NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Rumblings on Kevin Love, Lauri Markkanen, JaVale McGee

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2021

NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Rumblings on Kevin Love, Lauri Markkanen, JaVale McGee

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    NBA teams always need to guard themselves from making premature judgments, but there's also such a thing as being overly patient when it comes to self-assessments.

    That's why the Association should be approaching the sweet spot where there's enough data on hand for clubs to read it, evaluate it and determine whether it yields an actionable result.

    Every team has more than 10 games done this season, and most are nearing the 20-game mark. That's often when the basketball world can start differentiating between buyers and sellers, so it's no surprise to find a healthy level of activity on the trade rumor mill.

    We'll break down the latest buzz here.

Kevin Love Unlikely Target for Nets

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    After acquiring James Harden to slot alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets could go one of two directions in forming their supporting cast. They could either complete their all-in move to the offensive end or focus on finding a few stoppers to plug the many defensive gaps.

    One potential candidate for the former is Kevin Love, whose floor-spacing and playmaking could help move this already-explosive attack up a notch. He's been stranded on the Cleveland Cavaliers ever since LeBron James left and has reportedly drawn "interest" from the Nets, per KRON4 News' Jason Dumas.

    But if any Nets fans are having dreams of Love, those might already be dashed. A league source told Brian Lewis of the New York Post that the 32-year-old is an unlikely target because he "is mediocre defensively and making $91.5 million combined over this season and the next two."

    It would be interesting to know which part of the equation was more concerning to Brooklyn: the defensive limitations or that massive amount of money. Considering the Nets probably aren't done dealing, we could discover exactly what they want and don't want in the coming weeks.

'Healthy' Trade Market for Lauri Markkanen

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    In 2017, the Chicago Bulls nabbed Lauri Markkanen as one of the primary pieces acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade. Almost four years later, it's hard to tell exactly how Bulls fans should view the former No. 7 pick.

    The 23-year-old has battled both injuries and inconsistency, but there have also been flashes of high-level play. The former have come with more regularity in this campaign, where he has sported per-game averages of 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 triples across his first nine outings.

    Markkanen is clearly a talent, but he's by no means an established commodity. That could lead to some difficult discussions between now and the trade deadline, since restricted free agency awaits him at season's end.

    Should the Bulls decide to put the Finn on the trade market, it's believed interest would be "healthy," per Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus. Since he will be a restricted free agent, a club that adds him now would have control of that situation with the ability to match any contract sheet he signs.

    It all hinges on Chicago's willingness to let him go, though, which could have just as much (or more) to do with the team's long-term forecast as his own.

    If the Bulls don't think they're building a contender, the prudent move might be to deal Markkanen now for an asset-heavy package that gets them closer to that tier down the line.

Nets Eyeing JaVale McGee

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    When Brooklyn assembled its Big Three at the expense of (among other things) interior anchor Jarrett Allen, this team knew it was taking one step back defensively in hopes of taking several steps forward at the other end.

    That possibility is very much in play, but it doesn't change the fact that the Nets have next to nothing in the way of rim protection. DeAndre Jordan is the only established anchor on the roster, and he's probably on the decline at 32 years old. Otherwise, the Nets are left trotting out second-round rookie Reggie Perry or offensive-minded small-ball big Jeff Green.

    "That's a hole," Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters. "We aren't loaded with tons of frontcourt defenders."

    Brooklyn might have an idea on how to help fill that void, as Lewis reported the team is "believed to be eyeing" veteran center JaVale McGee.

    The 33-year-old, who won two championships with the Golden State Warriors and another with last season's Los Angeles Lakers, makes the shortlist of the league's most logical trade candidates. He's a veteran on a one-year deal with a rebuilder, and the Cavaliers wouldn't miss a beat without him after Allen joined Andre Drummond in the center rotation.

    McGee might not be a huge difference-maker—he's averaged fewer than 17 minutes in this season and last—but his length and high energy level could make him a welcome source of boards and blocks.