The NBA trade deadline of Feb. 21 is fast approaching, which means that teams that are looking to improve will have their hands forced more in the coming days.
There hasn't been much of a splash aside from Rudy Gay's move from Memphis to the Toronto Raptors. But there are other prospective swaps that are generating plenty of buzz on the rumor mill.
Here is a projection of what moves are the most likely to happen in the latest reported scenarios.
Utah Jazz trade Al Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs
This is the most specific of all the rumors, and there is good reason for it. According to Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com, Jefferson is very likely to be headed to San Antonio:
I speak to a lot of plugged-in people on a regular basis.
Here is the latest they are telling me: The San Antonio Spurs are the front-runners to land Al Jefferson in a trade with the Utah Jazz – and they are frontrunners like Secretariat was in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.
Another source tells Sheridan that the Spurs and Jazz are on such good terms that it's practically "incestuous." A rather interesting description to say the least, but it highlights just how likely a deal is to go down given the willingness on both sides.
Jefferson is one of the best post players in the game, and needs a fundamentally sound team that plays good defense in order to mask his shortcomings.
That makes the Spurs a perfect fit, as Tim Duncan has reemerged as a strong defender. According to a recent piece by Bradford Doolittle on ESPN (subscription required), the 36-year-old veteran is the sixth-best interior defender in the NBA.
San Antonio would have to part with young assets in order to land Jefferson, but with the job the franchise does at bringing in fresh talent and the depth of the current roster, a move is definitely in the realm of possibility.
Milwaukee Bucks trade Samuel Dalembert
Let the speculation stir on this one. After Dalembert's historic performance last week in which he scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in just 27 minutes, his value saw an increase.
As ESPN's Marc Stein implies, though, the Bucks brass have been shopping him in trade discussions even before then:
Word is Bucks have been shopping Sam Dalembert thanks to emergence of Larry Sanders. Let's see if Sammy's 35 & 12 has impact on interest— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 6, 2013
An injury to center Larry Sanders on Tuesday night suddenly made the prospect of trading Dalembert a little less attractive for Milwaukee. Letting him go and losing Sanders—the NBA's leading shot blocker—would not have been enough to keep the front court respectable.
However, Sam Amick of USA TODAY reports that Sanders' injury isn't considered to be serious despite how bad things looked initially:
...According to a person with knowledge of the situation, fears that the third-year defensive specialist had fractured his back have been allayed and the injury is considered relatively minor.
Although Sanders had to sit out Wednesday's game against the Jazz, he should be back soon. Thus, Dalembert becomes a commodity that the Bucks can willingly part with—particularly given the demand for big men at this point.
Look for the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and others to possibly draw interest due to their thin or unproductive front lines.
Boston Celtics trade Kevin Garnett and/or Paul Pierce
There has been new life recently to the speculation that either of Boston's original "Big Three" members could be traded. Absent any other hard reporting, this is the best lead for a potential move out there.
Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that Pierce does not want to be part of a rebuilding project:
I mean, I really don’t want to be part of a rebuilding situation again. I just think at this point in time that’s something that would wear on me too much mentally that I don’t know what decision I may make if I have to. I may retire if I have to.
Pierce expressed that he felt the Celtics had enough talent on the current roster to win it all, even with recent injuries to Rajon Rondo and season-ending back surgery for promising rookie Jared Sullinger (h/t USA TODAY).
However, this Boston squad is pretty much in rebuilding mode right now as it is. The Celtics are sure to still be a tough out in the postseason—it's just a matter of making it there.
It may require moving Pierce to rebuild this team with younger players, although it would be heavily criticized by the fans.
Now onto KG.
Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe points out that the Clippers have upped the ante on the Garnett offer, which was initially rejected. He does note that no new negotiations have begun, though:
Further speculation had the Clippers beefing up their offer to the Celtics for Garnett, replacing Caron Butler with young center DeAndre Jordan to go with point guard Eric Bledsoe. But an NBA source said Wednesday the sides have not discussed any deals, much less specifics of a Garnett trade.
Garnett also rejected an offer that would have landed him with the Denver Nuggets before it even got truly rolling (h/t Denver Post), courtesy of the no-trade clause in his contract.
Incredibly, even without Rondo, the Celtics have continued to win and are still clinging to a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference standings. But should the wheels begin to fall off in the next week and a half or so, don't be surprised to see either of these marquee stars on the move.