Top 5 trade candidates: Love dominating early season rumors
David Liam Kyle / National Basketball Association / Getty

The Houston Rockets officially shipped Chris Paul's monstrous contract along with a pair of protected first-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a younger, more athletic point guard in Russell Westbrook on July 16, 2019.

We've gone 151 days without a major trade since.

Something's got to give sooner or later, especially with Dec. 15 - the date players who signed free-agent contracts this past offseason become eligible to be traded - less than 24 hours away.

To help prepare you for a potential wave of transactions over the next few weeks and months, here are five players most likely to be traded after the league-wide trade restriction expires.

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers reportedly made Love available in trade talks on Dec. 6, although rumors surrounding the power forward date farther back than that.

In terms of where the remaining three years and approximately $91 million left on his contract could end up, the 31-year-old is supposedly interested in playing for his hometown Portland Trail Blazers.

While the franchise is seeking at least a first-round pick in return for Love, interested teams are also asking the Cavs to include a first-rounder of their own in a potential deal given Love's hefty salary, which only further complicates Cleveland's ability to expedite its rebuilding process.

Matching Love's $28.9-million 2019-20 salary in a potential swap with Portland poses a major obstacle, as well, considering the Blazers' lack of suitable pieces to send back in a deal. Sure, Hassan Whiteside's $27-million salary may offset Love's, but Portland likely won't view swapping its current starting center for a new starting power forward as moving the needle closer to playoff contention, especially after signing Carmelo Anthony, and with Jusuf Nurkic still on the mend.

Love could be exactly the type of player a competitive small-market organization that doesn't typically attract top-tier free agents is seeking. A fringe playoff team like the Phoenix Suns appear to be another fit, as long as the organization remains in the postseason mix.

Marcus Morris Sr., New York Knicks

There's no question Morris could help a contending team if the Knicks ship him out of town. He's also on an expiring $15-million contract, which only stands to increase his value as one of the top rental players available for prospective suitors.

The power forward is in the midst of his strongest season to date, averaging a career-high 18.6 points with a 52.5% effective field-goal percentage for the dispirited 6-20 Knicks. For a team looking to acquire a hard-nosed, veteran leader capable of manufacturing his own shot, look no further.

Three NBA teams believe Morris could garner a late first-round pick as part of a trade, according to SNY's Ian Begley. Further, organizations that believe Morris' addition would help them advance deeper into the postseason are the leading candidates to acquire the 30-year-old, anonymous opposing scouts and executives told The Athletic.

The 76ers and Clippers immediately come to mind as potential landing spots based on both teams' need for a reliable floor-spacer in the frontcourt, while the Jazz, desperate to turn around their season after a disappointing start, could use a dependable asset to improve their surprising lack of forward depth.

An interesting wrinkle in all this is that Morris appears reluctant to leave the Big Apple.

"I'm here (in New York) to try to help turn this thing around. I'm not really looking to get traded. That's my personal opinion," Morris said.

We'll have to wait and see whether he's afforded the opportunity to help usher in brighter days at Madison Square Garden going forward.

Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Trail Blazers are reportedly interested in going after the Thunder forward, who's in the final season of a three-year, $65-million deal.

The Italian marksman would fit in wonderfully on Portland considering the club's need for any forward depth it can get its hands on. It's worth noting Gallinari is a far less expensive option and more manageable trade partner than Love for the Blazers, too.

On a roster with two other massive contracts - Paul is owed $124 million guaranteed over the next three seasons, while Steven Adams will get paid $53 million through 2020-21 - Gallinari's $22.6-million expiring contract is Oklahoma City's most attractive trade asset by far.

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards

Bertans has arrived as one of the league's premier sharpshooters thanks to increased playing time, draining 46.5% of his 3-pointers on 8.6 attempts per game in his first season with the Wizards.

The stretch forward figures to garner significant interest among contenders if he's made available thanks to his floor spacing and $7.25-million expiring contract. Similarly to Morris, Bertans would fit in on a team like Philadelphia that's in desperate need for another perimeter threat.

Washington already owes Bradley Beal and John Wall nearly $213 million combined over the next three seasons - that's excluding their player options for the 2022-23 campaign which would add up to over $84 million combined on the books if exercised - and isn't close to contending, either, which makes the team signing Bertans long term appear even more unrealistic.

A former front office source told The Athletic he anticipates Bertans garnering between $15 to $20 million if he reaches the open market, so if the Wizards decide in the coming weeks they won't be offering a long-term deal, expect teams to quickly start making calls.

Andre Iguodala, Memphis Grizzlies

The 2015 Finals MVP hasn't played a single minute this season as he quietly bides his time in Memphis hoping to join a contender in the coming months.

The Grizzlies are apparently motivated to acquire a protected first-round pick in a deal for Iguodala and were previously in contact with four contenders (the Nuggets, Mavericks, Rockets, and Clippers) about potentially acquiring the forward.

It's clear there's a legitimate market for the 35-year-old veteran, which makes the Iguodala sweepstakes very likely to be resolved in the coming months; at this point, it appears to be more a matter of when a deal gets done, not if.

Top 5 trade candidates: Love dominating early season rumors
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