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NBA Rumors: Latest on LeBron James and Possible DeAndre Jordan Trade

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 9:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a play against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 9, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE  (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

It's never too early to start thinking about the upcoming NBA trade deadline. 

Yes, the deadline isn't until early February and yes, the Association is hardly past the quarter mark of the season. But the rumor mill doesn't shut down until a specified point—if teams are thinking about trades and players, the mill will spit it out upon hearing it. 

With contenders and pretenders starting to emerge, it's only natural more franchises start to turn an eye toward the future. That future—at least many hope—includes a guy by the name of LeBron James, among others. 

Here's a look at the biggest rumblings on the mill right now.  

          

The DeAndre Jordan Saga 

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 9: DeAndre Jordan #6 of the LA Clippers dunks the ball during the game against the Washington Wizards on December 9, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Remember the first DeAndre Jordan saga? The one involving Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and a botched trade that kept the player with the Los Angeles Clippers and resulted in a fired agent?

Well, it seems we've come full circle. Jordan just hired an agent for the first time since the incident: Jeff Schwarz of Excel Sports Management, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Granted, a player hiring an agent isn't headline news; players need agents, after all. Jordan specifically needs to start getting ready for an offseason when he can opt out of his deal and potentially leave the Clippers just like Chris Paul did.

The Clippers are all of 9-15 and while they have some interesting new pieces in the front office to provide direction, they have clearly gone all-in on Blake Griffin, who is once again hurt. 

It's a long way of saying Jordan is a huge trade candidate for many teams right now. According to Bleacher Report's Ken Berger, one of those teams is the Milwaukee Bucks, who are "kicking the tires hard" about a move with an assist from head coach Jason Kidd, who was represented by Jordan's new agent during his playing career. 

Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times provided a similar report, writing that the Clippers would want center John Henson, point guard Malcolm Brogdon and guard Khris Middleton. 

Woelfel also reported the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves have had the most interest in a deal. 

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 3:  DeAndre Jordan #6 of the LA Clippers reacts on the court against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 3, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downlo
Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

It's obviously not hard to see why teams would have an interest, provided they can get a commitment out of Jordan so he's not a half-season rental. It's easy to forget the Texas A&M product is only 29 years old and is putting up another strong season despite dire situations around him, averaging 10.5 points and 14.3 boards on 67 percent shooting from the floor. 

Any trade for Jordan is going to come at a huge cost, though. Every team mentioned makes plenty of sense, yet the Raptors, Wizards and Timberwolves risk sacrificing huge chunks of future-oriented core to make it happen. 

As for the Bucks, losing a starting center such as Henson makes sense. Brogdon was a Rookie of the Year now losing playing time behind Eric Bledsoe, and Middleton is one of the game's rising stars at 26, averaging 20.1 points, 4.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game on a career-high 47 percent shooting from the floor. 

It's an understandable asking price, though it's hard to see a deal coming together soon. Jordan has an odd history with potentially leaving the Clippers, and front offices involved in trades will need to tip-toe around his potential rental status. Expect to hear plenty of this one leading up to February. 

                  

All Things LeBron

It wouldn't be much of an NBA rumors season without LeBron, right? 

For that matter, it wouldn't feel right without the Houston Rockets. 

Why not marry the two? 

That's where we're headed as the Cleveland Cavaliers face an offseason in which LeBron could opt out of his contract and go to a destination of his choosing. According to USA Today's Sam Amick, some "in Rockets circles" believe The King could choose Houston. 

Go figure—the early returns on the Rockets are outstanding. Rather than implode like some thought it might, CP3 linking up with James Harden has produced an elite offensive powerhouse, in large part thanks to the system in place by head coach Mike D'Antoni. 

And fans know quite well LeBron is a big-picture guy. If his Cavaliers can't take down the Golden State Warriors, it's borderline predictable he'd opt out and go somewhere giving him the best chance to do so—which, based on early returns right now, would be Houston. 

Which isn't to say the Cavaliers aren't competitive. LeBron looks even better than usual, averaging 28.3 points, 8.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game, all better than his career-long averages. Ditto for his 57.6 shooting percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from deep. 

Those Cavaliers are 19-8 and have lost once since November 11, so any talk about LeBron leaving right now can feel premature. But Houston looks elite and is one of those teams somehow always in the conversation for the biggest names, though this feat would be trickier than any other given the huge contracts Paul and Harden already command. 

Still, this is something to keep in the back of the mind. LeBron will likely keep a keen eye on how the Paul-Harden duo performs throughout the course of an entire season and well into the playoffs. If they're competitive and something befalls the Cavaliers, this might start looking more realistic. 

         

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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