With boundless intrigue both on the floor and off of it, the 2012-13 NBA season has provided one of the most memorable two-and-a-half month stretches in league history.
Don't expect that intrigue to change anytime soon.
The NBA's trade deadline is right around a month away, and as teams become more desperate to dump their unwanted assets, the rumor mill will spark a whole new topic of discussion.
We've already seen the trade of one superstar talent in James Harden right before the season, and the midseason shuffling seems like it could create championship-altering waves.
As of now, the trade rumor market is simply in the warming-up stages. But it's these initial rumblings that often lead to deals in mid-February.
With that in mind, let's take a look at all the latest trade buzz floating around the Association.
Bobcats Want to Deal for Gay?
Sitting fourth in the Western Conference and fully in contention for an NBA Finals berth, it's logical that the Memphis Grizzlies would be looking to add pieces, not subtract. However, logic seems to fly out the window when a team is facing the possibility of becoming a repeat luxury-tax offender.
With the Grizzlies sitting a little over $4 million over the expected threshold, they've been among the NBA's most active teams in trade talks. The most spoken-about name during those discussions: small forward Rudy Gay.
Once viewed as a future perennial All-Star, Gay has essentially settled into who he'll be at the NBA level. He'll score somewhere around 18-20 points, grab six rebounds and play solid on-ball defense just about every night.
That makes him a valuable asset for Memphis—just not at his maximum salary level. As the Grizzlies continue to shop Gay around like he's week-old deli meat, Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler is reporting that the Charlotte Bobcats have emerged as a possible suitor:
You can go ahead and count the Charlotte Bobcats as one of the teams that are "aggressively" pursuing Rudy Gay -- may not have enough— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 19, 2013
Other than adding a player with name recognition, one has to wonder why the Bobcats are pursuing a Gay trade so heavily. They drafted a small forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, with the second pick in the 2012 draft and he's been nothing short of phenomenal as a rookie.
Though MKG could guard the 2 or 4 position, he's nowhere near good enough of a shooter to play a guard spot and doesn't have the size to play power forward.
Adding Gay would create a roster redundancy for the foreseeable future—unless MKG is part of Charlotte's package to land the Grizzlies star.
If that's the case, well, expect the scotch sales in metro Charlotte to go skyrocketing in mid-February.
Heat Not Interested in Moving Bosh?
While there is usually an expected lull for returning NBA champions, folks in Miami have started to wonder whether the Heat have fallen completely asleep at the wheel. The team has a 6-6 record in its last 12 games, including frustrating losses to the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks.
Even the Heat's wins of late haven't been all that impressive. Since defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day, Miami has exactly one win over an above-.500 team—the Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors.
A popular trope last season before they won an NBA championship, this downward trend has led to rampant speculation about a possible shakeup in South Beach. As expected, the name being bandied about most is power forward Chris Bosh.
But just like last season, it seems the possible breakup of the Big Three is nothing but unfounded speculation. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Heat have no interest in moving Bosh:
Miami isn't prepared to part with Chris Bosh, not only in a bow to that daunting history, but because it's not exactly comfortable from a player-relations perspective to break up a star trio that famously plotted its move to South Beach in unison in the summer of 2010.
Of course they don't. The speculation about trading Bosh has always been silly and narrative-driven, mostly to give people an opportunity rile up some tawdry dissension in Miami.
Bosh is arguably Miami's second-most important player, who is setting a career-high in field-goal percentage (54.5) while playing wildly out of position at center.
He's a team player who seemingly isn't bothered by taking a back seat to Wade and James. If Bosh is a "problem," it's one that teams across the NBA should envy.
Nets Interested in Paul Millsap?
Perhaps the worst-kept secret in the NBA is that the Utah Jazz will trade Paul Millsap and/or Al Jefferson sometime before the deadline. Both are on expiring contracts and Utah is undoubtedly looking to usher in the Derrick Favors-Enes Kanter duo into the starting lineup.
With a cabal of teams looking for help in the middle, it's expected that the Jazz should be able to get a decent haul for both players, even on a rental.
As for the teams interested, that's obviously a developing story. All it takes is one injury to make a team willing to pay whatever general manager Dennis Lindsey desires.
With plenty of time for this situation to play out, Fox Sports' Sam Amico is reporting that the Brooklyn Nets may be interested in adding Millsap at the deadline:
Not "likely," but hear they might make play for Millsap at deadline. RT @brooklynnets11: Any of these likely to Nets? Nene, Boozer, Millsap?— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) January 19, 2013
Those who have a solid short-term memory should know that Utah and Brooklyn aren't strange bedfellows. The teams agreed to a blockbuster two seasons ago for Deron Williams and the deal seems to be a rare instance where both sides walked away happy.
In this case, it's difficult to see what Brooklyn has that Utah would want. The Nets seemed to be the only team that would touch Kris Humphries with a 10-foot pole this offseason, and most teams realize adding Gerald Wallace's contract would be a fool's errand.
In other words, there's nothing to see here, folks.