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Although the NBA trade deadline isn’t until February, there have already been a few notable deals during the season’s first quarter. Eric Bledsoe moved from the Phoenix Suns to the Milwaukee Bucks in November, and the Philadelphia 76ers dealt Jahlil Okafor to the Brooklyn Nets Thursday.
The early moves show front offices are willing to wheel and deal well before the deadline frenzy if the price is right. It’s a situation likely rooted in the fact there’s an extremely limited number of title contenders, giving other teams more incentive to build for the future.
Let’s check out some of the latest trade talk from around the NBA and analyze what it could mean for the teams and players involved.
DeAndre Jordan on Bucks’ Radar
Milwaukee added Bledsoe to bolster its backcourt, and now the team may be looking to upgrade in the post to further improve its chances of becoming a sleeper in the loaded Eastern Conference. It’s an area of need, with the team near the bottom of the NBA in rebounding differential.
Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger reported the Bucks are among the teams “kicking the tires hard” on DeAndre Jordan. The longtime Los Angeles Clippers center has been a rumor-mill mainstay in recent months, and Berger noted Milwaukee has the “pieces to get a deal done.”
Jordan seems like a perfect fit for the Bucks. He doesn’t need a lot of touches at the offensive end to make an impact, as his career scoring average of below 10 points per game illustrates, and he’s a proven commodity when it comes to rebounds and blocks.
Putting him at center surrounded by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Bledsoe would give Milwaukee a dangerous crunch-time lineup. It would also let the team remain conservative with the recovery of Jabari Parker, who’s targeting a February return from a torn ACL.
Bucks Also Linked to Tyson Chandler
If Milwaukee is unable to land Jordan, Tyson Chandler could be another option. Although the Phoenix Suns big man is not on the same level as his Clippers counterpart in terms of cleaning up the glass, he brings many of the same traits to the table, so the connection makes sense.
Veteran NBA reporter Gery Woelfel noted there’s been “ongoing chatter” about the Bucks targeting Chandler again after doing so in the past. He pointed out the 35-year-old center has a “good rapport” with head coach Jason Kidd, a former teammate.
Chandler has already adapted to a reduced role during his three years with the Suns, playing around 25 minutes per contest this season. He would bring 75 games of playoff experience to the Milwaukee locker room. That includes helping the Dallas Mavericks win an NBA title in 2011.
Like Jordan, he’s capable of serving as a rock in the middle while Antetokounmpo and Co. handle the heavy lifting at the offensive end of the floor.
New York Knicks’ Courtney Lee Generating Interest
The Knicks are still firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff race, so they may not be ready to deal away any assets quite yet. That said, it sounds like teams are lining up to make their interest in Courtney Lee known should he become available before the deadline.
Ian Begley of ESPN.com reported the New York front office will likely decide how to move forward after seeing where the team stands when Tim Hardaway Jr. returns from a leg injury, with sources saying other teams “continue to show interest in Lee.”
The 32-year-old shooting guard has been a stalwart of New York’s starting lineup since arriving in 2016, but he projects more as an offensive weapon off the bench for a contender. He’s shot 39 percent from beyond the across his 10 years in the NBA.
Lee could represent an intriguing option for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have struggled to find a rhythm offensively since adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony alongside Russell Westbrook. A guard who can knock down open shots and keep opposing defenses honest would create more space.