The NBA trade deadline is still three months away, but many teams may consider making a move after slow starts. Even clubs that are having strong seasons, like the Houston Rockets, could pull the trigger on a deal in the coming weeks to gain an advantage in an often arduous 82-game season.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Rockets are actively seeking to deal the $8.34 million trade exception they received in the Jeremy Lin trade to the Los Angeles Lakers over the summer, and have talked to teams about 10 to 12 players.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey might be looking at swingman Corey Brewer. The Minnesota Timberwolves have discussed dealing Brewer to the Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. Brewer, who is averaging 10.2 points per game in his eighth season, is earning $4.7 million in 2014-2015, and will earn $4.9 million in 2015-2016. The Rockets have some strong perimeter players in James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and have even received some quality efforts in recent games from rookie Kostas Papanikolaou, but Brewer would be regarded as a valuable addition due to his defense and versatility.
Brewer, 28, has a close relationship with Cavs big man Kevin Love from their days as teammates with the Timberwolves. Cleveland may also have interest in adding a veteran on a team that has a starting backcourt of 22-year-olds in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
First-year Cavs general manager David Griffin said Thursday that no player is “untouchable,” according to Northeast Ohio Media Group. The loss to San Antonio dropped Cleveland to 5-5 on the year, and the team is still struggling to find its legs.
The return of LeBron James and trade for Love in the summer made the Cavs instant championship contenders, but Love said after the letdown to the Spurs that he’s still trying to find his place in the offense and the team is ranked No. 23 in rebounding and defense. Keeping Love happy with his role is likely of upmost importance to the Cavs, considering he can opt-out of his current contract and test free agency in the summer.
While Brewer is reportedly on the block, the same cannot be said for one of the top point guards in the league. Longtime NBA reporter Howard Beck quoted anonymous sources on Wednesday that Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge will not trade Rajon Rondo, but one general manager believes the club should deal him.
"They're definitely bravely saying they won't trade him at this point," a general manager told Beck. The GM also added: "I definitely think it's the right thing to trade him. I think Danny knows it."
Ainge has also indicated that he desires to re-sign the 28-year-old. Rondo is expected to seek a max contract, worth an estimated $106 million over five years. In January, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Rondo, who is earning $12.9 million this season, would test the free-agent market when his contract expires in the offseason. Should Rondo sign elsewhere, the best he could receive would be four years and about $79 million. He has played in nine of the Celtics’ 10 games this season, and is averaging 10.4 points per game and 11.8 assists. Rondo has not played more than 68 games in a season since 2009-2010.
Rondo is not the only high-profile guard making headlines in recent weeks. Despite any report of trade talks between the Lakers and other teams, Kobe Bryant found himself fending off speculation that he might leave Los Angeles. According to Sam Amick, Bryant, who is signed through the end of the 2016 season, has no interest in demanding a trade to a contender. The Lakers have struggled this season, and are in serious danger of missing the playoffs, but that has not prompted Bryant to look into playing for another club.
"It's not going to happen," Bryant told USA Today Sports. "It's not going to happen. You go through the good times, you've got to go through the bad times."
Lakers president Jeanie Buss, and her brother Jim, the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations, have not expressed any interest in dealing Bryant, who is currently leading the NBA in scoring (27.5 points per game). Jeanie even stated in October that she hoped Bryant would sign an extension.
"I have a no-trade clause,” Bryant said. “Jeanie and Jimmie aren't sending me anywhere."