The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching, and the closer the highly-anticipated day gets, the more players are inevitably shipped on the trade block.
Numerous big name players have had their names in potential trade conversations throughout the regular season, and former Kentucky Wildcats have been no exception to trade speculation. Some of the most prodigious names in recent Kentucky history could be dressing for new teams in the near future.
The only question is, which ones?
Rajon Rondo has been making headlines all season long, but not the way he usually does. Since signing Rondo this offseason, the Chicago Bulls have been a team of turmoil and inner conflict with lots of speculation suggesting Rondo is the source of it. The most recent and perhaps most tenure-defining moment came in one of Rondo's controversial Instagram posts.
Rondo not only takes shots at the Bulls organization, but at his teammates Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade who had beforehand taken their own shots at the Bulls' younger players. This all seems like Rondo's ultimate attempt to get himself away from the Chicago Bulls, whom he has been riding the bench for since late December.
In the midst of Chicago's drama, the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers have been at crossroads as well. During their 2-6 stretch in January, LeBron James opened up about how he feels about the direction of the team, most specifically, the team's need of a true backup point guard.
The Cavs’ need of point guard depth and Rondo's disarray with the Bulls could very well mean the two will wind up together; if they can make it work. The Cavaliers are among the bottom of the NBA in terms of salary cap flexibility.
With their entire starting five making more than $100 million per year in contracts, Cleveland would have to move multiple pieces in order to make room for a potential Rondo trade. Considering the team just traded for sharpshooter Kyle Korver, it would take a lot of work in order for Rondo to become a Cavalier.
Other teams in need of point guard depth could make a move for Rondo. The question is, after all of the nonstop drama not only with the Bulls but also with his previous teams, will teams want that kind of person in their locker room? It remains to be seen, but depending on how the rest of his time in Chicago goes, Rondo could be staring at the end of his career very soon.
Nerlens Noel has been the center of trade talks in Philadelphia for some time now. The former Kentucky superstar has found himself in the shadows of Joel Embiid this entire season, causing even more speculation that he could be moved.
The value is obviously there for the 76ers to keep Noel for the long run, but with Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons in the mix we could very well see Noel in a new uniform before the trade deadline.
The team that should look to make a deal for Noel is the Boston Celtics. Currently playing with one star guard and barely and interior presence to be seen, Noel would be a great fit for a team that suddenly looks like a real threat to Cleveland in the East.
Still, it looks more likely that Okafor is going to be the one that ends up getting traded in the coming weeks, though it would be nice to see Noel land with a new team that could get him into the playoffs for the first time in his NBA career.
It seemed as if Brandon Knight had finally found a permanent home when he signed a four-year deal with the Phoenix Suns back in 2015. Sadly, it just hasn't worked out.
What was originally a dominating backcourt with Knight alongside Eric Bledsoe has since become the Devin Booker show, with Knight playing as a 6th man. Knight showcased 20 point per game potential in the 2015-2016 season, but the bench has been detrimental to his play in Phoenix.
Several teams, including them Cavaliers again, are looking on the market for quality guards to play. This means a team potentially trading for Knight is not out of the question. Whether a potential suitor needs a two guard or point guard, you can expect Knight's name to be on a ton of radars come the February trade deadline.
Former Kentucky star and current stretch four for the Toronto Raptors, Patrick Patterson has had his name floated around the trade block as well. Patterson has plenty of value to the Raptors as a key bench player and fill-in starter.
However, without a dominating power forward, the Raptors still see themselves as inferior to the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the Raptors hope to compete with the Cavs and potentially get to the NBA Finals, then a trade package for a star four man with Patterson included could be what's necessary.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is far from a definite trade piece for the Charlotte Hornets. The current starting small forward for the Hornets, Gilchrist seems to remain as a big piece to Charlotte's future beside All-Star guard Kemba Walker. While it seems as if trading MKG is far from consideration for the Hornets' front office, it may be something they think about as the All-Star break approaches.
After a hot start, the Hornets have struggled their way to a mere 24-40 record. While they remain in the current playoff picture in the East, it may not be for long if their struggles continue.
Depending on who they find valuable in the trade market, Kidd-Gilchrist could be a piece that's moved in order to bring in a player more suitable for Charlotte's team. Currently averaging less than 10 points per game this season, the former 2nd overall pick seems to be far from untouchable.
The trade deadline isn't until February 23rd, so there is still lots to be determined until that day. While in the end none of these players could be traded, it's all but assured that their names are being considered and discussed.