NBA trade market taking shape amid flurry of intriguing reports


The NBA's moratorium on transactions was tentatively set to expire on Nov. 16, just days ahead of the league's annual draft.

Meanwhile the 2020-21 season opener was scheduled for barely a month later, on Dec. 22.

The NBA will essentially try to squeeze an entire offseason's worth of transactions into a span of about five weeks, an unprecedented sprint set in motion by the suspension of the 2019-20 season because of the coronavirus crisis.

It's impossible to say how things will go given the uncertain economic climate, but there are some early signals.

While the free agent market has a few intriguing names, the trade block appears to be where the real action is.

A series of revelatory media reports this week, taken in total, seemed to suggest a very busy season of blockbuster swaps could be in the offing.

Here's the latest on who could be on the move, and where they might be headed.

Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets

A bombshell report this week said Westbrook "wants out" of Houston amid the uncertainty over the franchise's future. The same story said superstar teammate James Harden wants to stay in H-Town, although he is probably the more desirable trade target of the two.

Several teams including the Knicks, Clippers and Suns are said to be interested in acquiring a veteran point guard such as Westbrook. One report also linked him to the Charlotte Hornets.

James Harden, Houston Rockets

As mentioned above, Harden appears to be signaling his interesting in remaining with the Rockets, but at this point it's hard to rule out anything.

Many have naturally wondered if new Sixers exec Daryl Morey will want to bring Harden along with him to Philly as the team looks to move on from disappointing finishes the past couple seasons.

In addition to the Sixers, we've identified the Trail Blazers and Bulls as potential fits for Harden. Could the Nets be a dark horse in their quest to pair a third superstar with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant?

Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder

The veteran point guard has been the topic of trade buzz seemingly since the day the Thunder acquired him in exchange for Westbrook in July 2019.

Like Westbrook, Paul's age and contract are nothing to balk at, and there is a sense his best days might be behind him. But the 35-year-old looked rejuvenated as the clear leader of a surprisingly feisty OKC team that competed in a tough Western Conference.

The Suns were said to have engaged with the Thunder in trade talks for Paul, and a report earlier in the year suggested the Knicks might be interested in as well.

ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith dashed reports that Paul would be interested in "chasing a ring" with the LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers. Instead it sounds like Paul would prefer to return to the Clippers, Smith suggested during an appearance on ESPN's "First Take."

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

LaVine surfaced in a report this week suggesting the Dallas Mavericks had reached out to the Bulls about acquiring the dynamic combo guard. The Mavs appear to be interested in adding another All-Star-caliber player to join the lineup with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.

The Bulls' long-term plan under a new front office and new head coach Billy Donovan remained to be revealed ahead of the official offseason window, but they would probably get plenty of interest in LaVine if he is in fact available. Several teams have checked in about LaVine, the report said.

The Mavericks, Nets, Sixers and Clippers seem like logical fits as teams looking for a third star who can score the ball.

Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans

First came news that the Pelicans were involved in trade talks on Holiday, then reports about specific deals began to surface.

New Orleans is apparently seeking a younger player to join forces with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.

The Celtics were said to be interested in putting together a blockbuster swap that would involve trading their three first-round picks in the draft to move up, then flipping that pick to the Pelicans for Holiday.

New Orleans would need to send back a well-paid player to make the financials work -- which brings us to our next candidate.

Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics

Hayward unsurprisingly exercised his hefty 2020-21 player option, putting the Celtics on the hook for the tab -- unless they can unload him.

The Pacers are one team that has been consistently linked to the veteran small forward in the rumor mill. One reported proposal from Indiana would involve sending center Myles Turner back to Boston in exchange for Hayward.

The Pacers could reportedly be looking to move more than just Turner, too.

Victor Oladipo

Oladipo finally appeared to have broken out as a superstar before a devastating knee injury two seasons ago. He was uneven upon his return in the bubble in Orlando, and a recent report hinted at locker room discord.

The Bucks were also said to be keeping tabs on Oladipo, and the Nets look like a sensible fit on paper, as well.