NBA trade rumors have started heating up. Hawks forward Paul Millsap and Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo are the first big names we’ve heard.
The NBA trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 23, but rumors of deals that could precede the big day have already begun to circulate. Two big names are reportedly candidates to be moved, albeit for very different reasons.
Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap and Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo are officially part of the 2016-17 rumor mill.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Mark Stein report that the Hawks are not openly shopping Millsap but have begun listening to offers for the 31-year-old All-Star.
Per ESPN.com, the Hawks are worried about losing Millsap in free agency without compensation. He has a $21.5 million player option for 2017-18 which he will inevitably turn down, and Atlanta doesn’t want a repeat of what happened with Al Horford this past summer.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Hawks are -12.5 points per 100 possessions when Millsap is on the bench so far this season. It’s going to take a lot to pry him away.
The Denver Nuggets were in serious negotiations for Millsap last season, and the Toronto Raptors are interested in his services. Both teams have a multitude of young talent to offer.
The Hawks will reportedly also take calls on Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha. Like Millsap, Korver and Sefolosha will be free agents this summer.
Korver is having another signature season. He’s knocking down his threes at a 41.2 percent clip with a true shooting percentage of 60.2 percent. The 35-year-old isn’t the player he once was, but still has value to a playoff contender.
Sefolosha, even at age 32, is still one of the league’s best defenders. He leads the NBA in steal percentage and is fifth in defensive box plus-minus.
The Hawks have struggled to score in the post-Horford era and are just 17-16 entering the new year. Their current core of players isn’t going to get them over the hump, so maybe a little shake up is just what they need.
Rajon Rondo is a different situation entirely.
He was benched for the Bulls loss on Saturday to the Milwaukee Bucks and told reporters he was going to consult with Chicago’s general manager Gar Forman about his situation.
“Gar and I will talk,” Rondo said. “We’re going to talk tonight and we’ll go from there.”
Will Rondo speak to management about finding a new team if he continues to ride the pine?
“Absolutely,” he said.
Rondo was benched in the second half of Friday night’s loss to the Indiana Pacers for Michael Carter-Williams.
Rondo talked about the meeting he had with head coach Fred Hoiberg before Saturday’s game to discuss the change in the starting lineup.
“[Hoiberg] told me that I’ve been looking slow the last five games,” Rondo said. “He asks me all the time, ‘Am I healthy?’ I responded, saying that I think this is the best I’ve ever felt this part of the season, so we’ll see how it goes.”
After leading the league in assists in 2015-16 with the Kings, Rondo had high hopes for this season. With Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler playing next to him, there were thoughts of Rondo being the starting point guard on a playoff team again.
In 29 games, Rondo is currently averaging 30.2 minutes, 7.2 points, 7.1 assists, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on a slash line of .369/.327/.542.
The second season of Rondo’s contract (2016-17) is non-guaranteed so moving him could be easier than we think.
As of now, Rajon Rondo’s just a guy making $14 million to sit on the bench.