October 24, 2016
NBA Trade Rumors: Heat, Rockets, Timberwolves And Kings Discuss Blockbuster Five-Player Deal Involving Ricky Rubio, Goran Dragic And Rudy Gay

NBA trade rumors continue to build momentum, even with the start of the regular season only one day away. According to Yibada, the Houston Rockets have been hot after point guard Ricky Rubio for some time, as they see the Minnesota Timberwolves' passing wizard from Spain as the closest thing to head coach Mike D'Antoni's former star lead guard, Steve Nash.

CBS Sports has discussed rumors of a trade involving Goran Dragic and Rudy Gay, suggesting the Miami Heat may be interested in shipping out their starting point guard in an effort to save salary cap space for a future roster rebuilding project and in essence, "tanking" the 2016-17 season. Sacramento Kings small forward Rudy Gay has been a darling of the rumor mill during the off-season, as his desire to leave Sacramento has been well-documented (per Bleacher Report).

The latest NBA trade rumors are highlighting a potential deal that involves all of the teams and players mentioned in these previously published accounts. The precise structure of the rumored proposal has the Miami Heat acquiring point guard Darren Collison and small forward Trevor Ariza, while the Houston Rockets would come out of this with the player they covet, point guard Ricky Rubio. The Minnesota Timberwolves would obtain small forward Rudy Gay and a future first-round pick from the Rockets. Finally, the Sacramento Kings would welcome point guard Goran Dragic to California's capital city.

Any time we dissect one of the currently-circulating NBA trade rumors, it is wise to look at the trade proposal from the viewpoint of the NBA league office. This particular transaction does not work under NBA trade and salary cap constraints, because there is too much incoming salary for the Rockets. Many times when a hypothetical trade fails this test, there is no easy way to tweak the offer to make it a legal trade, and the NBA trade rumor is consequently "busted."

In this case, the five-player proposal being shared and examined online has a fairly easy fix to the problem of matching salaries. Houston has at least three players who could be used as throw-ins (point guard Tyler Ennis, small forward Sam Dekker or center Clint Capela) to make this deal work under NBA guidelines. Since this is a simple adjustment that wouldn't change the overall structure of this potential trade, let's assume for now that the Rockets would be willing to include one of their low-salary players in order to satisfy the league office and make this rumored proposal a legitimate possibility.


On the surface, this trade doesn't seem to give the Miami Heat equal value in return for Goran Dragic, but the combination of Trevor Ariza and Darren Collison comes close. Ariza is a solid veteran who not only can produce on the floor, but would be a good mentor for some of the Heat's younger players. Collison and holdover Tyler Johnson would battle for the starting point guard duties, and would make a pretty sound one-two punch at that position.

The key for Miami is their supposed interest in dumping some salary and making a push in free agency next season. If these reports are accurate, then this swap would probably be enticing to Heat president Pat Riley. This isn't a no-brainer for the Heat by any means, but the rumored offer would help Miami accomplish their goals of salary cap flexibility and taking one step back in order to (hopefully) take two steps forward in the coming years.

Mike D'Antoni and the Houston Rockets apparently really want Ricky Rubio, and they would get him in this scenario by giving up Trevor Ariza and a first-round draft choice. That price is a bit expensive, but as we've discussed in this space before, teams are often willing to overpay for a star player and/or a player who is a great fit in their system. Ricky Rubio is nowhere near the shooter that Steve Nash was, but Rubio is a high-level passer in the mold of Nash and could run the Rockets' offense in a similar manner to what Nash did when he played for Mike D'Antoni. It appears that Houston would likely be on board with this deal, despite its drawbacks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves could be the first domino to fall in terms of this NBA trade rumor falling apart. There have been reports all summer and early fall that the team has been looking to trade Ricky Rubio to make room for rookie point guard Kris Dunn to take his spot in the lineup. However, more recent information suggests that the Timberwolves plan to wait until they know exactly how much they can get out of Dunn before considering any offers for Rubio. In fact, the Sporting News states that Minnesota has gotten a number of inquiries regarding Rubio's availability, but they have rebuffed those offers.

Alternately, the Sacramento Kings' part of this four-team transaction seems to be something they would do. Goran Dragic would be a nice upgrade at the point guard spot, which became a weakness after Rajon Rondo left the team to sign with the Chicago Bulls this summer. Rudy Gay not only wants out of Sacramento, but the team has acknowledged that he hasn't been a good fit with DeMarcus Cousins and the rest of the Kings rotation. This NBA trade rumor would surely get a thumbs-up from vice president of basketball and franchise operations (and former NBA player) Vlade Divac.

Current NBA trade rumors are hinting at a significant deal between the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings. The decision on this offer would be a close call for the Heat and Rockets, but one could see both teams agreeing to the proposed trade. The Kings would like to see this deal happen, but the Timberwolves wouldn't bite -- at least for now. But, if Kris Dunn plays well in a backup role this season and/or Ricky Rubio falters, Minnesota could very well come back to an offer like this with an entirely new attitude.

[Featured Image by Jim Mone/AP Images]