Usually an exercise in rampant speculation and unrequited rumors, the 2013 NBA trade deadline looks like it could be coming with more wheeling and dealing than any year in recent memory.
Though it could be argued that the Grizzlies could have gotten a better deal, Memphis wasted little time trading Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors—a move indicative of the attitude throughout the league. Uncertainty is boundless, starting with the bottom teams and stretching all the way to the top of the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Deals aren't just likely—they're certain. Over the next couple of weeks, teams' attitudes will take shape and we'll see them answer the infamous "contender or pretender" question.
Before they make that fateful decision, though, those same teams need to put feelers out and see whether the market will bite. And that, my friends, is how the rumor mill will continue churning.
Here's a look at all the latest rumblings floating around the Association.
Clippers Not Pursuing Kevin Garnett?
Sporting News writer Sean Deveney set the internet ablaze on Sunday, reporting that the Los Angeles Clippers had contacted the Boston Celtics about a trade for Kevin Garnett. The deal reportedly centered around small forward Caron Butler and backup point guard Eric Bledsoe, who is coveted by plenty of teams throughout the league.
Well, don't go out and get your Garnett-Clippers replica jersey made up just yet. According to the Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner, the Clippers are not currently pursuing a trade for Garnett:
The Clippers are not pursuing Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett despite what has been reported, according to NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Furthermore, the Clippers’ front office has not had any conversations with Boston’s front office about a rumored deal in which L.A. would use back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe and small forward Caron Butler as the centerpieces to acquire Garnett, said the officials.
This rumor being shot down shouldn't exactly come as a shocker. Garnett is one of just four NBA players who have a no-trade clause, giving him the right to veto any move, and he doesn't seem in a hurry to leave Boston.
What's more, HOOPSWORLD's Steve Kyler reported Tuesday that Danny Ainge has not seriously considered trading Garnett.
Basketball-wise, the potential move also made little sense. The Celtics have their own coveted combo guard in Avery Bradley, and unless they plan on trading Rajon Rondo, the point guard spot isn't opening up beyond this season. Bledsoe is a valuable asset, but Boston is one of the few teams that doesn't seem like a fit.
As for the Clippers, the benefits to adding Garnett are obvious. He's a veteran warrior—someone who would undoubtedly increase their NBA title chances.
But adding Garnett would also put Vinny del Negro in a situation where he would have to bench DeAndre Jordan, who is 24 years old and has been a regular starter for three years. That's not ideal for a team batting for the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.
The deal was a nice thought, but always seemed far more feasible in NBA 2K13 than real life.
Shawn Marion and Vince Carter Both on the Block?
After starting 11-11 and giving hope that they could beat the odds to make their 13th straight playoff appearance, the Dallas Mavericks' 2012-13 season has been on a steep decline. They're just 20-28, including a paltry 7-12 record when Dirk Nowitzki is in the lineup.
That's led some to speculate that the Mavericks could be buyers at February's deadline. Mark Cuban is arguably the NBA's most competitive owner, and recently said that the "bank of Cuban" was open.
Well, it now appears that the bank is hoping another team makes a withdrawal. According to USA Today's Sam Amick, the Mavericks will look to get rid of old money, specifically Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, if their downward spiral continues:
Keep an eye on Dallas, as rival executives believe the Mavericks will look to unload some of their older money if they keep losing (aka Shawn Marion, who is owed $9.3 million in the last year of his deal in 2013-14, or Vince Carter, who is owed $3.1 million in the last year of his deal in 2013-14).
While neither player even closely resembles who he once was, Carter and Marion have continued to be useful players. Carter has reinvented himself into a role player who busts his hump on the defensive end while still creating for himself on offense. Dallas is better on both ends with him on the floor and over 10 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the bench, per NBA.com.
Shockingly enough, the opposite is true for Marion. Though he's averaging 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, the Mavs are over 10 points per 100 possessions better with him off the floor than on. Marion hasn't reinvented his game in the same way as Carter and is noticeably slower when defending perimeter players.
Teams may be wary of both considering their age and contract situations, but if Dallas is essentially slapping a clearance sticker on both of them, a desperate contender could bite.
Pacers Willing to Move Danny Granger, Rockets Interested?
Perhaps we could call the Indiana Pacers the Bizarro Mavericks. Like Dallas, Indiana started the season 11-11 and faced a crossroads without its superstar. The Pacers responded by reinventing themselves into the NBA's best defensive team and are now a mere 3.5 games away from having the Eastern Conference's best record.
They've continued to do this without Danny Granger, who is expected to return from a knee injury in mid-February. With Paul George taking over as the primary scorer and emerging as an All-Star, the Pacers have quietly been receiving inquiries for Granger's services, according to Fox Sports' Sam Amico.
Among those interested suitors is the Houston Rockets:
Houston is one team reported to have a keen eye on Indiana forward Danny Granger. The Pacers aren’t totally against keeping the 29-year-old forward, who has missed all of the season with a knee injury. But following the emergence of All-Star Paul George, they are taking and making exploratory calls.
With plenty of wiggle room around the cap and a roster full of young talent, Houston is a potential suitor for just about every big-name player on the market. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wants another star to pair with James Harden, and he's constantly active around the February deadline.
I'm just not buying this one though. Granger is a good player, but he's also 29 years old. He doesn't fit with Houston's young core of players, is under contract for $14.02 million next season and wouldn't do much at all to solve the Rockets' defensive woes.