With the blockbuster trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors completed on Wednesday evening, one thing has become readily apparent: Business is about to pick up in a big way on the NBA rumor mill.
The league's trade deadline of Feb. 21 is three weeks away, but the Memphis Grizzlies' jettisoning of Gay should signal that teams aren't waiting around this season. Much like the Oklahoma City Thunder did with James Harden, Memphis decided on a course of action and made a swift move when it found an amenable deal.
That means the once smoke-and-mirrors world of NBA rumors could become an engulfing flame of roster shuffling over the next few weeks.
In turn, no longer can we ignore rumors and innuendo, but instead we must analyze the potential impact of potential moves.
With that in mind, let's take a look at all the latest rumors floating around the Association.
Hawks Now Expected to Trade Josh Smith?
There aren't enough phalanges in the greater Atlanta metro area to count the amount of times Smith has been on and off the trade block the past couple of years. The 27-year-old forward has fallen in and out of favor with the team numerous times this season alone.
Well, it seems the Hawks' attitude is far closer to the latter than the former and they're looking to make a move. According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, it's become the expectation that Atlanta will trade Smith by the February deadline:
Expectations are growing that the Hawks will trade forward Josh Smith, a source said. Smith has averaged 17 points, 8.6 rebounds. 4.7 assists and 2.1 blocks this month despite the trade speculation.
With Smith's contract expiring at the end of the season and his contentious nature giving him some noticeable red flags, one has to wonder how many teams would even be interested at this point. Hawks general manager Danny Ferry covets cap space and certainly wouldn't muck it up simply to jettison Smith.
On the basketball side of things, Smith's place with the current Atlanta roster is actually quite interesting. Though he's an integral part of the rotation and is undoubtedly the Hawks' second-best player, the team is only noticeably worse in scoring when he's on the bench. Smith is worth about 6.3 points per 100 possessions this season, according to NBA.com, but no other categories shift in a significant manner.
If the Hawks were able to land a score-first forward in a potential deal for Smith, it's theoretically intriguing to wonder whether they would descend precipitously in the standings.
Based on Spears' report, we may find out sooner rather than later.
Celtics Taking a Wait-and-See Approach Regarding Pierce Deal?
Though most will point to the Celtics' loss in last season's Eastern Conference Finals as the end of their title contention in the "Big Three" era, the final nail in the coffin was on Jan. 25. It was on that date that Rajon Rondo, Boston's best player and only consistent shot creator, tore his ACL and likely sent the team down a deep vortex of losing.
With the team clinging to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, there has been rampant speculation that the Celtics would blow up their roster.
Most of those rumors surrounded Paul Pierce, a Celtics legend and their most valuable asset on the trade market. Kevin Garnett has been fantastic in relatively limited minutes this season, but is on a contract that looks worse with every loss and will be 37 years old in May.
Pierce, on the other hand, is only under contract through next season and continues to stay effective for nearly 35 minutes a night, despite his advancing age. So with plenty of teams needing help on the wing and the Celtics likely heading on a downward path, many thought it was only a matter of time before Danny Ainge started wheeling and dealing Pierce.
Well, don't book your plane ticket yet, Paul. According to Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler, Boston prefers to wait and see how the team does after losing Rondo before making any rash decisions:
Boston’s view of the world has changed somewhat due to the Rondo injury and league sources say Boston wants to see how their squad handles life without Rondo for a few games before they decide whether to blow things up.
So far so good in Beantown. The Celtics are 2-0 without their star point guard, with an overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday and a drubbing of the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Eventually, though, losing Rondo will rear its ugly head. He's far too integral to Boston's offense (the Celtics were 11 points better per 48 minutes better with him on the floor last season, according to NBA.com) and Avery Bradley's shifting over to the full-time point guard spot won't help.
Does that mean Ainge deals Pierce in mid-February? Who knows. But it definitely means he should explore the possibility.
At Least 7 Teams in Running for Greg Oden?
Ever since word leaked that Oden was planning an NBA return, the former No. 1 overall pick has been an in-vogue topic of discussion around the league. The oft-injured center has had fans of nearly all 30 NBA franchises wondering if their team could be the one where Oden finally resurrects his career.
Based on a report from ESPN's Chris Broussard, it seems like nearly all of those teams are following up on the wishes of their fans. Per Broussard, the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers are the seven known teams that have been monitoring Oden's recovery:
San Antonio, New Orleans, Charlotte, Indiana and Dallas have been monitoring the rehab of Greg Oden and are in the running for his services, sources said Wednesday. Oden is preparing for a return to the NBA next season, with Miami and Cleveland earlier reported as the front-runner to land the 7-footer.
The appeal of Miami and Cleveland is quite obvious. The Heat are the defending NBA champions, while the Cavs are a burgeoning young team in Oden's home state of Ohio.
Oden also has the potential to be a huge asset for whichever team ultimately lands his services. The last time we saw Oden on an NBA floor (2009-10), he was rounding into shape and was seemingly on the route to becoming a dominant defensive force. According to Basketball-Reference, Oden was averaging 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes, giving the Blazers glimpses of the superstar he could become.
No one expects him to return at those levels. However, even if he's half of what he once was, he would make for a fine bench addition for a team competing for an NBA championship.
Either way, Oden should have plenty choices when (and if) he decides to return.