NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Possible Markelle Fultz Trade and Frank Ntilikina

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 30, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 19: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers watches the game from the bench in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center on November 19, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Suns 119-114. 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. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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While the NBA trade market has been active already, there are reasons to think it may soon shift into a higher gear.

For starters, teams have roughly 20 games under their belt, which is plenty of time to gauge the realistic direction they're heading. Plus, we're creeping up on December 15, the date at which most free agents signed this summer will become eligible to be traded.

So, it would be wise to buckle in now ahead of what could be another busy swapping season. We'll dissect the latest trade chatter below.


Suitors Emerging for Markelle Fultz?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 19:  Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers defends against the Phoenix Suns on November 19, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
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Markelle Fultz's wild ride from 2017's top pick to one of 2018's top trade candidates has been well-documented, but both his value and potential are still up for debate.

On one hand, he's just 20 years old, flashed a high enough ceiling to climb atop a loaded draft class and is potentially a three-level scorer who also contributes as a playmaker and rebounder. But to the glass-half-empty crowd, his wayward shooting—due to injuries, mental challenges or both—could make it difficult to ever entrust him with significant minutes.

While the rocky start to his career could force the Philadelphia 76ers to cut bait, he still holds appeal around the Association.

Sources told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Phoenix Suns "are among the teams with some level of interest" and the Cleveland Cavaliers had interest before Wednesday's Kyle Korver trade.

The Suns' interest makes a ton of sense. They essentially have two natural point guards on the roster, and both are rookie second-rounders (Elie Okobo and De'Anthony Melton). Also, much to Devin Booker's chagrin, Phoenix is nowhere close to "winning time." The franchise's realistic timeline should afford it all the patience needed to see what Fultz can become.

While the Cavaliers are similarly rebuilding, their inclusion here is a bit more surprising.

After all, they just spent the No. 8 overall pick on fellow point guard Collin Sexton this summer. That said, Fultz has the size and—assuming his jumper comes back around—skills to fill either guard spot, meaning a Sexton-Fultz partnership could become Cleveland's backcourt of the future, provided both can improve their perimeter games.

As Pompey's report said, there are other suitors in play, too. This is speculation, but both the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls might work as landing spots.

There isn't a more bizarre story going in basketball, though, and it will be fascinating to see the next chapter of Fultz's NBA tale.


Orlando Magic Eyeing Frank Ntilikina?

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Frank Ntilikina #11 of the New York Knicks handles the ball against the Orlando Magic on February 22, 2018 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or us
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The rebuilding, Kristaps Porzingis-less New York Knicks have played rotation roulette under new head coach David Fizdale.

Some nights, the youngsters are free to play through their growing pains. On others, Fizdale gives his more polished veterans the bulk of the floor time.

The approach has made it tough to tell how the Knicks feel about their current cast and whether some of their players might be obtainable in trades. One wishful thinker reportedly hopes New York would consider cutting bait with a recent lottery pick.

The Magic have shown interest in 2017's No. 8 pick Frank Ntilikina, a league source told The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov, and recently sent a scout to watch him.

While Orlando has collected a handful of intriguing players in the frontcourt, the point guard position will require some attention sooner than later.

Veteran journeyman D.J. Augustin holds the starting gig for now with only Jerian Grant and Isaiah Briscoe behind him. While Ntilikina is far from a finished product, his upside easily outreaches those of Grant and Briscoe.

It's hard to see what the future holds for Ntilikina's offense, as he has yet to distinguish himself as a scorer, shooter or playmaker. That said, his length and athleticism are already paying dividends on the defensive end, and they'd fit with the vision of Orlando general manager John Hammond.

Of course, this all hinges on the Knicks' willingness to move him, and there's no indication that's coming anytime soon. Given their current state, you'd assume they'll be as patient as possible with Ntilikina's development.