5 NBA stars who need to be moved before Thursday's trade deadline

New York Knicks Media Day

With the NBA trade deadline approaching on Thursday, the speculation surrounding several star players continues to heat up.

After the New Orleans Pelicans traded for Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins earlier this week, many anticipate even more star players will be on the move before all is said and done.

Therefore, here are five stars to keep an eye on in the next couple of days as teams jockey for better playoff positions:

Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

Butler, a star forward for the Bulls, has been linked to the Boston Celtics in recent trade rumors. If the Bulls are indeed willing to sell at the deadline, Boston seems like a likely destination.

The Celtics have valuable expiring contracts, top draft picks and useful players to offer to Chicago in any potential deal, which could entice the Bulls to move their biggest star since Derrick Rose.

Butler, who is averaging 24.5 points per game this year, would be an exciting addition to a Boston team that desperately needs someone other than Isaiah Thomas who can create offense for himself.

New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

The trade rumors swirling around Melo have hit an all-time high in recent weeks as the Knicks have continued to implode both on and off the court.

LeBron James would like to see his friend come to Cleveland, but the Cavaliers don't want to give up currently injured forward Kevin Love in a potential deal.

However, if the Cavaliers don't pull the trigger on a Melo trade, the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics could also make a play at one of the best pure scorers in NBA history.

Paul George, Indiana Pacers

While it's been reported that the Pacers are looking to trade their 2017 first-round draft pick to get George some help in Indy, the team would be foolish not to listen to offers from other teams.

The Celtics are reportedly very interested in the Indiana star, but it seems as if they have a better shot of landing either Butler or Melo at this point.

However, the Pacers aren't going to win an NBA title with their current roster, and they don't have a lot of assets to offer on the trade market, so cashing in George for several valuable draft picks and some cap room could be the team's best bet to eventually return to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Los Angeles Clippers v Charlotte Hornets

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

Much like the Pacers, the Clippers aren't going to win a title with their current big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Therefore, it's time for coach/GM Doc Rivers to shake things up. The biggest return would come from dealing Griffin, who is currently averaging 21.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest.

The Celtics (of course), Portland Trail Blazers and maybe even the Washington Wizards have pieces that could entice the Clippers to move on from their current big three and try something else to compete with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference.

Derrick Rose, New York Knicks

Rose, the NBA's MVP in 2011, has been linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves (finally someone the Celtics aren't linked to!) this week, where he could potentially reunite with former coach Tom Thibodeau.

For the Knicks, the move to get rid of Rose, who wants a max deal next year, makes sense. For the Timberwolves, the motivation to make such a trade is less clear.

Though guard Zach LaVine recently injured his knee and will miss the rest of the season, Rose doesn't seem like the answer for a team full of young stars. However, if the trade is only a way to cut salary for next season (which would involve not re-signing Rose), it makes a little bit more sense.

Whatever happens between now and Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern time, there are plenty of options out there for teams looking to make a move either for this year or the future.

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