Roster shakeups are sure to capture the spotlight as we enter the dog days of winter, but there are also some interesting personnel moves involving coaches and injured players that will change the fortune of franchises across the league in both the short and long term.
With the month of January drawing to a close, it's time to sift through the most intriguing nuggets from the NBA's rumor mill.
Note: All stats accurate as of Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The hottest name on the NBA's trading block over the last few weeks has been Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay.
Gay is an athletic specimen with an impressive wingspan, a complete offensive repertoire and all of the necessary tools to defend in isolation on the perimeter, so odds are there would have been a number of suitors for Gay's services.
However, on Tuesday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the Grizzlies agreed to a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sending several young players to the Cavs in what ultimately amounted to a salary dump:
The Memphis Grizzlies have completed a multiplayer trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, slicing more than $6 million off their payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold.
Memphis sent big man Marreese Speights, guard Wayne Ellington, guard Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick to the Cavs for forward Jon Leuer.
Speculation all along has pegged Gay as a potential casualty of the Grizzlies' luxury-tax troubles, but now that they have relieved themselves of several low-end contracts, it appears that Gay has a stronger chance of staying in Memphis through the remainder of the season.
Unfortunately for Gay, this move may just be a temporary fix until the Grizzlies can find a deal that is more suitable for the franchise in the long term.
Ever since the arrival of head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Lakers' fortunes—and in particular those of Pau Gasol—have taken a turn for the worse.
Gasol's time during the D'Antoni era has been plagued by injuries and subsequent demotions, both of which have been detrimental to his statistical output.
The Spaniard is averaging a career-low 12.7 points per game in 33.6 minutes per night (down four minutes from 2011-12), numbers that are sure to plummet some more now that he's been relegated to a reserve role behind Earl Clark (via ESPN's Dave McMenamin).
It's no secret that Gasol doesn't quite fit into D'Antoni's vision of an up-tempo offense that thrives on inside-outside action, one that has forced Gasol to play out of his comfort zone on more occasions than not this season.
Now, with his role looking cloudy, Gasol may be searching for a way out of Los Angeles.
According to ProBasketballTalk, Gasol did not mince words in a conversation with TNT's Craig Sager.
“Pau Gasol I talked to before the game,” Sager said. “He is not at all happy with the decision. He says, 'I have never been a role player in my life. I don’t like it right now.' I said, 'What about the possibility that maybe your time with the Lakers could be coming to an end at the All-Star break or the trade deadline?' He said, 'It certainly looks like a possibility to me.'”
On Monday, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the worst fears of Sacramento Kings fans when he reported that a deal between the Maloof brothers and a new ownership group led by Chris Hansen had been agreed upon, prompting a relocation to Seattle.
However, the most intriguing note to come out of this transfer of ownership may be this nugget reported by renowned hoops journalist Peter Vecsey:
Source says almost living lock Phil Jackson will become front office face of Seattle-bound Kings' franchise. Won't coach. Will mentor choice— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) January 21, 2013
After being passed over by the Lakers in favor of Mike D'Antoni, Jackson has hit the open market, and it appears as if Seattle's new ownership group may make a serious run at Jackson to help revive the Seattle SuperSonics franchise.
While rebuilding the franchise will take some significant time and effort, the addition of Jackson to the team's front office would be a phenomenal starting point.
Remember the Dwight Howard saga that took the NBA by storm this past summer? Howard was reportedly being pursued by a number of teams, with the Brooklyn Nets capturing the public's attention as the most intriguing, and arguably most realistic destination for the big man.
Ultimately, Howard would be dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, just a little over three months into Howard's first season in Los Angeles, there are rumblings that the Nets are pursuing Howard once again.
According to RealGM, Nets' general manager Billy King has toyed with several ideas in his pursuit of Howard:
According to sources, King was planning to contact the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to gauge their interest in a three-team trade that would send Kevin Love to the Lakers, Brook Lopez to the Timberwolves and Dwight Howard to the Nets. Other small pieces would need to be included, but the proposed trade was thought to be intriguing enough to start conversations in the Lakers front office that would force them to deal with Howard earlier than planned.
That idea, however, was shelved when Love was sidelined 8-10 weeks with a broken hand. The Nets believed the Lakers would be interested in Love, but not an injured Love, even if they’re facing missing the playoffs, according to sources.
It's difficult to envision a scenario in which the Lakers would be willing to part with Howard after merely a trial run with their prized offseason acquisition.
The Lakers have yet to see Howard at 100 percent, as his caliber of play has been underwhelming on multiple occasions, thanks in part to nagging injuries.
Despite not having point guard Derrick Rose active for the first half of the 2012-13 season, the Chicago Bulls have held steady, currently sitting in second place in the Central Division with a record of 24-16.
The Bulls' calling card has been their defense, which ranks third in the NBA, giving up a stingy 91.5 points per game.
However, the Bulls' offense sans Rose has left much to be desired, as the team has mustered just 93.8 points per game, coming in at 25th in the NBA.
The good news for the Bulls' struggling offense is that help may soon be on the way.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Rose is inching closer to a return, and full-contact practices are the next step in his rehabilitation:
In town all week with practices scheduled Tuesday and Thursday, coach Tom Thibodeau said Derrick Rose is "very close" to being cleared for full contact. Thibodeau said "it could" happen this week, another step in Rose's recovery from last May's left knee surgery.
While it would be unfair to expect Rose to return at anything close to 100 percent, his eventual comeback to the hardwood will be welcomed with open arms by the Bulls, as the league's most explosive point guard will attempt to key a Chicago surge deep into the postseason.
It's been quite a while since Greg Oden made any sort of profound impact on an NBA court, but a future filled with dunks, rebounds and blocks appears to be in the former Ohio State Buckeye's future.
According to Sam Amico of FoxSportsOhio, there is an expectation that Oden will latch on with a pro club this season and rehab in time to play in 2013-14:
Oden's agent, Mike Conley, has insisted that Oden is 100 percent and a future All-Star. Oden is currently taking classes at Ohio State, and while he's expected to sign with a team this season, it'd be for continued rehabilitation purposes only. He plans to actually play games next season. And with the way things are going, he will indeed be back in the league.
As we've seen in recent years, there's always room for talented, role-playing veterans on the league's elite clubs, and it's going to help Oden's case that he's still just 25 years old and ripe with potential.
Oden will likely have his fair share of teams to pick from once bidding for his services gets underway, and two of the most notable squads in need of frontcourt help are the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.