The trade deadline is still three weeks away, but now is the time every NBA organization is sending out feelers and gauging interest for potential trade pieces. As the battle for playoff spots rages on, teams are left to decide whether to fuel up for a deep run or participate in the trade market to clean house.
The names of Paul Pierce, Zach Randolph and others have come up in recent rumors, and we’ll take a look at the latest on each player.
With Rajon Rondo out for the year with an ACL tear and Boston’s playoff chances appearing more and more bleak, there has been speculation that Boston may pull the trigger on a rebuilding effort that would send Pierce out of town. According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, the Celtics don’t want to be forced to deal the star forward:
Rudy Gay rumors... I don't think Boston really wants to trade Paul Pierce, but may have no other viable options for real change in the team— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 29, 2013
Without a lot of other options, Boston may have no choice. While Pierce was linked to a potential deal for Rudy Gay, that ship has sailed with Wednesday’s trade, leaving no concrete rumors of Pierce’s possible landing place.
As quoted by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Pierce doesn’t want to play in any other colors but green and white: "You know, I want to retire as a Celtic. That’s been my longtime goal. But it’s not in my control. The organization, they make their decisions, but it’s something I desire."
Whether Pierce is still a Celtic after February 21 remains to be seen, though a string of Boston wins certainly couldn’t hurt his chances of staying put.
With the Raptors bringing in new pieces from Memphis in Wednesday’s deal, Bargnani’s future with the team is very much in question. As quoted by ESPN’s Nick Borges, Bryan Colangelo knows there is interest around the league:
Andrea is a player that has definitely garnered interest. Unfortunately when he gets hurt that takes him off the market. That’s not to say we’re going to trade Andrea … He’s a unique talent, but sometimes a change of address is not bad. I’m not saying he’s asked for a trade, but he would certainly not fight or resist a situation if it was the right situation.
Right now there’s no assurances we trade Andrea. Right now, the goal and the focus is to get him back healthy on the court and let him contribute to this team and we’ll see where things go.
Bargnani is a talented big man, but he doesn’t typically play all that big. As Borges points out, he has been criticized for not wanting to play the post or play strong defense in the paint. Bargnani may have his shortcomings, but he won’t be dealt just to make a deal, as reported by National Post reporter Eric Koreen:
Colangelo told NBA TV he's shopping Andrea Bargnani. Has talked with agent about moving him, but won't just trade him to trade him.— Eric Koreen (@ekoreen) January 31, 2013
With Memphis acquiring power forward Ed Davis in the trade that sent Rudy Gay out of town, there has been speculation that Randolph could be next to go.
Randolph is due to make $17.8 million next season, but Sam Amico of Fox Sports envisions Randolph not being in Memphis by the end of the year:
Agreed. RT @jonesonthenba: My gut tells me Zach Randolph won’t be on the Grizzlies by end of next season— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) January 31, 2013
With Davis due to make just $3.15 million next season, Randolph’s contract looks much less friendly. He’s having a terrific season (15.8 points and 11.6 rebounds per game), but $17.8 million is a lot of money to have tied up in a contract, when Memphis has bigger needs at other positions.
Joe Kaiser of ESPN believes there are some good trade options for Memphis should they decide to move Randolph for a perimeter player, including J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo, Monta Ellis and Nick Young, but that’s purely speculation at this point.
If Memphis does decide to make a deal before the deadline, though, Randolph could be their best remaining trade piece.
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reported in this tweet that Hawks forward Josh Smith has drawn interest from at least one other team in the league:
The Suns are pursuing Josh Smith. They've had exploratory talks with the Hawks. They can offer a Marcin Gortat package: tinyurl.com/b7m34yr— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) January 31, 2013
Trade rumors have been littered with Smith’s name in recent weeks, and it’s not a surprise. Kyler notes that several teams would look to pursue Smith should the Hawks shop him:
RT @suuiluap: Nets are interested in Josh Smith. True or false? ---> I would expect every team to get interested if Atl decides to move him— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 29, 2013
If Smith is dealt, it will likely be to a team willing to sign the star to a long-term deal. Given his ability and production, Atlanta shouldn’t have any trouble finding a team willing to re-sign him after a deal. What the Hawks get in return would be the biggest factor, though, and nothing substantial has been reported as to what they need.