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NBA Trade Rumors: Dec. 12-18

NBA trade murmurs are rising around the league. Read about them here and stay informed.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

As Eric Griffith outlined in his trade FAQ article on Thursday, December 15 marked the unofficial beginning of the NBA trade season. It’s the date when most newly signed players become eligible for trade. This week we’re starting a new weekly feature looking at trade rumors from all across the league.

On Monday, flagged the Pelicans as one team likely to make a trade. They specifically mentioned Omer Asik as someone who could be moved:

Omer Asik, the rim-protecting big man who has not been nearly as impactful in the Big Easy as he was in Chicago, is very much available a league source has told

Asik is averaging 3.2 points and 5.9 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game—his lowest since joining New Orleans before the 2014–15 season. For his career Asik has averaged 5.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. His best season was the 2012–13 season when he averaged 10.1 and 11.7, respectively, for the Houston Rockets.

Other trade talk this week was focused on what teams are looking for rather than specific players. On Tuesday’s ESPN’s Truehoop podcast, Brian Windhorst reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves are “starting to call around and looking trade for frontcourt help” and the Orlando Magic are “calling around looking for point guard help—they need offense just in general.” The Wolves added some frontcourt players this off-season by signing Jordan Hill and Cole Aldrich, but neither has played much.

The Magic, meanwhile, might be looking to move Mario Hezonja, 5th overall pick in the 2015 draft, as part of a deal. Hezonja has regressed in his second year in the league. The 21-year-old is shooting 31.6 percent and has struggled to get playing time. ESPN’s Marc Stein interpreted recent reports that the Magic have considered sending him to the D-League as evidence they would be willing to part with him in an effort to acquire some better scoring.

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, discussed improving his team with trades in an appearance on Boston’s local WBZ NewsRadio. When asked about the Celtics’ biggest need, Ainge said:

I think offense, late-game offense I think is important. I think that's always one of the most challenging things to find. … I think that's why we do hear a lot of talk about transcendent players. And I think that those kind of players that can finish games against great defense are the most difficult kind of players to find in the NBA. So I think that rather than positionally, I just think that whatever position those players are in, those are the most challenging players to acquire.

The Celtics have been hit with a variety of injuries as key starters Al Horford, Jae Crowder, and Isaiah Thomas have all missed games. While he said these injuries won’t change his approach to the trade market, Ainge also recognized the need for patience: “I think the next 25 games will be really telling of who this team really is.”

Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of The Vertical discussed several trade rumors in a podcast on Wednesday. Wojnarowski shot down any notion of the Pacers moving star forward Paul George:

I know teams have been calling Indiana and asking about Paul George and the answer is “Absolutely, positively no. He’s not available, there's no conversation to be had, don't even make offers to us. We're not moving Paul George.” … Their mindset in Indiana is to continue to try to build around Paul George and Myles Turner and try to find a combination around them that will get Paul to want to re-sign and stay there.

However, he added that “the Pacers are very much open for business with almost anyone else.”

Wojnarowski also mentioned that the Kings “have not shown any inclination yet on DeMarcus Cousins.” Instead, he lists Rudy Gay as a player that Sacramento is “going to have to move” before the trade deadline. He lists Oklahoma City, Indiana, and Houston as teams who have shown interest in Gay. He specifically mentioned that the Thunder “had some very serious talks with Sac.” about trading for Gay before Cameron Payne's injury.

Several teams are looking to shore up weaknesses. To keep up on the “who” and the “what,” check back in next week for the latest NBA trade rumors.