Pau Gasol isn't the only name that frequently pops up on the NBA's trading block. The NBA features noteworthy buzz all around the league at this point in the season.
Teams are slowly figuring out exactly what they have at this point in the season. As each game passes, squads slowly realize whether they're a contender or pretender, sending general managers to the phone in search of their team's missing link.
Let's take a look at three buzzworthy items on this week's NBA rumor mill.
Anderson Varejao is on the Block
Varejao is one of the league's most underrated players, even if he doesn't play the prettiest game.
The Cavaliers big man is currently averaging 14.3 points and 14.8 points per game, but he's on the block, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
The Cavs, sources say, want multiple young assets in return for the 30-year-old, who is averaging 14.3 points and 14.8 rebounds and possesses a very manageable contract that calls for Varejao to receive $9.1 million next season with a $9.8 million team option in 2014-15.
The report mentions the Oklahoma City Thunder as a team with the assets to make a deal happen, but mentions that the team has had very little interest so far, but he would fit for sure.
Really, Varejao could fit anywhere. Most teams could benefit from his defense-first mentality, and he's an absolute vacuum on the glass. Come playoff time, he would be extremely valuable to any contender that lacks even a little bit of height.
Cleveland is smart to demand a high price here. The Cavs need to build around Kyrie Irving, and Varejao is one of the few things that makes this team watchable right now.
Pau Gasol to Return in One Week?
According to Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Bresnahan, Gasol could return on Dec. 22 vs. the Golden State Warriors:
The four-time All-Star continues to deal with knee tendinitis, sitting out his seventh game Friday against Washington.
Using the standard for NFL injury reports, Gasol declared himself doubtful for Sunday's game against Philadelphia, questionable for Tuesday against Charlotte and probable Dec. 22 against Golden State.
Whether you're a fan of Gasol or not, this is big news. The Lakers have lost five of seven games without the big man in the lineup, making it seem like his presence is important to the team's overall success.
The team has been forced to start Antawn Jamison in Gasol's absence, which weakens the team's second unit. Adding Gasol into the fold would, at least, give the bench another capable scorer to work with.
The Lakers are a mess to say the least. Getting Gasol back wouldn't be nearly as important as getting Steve Nash back, but it's still a step in the right direction for Mike D'Antoni's maligned squad.
Will the Jazz Deal Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap?
The Utah Jazz lack in some areas, but the frontcourt isn't one of them. With Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter all under contract, something has to give.
ESPN's Marc Stein seems to think that it might before the season is over:
It's a working assumption in front offices all over the league that the Jazz will trade Jefferson or Millsap for a front-line point guard at some point in the next 10 weeks.
The handful of teams consulted by ESPN.com this week were split. Some nominate Millsap because he's not at Jefferson's All-Star level. Some nominate Jefferson because Millsap's skill set theoretically meshes better with Favors and Kanter.
This makes total sense for the Jazz. Not only do Favors and Kanter both need to develop and mature, but Mo Williams isn't the point guard of the future. He's played great so far, but he would be better suited as the leader of the team's second unit.
Deciding which player to deal isn't as easy, though. Millsap is a ferocious rebounder, and he can play multiple positions. Jefferson is more skilled offensively, but he's not a good defender, and he's expensive.
The Jazz have a lot of the pieces that a team needs to contend in the Western Conference, but they need a guard who can take over. Making that happen and allowing the young forwards to develop would be ideal for the team in the long term and in the short term.