NBA AM: Shaking The NBA Trade Tree

Teams are making new passes at big names to see if there’s a pre-deadline deal to be made.

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Sports Editor
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Time To Shake The Trade Trees

As the calendar turns to February, more and more NBA teams are starting to make second or third passes through the NBA trade market, which is generating a lot of talk about names that many thought were long closed.

Reports out of Phoenix peg the Suns as the latest team to make a run at Sacramento regarding big man DeMarcus Cousins. According to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, the Suns and Kings had some level of a conversation built around “small forward T.J. Warren, center Alex Len, Phoenix’s first-round pick this year and possibly more,” according to the report.

Sources close to the Kings said the team continues to receive inbound calls on several roster players, but characterized anything involving Cousins as unlikely. The Kings plan, according to sources, is to offer Cousins a Designated Veteran extension in July that could be worth more than $200 million. There is a growing sense that Cousins would sign it. The narrative around the situation has been that the Kings will wait out that process and decide the future of Cousins after they get an answer on the extension.

Cousins has one more year remaining on his deal after this season. Cousins has been overwhelmingly supportive of the Kings franchise this season despite their 19-29 record, however, that does not seem to be deterring teams from checking the Kings temperature on a deal, especially with the reality of Cousins final contract year looming.

For the Chicago Bulls, the story is somewhat similar. The Bulls listened to trade offers on All-Star Jimmy Butler around the 2016 NBA Draft and ultimately opted to stay the course with him.

With the Bulls facing a 24-25 season, there has been renewed talk in NBA circles that the Bulls will again listen to offers on Butler if only to gauge what their future could look like on both fronts.

Bulls sources said recently that the team is at something of a crossroads, admitting that many of the young players the team had hoped could grow into the support players around Butler, frankly, have not been equal to the task. When you combine that with recent outbursts from both Butler and Dwyane Wade in the media about the work ethic of some of the Bulls’ younger players, there is a growing sense among league insiders that cashing Butler out might be the best course for the future. But that would require Bulls management to concede they had failed to field the team they promised when they traded away Derrick Rose.

There has been a long-running narrative in NBA circles that Bulls ownership will not sign off on a tank job and has clearly stated expectations of the team being in the postseason. That directive seems to explain many of the Bulls “win-now” roster moves.

As things stand today, the Bulls are sitting in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and have won five of their last ten games, which likely makes anything involving Butler a long-shot. However, that won’t stop teams from tempting the Bulls, especially with the trade deadline just a few weeks away.

The key thing to remember about Butler is that he has two full guaranteed contract years after this season worth $18.69 million and $19.84 million, plus a third player option year. So, there is plenty of time for the Bulls to decide their path forward, which could include waiting until the 2017 NBA Draft and negotiating from a more known position. That known positions also includes understanding what Wade will do with his $23.8 million player option.

Things around the NBA are clearly heating up, and that means something of a last call on trade offers, so expect more names to get revisited, not just in the direct conversations teams have, but also in the media where many of those conversation end up.

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Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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