We’re past the quarter-mark of the NBA season – and the rumour mill is starting to heat up.
As of Friday (all times AEDT), nearly 90 per cent of the league becomes trade-eligible including players signed over the off-season.
So catch up on all of the latest whispers in our NBA Rumour Mill!
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LAKERS’ TRADE TARGETS REVEALED
After a grim 2-10 start to the season, the LA Lakers have turned their campaign around – currently sitting 11-15 and three games behind the sixth seed in the West.
There’s been ample discussion around what in-season moves the Lakers could make including the possibility of trading Russell Westbrook, who’s found new life in a sixth-man role, and his $47 million expiring contract.
According to Bleacher Reports Eric Pincus, LA is interested in both Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan from Chicago and would be willing to give up two first-round picks (2027 and 2029) and Westbrook as a buyout candidate.
It solidifies reporting from ESPN’s Zach Lowe in recent weeks, indicating LA has at least discussed the potential of trading for Vucevic – on an expiring $22 million deal – and DeRozan – contracted until the end of next campaign for a total of $55 million ($77 million combined [AUD $114m]) and the Lakers were eyeing in the 2021 off-season prior to acquiring Westbrook from Washington.
The Bulls loom as a fascinating watch ahead of the February 10 trade deadline amid a disappointing campaign, currently sitting 11th in the East at 11-15 after a sixth-place finish last season – albeit still without Lonzo Ball due to a knee injury.
However a report from the Chicago-Sun Times states Bulls general manager Arturas Karnisovas isn’t keen on a Westbrook deal regardless of whether the two future first rounders are attached.
Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Lakers are prioritising shooting in conversations with teams, having discussed packages including a protected first-round pick for Detroit’s Bohan Boganovic.
The Pistons veteran has led the rebuilding Pistons in scoring this season, averaging 21 points per game on 43 per cent shooting from downtown.
It’s believed the Lakers are among around a dozen teams to have inquired with the Pistons about Bogdanovic – offering first or second-round picks – however Detroit has expressed reluctance to deal him.
Charania also revealed the Lakers have also had talks with the New York Knicks for Cam Reddish and Evan Fournier.
LA, who’s first-round pick this season is tied to the New Orleans Pelicans, has reportedly made it clear it’s only willing to deal its trade eligible two first rounders for genuine championship-altering players.
The Lakers earlier this month waived small forward Matt Ryan to open up a roster spot for a potential trade from December 16.
BEN’S NETS AMONG SUITORS FOR COLLINS
The Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks are among several teams circling Atlanta big man John Collins, reports the Athletic’s Shams Charania.
SNY journalist Ian Begley revealed earlier this month the Nets had “touched base” with the Hawks on a trade for Collins, while Charania had previously reported Atlanta held initial conversations with suitors.
According to Charania, the Hawks haven’t shown interest in a deal that would be centred around Brooklyn sharpshooter Joe Harris.
Therefore, assuming Harris, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Ben Simmons aren’t included in a potential deal, it makes a Collins to Brooklyn trade tricky given the forward is in the second season of a five-year, $125 million contract (AUD $183m).
It’s believed Phoenix likes Collins, but isn’t keen to take on the long-term money of the 25-year old.
Collins, who’s averaged 12.3 points per game 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, is currently sidelined with an ankle injury.
KUZMA ‘WANTS OUT’ OF WASHINGTON
Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is eyeing move away from the team for a bigger market and a $20 million payday, reports Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus.
Kuzma is on an annual $13 million deal until the end of the 2023/24 campaign – where he has a player option – meaning he could opt out and become a free agent this off-season.
The 27-year old in the midst of a career-best season for the struggling 11-16 Wizards, averaging 21.4 points per game, 2.5 triples and 7.7 rebounds.
So you’d expect there would be plenty of interest in the 2020 championship-winning Laker if he indeed hits the market.
Pincus reports the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings are all teams to keep an eye on in the Kuzma sweepstakes.
“He wants out,” an NBA source told Bleacher Report. ”He‘s looking for over $20 million a season and in a big market (or with a contender).”