field and 31.1 percent shooting from deep.
That would be his lowest scoring mark since his rookie season in 2005-06 when he posted 6.8 points a night for the Warriors. He has seven seasons with at least 19 points per game on his resume and scored as many as 25.5 a night in 2009-10 for Golden State.
It is not hard to envision how a team could use that type of instant offense in its lineup, even if Ellis is past his prime.
From the Pacers' perspective, moving the veteran Ellis would allow them to focus more on their future with whatever assets they received in return and their younger pieces. They still have Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles and Glenn Robinson to occupy minutes on the wing alongside George and Teague if they trade Ellis.
Sinking Mavericks May Move Bogut
While the Pacers are yet to establish themselves as contenders, the Mavericks would likely love to swap places with them. They entered play Monday with Dirk Nowitzki sidelined with an Achilles injury and a 4-15 record, which was worst in the Western Conference.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com cited sources who said Dallas doesn't have immediate plans to move Bogut but added some league sources think it could receive a first-round pick from a contender in a potential trade.
MacMahon didn't close the door on a future trade:
Mavs management recognizes that Bogut has significant value in the trade market as a proven championship-caliber complementary piece in a contract year and could become motivated to move him if and when it becomes clear that the Mavs have no hope of making the playoffs this season.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban previously said, "Haters gonna hate. We think that you always compete" when asked if Dallas would tank with an eye toward the future, per MacMahon.
While that approach is admirable, the Mavericks could reach a certain point this season where attempting to compete is a lost cause. At that point, thinking about the future viability of the team becomes the reasonable route.
Trading Bogut would help accelerate that future, although he suffered a knee injury on Monday, per MacMahon. MacMahon added, "A source expressed optimism that Andrew Bogut's knee injury would not be a long-term issue."
Assuming Bogut is healthy long-term, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com suggested the Boston Celtics could be a potential landing spot for him because the Eastern Conference contenders could use a "defensive-minded, rebounding big man."
Blakely said Boston could offer Amir Johnson and a future first-round pick to the rebuilding Mavericks in exchange for Bogut.
As of Monday, Bogut was averaging just 4.1 points per game for the Mavericks. However, he is a physical force down low with an impressive 10.7 rebounds a night and is looking to average double figures in the rebounding department for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign.
Bogut was also a member of the 2014-15 NBA All-Defensive Second Team and would bolster Boston's interior defense off the bench.
While Bogut is not a game-changing offensive force, his rebounding, defense and championship pedigree could help a contender like Boston looking for more depth in the frontcourt. Look for the Mavericks to eventually move the big man after it becomes completely clear they will not be playoff contenders in 2016-17.