The NBA trade dealine is fast approaching -- February 8 to be exact -- and some teams are already trying to figure out how they're going to tackle one of the most exciting times during the NBA season.
Teams who think they're one piece away from competing are searching for that final piece that may push them over the edge, whereas franchises whose aspirations lie in free agency of next summer are looking to offload some of their heftier contracts to make things easier on the cap come free agency period.
Some teams have stayed relatively quiet up till this point, but there are four teams in the league, in particular, have been at the forefront of trade conversations for the past week or so. Join us as we break down some of the biggest storylines and rumors as we inch closer to Feb 8th.
Mirotic And The Bulls
Nikola Mirotic has had a tough start to the season with the Bulls.
After an altercation with teammate Bobby Portis that left Mirotic concussed and sidelined for weeks, the Montenegrin–Spanish player threatened to not come back to the organization. But after an apology from Portis, Mirotic returned and has been stellar for the Bulls this season.
Regardless of his performances this season though, Chicago wants to tank this year, and with the way Mirotic has been playing, that's not happening. Nikola is also adamant he wants to move on from the Bulls, and has listed the Utah Jazz as a potential trade destination, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.
"Mirotic has been intrigued with the Utah Jazz, whose coach, Quin Snyder, has a reputation for maximizing offensive talent."
The Bulls can't trade Mirotic until January 15th at the earliest due to his contract, so it'll still be some time before we see Nikola out of Chicago, but it looks extremely likely Mirotic will be out of the Windy City before the trade deadline.
DeMarcus Cousins Is A N0-Go
The case of DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans has been a curious one to say the least.
The pairing of Cousins and Anthony Davis in NOLA seemed exciting on paper, and the on-court product was just that; exciting basketball and statlines from two of the premier big men in the NBA.
So why on Earth can't New Orleans win games with these two?
With the lack of success beween the self-named 'Fire and Ice' duo, as well as DMC's impending free agency, many played with the thought that Cousins could be traded again at the deadline, just like he was last season from Sacramento to New Orleans. But that doesn't look like it's going to be happening, according to Adrian Wojnarowski:
"On Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the Pelicans have not been willing to listen to offers on Cousins, and the team wants to sign him to a new contract this offseason."
Depending on how the next month goes for the Pelicans, there's still a slight chance NOLA ships Cousins away if enticed with the right offer, but as it stands now, Boogie looks to remain in New Orleans.
The Thunder Want To Keep PG
Just like Cousins, the PG experiment in OKC hasn't been as successful as everyone had thought.
When the Thunder acquired both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to pair with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook in the same offseason, many predicted that the Thunder may be the ones to finally compete with the likes of the Warriors.
The reality of the situation was anything but to start the season.
Oklahoma City started off a dismal 15-15 in the first 30 games of the season and were struggling to keep up with the rest of the playoff pack in the West, despite the efforts of George on the defensive end.
Just like DeMarcus in NOLA, the lack of winning kickstarted the rumors, with many saying George would be leaving for LA after this season regardless, so why bother letting him walk for nothing?
But OKC still have hope in their star swingman.
"Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported the Thunder remain fully committed to keeping George in the fold in hopes of re-signing him this summer."
It's more than likely that OKC hold onto PG as they make a push for the top 4 spots in the Western Conference, but it's still a major gamble when you consider how strongly George feels about Los Angeles.
The Lakers Need Space, And They Need It Now
Speaking of Los Angeles, the Lakers are looking to be extremely active before the trade deadline arrives.
Everyone knows just how badly the Lakers are looking to pursue top talent in the upcoming free agency period, with the likes of Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and even LeBron James all on the Lakers' radar.
But to make some major moves next offseason, LA need to shed some salary cap space, and that could come at a major cost to their young core.
"Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported the news Monday, noting the Lakers have made Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. available in potential trades. Wojnarowski also wrote "there's a mutual desire to find something sooner than later" when discussing a possible Jordan Clarkson trade even though Los Angeles was previously hoping to wait until the end of the season."
Trading three core pieces of your young team doesn't sound like such a good idea, especially if it won't guarantee you a shot at the top free agents next season.
Trading the likes of Randle, Nance, and Clarkson would free up enough cap space to sign two All-Star talents next season, but it would be a major risk to take, and could set back the Lakers rebuild another three years if things don't go their way in FA in the summer of 2018.