NBA Rumors: Hottest Speculation of the Moment

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2012

NBA Rumors: Hottest Speculation of the Moment

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    With Pau Gasol's name off the table and the team's quest for a point guard on hold, it seems like we may go a full week on the NBA rumor mill without incessantly talking about the Los Angeles Lakers.

    That's certainly a bummer for those who enjoyed watching the train wreck in Los Angeles. On a good note, the Lakers' two straight wins and lack of roster movement will allow other teams to usurp the speculative headlines.

    Expect those rumors to come in hard and heavy in the coming weeks. Most players who signed shiny new contracts in the offseason are now eligible to be traded, and there are still names like Anderson Varejao and Jose Calderon that simply will not go away.

    With that in mind, here is a look at all of the latest rumors flying around the Association. 

Charlotte "Open" to Trading Gerald Henderson

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    Last season, Gerald Henderson was just about the only consistently effective player on the Bobcats roster. Unfortunately, that hasn't translated to a second straight year, as injuries and the emergence of Jeffery Taylor have forced the former Duke star into a bench role.

    He's transitioned to that role well, averaging 13.2 points per game, but Charlotte would still be open to dealing Henderson, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears:

    Henderson averaged 15.1 points last season and seemed to be coming into his own. A foot injury early this season, however, forced him to miss 13 games. The Bobcats have since primarily started rookie Jeff Taylor instead and a league source said the team is open to trading Henderson.

    One has to wonder whether the Bobcats' interest in trading Henderson has more to do with his contract status than anything. A restricted free agent in the offseason, the 25-year-old Henderson can play two positions and is in line for his first (relatively) big payday.

    Taylor has certainly been no bastion of effectiveness—his 9.5 PER is by far the worst among players in Charlotte's regular rotation—but the coaching staff obviously believes in his development. 

    It'd be tough to see Henderson being the major piece of a deal, but if the Bobcats can get a protected first-rounder or if he's fodder as part of a bigger deal, it wouldn't shock me to see a move. 

Bargnani and Calderon a Package Deal, Injuries Holding Up Trade?

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    Expected to compete for a playoff berth in the preseason, the 2012-13 campaign has been a perpetual nightmare in Toronto. The Raptors are just 6-19 thus far, which puts them 13 games out of first place in the Atlantic Division and seven games away from playoff consideration.

    With general manager Bryan Colangelo in the last year of his contract, it's unlikely he survives if the Raptors continue to struggle. That's certainly why Toronto has been the most active team in terms of rumors, particularly involving Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.

    One problem: Bargnani's hurt, leaving the team in a state of limbo, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:

    Sources have maintained for weeks that former No. 1 overall pick Bargnani is available in tandem with the expiring contract of veteran point guard Calderon, but Bargnani is suddenly dealing with an elbow injury that is expected to sideline him at least three weeks.

    If, as Stein reports, the Raptors are insisting on pairing Calderon and Bargnani, one has to wonder whether they will find a partner. The two are being paid right around $20.5 million for the 2012-13 season, meaning it will be difficult to match salaries.

    A trade with the Lakers for Pau Gasol remains a possibility, but outside of that deal going down, Toronto might have to split its high-priced guys into different deals. 

Timberwolves Would Move Derrick Williams "In a Heartbeat"?

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    From No. 2 overall pick in 2011 to sparingly used bench player, that's been the life of Derrick Williams in the NBA. He's descended from a future superstar all the way to near bust in 20 months. 

    With Kevin Love manning the power forward spot and Andrei Kirilenko having a renaissance at the 3, it's hard to see Williams' role changing anytime soon. According to what one rival general manager told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, the Timberwolves may look to capitalize on what's left of Williams' value while they have a chance:

    They will move him in a heartbeat if they could. I don't think the coaches are that high on him. You have to get something for him now because the longer he sits, the more people think he can't play.

    Sounds like solid logic to me. There will be at least one team that thinks it can revitalize Williams and turn him into an uber-athletic stretch 4 in the Josh Smith mold.

    Williams also still carries some of the value of a former No. 2 pick. He played exceedingly well down the stretch last season and seemed to mesh with Ricky Rubio.

    Rick Adelman just doesn't seem to believe. It's probably best for both sides to move on at this juncture. 

Cleveland Called Minnesota About Anderson Varejao Trade?

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    According to 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson, the Cavaliers have been in contact with the Timberwolves to gauge their interest in Anderson Varejao:

    That hasn't stopped Kahn from answering the phone, though. League sources insist both Cleveland and Toronto have reached out in recent weeks. The Cavaliers are gauging interest in center Anderson Varejao, whom I'm told the Timberwolves like a lot. He's signed through 2015 at less than $10 million per season.

    It's not hard to see the appeal of this move for both sides. Varejao is in the midst of a career-best season at 30 years old, averaging career highs in points (13.8) and rebounds (14.6) per game and has an attractive contract. 

    He's also languishing on a 5-20 Cleveland squad that's going nowhere anytime soon. By the time Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and the remainder of the Cavaliers' burgeoning young core is ready to compete, Varejao will be 32 or 33 and on the down side of his career.

    Meanwhile, Minnesota seems ready to compete now. Kevin Love is on the verge of superstardom, and Rubio's return adds yet another offensive element to the roster.

    Seriously, who says no to a Nikola Pekovic, Williams and a first-round pick for Varejao trade? No one, that's who.

Kings Letting Market Dictate Tyreke's Value?

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    A popular name on the trade rumor mill for what feels like forever, Tyreke Evans will finally get an opportunity to end his time in Sacramento this offseason. Well, kind of. Evans is a restricted free agent in the summer of 2013, meaning the Kings have the option of matching any offer he receives if they so choose.

    Well, according to CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher, that's exactly what the team plans to do:

    The Kings, according to a source, are simply waiting for someone else to set the value of Evans in restricted free agency next summer. While no one can quite figure out how to best use Evans or what position he plays, he is a massive talent. The Kings know all that. They don't want to see that talent harnessed elsewhere. 

    So, it looks like we can throw some water on those trade rumors after all. As for what Evans would draw on the open market, that's an interesting question. Despite struggling with knee injuries all season, Evans has quietly morphed into an increasingly efficient player offensively and improving defender as well. 

    That's all despite the coaching staff stunting his growth by changing his role all the time. It will be interesting to see whether Evans ever harnesses his physical gifts. However, considering this news, it seems evident that the Kings are willing to make the financial investment to find out.