Though the hirings and firings of the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have dominated the back-page storylines throughout the 2012-13 NBA season, the ringing in of the New Year will shift that paradigm.
Instead of the latest Phil Jackson movement, the rumors will now shift heavily in the direction of trades. Contending teams have seen more than enough of their rosters to evaluate where needs are most desperate, while others have seen enough to know they're not very good.
As February's deadline approaches, these rumblings will start heating up and deals will come at an ever-increasing rate.
With that in mind, let's take a look at all of the latest trade rumors from across the NBA heading into the new calendar year.
Bobcats Interested in DeMarcus Cousins
By now, we all know that the relationship between Cousins and the Sacramento Kings organization (particularly coach Keith Smart) could be a whole lot better. Though both parties can try playing nice and saying Cousins' suspension was just a short-term wake up call, it's far more indicative of a bigger chasm.
Still, the Kings don't appear interested in trading their troubled big man. However, the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones appeared to indicate they would listen if a team made a Godfather offer:
For the record, I've been told by the Kings repeatedly they won't trade DeMarcus Cousins. But if they get an offer they can't refuse....— JasonJones (@mr_jasonjones) December 31, 2012
It appears at least one team is thinking about making that huge offer for Cousins. According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, the Charlotte Bobcats could be interested in making a run at the 22-year-old forward-center: "The Bobcats could make a run at trading for DeMarcus Cousins. They have young players and as many as three first-round picks next summer, a source said."
That's certainly an interesting proposition. The Bobcats would likely have to dangle their unprotected first-round pick, which could be No. 1 overall, along with one of the other picks and someone like Kemba Walker to get a deal done. And even the Kings taking that type of deal seems questionable.
Without including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte probably doesn't have enough pieces to make a deal happen at this juncture. Still, if Sacramento ever gets desperate, the Bobcats do have some intriguing ammo.
Rockets Unwilling to Trade Royce White?
Speaking of ugly situations, White's frustration with the Houston Rockets seems to be nearing the unsalvageable phase. The rookie forward recently declined his assignment to the D-League and has publicly ripped the Rockets organization for its handling of his anxiety issues.
Here is part of White's latest statement, which said Houston was essentially only publicly supporting him, per NBA.com's David Aldridge:
Royce White says he won't play for Rockets' D League team, citing "unsafe" atmosphere of team officials making mental health calls.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) December 30, 2012
At this point, White's act has to be wearing awfully thin for the Rockets. He's a guy yet to play a meaningful NBA minute, but has bullishly poked the franchise just about every step of the way.
While I would never make light of his condition, the trade rumors floating around about White are understandable. Nevertheless, Fox Sports' Bill Reiter is reporting that the Rockets are unwilling to trade their first-round pick:
Sense around NBA is Rockets will likely wait out Royce White. Several league sources tell me Houston won't cede any of his value in trade.— Bill Reiter (@foxsportsreiter) December 31, 2012
As someone who fell in love with White in the pre-draft process, I understand Houston's hesitance. But if some team was willing to offer a first-round pick, trading White could be something worth considering.
Bargnani a "Lock" to be Traded, Lowry Possibly in Package Deal?
Though Andrea Bargnani still doesn't have a set return date from his elbow injury, the Toronto Raptors' forward-center has been the source of a never-ending stream of rumors lately. Bargnani has struggled mightily throughout the 2012-13 campaign, and the Raptors have soared back into relevancy with him out of the lineup.
That was enough to make a source tell ESPN's Marc Stein that the 27-year-old Italian is a "lock to be moved." But even more interesting is that Kyle Lowry, not Jose Calderon, has emerged as the most likely pairing with Bargnani:
One source close to the situation said Friday that Bargnani remains "a lock to be moved." That naturally depends on finding a taker for the underachieving Italian forward, but Lowry's contract shouldn't be too hard to attach to a trade, valued at $5.8 million this season and with only $1 million guaranteed of the $6.2 million he's owed next season.
That sound you hear is a collective groan out of the Great White North. Lowry, a near All-Star last season with Houston, was acquired in the offseason to be Toronto's point guard of the future. He has an extremely cap-friendly contract and has been spectacular in the 18 games he has played this season.
Calderon, on the other hand, has an expiring contract and his recent play may spark a pretty decent contract in the summer. Still, though the Raptors are slightly better with Calderon on the court, it shouldn't be enough to make them change the long-term plans.
Getting rid of Lowry over Calderon is the type of short-sighted situation one would expect from Bryan Colangelo, who is in the last year of his deal and is clinging to his job. A Bargnani-Lowry pairing might happen, but it's not in the best interest of the franchise.