With the NBA trade deadline less than a month away, the rumor mill has started churning stronger than ever before this season. Several teams have been mentioned in hypothetical trade scenarios, while there are also reports of some clubs that are currently discussing potential deals.
Here is a breakdown of the latest trade buzz regarding the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, and San Antonio Spurs.
Lakers Seek Draft Picks, Expiring Contracts In Any Offers For Three Youngsters
As always, the Los Angeles Lakers have been the most mentioned club in the latest NBA trade rumors. Despite their disappointing record of 13-27, head coach Luke Walton’s boys have consistently garnered the interest of fans and pundits alike.
With virtually no chance of entering the playoffs at their current pace, the team’s recent storyline has become more about preparing for the summer. Team President Magic Johnson has been vocal that they will try to acquire two superstar free agents in the offseason, and clearing as much cap space as they can is the team’s priority at the moment.
Thus, the Lakers are willing to trade three of their young studs – Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. – for draft picks and expiring contracts before next month’s trade deadline, according to Lakers Nation.
Clarkson and Randle had been in trade rumors since the beginning of the season with the arrival of rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma. However, Nance’s addition to the trading block is said to be “something of a surprise.”
The Lakers have a surplus of young players that all needed enough playing time to properly mature in the professional game, and Walton had struggled to provide equal opportunities for everyone.
Randle, in particular, was demoted to a bench role from being a full-time starter last season. His minutes went down from 28.8 per game to 22.9 this year, but he still managed to contribute the same numbers.
The report noted that getting draft picks and expiring contracts for any or all of the three “makes complete sense” for the Hollywood squad as they evidently do not want to acquire any long-term contracts. Also, the Lakers do not have a first-rounder this June, so getting one or some would be a bonus.
Bulls, Jazz Talking Nikola Mirotic-Derrick Favors Swap
Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic has also been in trade rumors all season after the punching incident with teammate Bobby Portis last October. The 6-foot-10 Spaniard ended up missing the first 23 games of the season before finally returning in early December.
Since then, the Bulls have somewhat improved on the court, but Mirotic and Portis’ locker room relationship has not. The conflict then triggered speculations that Mirotic will be traded as soon as he becomes available on January 15.
It should be noted that Mirotic has a no-trade clause in his contract, but the 26-year-old had said since December that he is willing to waive it just to get out of Chicago, as per the Chicago Sun-Times.
Recently, The Salt Lake Tribune’s Tony Jones reported that the Bulls are discussing a potential trade with the Utah Jazz. The deal would send Mirotic to Utah in exchange for nine-year veteran Derrick Favors.
According to Jones, Chicago requires a first-round draft pick along with Favors to complete a deal. The negotiations were said to be “past the preliminary stage and getting serious.”
A previous Inquisitr article said that Mirotic is “intrigued” by the possibility of playing under an “offensive-minded” coach like Quin Snyder. Meanwhile, Favors is rumored to be in conflict with Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s playing style, which means that a straight-up trade between the two would be a win-win situation for both sides.
Spurs Need A Wingman With Kawhi Leonard Out
San Antonio Spurs main man Kawhi Leonard has continued to struggle with injuries. The latest one is a partial left shoulder tear that had sidelined him in the team’s last two games.
Leonard has only played eight times this season, averaging 15.9 points, 4.3 boards, and 2.1 assists a night, the lowest since his third-year in the league. He managed to keep his 1.8 steals per game average, though.
However, Leonard’s struggle to stay on the court has reportedly forced the Spurs management to look for a temporary solution to their small forward woes.
FanSided‘s Sir Charles in Charge indicated that there are “a few” wingmen available in the market right now, specifically naming Evan Fournier, Kent Bazemore, Alec Burks, and DeMarre Carroll. However, the report noted that the Charlotte Hornets’ Nic Batum “would fit right into Gregg Popovich’s system.”
There had been rumors that the Hornets have placed Batum on their trading block as the team intends to “shed off precious salary cap space” at the end of the season, as per a separate Inquisitr article.
Batum is considered as a solid player at the wing position with enough experience to play alongside Popovich’s crew. He is also a former teammate of LaMarcus Aldridge with the Portland Trail Blazers back in 2014-2015.