Apart from Area 51 and the Bermuda Triangle, there aren’t many things more mysterious or secretive than the NBA before the trade deadline.
As if part of some bizarre script that’s always being reworked, rumors are constantly swirling, only to be struck down and erased by coaches, players and team executives. We find out about most deals after they’ve already been finalized.
Which player is most likely to be dealt before the deadline?
Still, team executives are always talking, negotiating and gauging interest, and some of that gossip ends up leaking out. With the trade deadline just two weeks away, the rumor mill is working overtime in hot pursuit of a big story.
We’ll take a look at some of the most recent rumors concerning teams that may be making some moves before the February 21 deadline.
Rumors of an Al Jefferson pre-deadline deal have started circulating, and according to Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com, the San Antonio Spurs stand a good chance of acquiring him in the coming weeks:
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.
“They” are Sheridan’s connected sources, and there seems to be pretty good reasoning why moving Jefferson would make sense for both parties.
Utah isn’t in a position to make a championship run this season and doesn’t want to lose Jefferson in the offseason (when he becomes a free agent) without getting something in return. He’ll be a highly coveted big man on the open market and will bring back a nice reward should the Jazz decide to move him before the deadline.
The reported package Utah would get in return includes Tiago Splitter, Patrick Mills and Stephen Jackson—not bad compensation, though the 28-year-old big man still averages 17.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
If the Jazz don’t feel confident in retaining Jefferson this offseason, getting a player like Splitter in return who could fill the void would be an ideal situation. Jackson’s expiring contract would also provide some cap relief for the pursuit of free agents this summer.
In a not completely unrelated story, Minnesota point guard Luke Ridnour may be on the move in the coming weeks (via SheridanHoops.com).
Ridnour ties into the rumor already reported by Sheridan. Utah wants a point guard, and Minnesota has too many under contract. There is a problem with that thought process, though.
One rumor cannot be contingent on the other. If Utah is looking to move Jefferson and likely derail a decent season thus far, why would the Jazz want to trade for a point guard who will only help them out in the short term?
Starting point guard Mo Williams is on the shelf, but what would Utah do with Ridnour when Williams returns?
Perhaps the Jazz believe they can still contend with Jefferson out of the picture. It would make sense dealing for Ridnour in that case, but what they would give up in a deal like that is still unclear.
According to Sheridan, Minnesota has interest in Alec Burks, but according to a tweet from ESPN’s Darren Wolfson, Burks probably isn’t on the table.
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
Too much of this rumor doesn’t make sense, and while the discussions may actually be taking place between Utah and Minnesota, it’s hard to believe something will actually come of this one.
Dirk Nowitzki is likely the only player safe from the trade talk, but according to Jeff Caplan of NBA.com, Vince Carter may be safe as well. Carter was quoted by Caplan as saying:
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. I’m happy where I am. I feel like my role here is needed. It’s a perfect position as a mentor, as a player, as a spark. I’m OK with that. I feel like for me, if they need me to start I’ll do it. If they need me to come off the bench, I’ll do it. I’m still going to play my same game and be effective. I’m a team guy and I want to see our team have success.
It’s hard to want to see a player with that mentality get traded as part of a fire sale. Carter is 36, though, and as productive as he still is, the long-term plan for Dallas is more important than any one player.
Dallas hasn’t been included in any substantial trade rumors as of late, but that will almost certainly change in the next two weeks. Teams throughout the league will be looking for a team to facilitate bigger deals, and Cuban is certainly ready to throw his players into the mix.
At 31-18 and currently in fourth place in the West, Denver has a good chance of making a playoff run this season. It may be looking for a little help before the deadline, though.
According to Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post, the Nuggets may be looking to acquire a shooter before February 21, and “the Nuggets have looked into” sharpshooter J.J. Redick.
Redick would be a terrific add for a team looking to make a deep run this year, but he’ll undoubtedly come at a steep price. As Hochman points out, Redick will want more money at some point, and he may not be the right guy to invest in for the future, especially if he is coming off the bench.
The other piece of the puzzle is what Orlando would want in return. According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, the Magic turned down an offer of Rudy Gay for Redick before he was dealt to Toronto.
RT @gstackgeorge: ---> Magic were offered Rudy Gay for just JJ Redick and using the TPE to take Gay's $$ and said no.— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) February 2, 2013
Gay may not have fit into Orlando’s plans, but the Magic's refusal to make that trade shows the kind of value they are looking for in return for Redick. It may be too steep a price for a Denver team looking for a shooter off the bench.