Right now is the time where NBA teams are making final decisions about where they are headed down the stretch. It can be a scary time, but also an optimistic time for everyone around the Association.
The postseason push can make teams panic and make random moves that will hurt them in the long run. It can also cause teams to evaluate where they are and make smart decisions to position themselves better for 2013-14 and beyond.
As the trade deadline approaches, here are the latest rumors from around the NBA.
The Lakers Minus Pau Gasol = What?
Even though he wasn't exactly Mike D'Antoni's favorite player for a long time, Pau Gasol proved how valuable he can be for the Lakers this year when he was inserted back into the starting lineup recently. He led the team in scoring in wins over Minnesota and Detroit.
However, the injury that Gasol suffered against Brooklyn on Tuesday is reportedly going to keep him out 4-6 weeks.
Sources told ESPN Los Angeles that the Lakers have no idea if Gasol will need surgery or not.
Now the onus falls on Dwight Howard, with his ailing shoulder, to be the big man this team needs in the middle to get things going. Kobe Bryant is telling Dwight Howard that it is time to start playing through the pain.
Gasol was the engine that was making this mess of a season look better for the Lakers. Without him, who knows if Bryant will continue to pass up shots and dish the ball with that safety net around?
This has been a circus season for everyone associated with the Lakers, yet everything just seems to be falling apart when it seems like they build a little momentum.
Al Jefferson to San Antonio?
The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the NBA, yet no one seems to be taking them seriously as title contenders because the assumption is they are too old and slow to keep up with the likes of, say, Oklahoma City in the western conference.
Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com is reporting that the Spurs are looking to make a splash this trade season by landing Utah's Al Jefferson.
Here is the latest [sources] 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.
Those teams are practically incestuous, they are on such good terms internally,” one NBA source told me Wednesday.
What would be the biggest surprise?
That would certainly be one of the most surprising moves. The Jazz are currently sitting in seventh place in the western conference, so it wouldn't seem to make sense that they would trade their leading scorer and rebounder to the best team in the conference.
But as Sheridan also reports, Jefferson will be a free agent at the end of the season and they want to get something for him. Sheridan also mentions that Enes Kanter is ready to step into a starting role.
The Spurs have been great in the regular season for the last five years, yet they have no championships to show for it. Acquiring Jefferson would certainly make them more formidable in the postseason than they have been lately.
The Celtics and Clippers not talking shop?
One of the hot trade rumors has the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers discussing a trade that would send Kevin Garnett to Hollywood. However, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reports that there have been no conversations between the two sides for anyone.
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.
With the Celtics winning five straight games after Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL, they might be rethinking their approach to the trade season. That would be a mistake, as they are not serious contenders without their star point guard..
The Clippers, who currently have the No. 3 seed in the western conference, could use more frontcourt help. Adding Garnett, who is averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, could give them a lethal combination when paired with Blake Griffin.
As we move closer to the deadline, I think you will start to see the Celtics seriously entertaining offers for players. But right now there is no reason to sell before teams start to panic and make the biggest possible offer.