NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on James Harden Offers, Victor Oladipo and Buddy Hield

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2020

NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on James Harden Offers, Victor Oladipo and Buddy Hield

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Buckle up, the James Harden saga doesn't appear to be coming to an end anytime soon in Houston. Ditto for Victor Oladipo in Indiana. Both names are once again popular fodder for the rumor mill. 

    The 2020-21 NBA season is just getting underway, but the winds of change are ever-present in the NBA. With teams just now figuring out what they are this season, there are no imminent changes, but the trade deadline is a mere three months away so the table is already being set for what lies ahead. 

    Since Harden's original trade request following the exit of Daryl Morey to Philadelphia, he's been a constant source of speculation and rumors. Reports that Harden has been a source of tension on the court in practice has done little to assuage those rumblings. 

    Here's a look at the latest on Harden as well as the word on Oladipo and the kind of battle the Kings might be looking at come trade-deadline time. 

Rockets Hope Offers for James Harden Will Improve as Season Goes on

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Patience is a virtue, and apparently, the Rockets' new brass sans Morey is virtuous. While their star player's trade demands have been made public, they are reportedly comfortable utilizing a slow-play strategy with their hand. 

    Speaking on ESPN, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski provided an update on the situation from the team's perspective. 

    "The deals that they see out there in the marketplace feel like they're not good enough," Woj said. "And I think they hope that those offers will improve as teams get into the season."

    This comes on the heels of a report from The Athletic's Kelly Iko and Sam Amick that Harden has expanded the list of destinations he'd like to be traded to include the Boston Celtics and Portland Trailblazers. 

    As Woj noted, the wait-and-see approach can work both ways. If a team does start the season slow, all of a sudden they may be willing to pony up more to save the season by bringing Harden in. However, if a team starts off hot, Woj used the Nets as an example, they might not want to mess up a good thing by adding Harden. 

    Regardless, it appears the Rockets are willing to be patient or are at least putting that out there. That's probably wise, as dealing Harden is going to be a trade that defines the franchise for years to come. He technically has two years left on his deal, so they can take their time. 

Front-Office Executive Believes Victor Oladipo Will Be Moved

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    It isn't a huge storyline at the moment, but the closer we get to the March 25 deadline, the more Victor Oladipo's name is likely to come up. The 28-year-old guard is on the final year of his contract with the Pacers, and without a commitment to stay there long-term, Indiana risks losing him for nothing in free agency. 

    Bob Kravitz of The Athletic broke down the situation between Oladipo and the Pacers. 

    "The Pacers need him to re-emerge because they may need him to fetch top value if/when they deal him before the March 25 trade deadline," Kravitz wrote. "As one NBA executive told me recently, 'He's gone. They'll move him.'"

    Kravitz also discussed the history of Oladipo and the franchise. The former Indiana Hoosier was a welcome addition in 2017 and made two All-Star teams, but things have reportedly soured between the star and organization. 

    What kind of value the Pacers might be able to get in return for Oladipo will depend on his level of play this season. After averaging 23.1 and 18.8 points in his first two seasons, he averaged just 14.5 in 19 appearances after coming back from a ruptured quadricep tendon

    That's a fairly serious injury to overcome, but his season debut against the Knicks should bring hope he can return to form. He had 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting with four rebounds and four assists. If he can put up those kinds of numbers, he will be one of the top trade chips available at the deadline. 

Kings Expected to Have Difficulty Moving Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    The Sacramento Kings find themselves in the unenviable position in 2020 of being too good to be in the high-lottery range but probably not good enough to contend for a playoff spot. 

    Part of the reason for that is the signing of both Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes to four-year contracts that are paying them well over their actual production. The pair of 28-year-olds represent a microcosm of the Kings roster as a whole—they aren't bad players, but they aren't going to take the Kings to the next level. 

    With the franchise looking to build around 23-year-old De'Aaron Fox, they are an awkward fit in terms of the timeline of the franchise. 

    Sending the two to other teams could be tricky, though. As John Hollinger noted in his preview of the team for The Athletic, Hield is the easier to move of the two based on his potential role with a new team and his value, but even he will be difficult to move in March. 

    "Putting him back in the starting lineup and not trying to make him a lead ballhandler with the second unit could also likely jump his statistical output. The Kings may have more luck moving him in the offseason when the deal has a year less to run and Hield has a better season under his belt," Hollinger wrote. 

    The Kings moved Bogdan Bogdanovic into the starting lineup over Hield in January just three months after inking his four-year $94 million extension. Bogdanovic signed with the Hawks this offseason. 

    Much like the Pacers with Oladipo, the Kings are going to actually need to feature the player they are getting ready to part with in order to actually be able to do it. If the Kings want to deal Hield at the deadline, he's going to have to show he can play up to his contract. 

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