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NBA Trade Rumors: Examining Top Gossip on 2018 Deadline Day

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2018

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans (12) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

As the NBA trade deadline approaches, front office executives will spend hours on phone lines fielding last-minute offers hoping to snag the best deal.

For teams going full throttle on a playoff push, one piece could help a contender toward a late run in the spring. 

Fans don't like to hear the word "tank," but general managers of struggling clubs begin to prepare for the future. Dealing away a quality asset equates to more losses, but there's a focus on the return—primarily draft picks or expiring deals that will come off the books in a few months.

Many people work with urgency on a deadline. We could see several transactions in the hours leading up to the 3 p.m. ET cutoff mark, or the chaotic chatter may fade without much roster movement.

In the meantime, let's examine what's going through the rumor mill. Who's on the trade block and which teams have shown interest in available players? 

                    

Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Lead Pursuit for Tyreke Evans 

MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 22: Tyreke Evans #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 22, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or u
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

At 18-36, the Memphis Grizzlies don't have a realistic shot at the postseason. As a result, why not send the team's top scorer, Tyreke Evans, packing for young talent or draft picks? 

In his ninth season, Evans has been a healthy asset for the Grizzlies, averaging 19.5 points, five rebounds and five assists per contest. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets lead all suitors for the 28-year-old.

The Miami Heat have an outside chance: 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Three frontrunners (Boston, Denver and Philadelphia) and a fourth team (Miami) staying engaged on Memphis' Tyreke Evans, league sources tell ESPN.

The Celtics lost offensive firepower early in the season due to Gordon Hayward's injury shortly after tipoff in their regular-season opener. Front office executive Danny Ainge could regain some scoring volume with a player who can provide approximately 20 points on game day and find open shooters in space.

Hanging on to the eighth spot, Philadelphia could improve its seeding with a versatile asset who can take over ball-distribution duties when Ben Simmons goes to the bench. The Sixers roster lacks individuals who can create their own shot, something Evans can do as well. 

Denver ranks 10th in scoring. An upgrade in the second unit would allow this club to push the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs in playoff seeding.

Remember, forward Paul Millsap expects to return from a wrist injury after the All-Star Break, which makes the Nuggets a viable contender in the Western Conference.

                 

Orlando Magic Open to Trade Everyone Except Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 27: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Orlando Magic looks on during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 27, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers won 114-112. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Orlando Magic haven't reached the postseason since the 2011-12 campaign under head coach Stan Van Gundy during a lockout year.

The front office isn't opposed to blowing up the roster, but team brass holds forwards Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac in high regard, per ESPN's Zach Lowe: "Speaking of Orlando: Everyone but Gordon and Isaac is readily available, per sources around the league."

This approach doesn't guarantee wholesale roster turnover, but it's clear the front office isn't high on the starting five as long-term assets. After an 8-4 start, Orlando hasn't delivered in the win-loss column, sitting at 17-36 with the second-worst record in the East. 

The current starting lineup features quality scorers, and center Nikola Vucevic nears a return to action since fracturing his left hand. We could see a full rebuild starting Thursday in Orlando.

                  

New York Knicks Interested in Point Guard Elfrid Payton

TALLAHASSEE, FL - FEBRUARY 3: Elfrid Payton #2 of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against Isaiah Thomas #3 the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game at the Amway Cetnter on February 6, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. The Magic defeated the Cavaliers 116 to
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have shown interest in one of the trade assets in Orlando, per New York Post reporter Marc Berman: "The Magic are open for business, and it’s no surprise Knicks general manager and former Orlando executive Scott Perry has checked in on his former lottery pick, point guard Elfrid Payton, The Post has learned."

Knicks general manager Scott Perry's interest in Payton creates some curiosity about rookie Frank Ntilikina's short-term role. Phil Jackson selected the 19-year-old with the No. 8 overall pick in the previous draft.

GREENBURG, NY - JULY 17:  New York Knicks team President, Steve Mills and Jeff Hornacek of the New York Knicks introduce General Manager Scott Perry at a pess conference at the at Knicks Practice Center July 17, 2017 in Greenburg, New York. NOTE TO USER:
Steve Freeman/Getty Images

Unfortunately for Ntilikina, Perry inherited Jackson's roster and the long-term vision probably differs from his predecessor. He executed a draft-day trade to land Payton as part of the Magic organization in 2014. There's no surprise the Knicks executive would like to reunite with his former top-10 pick.

If the Knicks and Magic come to terms on a deal, expect Perry and head coach Jeff Hornacek to answer questions about a young developing guard in Ntilikina, who needs playing time at a crowded position.

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