Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest NBA Trade Rumors Around the Association

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

Playing Fact or Fiction with the Latest NBA Trade Rumors Around the Association

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    With NBA trade deadline merely weeks away, the Association's rumor mill has reached the point of explosion.

    Names continue to be tossed around, scenarios are proposed incessantly and games of "will they or won't they" are being played at an alarming rate.

    Often lost in a 24/7 news realm is the truth. As speculation runs rampant and the number of anonymous sources seemingly multiplies, just about anything can be reported. But that doesn't mean just about anything is going to happen.

    Mutual accords are hardly easy to concoct, bringing the merit of every rumor that traipses its way into the public eye under question.

    To that end, not all reports are facades. Some have legitimate grounds to be explored and bought it into.

    Deciphering the latter from the whimsical is an arduous task, especially with hearsay at its peak.

    Yet it is possible.

     

    *All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.

Nuggets Making a Push for Kevin Garnett?

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    Verdict: Fiction

    I totally buy into the notion that Kevin Garnett doesn't want to play for the Denver Nuggets, but I reject the one that implies Denver was interested in him at all.

    Though Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post maintains that Garnett is everything the Nuggets need and someone they have inquired about, I'm hardly sold.

    Garnett does give the Nuggets someone who can, you know, actually score in the post and his defense would be welcomed, but he just doesn't fit with Denver.

    The Nuggets are already struggling to find minutes for Timofey Mozgov and, while they would bench Kosta Koufos for Garnett in a heartbeat, his presence only thickens what is already a positional logjam.

    Smart money says that Denver would attempt to unload one or more of its bigs in favor of Garnett, but the smarter coin knows the Boston Celtics won't have interest in what the Nuggets can offer.

    No packages built around Mozgov or Koufos would be worth it, Kenneth Faried isn't going anywhere and JaVale McGee is a headache Doc Rivers isn't about to commit to.

    So while Garnett's no-trade clause does give him veto power, he won't have to exercise his right because it's less than unlikely the Nuggets are pursuing him at all.

Spurs Interested in Al Jefferson?

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    Verdict: Fact

    The San Antonio Spurs are a smart team, so their interest in the Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson should come as no surprise.

    Per Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com, the Spurs are currently the favorites to land Jefferson, who will become an unrestricted free agent after this season:

    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.

    Here’s why, followed by a how.

    “Those teams are practically incestuous, they are on such good terms internally,” one NBA source told me Wednesday.

    Believe it or not, the "incestuous" comment has plenty of merit. Spurs assistant general manager Scott Layden is fresh off an extended stay with the Jazz, and former San Antonio assistant GM Dennis Lindsey currently works closely with Utah GM Kevin O'Connor.

    In other words, these two organizations are like proverbial family.

    Outside of their personal connections, a Jefferson deal still makes sense for both sides.

    Despite being relatively silent, you just know Utah is going to trade one or both of Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Both are set to become free agents and the Jazz need to usher in the era of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.

    Sending Jefferson to the Spurs does keep him in the conference, but it allows Utah to grab hold of some much-needed backcourt help in Patty Mills, another solid backup big in Tiago Splitter and probably an expiring contract in Stephen Jackson. Oh, and draft picks. Can't forget about those draft picks.

    For the Spurs, Tim Duncan's latest scare should have the team, well, scared. At 36, it's becoming increasingly clear he's not going to play forever and San Antonio would thus welcome the 17 points and 10 rebounds Jefferson can put up a game.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of Jefferson's defense, but the Spurs are no stranger to covering up defensive liabilities. And they've done so while becoming the second-ranked defense in the league.

    That both Jefferson and Duncan are no stranger to playing alongside other conventional big men provides this rumor with yet another leg to stand on.

Josh Smith Staying Put?

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    Verdict: Fiction

    Contrary to what some may feel, Josh Smith isn't going to be wearing an Atlanta Hawks jersey much longer.

    Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that it was his belief Smith would be going nowhere, a sentiment that was backed up by ESPN.com's Chad Ford as well.

    I get that Smith is averaging 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game. I also understand that he's an athletic fiend, I really do. But he and the Hawks have reached a crossroads.

    Atlanta has yet to make it out of the second-round of the playoffs with Smith, yet he's already asserting he's worth a max contract. The Hawks aren't going to want to make the same mistake they did with Joe Johnson by investing a large sum of money in someone who isn't suited to be a franchise star.

    But as Alan Hahn of MSG Network notes, Atlanta may keep him and attempt to lure Dwight Howard back to Georgia during free agency.

    Not crazy. Very real possibility. RT @joeandevan: Here is my crazy prediction…Dwight goes home after the year and signs in Atlanta

    — Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) February 7, 2013

    Far be it from me to burst that bubble, but Howard isn't headed to Atlanta. Not when the Los Angeles Lakers can offer him one-year and $30 million more than any other team, and most certainly not when more promising teams like the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks will be knocking on his door.

    I mean, have we forgotten that Dwight is struggling to play alongside Pau Gasol? Why would he opt to go through similar turmoil next to Al Horford and even Smith?

    He won't, and Smith isn't likely to stay with the Hawks beyond this season.

    Which is why I'd bank on Atlanta moving him before then.

Orlando Not Trading J.J. Redick?

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    Verdict: Fact

    Allowing J.J. Redick to walk away for nothing this summer makes little sense for the Orlando Magic. Signing him to a long term deal makes even less sense knowing that he's going on 29 and the team is rebuilding.

    But trading Redick also presents the Magic with a serious offensive conflict. His 15.3 points per game are second to only Arron Afflalo's and his 39.9 percent conversion rate from deep tops the team. That Orlando is still plagued by injuries to key players (including Redick himself) doesn't help either.

    See the problem?

    So do the Magic, which is why they've devised a logical and equally plausible plan.

    According to Alex Kennedy over at HOOPSWORLD, Redick has implored Orlando not to trade him, stating he'd rather re-sign with the team over the summer or allow them to sign-and-trade him then.

    This makes so much sense it hurts. Plenty of teams have shown interest in Redick, but it is unlikely most would be able to give him the opportunity he is afforded with the Magic.

    In Orlando, he is free to create his own shot and is one of their go-to players. Elsewhere, he would be used solely as a complementary piece and could even be limited to spot-up attempts.

    At the very least, remaining with the Magic allows him to continue to build his value and sign a lucrative deal wherever he pleases.

    Whether that be in Orlando or somewhere else.

Bucks Willing to Hold a Fire Sale?

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    Verdict: Fact

    Perhaps "fire sale" is a bit strong, but I still don't want to believe this.

    Per Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Milwaukee Bucks are "very active" in trade negotiations and are prepared to move just about anyone:

    Hearing they are VERY active right now. Marc Stein reported today that Samuel Dalembert is one guy that they are actively talking about. But he's not the only one -- Monta Ellis, Ersan Illaysova, Beno Udrih are all available. Even Brandon Jennings at the right price.

    While there's no denying the Bucks are overwhelmingly mediocre, they seem to be the only ones that don't care they're headed for a playoff berth.

    That said, Milwaukee isn't going to want to invest serious cash in that mediocrity. 

    For reasons unbeknownst to those who buy into common sense, the Bucks already committed big money to Ilyasova. Udrih and Dalembert's contracts are expiring and could be used to garner some young talent. The prospect of having to line the pockets of potentially both Ellis and Jennings is unlikely to sit well with owner Herb Kohl.

    I wouldn't expect the Bucks to relinquish any of their prized assets (if you could call them that) for just anything. They have just $40 million on the books for next season, so they're far from in dire straights. Given that they're a postseason-bound team as well, they're also afforded the luxury of patience.

    Staring down the barrel of what could be an expensive summer, though, I'd expect to see Milwaukee go through with any number of deals before the trade deadline just to gain some peace of mind.

    And maybe some assets too.

Paul Pierce's Days in Boston Numbered?

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    Verdict: Fiction

    I don't doubt that the Boston Celtics are going to shop Paul Pierce. I also don't doubt that there will be plenty of interest. But I doubt Danny Ainge will ultimately pull the trigger on a deal.

    Pierce is well aware of the rumors that have plagued him since last year's deadline and he has hasn't shied away from sharing his thoughts.

    Per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Pierce would rather be traded or even retire then begin another rebuild with the Celtics:

    I want an opportunity to at least try to win another championship, simple and plain. And if that’s not going to be here — if that’s going to be somewhere else — so be it. That’s what it has to be. I mean, even the greatest players played for other franchises.

    Though the small forward repeatedly states his continued allegiance to Boston, his desire to contend isn't exactly reflected in the current roster, especially with Rajon Rondo sidelined.

    But while the 35-year-old Pierce is still averaging 18.7 points a game and guaranteed just $4 million in salary next season, I sincerely doubt he can net the type of young talent and draft picks the Celtics need to rebuild. It's also unlikely he'd be able to be moved without taking on what is an unfavorable contract.

    Boston is going to have to rebuild at some point, but given the lack of financial flexibility and the rate at which it has been winning without Rondo, expect Pierce to finish the season with the Celtics.

    Beyond that, I make no such promises. 

Luke Ridnour out in Minnesota?

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    Verdict: Fact

    According to our good friend Chris Sheridan, there is a "good chance" that the Minnesota Timberwolves move Luke Ridnour by the NBA's trade deadline:

    Luke Ridnour is being shopped by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a league source told SheridanHoops.com “there is a good chance” the 10th-year point guard will be dealt before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

    Ridnour has become expendable now that Ricky Rubio is able to play a higher volume of minutes. With J.J. Barea and even Alexey Shved capable of running the point also, it makes plenty of sense for the Timberwolves to ship him out.

    While Ridnour isn't want you would consider a star, he's a solid playmaker and owed just $8.3 million over the next two years.

    Minnesota is shooting a league-worst 30.2 percent from behind the arc and would benefit from bringing in a three-point threat in favor of the oft-penetrating Ridnour.

    Sheridan reports that the Jazz have discussed sending Alec Burks over to the Timberwolves, but I'd imagine Utah will address its point guard need in whatever Paul Millsap and/or Al Jefferson trade they concoct.

    Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minnesota also followed up Sheridan's report with one that stated the Jazz have ensured Burks he won't be trade for Ridnour.

    Re: Sheridan's Ridnour report - told Utah has given some sort of assurance to A. Burks that he's not going anywhere, at least not for Luke.

    — Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) February 7, 2013

    As a veteran point man, though, it will be plenty easy for Minny to find another take or 10. Ridnour is someone who can both start or come off the bench, and his value from a leadership perspective is through the roof.

    Just not to the Timberwolves.

Zach Randolph the Next to Go in Memphis?

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    Verdict: Fiction

    We thought the Memphis Grizzlies were done dealing when they shed enough salary to retain Rudy Gay, and we sure as hell thought they were done making moves once they traded Gay.  

    But were we wrong again?

    According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, Zach Randolph appears to be a "marked man" in Memphis.

    I'm calling a big ole' "fiction" on this one. 

    Randolph has been unhappy with the way he's being used on offense and how the Grizzlies have been playing, but that doesn't mean a thing. I'm not sure you could find a truly happy camper in Memphis right now. Just ask Lionel Hollins.

    Now, if Ford were making an early prediction for next year, then perhaps he'd have a case. For all the talk about Gay's albatross of a contract, the $34.3 million Randolph is owed between now and next summer isn't exactly financial gold. It's also worth noting that if he picks up his $16.5 million player option in 2014 (he will), that commitment exceeds $50 million over the next three years.

    Randolph is one of just 12 players in the NBA currently averaging a double-double, but his conditioning has always been an issue and I continue to be underwhelmed by his defense, more so than I ever was by Gay's. That he's 31 and the Grizzlies just brought in a 23-year-old Ed Davis doesn't help his fate beyond this season either.

    This year's a different story, though. Memphis is already floundering without Gay and trading Randolph would require the team to take just too big a public relations hit.

    The Grizzlies have already turned a mid-season title contender into a fringe playoff team; they're not about to push that bill down toward league bottom-feeder.

Mavericks Holding onto Vince Carter?

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    Verdict: Fact

    Vince Carter is having a helluva season and he's going to finish it with the Dallas Mavericks.

    Per Jeff Caplan of NBA.com, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle has told Carter he will not be moved by the trade deadline.

    "A couple days later he pulled me aside and said all the trade rumors, because I didn’t know much about it, he said it’s not going to happen," Carter said after the Mavs' victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Dallas' commitment to the 36-year-old Carter is actually far from shocking. He's averaging 18.6 points and 38.6 percent shooting from deep per-36 minutes and has posted an average of 17.6 points on 49 percent shooting from the floor over the last eight games.

    With Carter playing so well, Caplan notes there has been no shortage of interest from around the league. Understandably some would believe the Mavericks would then cave on their stance in favor of making some kind of change.

    That said, they did have the opportunity to land Jose Calderon in the Rudy Gay trade, but passed on it because they didn't want to give up Carter (via Caplan):

    There’s no doubt that teams are and will inquire about Carter’s availability. Dallas reportedly didn’t get involved as a third team in the Memphis-Toronto trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Raptors because it wouldn’t part with Carter. Detroit took the role and acquired point guard Jose Calderon from Toronto.

    If a point-totaling and assist-dropping machine like Calderon wasn't enough, then what will be?

    Short of an unforeseen blockbuster, it appears nothing. 

Clippers Offering DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett?

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    Verdict: Utter Fiction

    We've all waded through Sean Deveney of the Sporting News' report about the Los Angeles Clippers being interested in Kevin Garnett and most, like me, have scoffed at it.

    The reported package irks me because while I get Caron Butler is a cheap option to toss in, I'm not sure where Eric Bledsoe fits in on a team with Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo.

    Per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, though, the parameters of the initial report may have changed to include DeAndre Jordan:

    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.

    Kudos to Washburn for shooting this one down.

    Jordan is a much younger (and cheaper) option for Boston to pursue and would easily enhance an already strong Celtics defense while providing them with some relief on the glass. While this makes sense for Boston, though, I'm struggling to find the motive for the Clippers.

    Garnett is a more talented scorer than Jordan, but he doesn't block as many shots and he would weaken a rebounding attack that already ranks 18th in the league. Not to mention he's 36, more than a decade older than the 24-year-old Jordan.

    Truthfully, I'm not even sure why the Clippers would pursue Garnett in the first place, even if they could retain Jordan. Garnett is committed to winning but I couldn't picture him wanting to come off the bench behind Blake Griffin and Jordan.

    If anything, the more sensible target for Los Angeles is Pierce, not Garnett.

    So let's go ahead and file this one under "never gonna happen."

Andrea Bargnani for Carlos Boozer in the Works?

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    Fact or Fiction: Fact

    Well, I bet you didn't see this one coming.

    Andrea Bargnani and Carlos Boozer are two of the most difficult players to move in this league. Neither has lived up to their current contract and both the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls wouldn't bat an eye about moving on without them.

    So, why not swap financial burdens?

    Well, maybe they will.

    According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Bulls and Raptors have had "exploratory" talks on a deal that would land Bargnani in Chicago and Boozer in Toronto.

    Just going online: ESPN sources say Bulls & Raptors have had exploratory talks on potential trade featuring Carlos Boozer & Andrea Bargnani

    — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 7, 2013

    Oddly enough, I outlined a trade of a similar fashion (albeit a three-team deal) not too long ago and it still makes some sense now. 

    The Raptors want to part ways with the three-years and $33 million remaining on Bargs' deal, and are also in need of some low-post help after shipping Ed Davis off to the Memphis Grizzlies. Boozer is owed roughly $47.1 million over the next three years, but given that he provides much of what Toronto needs (rebounding and post scoring), the Raptors may be willing to roll the dice on the extra dough.

    For the Bulls, they've long been in the market for a three-point assassin, and Bargs is a career 36.1 percent shooter from deep. He's hit on just 30.9 percent of his attempts this season, but would be a valuable weapon for Derrick Rose to kick out to upon his return. He's also not owed nearly as much as Boozer.

    Plenty of other factors must come into play here, though.

    Since Boozer is owed over $14 million more than Bargnani, expect to see the Raptors ask the Bulls to take on or find a third team to take on Landry Fields or Linas Kleiza's burdensome deals. Also, with Boozer playing well this season—15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game—it's unclear whether Chicago would be willing to deal him for the oft-injured Bargnani.

    Still, provided these two teams can hammer out the financial nuances of such a deal, this is one of those rumors laced in plenty of truth.