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NBA Daily: Trade Watch – Central Division

Spencer Davies starts Basketball Insiders’ division-by-division “NBA Trade Watch” series with the group of five in the Central.

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With only 10 days left in January, the NBA season is about halfway over—meaning trade deadline time is around the corner.

While plenty of deals have already made, most of the recent activity has come on the waiver wire and via 10-day contract signings. Having said that, February 7 is fast approaching, and talks between teams—buying and selling—are going to kick up an extra notch.

Basketball Insiders will provide a division-by-division overlook of the most up-to-date chatter with an NBA Trade Watch series. We’ll start with the Central.

Chicago Bulls

What better way to get things started than sharing some news hot off the presses?

Monday evening, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Houston Rockets agreed to send Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations to the Bulls, who absorbed the veteran’s contract and profited approximately $900,000 for doing so. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, there was an exchange of the draft rights of international players as well.

Anthony likely won’t play a single minute for Chicago, but the organization might hold onto him through the trade deadline in an attempt to flip the 34-year-old. A player-for-player transaction is an odds-on scenario if they find a willing partner, as the Bulls won’t be able to aggregate his salary in a potential trade. If they don’t, then Anthony will probably be waived post-deadline.

As for others that could be on the move, Robin Lopez and Jabari Parker are two names we mentioned in our Buyers or Sellers series that still are floating around in the rumor mill. The former is a veteran center looking to contribute to a contender on a $14.3 million expiring contract, and the latter is also a candidate to be moved due to his contract ($20 million) acting like an expiring deal with a team option for next year.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers are floundering and a fire sale is on the horizon—though, it may not include the biggest of names. Alec Burks and Rodney Hood are arguably the two most enticing players the team can offer.

It’d be hard to envision Burks in a wine and gold uniform after the deadline passes. His $11.5 million expiring deal is one of Cleveland’s most attractive assets for a team looking to move a “bad” contract. It’s important to note that January 29 marks the date the team can aggregate Burks’ salary with another player in a trade.

As for Hood, his salary isn’t quite as large. He may elect to deny the Cavaliers a trade he’s involved in, too, as he has veto ability due to the qualifying offer he accepted in the offseason. Despite the tumultuous season in Northeast Ohio, Hood has repeatedly said he’s content where he’s at. Unless there’s a situation that blows him away in a potential trade, there’s no sense he’ll allow a deal to be made.

Another note from Cleveland—Kevin Love’s trade restriction is lifted on January 24. There are some teams reported to have interest in the veteran power forward, however—unless the team receives a return equal to what they feel his value is—there’s not much of a chance where Love gets moved. This is especially because he’s expected back in the near future and the organization wants to see what his chemistry looks like with rookie Collin Sexton.

Detroit Pistons

Things have gone south in a hurry with the Pistons. They’ve lost 12 out of their last 17 games and are struggling to put the ball in the basket. If weren’t for Blake Griffin and Reggie Bullock, you’d shudder to think where this team would be right now. Luckily for Dwane Casey, though, they are in the Eastern Conference.

Still in the playoff hunt, it’ll be interesting to see what Detroit does at the trade deadline. According to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, the franchise has received interest regarding Bullock and veteran point guard Ish Smith.

Bullock is one of the few who has consistently produced as a scorer and shooter for the club. He has an expiring $2.5 million deal, but the Pistons reportedly would like to re-sign both him and Smith in the summer. Still, if a can’t-refuse offer comes to the table, they shouldn’t shy away from considering a deal.

If the Pistons elect to stay on course and look to turn things around to get into the East’s field of eight, Ellis affirms that their interest in Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal remains high.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have the top record in the association at 34-12. Milwaukee doesn’t need to do much else at the moment. They not only went out and got veteran help with the acquisitions of George Hill and Jason Smith in December, but also offloaded two sizable contracts in the process.

Offensively speaking, Khris Middleton has taken a slight step back, but he’s still one of the best secondary scoring options and defenders in the game. While he has a player option and will likely demand a high payday this summer, the Bucks shouldn’t even think about trading him unless it’s a home run offer.

With D.J. Wilson emerging as a popular player off the bench over the last month, maybe Milwaukee would ponder sending Thon Maker to a different destination—but let’s remember that he’s only a 21-year-old lottery pick who has yet to earn a consistent opportunity.

Indiana Pacers

There’s not much going on around the rumor mill regarding the Pacers, and that’s because they’ve won four out of five games. Nate McMillan’s bunch is one of six teams in the NBA that has eclipsed the 30-win mark.

We highlighted a month ago that Indiana could gauge the value in moving Darren Collison—and there are six expiring contracts on their books—but this seems like a group you don’t want to break up at all right now. When healthy, this Pacers squad is a real problem.

As you can see, the Central Division’s bottom three teams are likely going to be much more involved at the trade deadline than the two battling at the top. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on as February 7 draws closer and closer.

Make sure to check out the rest of our NBA Trade Watch series throughout the week.

Spencer Davies is a Deputy Editor and a Senior NBA Writer based in Cleveland in his third year with Basketball Insiders. Covering the league and the Cavaliers for the past five seasons, his bylines have appeared on Bleacher Report, FOX Sports and HoopsHype.

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