Expect trade talks to start heating up
The 2014-15 campaign has already established an early pecking order throughout the league and with the trade deadline (February 21, 2015) just under two months away the list of potential buyers and sellers is becoming much more clear.
Up until this point the moves have been minor in nature, but there are a few big names and plenty of situations around the association to keep an eye on.
Here are some situations to keep an eye on:
Cleveland Cavaliers and the need for additional frontcourt depth
The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the season as one of the frontrunners to emerge out of the Eastern Conference. The team started off much slower than expected but has rebounded as of late and sit fifth in the conference standings. However the team could be in a bit of trouble if center Anderson Varejao misses a significant portion of the season. Varejao was injured earlier this week after landing awkwardly on his foot. The team has called for a MRI, but the early fears is that the injury will force the veteran big man out of the lineup for quite some time.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavaliers will likely increase their efforts to bolster their frontcourt via trade. Stein’s report lists Timofey Mozgov of the Denver Nuggets and Kosta Koufos of the Memphis Grizzlies as the Cavaliers’ main targets.
Mozgov is currently averaging 8.9 points and 8 rebounds per game in Denver on a team likely headed for the draft lottery. Koufos is averaging 4.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per night in Memphis, but the Grizzlies are in the thick of the Western Conference’s upper tier which would make trading the valuable reserve big man a bit questionable (depending on the return, of course).
Varejao, who recently signed a three-year, $30 million extension with the Cavaliers back in October, has missed nearly 170 games over the past four seasons with multiple injuries.
One of the names consistently mentioned as being on the move in these talks is shooting guard Dion Waiters. The guard has struggled to find a consistent rhythm with the new look Cavaliers, but in the right situation could thrive.
Has Deron Williams reached the end of the line in Brooklyn?
The Brooklyn Nets fully expected point guard Deron Williams to become the franchise’s cornerstone when they acquired him from Utah in 2011. Williams subsequently signed a five-year, $100 million pact with the team to presumably spend his prime years leading the Nets deep into the playoffs.
Those goals seem like distant pipedreams at the moment as Brooklyn sits eighth in the East. Even though the playoffs are likely, a $90 million payroll for the season doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence from the front office.
So Williams’ name has been surfacing in numerous trade reports and it’s becoming even more apparent the Nets have at least warmed to the idea of shopping the former All-Star around. While nothing is imminent, Williams to the Sacramento Kings has been mentioned repeatedly.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Williams is the most likely of Brooklyn’s core to be dealt before the deadline if the right package arises.
With trade rumors surrounding Brooklyn‘s three highest-paid players, a source told the Daily News that Williams is most likely to be dealt. Talks with the Kings have dated back to last season, and Sacramento remains a possibility. Even though negotiations have cooled, “they’re never done,” a source said.
Williams is averaging 15.6 points and 6.8 assists on the season, both increases from last season but far below his production when he was a perennial All-Star performer.
The curious saga of Lance Stephenson in Charlotte
One of the league’s biggest disappointments of the season, the Charlotte Hornets (10-19) have strung together a four game winning streak and are only three games behind Brooklyn for the East’s last playoff spot.
What we didn’t mention was that during this recent four game winning streak, Hornets’ starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson has been on the sidelines nursing a groin injury. The success, in Stephenson’s absence, seems to further validate the presence of the embattled guard is a factor in the club’s slow start.
Whether or not that is truly the case, the Hornets are open to the idea of exploring a return for Stephenson and teams are at the very least showing exploratory interest.
According to Real GM, Stephenson has received interest from the Denver Nuggets. The relationship between Stephenson and Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw (former Indiana Pacers assistant) could be the primary driver of a deal between the two.
For now, nothing is imminent, but the situation in Charlotte is definitely demanding some attention.
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