As the 2013 NBA trade deadline continues to draw ever closer, the speculation about potential roster shuffling is about to near its apex. While we're not quite at the mid-February peak just yet, there are plenty of names currently being discussed—some of which are on an All-Star level.
In particular, two names have continued to crop up of late: Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith and Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay. Though they're both awfully familiar to those who follow the underlying currents of rumormania, the latest rumblings may answer the question of whether or not they'll be headed out of their respective cities.
Along with Smith and Gay, there's also a former top-five pick that is being "heavily shopped" by his team. With all of that teasing out of the way, let's take a look at all the latest trade talk floating around the NBA.
Hawks Engaging in Trade Conversations for Josh Smith?
Suspended one game by the Atlanta Hawks for conduct detrimental to the team, it looks like Josh Smith has become the NBA's latest malcontent big man. Though the Hawks went on to win the game Smith missed, his suspension has seemingly reignited the trade winds surrounding the enigmatic forward.
Once thought to be goner during last offseason, Smith stuck around Atlanta and everything seemed to be going well. The Hawks were one of the Eastern Conference's biggest surprises early on, and Smith was the shining beacon of light spurring that great start.
Since then, the Hawks have descended and Smith has become an unhappy camper. According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, a meeting with Smith's agent was enough to get the team to consider trading its star player:
Smith's agent spoke with Hawks GM Danny Ferry on Wednesday to express his client's frustration with the team's recent slide; Atlanta had lost six of seven before a 109-95 victory over Joe Johnson's new team. Agent Wallace Prather stopped short of making a trade request, but multiple sources said the Hawks have engaged in some trade conversations regarding Smith.
General manager Danny Ferry is in an interesting predicament with Smith. One that's actually not dissimilar to the one he had with LeBron James during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If Ferry doesn't make a move, either to satiate Smith's desire to compete now or simply trade him at the deadline, then he risks losing him for nothing.
On the other hand, teams know Smith is about to hit the open market this summer, so Ferry isn't going to get a superstar haul in return.
In essence, it's the wait-and-see approach versus the instinct to act quickly. Ferry has right around a month to decide.
Derrick Williams Being "Shopped Heavily" by Timberwolves?
For the second time this season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are without superstar Kevin Love due to a hand injury. And, once again, the team has relied on former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to pick up the slack in Love's absence.
The results? Not so super. Over Minnesota's past five games, all losses, Williams has averaged a meager 10 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from the field. With the depleted Timberwolves in desperate need of some reinforcements, it seems they've begun the process of giving up on their 2011 first-round pick, per 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson:
Though Minnesota seems determined to get rid of Williams, one has to wonder whether the team would get all that much in return. Williams showed brief flashes of brilliance down the stretch last season, and there have been short-term glimmers of hope this year, but that's all they've been. Brief flashes and glimmers.
That's not enough for most teams to give up a valuable asset that would help Minnesota. If a team still believes in Williams enough to give up a young wing player, then the Timberwolves should pull the trigger.
If not, hold onto Williams and see if he can figure out how to harness his potential at the NBA level with Love out of the lineup.
Grizzlies Can't Get Star in Return for Rudy Gay?
Once viewed as a future superstar in the making by the Memphis Grizzlies, Rudy Gay has apparently become the franchise's most expendable man.
Though one might wonder why a team sitting fourth in the Western Conference would want to make any changes, the answer is quite simple: Money. The Grizzlies are currently over the luxury tax threshold, something that doesn't sit well with their new ownership group. Without shedding a little over $4 million between now and tax time, Memphis would set itself up for repeat-offender status in 2013-14 when rates go up.
That's where trading Gay comes in. Based on reading the tea leaves, he's seen as both a guy the Grizzlies can afford to lose and one that could bring the biggest haul from another team.
Well, after testing the market, it seems Memphis has found that other teams aren't that keen on acquiring Gay. According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Grizzlies are now unlikely to trade their star forward after being unhappy with the offers of other teams:
Unless the posture of potential trade partners changes in the next five weeks, there's a growing sense among teams dealing with the Grizzlies that they will hold onto Rudy Gay and deal with the problem around the draft or during the summer free-agent period.
While Memphis understandably doesn't want to pay the luxury tax, waiting has long been the most prudent move. Gay, while "expendable," is still a vital cog in Lionel Hollins' offense and a deep playoff run isn't out of the question.
With teams also tending to give up more in trades during the offseason, any trade involving Gay would be nothing short of a salary dump.
That's not exactly the way a new ownership group should ingratiate itself to fans.