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NBA Trade Rumors: Dec. 19–25

Several NBA teams are itching to make deals. Find out which players may be on the move.

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we started a weekly feature looking at trade rumors from around the NBA. Here is this week’s latest trade talk from NBA insiders.

Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel continues to be a focus of trade discussion. It was rumored earlier in the week that the 76ers would remove Noel from their rotation completely after he didn’t play in Philadelphia’s win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. However, he played seven and 10 minutes in their next two games. Noel has been discussed as a possible trade target for the Trail Blazers. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders added the Toronto Raptors to the mix:

There are a couple of teams to watch on the Noel front, the biggest being the Toronto Raptors. It is unlikely that the Raptors mess with their team chemistry in moving a core player, but if the 76ers want some of the Raptors’ young players or non-core parts, Toronto would have interest in Noel, according to sources close to the situation. It’s also believed the Portland Trail Blazers have eyes on Noel, but they may be unwilling to give up much in a deal.

As David MacKay wrote on Tuesday, Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton was the subject of some trade rumors this week. ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweeted that Washington and New Orleans had reached out to Denver about the 25-year-old. However, on Wednesday reported that their sources denied that the Wizards had any interest in trading for Barton. For what it’s worth, Barton told the Denver Post that he wants to stay with the Nuggets.

There have been similarly mixed reports this week about the availability of Miami’s Goran Dragic. On Thursday Chris Mannix of The Vertical said that the Heat guard is open to a trade and that Miami has already had some discussions with at least one team about moving him:

Dragic is open to a trade, league sources told The Vertical, and Miami has pursued that option. An early season swap with Sacramento for Rudy Gay fell apart when the Heat sought Darren Collison, sources said, and teams that have probed Miami about Dragic have found the Heat open to offers.

Dragic is having his best season with the Heat, averaging 19.3 points and 6.6 assists per game while shooting 42.4 percent from three. If Miami—who, at 10-21, sit ahead of only Phildaelphia and Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference—wants to rebuild, then trading the 30-year-old Dragic might be a good way to acquire younger talent or more draft picks.

However, a Miami Herald article on Friday refuted Mannix’s report. The article quotes Dragic as vehemently denying that he is open to a trade. “I totally deny that. That’s not true. That’s bull [expletive],” he said after the Heat’s Thursday night win over the Lakers. Dragic reiterated his desire to stay in Miami in a more measured tone the next day to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

I feel comfortable in Miami. I feel great. We have a young team. I really got connected with the young guys, and I feel young, too, with them, and I would like to stay here. [The trade rumor]’s kind of bothering me, but I understand this is part of the business.

While Dragic may prefer staying in Miami, he might not have a say in it. Heat president Pat Riley spoke about rebuilding on Miami’s local WQAM radio this week: “In this league, you need flexibility. And we have that, so we’re able to make a move quickly. We’ve rebuilt before and we’re going to do it again quickly,” Riley said. It’s unclear whether Riley plans to keep Dragic as a part of that rebuild or will use him to acquire other assets.

The Orlando Magic have been part of a lot of discussion this week. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders mentioned on Monday that Orlando—along with the Oklahoma City Thunder—are in the market for a legitimate scoring threat. Speaking with Zach Lowe on The Lowe Post podcast on Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that “Orlando wants to trade [Nikola] Vucevic and they're kind of done with Elfrid Payton.” Windhorst mentioned the Magic as a possible destination for Dragic, and said that Sacramento, Portland, and Orlando have “been talking for weeks.” Steve Kyler later tweeted that the conversation Orlando and Sacramento were having involved Kings small forward Rudy Gay.

Windhorst also said that Sacramento “has been talking to Phoenix about Brandon Knight since the summer.” The 25-year-old point guard is averaging 13 points in 24 minutes per game off the bench for the Suns. Last year as a starter he scored 19.6 points per game.

Some other smaller notes from around the league this week:

  • Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets are interested in available bigs.
  • Memphis Grizzlies beat writer Ronald Tillery tweeted that the Grizzlies are listening to teams who are showing interest in Tony Allen.
  • Steve Kyler also wrote this week that “Rudy Gay continues to be the name most NBA insiders feel will be moved.”
  • Windhorst in his podcast with Zach Lowe said that Washington and Minnesota are both looking for a veteran, and that “Minnesota has been pretty active recently.”

Zach Lowe, in that same podcast, predicted fireworks at the trade deadline. Time will tell if there will be an active trade market this NBA season, but there are certainly plenty of rumors out there. Check back next week for the latest.

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