Dec. 15 marked the unofficial start of NBA trade season.
According to the league's collective bargaining agreement, free agents can't be traded for three months or until Dec. 15 after signing new deals, depending on which date comes later. That's why all the Trevor Ariza confusion didn't result in an actual deal until last Saturday when Ariza was eligible to be traded. That took one of the most sought-after wings immediately off the market.
TRADE GRADES: Ariza won't fix struggling Wizards
While there isn't a franchise-changing star like Jimmy Butler available, plenty of role players could be on the move ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline. There appear to be more buyers than sellers at this point in the season, but it only takes a few wins or losses to convince a front office immediate changes are necessary.
Here are 12 players who could be thrown into the rumor mill as trade talks heat up...
Markelle Fultz, 76ers
The Sixers appear to be split on trading Fultz as he recovers after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Even if Philadelphia wanted to move Fultz, though, there isn't much of a market for him. Concerns about the former No. 1 pick's health and ability to regularly contribute have crushed his trade value.
"The words 'first-round pick' do not come up when you talk to other teams about Fultz," Marc Stein of The New York Times recently said on the "Dunc'd On Podcast."
There is also a fear for Philly in dealing Fultz and watching him thrive on another team. He is only 20 years old, after all, and if his problems are purely physical, he could make the Sixers look silly for giving up on him so early.
Don't anticipate a Fultz trade in the near future, but the unusual nature of his situation could lead to rampant speculation around the deadline.
Jabari Parker, Bulls
Well, this experiment didn't work. Parker has been removed from the Bulls' rotation, playing a combined four minutes in Chicago's last three games. All the signs here point to a trade sooner rather than later.
Utah is reportedly interested in acquiring Parker, which could help the team's struggling offense. Parker's defense will always be an issue, but the Jazz are top 10 in defensive rating (106.1) through 31 games, so they could at least cover for some of his deficiencies.
JR Smith and Rodney Hood, Cavs
With Cleveland in full rebuild mode, it wouldn't be surprising to see a fire sale of sorts in the next two months.
The Rockets and Pelicans have both expressed interest in Smith, who left the Cavs after saying tanking was "always the plan." It's hard to gauge how much the 33-year-old has left in the tank, but perhaps a change of scenery could give him the energy that made him a valuable piece during the LeBron James years.
Hood, meanwhile, is averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range. The 6-8 shooting guard undoubtedly possesses talent, but he has been more potential than production throughout his career. Still, with wings in high demand, Hood could be headed to a team looking to make a playoff push.
Kent Bazemore, Hawks
Another name that always pops up around the trade deadline, Bazemore is one of the few veterans on a young Hawks squad. He is a great locker room guy and can score the ball (13.2 points in 27.0 minutes per game) without being the primary focus of an offense.
Stein reports Bazemore is "generating interest from contending teams." Any potential suitors must keep his contract in mind — Bazemore will likely take his $19.2 million player option for the 2019-20 season, so this isn't a typical rental.
Wayne Ellington, Heat
Speaking of rentals, how about a certain 3-and-D guy in Miami? The Heat, sitting at 13-16 in the East standings, could be without point guard Goran Dragic for two months. If they fall out of playoff contention, do they sell off some of their assets?
Sporting News' Sean Deveney reports the Lakers could be targeting Ellington, who has shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc over three seasons in Miami. One important note on Ellington: he can veto any trade because he signed a one-year deal this past offseason and has full Bird Rights next summer.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers
When asked about Caldwell-Pope trade rumors, LeBron didn't exactly give his teammate a ringing endorsement.
LeBron was asked about KCP being in trade talks and..... it does not sound promising for KCP lol pic.twitter.com/tbbboxOeN1— GlassHalfFultz (@pickuphoop) December 14, 2018
See you later, Kentavious!
OK, there are no guarantees the Lakers trade KCP, but it's heading in that direction. Houston could be a potential destination, as the Rockets desperately need wing depth.
Terrence Ross, Magic
In addition to Ellington, the Lakers have looked at Ross, according to Deveney. The 27-year-old is averaging a career-high 14.1 points per game in Orlando on 45.8 percent shooting from the field and 39.6 percent on 3-pointers.
Ross is also in the final season of a three-year, $31.5 million contract, which is ideal for a Los Angeles team hoping to keep its options open next summer. However, Ross' improved play could propel him out of the Lakers' price range.
Darren Collison and Cory Joseph, Pacers
Indiana could be open to moving one of its point guards, league executives tell ESPN's Brian Windhorst. Collison and Joseph are attractive options for teams in need of backcourt help, and they are both on expiring deals, so there are no financial commitments beyond this season.
Removing Collison or Joseph from the roster would allow the Pacers to give rookie point guard Aaron Holiday more minutes. Indiana is sitting pretty at 20-11, good for third in the East behind the Raptors and Bucks, so the front office might want to think twice before breaking up a group that has found early success.
Otto Porter and Markieff Morris, Wizards
Ah, the Wizards. There can't be trade drama without the Wizards.
Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers went to Phoenix in the Ariza deal, but Washington made it clear earlier this season just about anyone in a Wizards jersey can be discussed in trade talks. John Wall and Bradley Beal will probably stay put — Wall's contract makes him nearly impossible to trade, and Beal is too valuable to the team's future — but Porter and Morris could fill gaps on contenders.
One league executive told Deveney that Morris could be the easiest Wizard to deal because of his toughness, production (12.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 35.8 percent 3-point shooting over the last three seasons) and contract situation (on an expiring deal).
But with Ariza now in the fold, Washington could be hoping for a quick turnaround, and that would greatly alter its deadline plans.
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