With the calendar turning to 2014, the NBA trade deadline is only a little more than a month away. Many teams are looking to make deals, even willing to trade players they signed as recently as this summer.
The New York Knicks appear to be one of those teams. According to multiple reports, the organization is gauging interest in J.R. Smith. Sources have admitted that it would be very difficult to find a taker for Smith, but the Knicks are pursuing a trade. In the offseason, Smith signed a three-year contract worth $18 million.
Last season, Smith may have been the best player off the bench in the entire NBA. He was named the Sixth Man of the Year, setting career-highs with 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He was the second-leading scorer on a Knicks team that won 54 regular season games and finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Since the 2013 playoffs, though, Smith’s production has dropped dramatically. In two postseason series, he shot 33.1 percent from the field, while attempting nearly 15 shots per game. This season, he’s averaging almost seven fewer points per game, shooting a career-low 34.8 percent. New York relied on Smith last season, but they seem to be doing better without him this year. He averages almost three more shots in the team’s losses, and New York beat the Miami Heat on Thursday when Smith didn’t play at all.
Smith’s numbers are only a small reason why the team is looking to trade him, which is why he’ll be very hard to move. He was suspended for the first five games of the year for violating the NBA’s drug policy. Most recently he was fined for untying another player’s shoelaces, even after he had been caught doing so in the previous game. The shooting guard has also gotten in trouble on multiple occasions for things he has said on Twitter.
As the Knicks look to move one of their top scorers, the Houston Rockets are reportedly looking to acquire another team’s sharpshooter. According to USA Today, the team is interested in Mike Dunleavy. The Rockets have been at the center of many trade rumors because Omer Asik wants out of Houston, but it looks like the organization may hold onto the center and look to add the Chicago Bulls small forward.
Chicago may be the perfect trading partner for a team that is looking to make additions by the deadline. Once Derrick Rose went down for the season, the Bulls realized that they could not compete for a championship in 2014. As a result, some of their best assets have become available, including Luol Deng, who was recently traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dunleavy, though, might be one player that the Bulls are trying to keep. Moving him wouldn’t be much of a salary dump, considering his two-year contract is worth only $6 million. The veteran is averaging 10.7 points per game, and could help Chicago next year when they are ready to make a legitimate run to the NBA Finals. The USA Today report claims that the Rockets are interested in Dunleavy, but they haven’t engaged in discussions with the Bulls about a possible deal.