With the first full month of the NBA season nearly in the rear-view mirror, teams are going to start making better assessments about where they are, what works and what doesn't, and make decisions based on their judgment.
Another big part of having a growing sample size is that trade speculation will start to heat up. Unlike every other sport, the NBA is a rapidly evolving game that sees constant changes, in order for teams to start playing at the level they believe they should be.
Rumors provide plenty of fodder for discussion, so we are going to bring you the best ones from around the Internet and give you our thoughts on what they mean for your team as the season moves along.
Pau Gasol Moving Closer To An LA Exit?
With Mike D'Antoni's system still not producing the results the Lakers expect, and even though they have yet to see how things work with Steve Nash, Pau Gasol could find himself leaving Hollywood sooner rather than later.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers aren't shopping Gasol right now, but are going to wait at least a couple of weeks before making any concrete decisions.
The Lakers aren't actively looking to trade Gasol right now, The Times has learned, because they want to see what happens when Nash returns from a small fracture in his leg.
After that, there are two important dates: Dec. 15 is when teams can deal players they signed during the off-season, opening up about 20% more of the NBA's player pool; and Feb. 21, the league's trade deadline.
Which Team Needs To Shake Things Up To Compete This Season?
Gasol has been the odd man out in Los Angeles for the last two years. He always gets talked about in trade conversations, though the Lakers may have waited too long to get peak value for him. He is averaging a career-worst 13.1 points per game and shooting a career-worst 42.3 percent from the field.
The Lakers would be wise to move quickly if and when they decide to trade Gasol, before his stock drops any further. This team needs depth if it wants to compete for a championship. The Big Four, which have yet to really play together, are nice, but you need more than that in the Western Conference.
Amar'e Stoudemire Ready To Accept Bench Role
With the New York Knicks starting to fall back to earth after their 6-0 start, something has to change to give the team a spark.
Power forward Amar'e Stoudemire has yet to play in a game this season due to a knee injury suffered in preseason, but when he does return, he would be willing to come off the bench, according to sources who spoke with Ian Begley of ESPN New York.
All he cares about right now is helping the team and winning. He'd be fine with coming off the bench if that's what they want.
Stoudemire has not come off the bench in a game in which he was healthy enough to play since 2006 with Phoenix.
The Knicks need to find a spark off the bench to give their second unit a boost when Carmelo Anthony and the starting five need a break. Stoudemire isn't the explosive scorer he used to be, so his game appears tailor-made for a bench role.
Toronto Flirting With Mickael Pietrus
No team has been hit with as many injuries as the Raptors, who were already facing a difficult season due to a lack of talent. One of the best names available on the market is Mickael Pietrus, who has not played this season after spending 2011 with Boston.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Raptors are increasing their efforts to land a new small forward, with Pietrus being near the top of the list.
No signing done yet, but hearing injury-hit Raptors ramping up search for new SF, with Mickael Pietrus being strongly considered anew— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 28, 2012
Pietrus is a valuable bench player, though the Raptors might be forced to ask him to do more than that if he signs. He doesn't have a great shot, but is a pretty good scorer in limited stretches and can also grab rebounds.
Given all the problems the Raptors have right now, Pietrus would be about as safe a bet as anyone they could get.