It’s not Christmas that intensifies NBA trade rumors, but rather the NBA’s G-League Showcase event the week before – this year in Orlando – where front office personnel from across the league gather, leading to conversations. This is where trade negotiations start to gain momentum, or run out of steam.
Here are some of the latest rumors, much courtesy of Marc Stein, who was in Orlando.
• The Celtics are eyeing Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk. It’s no secret the Celtics are looking for depth to add to what is (arguably) the best top six in the NBA. According to Stein, Boston has its eyes on former Celtic and current Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk. He is one of several Jazz veterans available on the trade market (Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton among others). There is a natural logic to this, Olynyk is exactly the kind of solid, veteran, four/five on the floor who could plug in and play in green. Mainly on the bench for the Jazz this season, Olynyk is averaging 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game.
However, don’t bet on this trade happening because it’s all about money. Olynyk is making $12.2 million this year and the only way to make the trade — unless the Jazz want to take four or five players on the cheap — is a trade involving Al Horford or another regular rotation player. ‘Utah. This doesn’t work for either team. None of the offers really do that. Stein speculates that with Mitchell Robinson out for the season, the Knicks could show interest in Olynyk.
• The Hawks are likely open to a possible trade for Dejounte Murray. The Hawks are 12-17 this season despite having a top-five offense in the league – their defense has been that bad. Things need to be shaken up in Atlanta and even if rumors of Clint Capela’s move are circulating, Stein Reports Many rival managers also expect a Dejounte Murray to be available.
“Several teams consulted in Orlando believe the Hawks will explore their trade options with Dejounte Murray over the next six weeks leading up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline.”
Murray has been good for the Hawks this season averaging 20.3 points and 5.4 assists per night while shooting 38.2% from 3. He could help many teams and is probably the team’s best trade asset. Hawks.
The Lakers – another team in need of a shake-up lately and looking for backcourt help – are interested in Murray, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. This fit makes sense, but setting up these exchanges would be a challenge. The Lakers would like to send D’Angelo Russell to Atlanta, but the Hawks will want Austin Reaves and a first-round pick. The Lakers could counter with Max Christie, Gabe Vincent and others in a bigger deal, but the price will be high for Los Angeles no matter what. Atlanta will have options if they make Murray available.
One of those options would be New York – the Knicks view Murray as an “ideal” trade target, reports Ian Begley at SNY.TV (Michael Scotto of Hoopshype also reported interest from the Knicks.) For this exchange to take place, a truce must be reached in a low-key rivalry (feud?) between Knicks president Leon Rose and Murray’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, notes Begley . Murray owes $128.8 million over four years after this one he’s locked up for a while. Would the Knicks send some of their trove of draft picks (perhaps along with Evan Fournier and his contract) to Atlanta to make this work? Does Murray even want to be a Knick? Don’t bet on this trade happening, but it’s something to watch.
• Heat, the Bucks could be interested in PJ Tucker. A few years ago, Tucker was the kind of veteran big man that every contending team wanted because he could defend his size and reach corner 3s. However, he hasn’t looked like that type for a few seasons now and is out of Tyronn Lue’s rotation with the Clippers. Stein reports that the Bucks and Heat still have “a good level of admiration” for Tucker. However, Stein adds that a trade shouldn’t be expected, as Tucker is making $11 million this season and is guaranteed $11.5 million next season – that’s a lot of money to take on and salary to send for an aging player. If Tucker is traded, at the deadline or over the summer, it’s likely salary ballast as part of a bigger deal.
• Do the 76ers have any interest in Zach LaVine? According to Stein, probably not. After the James Harden trade, Philadelphia has plenty of trade assets and likely needs an additional shot creator to compete in a seven-game series with the Celtics and Bucks. However, Stein says the 76ers are looking for a two-way player to fill that role and LaVine is an elite isolation scorer and not much else. The Lakers remain the name most often mentioned with LaVine, but sources told NBC Sports a trade is unlikely.
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