With the 2012-13 NBA regular season heating up, trade rumors across the league have started to pop up left and right.
Some of the biggest names in the NBA are rumored to be on the trade block, but just as it is every season, these trade expectations must be tempered. In reality, most of these stars won’t be moved.
That said, many of them aren’t exactly safe, either. These are the hottest trade rumors right now.
Josh Smith, Forward, Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks have yet to reach a contract extension with star forward Josh Smith, and the likelihood that he could hit free agency after his contract expires continues to rise.
Instead of letting him walk, the organization is starting to entertain the possibility of moving Smith now for fear of getting nothing in return for his services at season's end.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com is reporting on the possibility of a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for Smith, signifying that the Hawks are at least considering making a move:
Chatter about a Pau Gasol-to-Atlanta trade simply won't go away. It won't go away mostly because my ESPN colleague Bill Simmons, after hearing Magic Johnson suggest it on the set of "NBA Countdown," keeps throwing it out there like he did in this week's "BS Report" podcast with former Suns general manager Steve Kerr.
Only one problem.
Sources say that the Hawks, at present, have no interest in parting with Josh Smith and Kyle Korver even if the Lakers were willing to surrender Gasol. Or Smith and lesser parts for Gasol.
While Atlanta is completely right to shoot down the idea of Gasol somehow being equal to Smith, the fact that the team is listening to offers should open the floodgate for more trade possibilities.
Smith is a stud at both ends of the floor, and is someone a franchise could build around considering he is just 26 years old.
There is still a chance that the Hawks could retain Smith's services, but the former slam dunk champ will want a long-term deal whether he stays or goes.
Al Jefferson (Center) and Paul Millsap (Forward) Utah Jazz
With so much depth in the frontcourt for the Utah Jazz with Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, the talks of moving the expiring contracts of Jefferson and Millsap has already started.
Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com is reporting on the possibility that the Jazz will be shopping their two veteran big men:
There is an inevitability that both players will be shopped toward the trade deadline, but whether Utah actually pulls off a deal remains unclear, mainly because of how adamant they are that both players are keys to their playoff run.
The Jazz will have tons of cap flexibility and the ability to offer a fifth year in any new contract. The Jazz do have capable replacements waiting in the wings in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, so how the Jazz play this situation is worth watching, but it may not play out completely until the trade deadline on Feb. 21.
While the Jazz will likely be fighting for a low seed in the playoffs, the organization must start looking forward. If one or both of these stars are not planning on re-signing with the team, they must be traded.
Better to get draft picks and future prospects than to let a star like Jefferson walk at the end of the year. Utah's best move would be to sign one long-term and move the other.
Raja Bell, Guard, Utah Jazz
With the sheer lack of depth on the bench for the Lakers and the rapport between free-agent guard Raja Bell and new Los Angeles head coach Mike D'Antoni, the move to acquire Bell’s contract is a no-brainer.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting on the possibility of a deal between the Lakers and the Jazz:
With the hiring of Mike D'Antoni as coach, the Los Angeles Lakers are showing a renewed interest in trying to find a way to sign exiled Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell once his contract buyout is completed, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
As great as the superstars are that L.A. brought in, the team lacks depth. With a plethora of aging players that tend to be injury-prone, the Lakers need some more insurance.
Bell would be the bench boon that the team has been trying to find for months, and his outside game would give L.A. another weapon in D’Antoni's new system. If the Lakers can swing this deal, they will become even more dangerous.
As if that’s even possible.