With the NBA trade deadline a little less than a month away, the dormant coals of the trade rumor mill are about to be set ablaze. No longer are teams going to be asking for exorbitant prices for their woebegone stars, but instead will simply look to ship them out for the best offer on the table.
That means there will be moves, and plenty of them. If the first few months of the 2012-13 NBA season have taught us anything, it's that general managers and owners have less patience than ever and that leads to plenty of speculation.
Whether it's a blockbuster trade or even the return of a former No. 1 pick, the rumor mill is truly starting to heat up. With that in mind, let's take a look at all the latest rumblings from around the Association.
Lakers Reluctant to Trade Gasol Because of Howard's Impending Free Agency?
Earl Clark's emergence may have some in Lakerland clamoring for Pau Gasol's banishment to a bench role, but it doesn't look like Mike D'Antoni sees it what way. He told reporters before Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks that Gasol would reassume his starting position whenever he returns from a concussion, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
Something else that's not happening? A Gasol trade (yet). According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, the Lakers are reluctant to move Gasol, but not for the Steve Nash-related reasons previously reported.
Instead, the Lakers' reluctance to move Gasol comes from their fear that Dwight Howard could leave Los Angeles this summer, per Brenahan:
The Lakers have five more weeks to make a trade. Pau Gasol is staying ... for now. The Lakers are reluctant to deal him because of the unthinkable — Dwight Howard leaving several months later as a free agent. They don't want to go from two quality 7-footers to none.
"They're in a bind," said a person familiar with the situation.
Coming into the season, it almost seemed inconceivable that Howard would leave. The Lakers can offer an extra year and right around $25 million more than any other team, and Los Angeles certainly satiates his desire for a big market.
On the other hand, Howard also didn't expect to be 17-21 and languishing outside the Western Conference playoffs at the moment. And if Howard decides one year in the City of Angels is enough, Gasol isn't too bad of an insurance policy.
Grizzlies Backing off Rudy Gay Trade Talks (For Now)?
Once considered a building block in Memphis, Gay has seemingly become the odd man out in the team's future plans. With new ownership and management in place, the small forward has increasingly found himself in trade rumors despite the Grizzlies being a contender for the Western Conference championship.
Most of the speculation revolves around money. Memphis is looking to get out from under its luxury tax bill and Gay is seen as the most expendable asset the team has.
Unfortunately, according to Fox Sports' Sam Amico, it looks like the Grizzlies are unsatisfied with the offers they've received and are backing away from trading Gay—for now:
The Grizzlies like Gay, his 18 points per game and winning attitude. What they don’t like is the huge tax penalty that will result from his huge contract this summer. So the Grizzlies made some calls, found out what other teams might want for Gay, and apparently have given up. At least, it appears they have for now.
As someone who has been a proponent of the Grizzlies keeping Gay all along, this seems like a good thing. They weren't going to get equal value on the open market, and have a deep enough rotation to compete with any team in the Western Conference.
Despite the financials of the situation, anything Memphis stood to get in return would pale in comparison. While I'm not the one cutting the check, it's reasonable to expect the Grizzlies will stand pat during the season and make a move this summer if a better offer comes along.
Greg Oden Not Compiling a Team List Until He's 100 Percent?
When news broke that Oden was hoping to return to an NBA floor at the end of this season, the Internet went abuzz about his possible destinations.
Most of the speculation centered on the Miami Heat, but the Dallas Mavericks and others were also mentioned as interested suitors. As for Oden's preferred landing spot, that remains to be determined, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge.
In fact, Aldridge is reporting that Oden will only return at all if he's 100 percent healthy:
I think a lot of teams are going to take a look at Greg Oden next summer, but no one team tops his list, including the Heat. Oden is not even going to start compiling a list of teams until he is 100 percent healthy. If he can't get there, he won't come back. Too many false starts, one source with knowledge of Oden's plans said late last week. There is no timeline.
This seems like a purely logical and welcomed stance for Oden to have. He admitted to Grantland's Mark Titus last May that he came back from injury too soon with the Portland Trail Blazers, a fact that has fundamentally altered his career path.
At this juncture, there's no reason for Oden to come back at anything less than 100 percent. He has no contractual obligations and is finally free from the overwhelming pressure he faced in Portland.
Winning an NBA championship with a contender may be tempting, but finally being a healthy long-term contributor is far more important.