NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Damian Lillard, Jaxson Hayes, More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 16, 2021

NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Damian Lillard, Jaxson Hayes, More

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    Steve Dipaola/Associated Press

    There haven't been any trades since the 2021-22 NBA season got underway in October. However, the groundwork may be getting laid for some midseason deals that could take place prior to the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

    Rumors are swirling on a constant basis, and some big names have been featured in all the buzz. It's impossible to know which deals could take place, but there's a chance that some of them could come to fruition.

    It may be more likely for trades to take place now that we're past Wednesday, which was when players who signed contracts the previous offseason become eligible to be dealt. With these players able to be moved, it could help trades come together more easily.

    Here's some of the latest trade buzz from around the NBA.

Multiple Teams Hopeful Lillard Becomes Available

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Damian Lillard has spent his first 10 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, and he's made it known that he wants to have a long-term future with the team. Yet the 31-year-old point guard has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors.

    Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported Tuesday that the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as other teams around the NBA, "remain optimistic" that Lillard could request a trade before the 2022-23 season begins. If that happened, perhaps it could help the Sixers deal Ben Simmons, who has been the top name in trade rumors this season.

    The Trail Blazers have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in four of the past five years, and they have only reached the Western Conference Finals once during Lillard's career. Could he change his mind and want to leave if Portland doesn't start to have more success? That remains to be seen.

    But it's easy to see why teams are hopeful Lillard will want to be traded. He's a six-time All-Star who is averaging 22 points and 7.8 assists in 22 games this season.

Hayes Could Be Made Available in Trade Discussions

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Pelicans have been struggling this season, as they are 9-21 and rank 14th in the Western Conference. If things don't turn around soon, they may think about dealing away some key players prior to the trade deadline.

    However, Fischer shared on the HoopsHype Podcast that the Pelicans plan on remaining buyers at the deadline, assuming that Zion Williamson can return soon and stay healthy. Still, that doesn't mean New Orleans may not have players on its roster it could be willing to part with.

    "Jaxson Hayes is a name I've heard that they're making available there," Fischer said on the podcast.

    Hayes, a 21-year-old center, is in his third season with the Pelicans, who selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft. This season, he's averaging 5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 20 games.

    Although Hayes hasn't put up huge numbers while serving in a bench role in his NBA career, he still has plenty of potential and could break out further down the line.

Nance Being Targeted by Several Front Offices

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Even if the Trail Blazers don't trade Lillard this season, they could be open to moving some of their other players. And it seems there are several who could be in the mix to be moved.

    Fischer reported that Portland is "expected to primarily gauge trade interest" in Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington. However, those players may not be the ones drawing the most interest, as Fischer added that Larry Nance Jr. "seems to be a target among rival front offices."

    Nance has been a solid contributor off the bench for the Trail Blazers this season, averaging 6.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 28 games. The 28-year-old is in his first year with Portland after previously playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers over his first six NBA seasons.

    Nurkic and Covington are starters who have put up better numbers, so they could get Portland more in return in potential trades. However, if the Trail Blazers (who are 11-18) get back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference, that might change their mindset on possible discussions with other teams.