More than a quarter of the way into the 2016-17 NBA season, it's becoming easier to tell which teams are title contenders, which are headed for the playoffs and which should think about rebuilding.
Among those who who aren't winning in the way they hoped are the 4-17 Dallas Mavericks and 8-13 Sacramento Kings. Both are comfortably outside the playoff picture and have big men who may not be part of their future plans.
As we get closer to the February trade deadline, if these squads are still losing, expect louder buzz on the likes of DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut, who have already made their way into the rumor mill.
Will the Kings Trade Boogie?
A frequent guest in this space, Cousins is averaging 28.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per game in 2016-17.
The list of players who have hit all of those averages for an entire season? It isn't long:
|Players Who Matched or Exceeded Cousins' 2016-17 Stat Line|
So why would the Kings entertain the possibility of moving one of the most productive players in the NBA? Put simply, they've never won with him.
Sacramento's in the seventh year of the Boogie era, and 33 wins are the most the franchise has mustered during a season in that span.
Starting fresh makes sense, and Cousins would command about as solid a haul for a rebuild as anyone else on the market.
Just don't expect anything to come to fruition until closer to the deadline.
"The last time I talked to people about (DeMarcus Cousins), which was last week, what I was being told is that the Kings want to keep him into the trade deadline or close to the trade deadline and see where they are as a team," Fox Sports' Chris Broussard said on the Basketball Insiders Podcast (via HoopsHype). "If they are competing and in the playoff hunt, what I’m told is they would like to keep him."
Will the Mavericks Unload Andrew Bogut?
Sitting in last place in the Western Conference, the Mavericks are even more likely than the Kings to miss the playoffs.
Looking square in the face of a potential rebuild for the first time in years, Dallas' front office may finally be willing to entertain the asset-accumulation phase of the team-building process, which has been trumped by free agency for years.
Bogut, whom Dallas acquired from the Golden State Warriors in a deal this past summer, could fetch the Mavericks one of those assets.
"Team sources back up [Mavericks owner Mark] Cuban's public stance that the Mavs have no immediate intention of shopping their veterans who might have value on the trade market," ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon wrote. "Yet with the NBA's worst record, at 4-16 [sic], they aren't ruling out that possibility in a month or two."
Similar to the Kings, Dallas is practicing patience. It's just tough to imagine a team that has only one rotation player with a positive box plus/minus rating turning things around.
Orlando Magic Looking to Add a Scorer?
Unlike the Kings and Mavericks, the 10-13 Orlando Magic might be buyers during this trade season, despite their sub-.500 record.
"The Orlando Magic will sift through the trade market in an effort to add a scorer, a league source with knowledge of the situation told the Orlando Sentinel," Josh Robbins wrote for that paper. "This should not surprise anyone who has watched the Magic’s first 21 games."
Consider us, well, mildly surprised. Orlando is in NBA purgatory, and selling assets for a proven scorer seems unlikely to do much more than elevate it to a seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
There's something to be said for youngsters like Aaron Gordon, 21, and Elfrid Payton, 22, gaining playoff experience, but adding another top-flight talent in the draft should trump that.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.