Last Thursday was one of the biggest days of the year in terms of NBA trades. A brief explainer for the short attention spans only here for the hot gossip: Teams can’t trade rookies or free agents they just signed in the offseason until Dec. 15. That’s bad news for franchises having a Gob Bluth moment and want to dump luggage and start fresh, but that’s the rule, and because of that quirk things are always a little more fun after Dec. 15.
That’s not to say that general managers are currently tripping over each other to nab the best players on the market, however. No matter how badly Brian Scalabrine wants Klay Thompson to be shipped to Boston, and no matter how much fans want to believe The Inquisitr’s “reports” that Nerlens Noel will be traded to every team in the NBA, the market is currently quieter than a movie theater during the second week of Gods of Egypt’s release. Conversations might be happening in front offices right now, but they’re probably about as substantial and realistic as two bros arguing in a bar.
However, one team is showing up in trade rumors more than any other, and so we start with the good-but-not-great Celtics, who are desperate to be on the same level as the Cavaliers and Raptors.
The Celtics will absolutely, totally, for real make a big trade, okay?
More than any team in the NBA, the Celtics are rumored to be working on a deal. Forget the Scalabrine nonsense, because that was just the telephone game going out of control, and Klay Thompson is not being traded to Boston. So, it’s important that Celtics fans focus on realistic possibilities, and right now everyone in Boston wants Nerlens Noel to be the most realistic possibility of them all.
The Sixers must be trying to move the young, extremely pissed off center after his postgame rant about his lack of playing time has led to him being removed from the team’s rotation. Of course, GM Bryan Colangelo is still being subtle and coy, even publicly reminding Noel that he has to play nice.
So, will Colangelo trade Noel if he behaves? Yes, because it’s clear that he doesn’t care much for him.
Colengelo still vows that he won’t make a “bad trade,” so I guess it’s a possibility that Noel could ride the pine for the rest of the season if a team doesn’t pay up. The team most interested in paying up, according to the rumor mill, is Boston, but the assumption that he’s only worth the Nets’ first round draft pick (which the Celtics own) seems … not right. Maybe that’ll be a better bargaining chip as the trade deadline approaches, but for now Celtics fans shouldn’t be under the impression that the Sixers are giving a talented 22-year-old away because he’s grumpy.
Bold prediction: Your team won’t make a big deal this season
Last week, Adrian Wojnarowski welcomed The Vertical’s Front Office Insider and former NBA executive Bobby Marks to his podcast, and the biggest bomb that Woj dropped was this harsh nugget: “There’s really no one available.” Basically, teams would love to make deals right now. Your favorite team would especially love to land a star player, but there are simply no stars out there to acquire. That’s why the trade rumor mill has been so overloaded with garbage from Headline and Global News all season, because the real news is slower than Curry 3 sales.
One name that Woj tossed out there is Pacers star and Kevin Durant’s favorite player Paul George, who hasn’t signed his extension yet. Of course, that’s because the new CBA will allow the Pacers to pay George $73 million more than any other team (if he qualifies), and so chances are he’s just waiting until the ink on the labor deal is dry. Woj says there’s no way Indy deals George, because “you’ll never get another player like Paul George.”
Maybe the Sixers deal Noel for a veteran and/or draft picks, and mayyyyyybe Sacramento ends up shipping DeMarcus Cousins out for an overpriced haul. But the reality is that, at best, only role players will be on the move, and for that we have at least one guy who will likely have a new team soon.
Who will win the Rudy Gay “sweepstakes”?
There’s a possibility that the answer to this is “nobody,” but everyone seems to believe that Rudy Gay will be traded before the Feb. 20 deadline. As Woj explains:
Teams that are interested in Gay – there are several, there’s no question – that Oklahoma City, Indiana has had some interest in him. Houston has had some periphery interest in him, but I don’t think they have the pieces to trade. That’s what I think the Kings are struggling with: What can we get back for him?
That’s a great question, obviously, since Gay has missed three games in a row with a hip injury. A 30-year-old with a bad hip isn’t exactly going to net a team the No. 1 pick or a superstar-prospect-in-waiting, but teams are always more desperate in February. But at that point the question isn’t “Will my team make a deal?” but instead “Will my team make a stupid deal?”
Still, which teams really want to make a deal?
Probably every team.
Okay, which teams really, really want to make a deal?
Probably any team currently facing an uphill battle for a postseason spot.
Come on, just tells us some teams that want to make deals, we’re dying here, man!
At 13-16 the Portland Trail Blazers are currently in the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff picture, and they’ve got their work cut out to catch everyone in front of them. Fortunately for them, every team behind them looks more like a “sell” candidate. Still, Portland reportedly wants to buy because 13-16 and the eighth spot is terrible for this talented, well-paid team. The problem? Those pesky NBA trade rules.
For starters, the Blazers can’t trade re-signed players and potential trade bait like Allen Crabbe or Moe Harkless until Jan. 15. Elaborate, please, Oregon Live:
CJ McCollum can’t be traded until after January 27, six months after he signed his contract extension with the Blazers. Crabbe can also veto any in-season deal since he returned to Portland after the Blazers matched a free agent offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets. Portland has future first-round picks to deal, but limited assets to get a something done immediately.
Naturally, Cousins is mentioned, but that rumor is “completely fan driven.” Aren’t they all? Also mentioned are Andrew Bogut, Nikola Vucevic, Greg Monroe, and fake news favorite Noel, who (again) is available, but not in the way garbage diaper sites want people to believe.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe addressed Portland’s dilemma in great detail in November, and with that payroll (and Evan Turner’s ridiculous contract) this team needs to win. The problem, though, is who do they trade? Realistically, teams are going to want CJ McCollum. The Blazers will tell them that it’s nice to want things.
Hey everyone, the Timberwolves have talent to trade!
The Timberwolves are 7-19, but they’d love to be better. With Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, they will likely be very good in the near future, but why can’t that future be now? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Wolves have been calling other front offices, and you won’t believe what happened! Nothing. Or at least we don’t know any other details.
As Windy pointed out, in between cross-talk about him quoting Jay Z and not realizing it, as well as the correct pronunciation of schadenfreude, the Wolves simply aren’t getting production out of their backups, and so building depth by addition would go a long way for Tom Thibodeau’s team. The problem is deeper, though, explained Windhorst and his guest, Rachel Nichols. Yes, the Wolves could trade for help, but the problem might be Thibs.
Specifically, the team’s young players aren’t responding well to their coach’s no-nonsense style. So, in order to fix that, one or more of those young players could be on the move to bring in someone better suited for the coach’s system.