The trade deadline for the 2019-20 NBA season isn't until February 6, but that doesn't mean that teams aren't already looking to make some moves.
For struggling teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, in-season trades would most likely involve dealing players for future draft capital. Doing so would help add ammunition for the rebuilding process while also facilitating the push for a high draft pick.
Just don't expect the Cavaliers and Warriors to sell in the immediate future.
Beginning on December 15, the Warriors will be able to trade away 23-year-old guard D'Angelo Russell if they so choose. Given his solid play this season—he's averaging 22.3 points and 6.2 assists per game—it's likely Golden State could get something of considerable value in return.
However, sources don't believe a quick trade to be in the works, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.
"If it is something that they're going to do quickly, like before the end of this month, I wouldn't say they're pushing for it," one unnamed general manager told Deveney. "Maybe they have a deal in mind, maybe they're sitting on something and laying low. But I'd be surprised."
The Warriors may be able to find a stronger market for Russell by waiting until closer to the deadline. Teams around the league will better know if they can contend for a title or not. If more than one view Russell as a missing piece for a championship team, a bidding war could ensue.
The Warriors are on the path to a lottery pick with or without Russell, so there shouldn't be a rush to move him.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are open to dealing star forward Kevin Love, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski: "Cleveland is open to the idea of moving Love before the Feb. 6 trade deadline should the Cavaliers find a requisite package of young assets and/or future draft picks, league sources said."
As is the case for Golden State, Cleveland could be better served by waiting until close to the deadline to trade Love. The Cavaliers are looking for a package of young players and/or picks. That's most likely to happen if they can get a couple of teams involved in trade discussions.
The New York Knicks, another struggling team, is a whole different story entirely.
According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, the Knicks are looking to buy and could do so much sooner than the February deadline.
"We're basically a week away from the unofficial start to the trade season. On Dec. 15, players who signed contracts as free agents can be moved. As that date approaches, the Knicks (4-18) are keeping an eye on potential moves that would improve the team, per SNY sources familiar with the matter. ... The Knicks, per a source, are keeping their 'eye on a lot of players' as we enter trade season."
It appears that New York is looking to improve its roster for the long-term, as its record suggests that contending this season is a virtual impossibility. Per Begley, the Knicks aren't likely to trade any future first-round pick, though, and could also look to deal a player on a one-year deal like Marcus Morris or Wayne Ellington.
The only thing clear right now is that the Knicks are a team to watch in the trade market.