The 2016-17 NBA trade deadline is less than two weeks away and all remains relatively quiet on the imminent trade front. With the Sacramento Kings reportedly pulling center DeMarcus Cousins’ name from the rumor mill and the New York Knicks’ inability to find a taker for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, it may be time to downshift into more realistic scenarios.
Of course, there have been instances of elite level talent being moved midseason but, for the most part, the deals that get made at the annual trade deadline hover around the mid-tier. With the trade deadline set for February 23, there are more than a few situations and players to keep on the radar.
Miami HEAT standing pat, not looking to move top guys
Back in December, the HEAT appeared to be headed for the draft lottery with the speed of a bullet. But as we approach the trade deadline, Miami has rallied to within one spot of an Eastern Conference playoff berth. So it doesn’t come as much of a shock that the franchise has started to rebuff offers for its top guys, namely guard Goran Dragic.
“They were willing to listen to whatever anyone wanted to offer,” one league executive told the Sporting News. “But those calls have changed, because now they’re looking for pieces to help them as they are.”
Dragic has seemingly heard his name in trade rumors since arriving in Miami but, for now, the veteran guard appears safe as we inch closer to February 23.
Philadelphia 76ers continue to entertain talks as they pour in
The trajectory in Philadelphia is headed in a more favorable direction than in year’s past. That’s the positive. But on the flipside, the team has a logjam to address in their frontcourt. Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid are all young guys with extremely bright futures in the league. However, eventually all of those guys are going to be seeking big minutes and when the time comes – bigger contracts.
This is where the Sixers hope to alleviate the frontcourt logjam while strengthening other areas of the team. According to Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo, the organization has received interest in their big men over the past few weeks – namely Okafor and Noel.
“We’ve got three talented bigs,” Colangelo said according to the Newark Star-Ledger quoting a radio interview. “They all feel that they deserve to be looked at as a potential starter and be paid as a starter. The phones have been ringing. There has been a lot of conversations. There’s been some activity. Quite a bit actually in recent weeks. It’s not something that’s just come up in recent weeks because it’s something we’ve been looking to address since I got here.
“I’ve always said that I’m looking to make a good deal for this organization. Not a bad deal. At some point, something’s got to give and we probably have to move in a different direction.”
Noel is headed to restricted free agency this summer and even though he’s been injury plagued since entering the league, he could be seeking a max level contract. But the Sixers view Noel’s pending free agency as a positive for the franchise since they can match any offer he receives in the summer.
“I even see value in the fact that Nerlens Noel is a restricted free agent,” Colangelo said. “We control the market, there. Someone else might drive the market, but we control the decision-making process behind it.”
Serge Ibaka drawing some interest from Houston
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has a long history of being an active participant at the trade deadline. But will he pull the trigger this season with his roster currently sitting third in the Western Conference?
According to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, the Rockets have some interest in Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka as an added measure of frontcourt depth. Ibaka, acquired by the Magic over the summer, will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
“I think if we do anything, it will be for depth,” Morey told ESPN. “I don’t see any big things happening. We got a good thing, a good rotation, good chemistry. I’m pretty reluctant to make any changes there.”
MVP candidate James Harden would rather ride with the guys currently in the locker room.
“We’re good,” Harden said. “I’ve been riding with these guys for some years now, and some (players) are new and it’s the same [good] thing. This summer we got the guys together and I said this is the roster and this is who we’re going to war with and let’s figure it out.”
The Magic are near the bottom of the East’s standings and a fire sale could happen, but they also can conceivably make a playoff run at only five and a half games out of the last playoff spot.
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