NBA trade season has arrived, and a number of star players could potentially be on the move before the Feb. 21 deadline.
From the East Coast to the West Coast, rumors are swirling, names are being mentioned and deals are being made, highlighted by the winter's first mega deal, a three-team trade sending Rudy Gay from Memphis to Toronto.
Here we'll break down some of the rumors floating around and project the ideal landing spot for each star.
Portland Trail Blazers big man J.J. Hickson is playing sensational basketball this season, but because he'll become a free agent this summer, he could soon be on the move.
CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes reported the following regarding Hickson's future last month:
Portland Trail Blazers 6-9 power forward/center JJ Hickson has been receiving exploratory interest from a handful of teams looking to potentially swap for his services before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, a source close to the situation told CSNNW.com.
Hickson is averaging 13 points and 10.8 boards per night for Portland, but the Blazers are currently on the outside looking in on the playoff race out West.
Ideal Landing Spot
Hickson's skill set would be welcomed in Boston, where the Celtics rank second to last in the NBA in rebounding (39.8 RPG). Plus, in Beantown Hickson would be able to contend for a postseason spot, as the East is much less competitive as the West year after year.
The C's have already lost point guard Rajon Rondo for the year to a torn ACL, and need all the help they can get right now. It would be an added bonus that Hickson is only 24 years old.
Rumor has it that Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith won't be in Atlanta for much longer. The 27-year-old will become a free agent this July and he wants to sign a max deal, according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
This is all that matters right now about Smith, specifically regarding his tenuous future with the Hawks: His contract is expiring and his asking price for a new one is going to be high. It's going to hit the ceiling. It's why his days in Atlanta may be numbered.
Smith is averaging 16.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for the Hawks this season, but the team looks poised for another early playoff exit rather than a run to the NBA Finals.
Ideal Landing Spot
For Smith, the best landing spot this season would be in Phoenix. The Suns are headed for the lottery and would be able to sign him for the max money he covets this summer once he becomes a free agent.
In addition, Phoenix would likely be able to team Smith up with another star next season according to HOOPSWORLD's Alex Kennedy:
If the Suns trade for Smith and re-sign him over the summer, they could have as much as $20 million in cap space still left over, assuming all of their current options are declined and next year’s cap sits at $59 million as projected.
Smith would get a fresh start in the desert, where he would be the team's No. 1 option and its highest-paid player.
Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans is one name that could very likely be on the move before this February's trade deadline.
Here's ESPN NBA insider Marc Stein on Evans:
A couple of teams consulted have volunteered the notion that Kings GM Geoff Petrie is ready to move Evans, but you have to wonder how much shot-calling Petrie can do at the minute.
The future of the Kings franchise is anything but certain at the moment, and with changes coming, Evans could be soon be calling somewhere else home.
Ideal Landing Spot
The best potential destination for Evans would be Philadelphia, where he would be back at home helping one of the league's worst offensive teams light up the scoreboard. He would also be better suited to reach his full potential under head coach Doug Collins.
As far as scoring help is concerned, there's no question that the 76ers need it. Only Washington, Indiana and Memphis are averaging fewer points per game than the Sixers this season (93.3 PPG).
Evans, who can score in bunches, is averaging 17.8 points per game for his NBA career. Although his production has decreased steadily since his rookie season in 2009-10, a change of scenery would no doubt energize the 23-year-old backcourt star.
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