There has been plenty of trade speculation this season in the NBA, but little real movement and only a handful of big names have looked like realistic trade chips. Lately, though, some prime-time players have been involved in some very legitimate rumors, setting the wheels in motion for a potentially thrilling period up to the trade deadline.
Some of the biggest names on the block are already established superstars, while others are renowned for their elite potential. Let's take a look at some of the guys who should be getting the most interest.
Josh Smith, F Atlanta Hawks
Probably the biggest name on the market is the Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith, a premier forward in his prime. David Aldridge, writing for NBA.com, reports that the Hawks are taking offers for their star forward but haven't committed to dealing the mercurial star just yet.
There is no question that Smith will command significant interest. He has averaged 15.2 points and eight rebounds per game over his career, and he would instantly upgrade almost any frontcourt.
ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Hawks will accept just one thing in return for Smith: a young center. If the Hawks aren't willing to be flexible, they might struggle to move Smith, but he remains the most attractive player on the market right now.
Kris Humphries, F Brooklyn Nets
Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that the Charlotte Bobcats could deal guard Ben Gordon for Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries. Humphries is a very intriguing piece who could really help a team with their rebounding, so he is certainly worthy of a look from multiple teams.
Humphries is probably best known for being married to Kim Kardashian, but his rebounding is the reason he has developed into a highly regarded NBA player. Humphries was sixth in the NBA last season in total rebounding percentage at 18.3 percent, but his role has been filled by Reggie Evans this season.
Charlotte is actually a great fit for Humphries in that regard, as the Bobcats are last in the league in rebounding differential. The proposed Gordon-Humphries deal could greatly benefit both teams. Seeing it happen would certainly be exciting.
Eric Bledsoe, PG Los Angeles Clippers
If Chris Paul signs a long-term deal to stay in L.A., then Eric Bledsoe becomes expendable. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, that is exactly what is likely to happen, meaning Bledsoe could become a trade chip for the Clippers to find a star to help them win a title this year.
A team acquiring Bledsoe would acquire a surefire long-term starter at point guard. That can be extremely hard to find, so Bledsoe will certainly demand major interest. The dynamic backup had a PER of 18.87 in just 22 minutes per game, higher than Rajon Rondo's and Jrue Holiday's.
Stein points to the center position and the Clippers' perimeter shooting as areas to address in a Bledsoe trade. To that end, the Clippers were looking at the Celtics' roster, where Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett would bring a championship pedigree and a clutch factor that the Clips currently lack.
Unfortunately, the Celtics seem reluctant to deal either, meaning the Clippers are back at square one.
A player as talented and young as Bledsoe won't remain available for long, though. The Clippers will either commit to keeping him around or they will find a new partner. Either way, Bledsoe will be in some team's long-term plans.