Although the NBA trade deadline isn't until February, the rumor mill has remained active during the first month of the 2017-18 campaign. It's a sign there could be consistent movement throughout the season rather than a mad rush to acquire rentals for the final few months.
The situation is a testament to the current state of the league. There are a lot more teams either focused solely on competing for a championship this season or definitively looking toward the future. The group in the middle has shrunk since there aren't may fringe contenders due to a handful of top-tier teams.
With that in mind, let's check out some of the latest trade talk from around the NBA and analyze the potential outcomes for each situation.
Greg Monroe Interest Headlined By Cleveland Cavaliers
Monroe never seemed like an ideal fit when the Phoenix Suns received him as part of the blockbuster Eric Bledsoe trade earlier this month. The 27-year-old center, who can become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, admitted after the deal his future remains unsettled.
He told reporters:
"It can happen to anyone at any moment. My job is to play. That's what I focus on, and that's really it. I was surprised, though. I was just trying to get healthy, get back on the floor and help [the Milwaukee Bucks]. Now that I'm here I'll do the same here and if it's somewhere else I'll do the same there. My focus doesn't change."
Moving Monroe, who's working his way back from a calf injury, to a likely playoff team in exchange for future assets feels like the end game for Phoenix.
Sam Amico of Amico Hoops reported the Cavs have "strong interest" in the veteran post player, though they'd need the clear space on the roster before making a deal. He also listed the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets as other potential landing spots.
While Cleveland would benefit from a shake-up following a lackluster start to the season, it's unlikely Monroe would fix the team's biggest issue: defense. He ranked 52nd among centers in defensive real plus-minus during the 2016-17 campaign, per ESPN.com.
Meanwhile, the Spurs are an interesting option since they feature little depth behind the frontcourt tandem of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Monroe could provide an offensive spark off the bench, something San Antonio will need against the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.
Phoenix Suns May Target Jahlil Okafor
While trying to offload Monroe is likely the main task for the Suns front office, the team must also continue to accumulate pieces for its ongoing rebuild.
Targeting a player like Okafor, who's fallen out of favor with the Philadelphia 76ers due to their overcrowded frontcourt, represents a potential buy-low opportunity.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported Phoenix is working on ways to clear roster space, including the possible Monroe trade, but it does have interest in the 21-year-old center, who would be a much better fit for the organization.
Okafor could go from rarely seeing the floor in Philly to getting extensive minutes for the Suns. The third overall pick in the 2015 draft flashed potential as a rookie, averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks across 53 games, but his role has diminished over the past few years.
A change of scenery could give him a much-needed opportunity to revitalize his career.
Los Angeles Lakers Discussing Luol Deng Deal
Like Okafor, Deng is a victim of circumstance. The Lakers are moving firmly in the direction of playing youngsters, giving most of the minutes at the forward spots to Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle, leaving little chance for the 32-year-old Duke product to make an impact.
Los Angeles' front office has "met with Deng's representatives to find a solution," including a potential trade or buyout, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
His contract will likely be a significant hurdle in finding a suitor, though. Spotrac notes his current deal runs through 2019-20 with a cap hit that rises to $18.8 million.
Ultimately, the only way the Lakers will likely find a Deng trade is through a swap of bad contracts. Otherwise his only chance to receive a major uptick in playing time this season will come through a buyout or a rash of injuries among the L.A. forwards.