David Zalubowski/Associated Press
The NBA trade market has cooled in recent weeks after the early November blockbuster sending Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks from the Phoenix Suns. It may heat up again once the first high-profile frontcourt player is moved to help set the standard on value.
Most of the notable names being bandied about right now are post players. That said, they range from a floor-stretching option like Marc Gasol to an old-school bruiser in DeAndre Jordan, so there’s still variety available for contenders looking to fill a certain void.
Let’s check out some of the latest buzz from around the NBA and analyze what it could mean for the players and teams involved leading up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
Memphis Grizzlies Downplay Gasol Rumors
Gasol has played his entire career with the Grizz after his draft rights were traded to Memphis from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008. The status of his decade-long stay with the team came into question following comments he made after being benched by head coach David Fizdale, who’s since been fired, Sunday.
“If I start venting, that would be counterproductive,” the center told reporters. “But at the end of the day, I’m as competitive as anybody. I hate not playing. That’s what I value most. If I’m not out there, I’m not valued. I’m sure they knew that would hurt me the most.”
He added: “I mean, anyone wouldn’t like it, right? You don’t put Mike [Conley] back in? I’m sure they wouldn’t do it to Mike. I don’t know. It’s just the way it is. You have to deal with it. But I’m not just going to lay down and take it.”
Mitch Lawrence of Forbes reported the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers are teams with trade interest. More specifically, the Raptors are willing to part with Jonas Valanciunas, while the Cavs could create a package around Tristan Thompson.
Alas, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com the organization hasn’t shopped Gasol around the league despite the rampant speculation.
“We have no intention to trade Marc,” he said. “We never seriously considered that at all. We never placed any calls to any teams in that regard. So that’s not happening.”
Ultimately, Memphis appears content to stand firm at least until it sees what the team can do when Conley returns from an Achilles injury in mid-December. If the team fades from the playoff race, however, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see its stance on Gasol change before the deadline.
Jordan On Los Angeles Clippers’ Block?
Jordan is a known commodity at this stage of his career. He’s an efficient scorer in limited offensive touches who makes his greatest impact by grabbing rebounds and protecting the rim. It makes him an ideal niche asset for pretty much any contender.
The Clippers have seemingly started to fade from contention following the offseason departure of point guard Chris Paul. In turn, it might be time to start retooling the roster around Blake Griffin now rather than trying to hold on for a while longer and forcing a bigger rebuild in a couple of years.
David Aldridge of NBA.com reported Los Angeles has “put feelers out to a handful of teams” about Jordan, who can opt out of his contact to become an unrestricted free agent as season’s end. He mentioned the Cavs, Bucks, Raptors and Washington Wizards as possible landing spots.
Cleveland makes a lot of sense on paper with the 29-year-old center capable of providing a perfect complement to power forward Kevin Love, a limited defensive contributor. The Cavs are facing an uncertain future with LeBron James also holding a player option, so they could go all-in on this season.
Philadelphia 76ers Exploring Jahlil Okafor Options
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Okafor, who’s rarely played for the Sixers due to an overcrowded frontcourt. It’s a far cry from his promising 2015-16 rookie campaign when he averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks after being selected third overall in the 2015 draft.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported the sides have reached a stalemate with other teams willing to wait until the center hits free agency to target him, and Philly, which has dropped its asked price to a second-round pick, unwilling to buy out his contact to let him hit the open market now.
“I would like for them to just send me somewhere where I can get an opportunity,” Okafor told ESPN. “I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me and I would just like to get an opportunity to play with a trade or a buyout. I just hope something happens quickly.”
It’s a bit odd no team is willing to give up a pick outside the top 30 for a player taken inside the top five less than three years ago. While Okafor has defensive shortcomings, his offensive upside still presents a lot of intrigue, especially for a team out of the playoff mix who can let him play and develop.
In addition, trading for him now would give the team several months to work out a contract extension with the 21-year-old Duke product instead of competing against other front offices in free agency. Those factors should allow the Sixers to get at least a minor asset for him in the coming months.