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HoopsHype: Nassir Little ‘a Name to Monitor’ in Vanderbilt Trade Talks

Michael Scotto says Little could be the prize of a Jarred Vanderbilt trade package.

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little is “a name to monitor” in trade talks between Portland and the Utah Jazz surrounding forward Jarred Vanderbilt, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Separately, the Portland Trail Blazers have emerged as a “strong suitor” for Vanderbilt, according to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little is a name to monitor in the trade talks, HoopsHype has learned.

Scotto reported Utah is seeking “the equivalent of a first-round pick” from teams hoping to acquire Vanderbilt (the same asking price is set for Jazz shooter Malik Beasley, too). Whether teams are willing to give that much up for Vanderbilt — or whether Little is equivalent to that value on the market — remains to be seen. Vanderbilt is on the second year of a three-year, $13.8 million contract.

Little is starting to find a rhythm this season after dealing with injuries for much of the year, averaging 5.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench, while shooting a career-best 40.8 percent on 3-pointers. At just 22, he’s on the first year of a team-friendly four-year, $28 million contract with lots of potential to raise his ceiling as a player. On that type of deal and already a fringe starter for Portland — not to mention Portland has struggled in recent years to roster forwards with size — one would imagine general manager Joe Cronin isn’t eager to give up Little. But Jazz executive Danny Ainge is known to drive a hard bargain.

Scotto’s recent trade intel piece also reports Portland has stiff competition in pursuit of Vanderbilt, including the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks. According to Scotto, the potential New York package centers around forwards Obi Toppin and Evan Fournier.

The Knicks and Jazz have had exploratory conversations surrounding Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, and draft pick compensation for Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, league sources told HoopsHype.

As reported in a recent HoopsHype NBA notebook, Utah is seeking the equivalent of a first-round pick to acquire each player. In these particular trade talks, Toppin would potentially be that equivalent for Vanderbilt with Utah seeking a potential first-round pick for taking on Fournier’s salary ($18.86 million next season and $19 million team option for 2024-25) and parting with Beasley, who has a $16.5 million team option for next season. Thus far, New York has been reluctant to attach a first-round pick to move off Fournier’s salary.

Just four days remain until the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline.