NBA Trade Rumors: Deadline Deals That Could Shake Up Playoff Picture

Jakub RudnikContributor IIIFebruary 7, 2013

Al Jefferson and Tim Duncan could be playing together this spring.
Al Jefferson and Tim Duncan could be playing together this spring.USA TODAY Sports

This season the NBA trade deadline features many big-name players. Top teams are attempting to load up on talent while non-contenders look towards the future. Memphis has already traded Rudy Gay to Toronto in what should be just the first of many big moves.

As we get closer to the deadline, there will be even more rumors, but here are three trades that could change the landscape of the NBA. 


Al Jefferson to the Spurs

The Spurs currently have the best record in the NBA at 39-11, and they have won 11 straight games overall. Even so, they are one of the teams that can improve the most at the deadline.

How is this possible? As reported by Chris Sheridan, the Spurs are the front-runners to land Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson, arguably the best available player at this year's deadline.

Jefferson is available for two reasons. First, he has an expiring contract, and the Jazz could lose him for nothing this summer.

Second, the Jazz have two former top-five picks that are waiting to crack the starting lineup behind Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Although Utah is currently the seven seed in the West, they are not a championship contender this season. Trading Jefferson allows them to acquire more young assets and continue to develop their prospects.

For the Spurs, acquiring Jefferson would mean adding a center averaging over 17 points and nine rebounds per game. He would be replacing Tiago Splitter, who may have improved drastically this season, but he is definitely not the caliber of player of Jefferson.

A starting front line of Jefferson and Tim Duncan would be one of the best in basketball. Add in Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green and the Spurs may have the best starting five in basketball.

If they weren't the favorites to win the West before, adding one of the premier offensive centers in basketball could propel the Spurs to that spot.

San Antonio would likely give up Splitter, Steven Jackson and Patty Mills in the trade, according to Sheridan.


Kevin Garnett to the Clippers

In January, Rajon Rondo tore his ACL and effectively extinguished any chance the Celtics had of competing for an NBA title this season. While the team may not have given up on the season, the front office may be starting the rebuilding process.

The biggest move in that process would be moving Kevin Garnett. Sporting News has reported that the Clippers have an interest in the All-Star big man.

In the reported deal, the Clippers would give up Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe for Garnett.

The Clippers are currently third in the West, but they have lost seven of their past 10 games, with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford all missing games during the stretch.

Adding Garnett to the roster would be a huge coup for the Clippers. He is one of the best players ever, and he is still an excellent defensive player. Giving Garnett Lamar Odom's and Ronny Turiaf's minutes would be an enormous upgrade for the Clippers.

Adding Garnett might not make the Clippers the favorite in the West, but it would help them keep pace with the Thunder and Spurs.


Josh Smith to the Suns

The Atlanta Hawks began the season very well, but since Lou Williams was lost for the season, the team has merely been treading water. They have won only five of their last 10 games and are currently sixth in the East.

Atlanta is a good team, but they don't have the talent to make a championship run with their current roster. Power forward Josh Smith is one of the team's best players, but is also in the final year of his current contract. If the Hawks don't believe he's part of their future, they risk losing Smith for nothing this summer.

If Smith is available, Sports Illustrated has reported that the Suns have a definite interest.

In the deal, the Suns could offer unhappy center Marcin Gortat, allowing the Hawks to slide Al Horford to power forward.

While Gortat may be a better fit for Atlanta than Smith, the team would be taking a hit talent-wise. Making a trade like this could help the Hawks long term, but they could miss the playoffs entirely.