NBA Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz Surrounding JR Smith, Jimmy Butler and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 3, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

It's a long season in the NBA, and outside of the top few, the teams playing well now won't necessarily be the ones playing well in the spring.

While we can't know who will be challenging down the stretch, we do know which teams have stumbled out of the starting blocks. These teams will be looking to make moves sooner rather than later, for a couple of reasons.

Teams that believe they can contend will be looking to add pieces long before February's trade deadline in order to impact their overall records. Teams looking to sell will be looking to do so now in order to maximize their returns.

Of course, some teams—like the Minnesota Timberwolves—are looking to make trades for other reasons.

It's early in the 2018-19 season, but the trade rumors are swirling in a big way. We're here to examine some of the latest.


Cavaliers Could be Moving Players

With LeBron James now an L.A. Laker, it isn't a shock to see that the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the worst teams in the NBA. The degree to which they are a mess—they've already fired head coach Tyronn Lue—is a little surprising.

The dysfunction surrounding the Cavaliers already has guard JR Smith looking for a way out:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

JR Smith was asked: "Are you hoping for a trade?" He responded, "Yeah." The NBA will examine if that constitutes a public trade request, which exposes him to a fine under the CBA. Eric Bledsoe was popped $10K for the "I don't wanna be here," tweet in Phoenix.

Often, players on struggling teams are simply looking to land with contenders. In Smith's case, it appears to me more a case of wanting to get out of his Cavaliers situation.

"There's a lot of things that's going on around here that I don't know the answer to and I don't know why it's going on, but it is and I can't control that," Smith said, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Smith wants to leave Cleveland, but he may not be the only Cavalier on the move early in the season.

Cleveland is looking to explore the possibility of trading guard Kyle Korver, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski.

"There was some trade interest in Korver last summer, and the Cavs are circling back on those talks," Windhorst and Wojnarowski wrote.

Moving Smith could be problematic, as he's due to earn nearly $15 million this season and has $18.59 million of his contract guaranteed over the next two years. Korver's contract, set to pay $7.59 million this season, could be easier to swallow for a team looking to add a role player.


Korkmaz Also Looking for a Way Out

Smith isn't the only player looking for a fresh start early in the season. According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz has asked for a trade due to a lack of playing time.

Per Pompey, Korkmaz hasn't flat-out admitted to wanting a trade.

"First of all, I want to see what the team is going to say to me," Korkmaz said, per Pompey. "I'm waiting for them to tell me, 'We are going to pick up your option' [or] 'We are not going to pick up your option.' Then I want to think about it."

Well, the Sixers decided not to exercise Korkmaz's third-year option, according to Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice, so Korkmaz has some thinking to do.

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

The Sixers will not be exercising the third-year option in Furkan Korkmaz's contract, I'm told. Team continues to prioritize maintaining cap flexibility for next offseason, and as of now Korkmaz is mostly outside Brown's rotation.

Regardless of whether Korkmaz actually demands a trade or not, Philadelphia needs to be thinking about moving him. If the 76ers were even considering him as part of the future, they would have kept him for next season at a manageable $2.02 million price tag.

Though the Sixers probably won't get much in return for Korkmaz as a one-season rental, there should be a few teams interested in taking a chance on him. He was talented enough to be the 26th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and as an unproven player, there's still no telling what his ceiling could be.


Jimmy Butler Trade Could Come Within the Month

Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler made his trade demands known before the start of the season. However, he also struck a deal with team owner Glen Taylor that would see Butler open the season on the team while Taylor continued exploring trade options.

Butler was playing good soldier initially, but when he decided to sit out Wednesday's game against the Utah Jazz, some speculated that it was in an attempt to speed up the trading process.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Jimmy Butler is taking next step in six-week-long process aimed at getting the All-Star out of Minnesota by sitting tonight against Utah, and could lead to extended absence for Butler, league sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski.

However, Butler insisted he simply missed the game in an attempt to preserve his health.

"Because my body is hurting and I don't want to go out there and risk an injury, people make stuff up?" Butler said, per ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "What are they going to do when I show up and hoop on Friday?"

Butler did indeed suit up against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night, finishing the game with 21 points, three rebounds and five assists.

Whether or not Butler is trying to speed up the process, Wojnarowski believes a trade is going to get done sooner rather than later.

"I don't think that this is gonna last," Wojnarowski told ESPN's Zach Lowe on the Lowe Post podcast. "I would be shocked if [Butler] was there on Thanksgiving. It just feels like this is gonna be sooner."

Expect Minnesota to have no shortage of trade offers in the coming weeks.