Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest NBA Trade Rumors
Attempting to rationalize the NBA's trade rumor mill is a convoluted endeavor, but not an impossible one.
Though anonymous sources and conflicting reports make it difficult to assess the validity behind almost every report, common sense allows us to delineate the genuine from the fabricated. And believe me, there's no shortage of forged information plaguing the basketball sphere.
Somewhat unfortunately, it's going to get worse.
Now within one month of the league's trade deadline, the chopping block is only going to get thicker, and proposed scenarios (however unlikely) are going to run amok. Thus, it's important that we get a head start while we can.
Which players remain available and are they headed where we're being led to believe they're headed?
Few accords of significance are going to be struck with any time to spare. But new musings surface every day, even on previously mentioned athletes.
And knowing what to expect is the key to sustaining your sanity in the coming weeks.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 20, 2013.
Rudy Gay Still on the Chopping Block?
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Fact or Fiction: Fact
According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Memphis Grizzlies are still open to trading Rudy Gay:
The chatter involving Memphis forward Rudy Gay isn't going away, and league sources say the Grizzlies will take another stab at moving him before the trading deadline.
Memphis' willingness to part with Gay remains as strong as it was since Zach Lowe of ESPN's Grantland originally reported it.
I won't pretend the Grizzlies are keen on watching his 17.6 points per game and understated defense walk out the door, but he's owed $34.3 million over the next two years and more than $50 million if he exercises his player option in 2014.
With Memphis looking to avoid paying any luxury tax penalties, Gay's salary and subsequent presence is potentially a luxury it can't afford.
Are the Grizzlies going to give him away for nothing?
Absolutely not (sorry, Boston), but until Memphis' cap situation is resolved or it elects to pay the piper, Gay will remain readily available.
Dwight Howard Headed to Hawks for Al Horford?
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Fact or Fiction: Fiction, fiction, fiction
Excuse me while I adjourn to my mansion on the Moon to tend to my pet centaur.
Yeah, this one's that kind of crazy.
As a Laker hater, I'm scared they'll move Howard to ATL for Horford/Korver (and keep Pau). That's their best move. Pau is still an elite C.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 20, 2013
This is the type of garbage we need to look out for. Pure speculation is often taken as truth, but this couldn't be further from a fact. It's not unlike the suggestion that Los Angeles should deal Howard in favor of Dirk Nowitzki.
The Lakers aren't going to deal the 27-year-old Howard. That much should (yet it doesn't) go without saying. Even amid his struggles, he remains the only player in the league to be averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
Dwight is Los Angeles' future. He's the one that the franchise will build around long after Kobe Bryant has laced up his sneakers for the last time.
So yeah, he isn't going to Atlanta. Or anywhere else for that matter.
Brooklyn Nets Looking to Pull off Another Blockbuster Trade?
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Fact or Fiction: Fact (kind of)
Just because it's a fact, doesn't mean it has a chance of happening.
Per Peter Vecsey formerly of the New York Post, the Brooklyn Nets are among the long list of teams interested in star forward Rudy Gay.
Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico also named Brooklyn as one of the organizations pursuing the Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap.
I didn't think so. And why should you be.
What team wouldn't jump at the opportunity to acquire Gay or Millsap, especially when they have no assets to offer.
The Nets don't have any enticing assets outside of Deron Williams. All of their stars (Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson) are all being paid more than most teams would care to take on. Even Kris Humphries' $12 million salary is a turnoff.
Yes, Brooklyn found a way to trade for Deron. And Wallace. And Johnson. But they don't have the assets or financial flexibility to make such a move now.
So don't hold your breath waiting for them to pull the trigger on a deal that will never materialize.
Paul Millsap a Hot Commodity?
USA TODAY Sports
Factor or Fiction: Fact
Speaking of Paul Millsap, ESPN.com's Chad Ford reported the Jazz are still likely to move either him or Al Jefferson (or both) by the trade deadline:
The Jazz are as secretive an organization as there is, and they've been tight-lipped about their trade plans this season. But virtually every GM in the league believes the Jazz are moving one of their two big men -- either Jefferson or Paul Millsap.
If we are to believe Sam Amico's report that various teams are pursuing him (in this case we should), then it becomes clear Millsap is among the hottest of commodities currently available.
Amico noted that the Nets, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks are among the teams with interest in the versatile forward. I wouldn't count the Houston Rockets out either.
Millsap is an unrestricted free agent upon season's end, and the Jazz are stocked with talent in the frontcourt. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter waiting in the shadows, the possibility of both him and Jefferson bolting during free agency is very real.
Much like the Grizzlies' approach to Rudy Gay, don't expect the Jazz to just give Millsap away. He's a talented young big man who can score from anywhere on the floor, and he's a much better defender than he is given credit for.
While interest in Millsap is high, though, don't expect him to be moved anytime soon. Utah isn't about to tinker with a playoff-caliber roster until it absolutely has to. And right now, it doesn't have to.
Which means his ever-growing list of suitors must take their place in line and hope for the best.
Pacers Anxious to Move Danny Granger?
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Fact or Fiction: Fiction
I get it, the Indiana Pacers are winning without Danny Granger, but that doesn't mean they don't need him.
Indiana is currently first in points allowed per game (89.3), but is second to last in points scored (91.5). Granger and his 18.7 points a night led the team last year, so he'll inject some instant offense into a less than potent attack. He's also a capable defender as well, and thus, unlikely to disrupt the Pacers' chemistry on that end of the floor.
Yet, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, that doesn't matter:
Granger has missed the entire season with a knee injury, but the Pacers are eyeing his return in late January or early February. If they can get him back into the swing of things quickly -- and get his trade value up -- expect them to try to flip him fast now that Paul George has replaced Granger as the alpha dog of the team.
I won't deny Paul George has been a bright spot for Indiana, but Granger is on a reasonable contract, so dealing him upon his return should be out of the question. I mean, $27 million over the next two years seems like a lot, but when you look at Rudy Gay's deal ($34.3 million over the next two), Granger's is a bargain.
Let's not neglect to mention that as talented as Granger is, the Pacers won't be able to get full value in return. By the time he steps foot on the court, we'll be staring down the barrel of the trade deadline, which isn't enough time for him to return to form.
So yeah, it's a nice idea Mr. Ford (it's really not), but it makes little to no sense.
Oh, and it's just not going to happen.
Hawks Shopping Josh Smith?
USA TODAY Sports
Fact or Fiction: Fact
Josh Smith's situation with the Hawks is a complicated one.
Though Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Smith's agent had stopped short of requesting a trade after a series of losses, all signs point to this marriage ending.
Not only has Atlanta failed to embody anything more than mediocrity during Smith's tenure, but according to ESPN.com's Chad Ford, the Hawks have been fielding calls for the tumultuous forward:
Smith has been on the trade block for several years, but the Hawks always pull back at the last second. Once again Smith is the talk of the NBA after he was thrown out of practice Tuesday and suspended for Wednesday's game against Brooklyn. His agent says Smith is frustrated, but hasn't demanded a trade.
The Hawks have been fielding calls, but have been reluctant to trade him because they believe Smith's presence in Atlanta could be a powerful lure for Dwight Howard this summer.
Yes, there's a difference between "fielding" and actively shopping, yet with Smith continuing to make waves and Atlanta's chances of acquiring Dwight Howard nearly nonexistent, I don't doubt the Hawks are doing their due diligence in the background.
Will they finally trade him?
That much remains to be seen. After all, his 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game are tough to give up.
Knowing that they stand to bite the bullet this summer should they fail to pull the trigger on a deal now, though, gives the Hawks plenty of motivation to facilitate what I consider inevitable.
Zach Randolph on the Move?
USA TODAY Sports
Fact or Fiction: Beyond fiction
Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD reported that the Grizzlies were considering trading Zach Randolph to the Houston Rockets.
Done laughing? OK, good. Let's continue.
Not only is Randolph 31 and owed more than $34.3 million over the next two years, but he's underwhelming on defense and can't run the floor very well. Plus, his price exceeds $50 million over the next three years if he picks up his player option in 2014.
Even if Randolph was traded, Houston of all places makes little sense. All the Rockets do is run; Randolph doesn't. Even if the team was willing to trade off on its pace in favor of defense, Randolph doesn't defend.
Also, who are the Rockets supposed to give up to make the salaries match here. Call me crazy, but I think a package of James Harden, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin is off limits.
If that's not enough, Chris Vernon of ESPN 92.9 FM in Memphis rendered the rumor false:
Grizzlies source on ZBo to Houston trade rumor: "Hilarious.For who, James Harden?"— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) January 21, 2013
Toss in the fact that even Kyler admits the Grizzlies would prefer not to deal Randolph, and you have as flimsy a rumor as there is.
One that was likely concocted using not just anonymous sources, but also nonexistent ones.