The NBA All-Star Game is less than a week away, which means the trade deadline follows just a few days later, this year falling on Thursday, Feb. 21.
As the date nears, it's obvious that teams are getting anxious for that first domino to fall, as the trade rumors are starting to fly around at an increasingly rapid rate.
We're still at the stage where general managers will be collecting information and sizing up the trade market for specific players, meaning it's still going to be a few days before any real kind of action takes place.
Even still, we've got a ton of trade scenarios to talk about, as do the general managers of the league's active teams.
With that in mind, I've gotten into the habit of narrating the more important trade scenarios, doing my best to spice up what is usually dull back-and-forth of the he said, she said that goes on during these weeks of the year.
The Dallas Mavericks have struggled mightily all season long, and it seems as if the only thing left to do is make some sort of trade that would provide a spark and give them a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs.
(Mark Cuban bursts into Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson's office)
Cuban: Alright, Donnie, my man, who are we trading today?!
Nelson: Well, Mr. Cuban, it seems that there's little interest in the players we have to move.
Cuban: What do you mean little interest? We should be the ones creating interest. Let's drum up a little positive PR and find ourselves a trade.
Nelson: Well, I suppose we could see if anybody wants Vince Carter or Shawn Marion. They could help out a playoff team and we could start to rebuild.
Cuban: Rebuild? Rebuild?! What do you mean rebuild?! If they could help out a playoff team, then they should be helping out this playoff team.
Nelson: But, sir, we're six games below...
Cuban: Don't you say it, Nelson! Don't you dare say it! Give me that damn phone. I'll find a way to fix this team!
The Sacramento Kings have spent the better part of the season dealing with bad news, whether it be the team moving to Seattle or just DeMarcus Cousins getting into some kind of trouble every step of the way.
DeMarcus' outbursts have led to inevitable rumors that he's being shopped around the league, something that has been adamantly denied all season long, yet the list of teams with interest remained long.
That's what Kings GM Geoff Petrie has spent the better part of his days doing lately.
Petrie: Yo, Danny, what's up? DeMarcus? Nah, I told you yesterday that we're gonna see what we can do with him...No, I don't want to trade him for Jared Sullinger. He's having back surgery...No, throwing Courtney Lee in doesn't really sweeten the deal...Listen Danny, unless you have something to talk about besides DeMarcus, then I've got nothing for you.
(Petrie hangs up, but the phone immediately rings again)
Petrie: Mark? Mark, dude calm down. Quit yelling...Yeah, I'm still not trading Cousins...What do you even have that I want? Mayo would just be another guard...Vince Carter? He's still in the league?...Mark, I don't even know who Jared Cunningham is...OK, Mark, if I promise to watch Shark Tank tonight, will you calm down...Good, and goodbye.
(Phone rings again)
Petrie: I'm not trading DeMarcus! Stop calling about him!
(Slams the phone down)
The Boston Celtics have been hit by the injury bug hard, and the trade rumors that followed were all but inevitable.
Of course, Danny Ainge has done his best to deny any and every trade rumor that could possibly come his way.
(Danny Ainge enters his office at 11:15, getting ready for a day's work)
Ainge: Ooh, a message.
Hey Danny, this is Chris Broussard. Sources are telling me that you're trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett before the trade deadline. What's up with that?
Ainge: Hey, Chris, yeah, I'm not doing any of that...Well, we just won seven games in a row...Yeah, I know Rondo's hurt...OK, well, do you want to know who I'm going to trade Brandon Bass to? Chris?
Ainge: Welp, I've squashed two trade rumors today. Seems like the perfect time to call it a day. Or maybe I'll call Sacramento one last time.
(Danny Ainge leaves his office at 11:47, goes home for a nap)
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been doing their best to stock up on draft picks over the course of the past few seasons, so much so that it seems as if general manager Chris Grant has developed an addiction to draft picks.
Luckily, I've got the in on what he's been doing for the past few days, before he checks himself into rehab for draft-pick addiction after the trade deadline passes.
Chris Grant: Alright Davie boy, whadda ya have for me today? Who's selling? Who wants us to bail them out with our glorious cap space?
David Griffin, VP of Basketball Operations: I'm not sure, Chris. It seems like the league's starting to be bled dry as far as draft picks go.
Grant: C'mon, Davie boy, you're holding back on me. I know it. You think the Lakers'll give us a "firstie" for Boobie?
Griffin: Chris, the Lakers have given up all their picks through at least 2017. You know that. And don't you think nearly a dozen picks between now and 2015 is enough? D-don't stare at me like that, Chris...I don't know. I suppose the Celtics might want to get under the luxury tax li...
Grant: Tight. Get Ainge on the phone. Who does he want? Andy? Leuer? Sessions? LeBron?
Griffin: Chris, Andy's hurt and those last three don't even play for us anymore. Besides, it's already 12:30. Ainge is already taking his afternoon nap by now.
In one of the strangest trade developments over the past few weeks, the Chicago Bulls are apparently opening up trade talks and discussing a possible Carlos Boozer-Andrea Bargnani swap with the Toronto Raptors.
This one isn't even my make-believe narration. I've actually got the exact transcripts from each side recorded during a probing phone call.
Bulls VP of BO John Paxson: Bryan, why do you keep calling? I know you just traded Calderon and need a Spanish dude to replace him, but I've told you a thousand times, Daequan Cook is from Ohio.
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo: No, no, no. I was just calling to see what's up with Boozer.
Paxson: Wait...Boozer? Like Carlos Boozer? You want him?
Colangelo: Well, only if you take Bargs back.
Paxson: (Checks payroll) Bargnani is on an expiring deal, right? And he can shoot three-pointers right? What's the catch? Is his elbow still wonky?
Colangelo: Nah, dude, he's fine. He'll light it up from three for you guys. But tell me about Boozer. Hasn't he been a bit sulky when he's on bad teams?
Paxson: Oh no way, my man. Have you seen him this year? He's playing as well as ever and we're not even in first place in our division. He'll definitely give his all, even if you guys are in 11th. (Covers phone) I can't believe this is happening!
Colangelo: Yeah, but weren't you guys totally going to amnesty Boozer after the season?
Paxson: Who told you that? We were just using that as a threat to get him to stop coloring in his hair with a magic marker. We'd probably be cool with giving him up if Bargs is healthy. Or at least kind of healthy.
Colangelo: Cool, man, I'll give you a call back later and we can figure this thing out. (Hangs up) Sucker!
Paxson: (Hears dial tone) Sucker!
The Orlando Magic have fallen apart over the past few weeks, but they're still clinging to whatever hope they have left that they can keep a solid group of players together so that their rebuilding process isn't as long as other teams who have lost superstars.
At least, that's the story that we're hearing. They've got a trade chip in J.J. Redick who seems to be about as valuable as they come, and interest in him should be through the roof.
(Magic GM Rob Hennigan dialing his phone)
Hennigan: Yo, Chris, I've noticed the Grizzlies have been having a bit of trouble knocking down three-pointers. What do you think about J.J.?...Yeah, he's on an expiring contract. Pera shouldn't be too upset with that. Listen, you think about that. I've got a few more calls to make.
Hennigan: Bill-ay, my man. Listen, Billy, I'm down to trade J.J., and I've got some good offers from a few other teams, so if you want him rather than wasting a ton of money on Josh Smith, you can have a dude who actually sinks his three-pointers...Listen, just have Prokhorov come to the game next time we play. He'll want him in a second...Later man.
Hennigan: Danny? Danny, pick up. I think I've got a guy you might want.
Hennigan: Jeez, Ainge goes home early.
Hennigan: Oh, hey, J.J. What's up?...No, I told you, we're doing everything we can to keep you...No, I'm not shopping you...Yeah, I know you want to stay...Listen, I'll definitely let you know if something comes up...Yeah, later.
The Los Angeles Lakers are four games below .500 and still a hunk of games behind a playoff spot, so naturally, people are going to continue to talk about what they can do to make their team better.
Fans seem to want different things. Some want Mike D'Antoni fired, some are ready to cut ties with Pau Gasol; it runs the gamut of everything besides Kobe Bryant getting shipped out of Los Angeles.
You've got to imagine that things get tense in the Lakers front office this time of year, especially this year.
Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles Lakers GM: Hey, Jim, how's everything going today? How about that 4-3 road trip, eh? The team's starting to come around.
Jim Buss, Lakers Owner's Baby Boy: Dammit, Mitch, why aren't we winning? We traded for the best center in the league and Steve Nash.
Kupchak: Well, I suppose they're still learning to play together, plus those injuries.
Buss: Oh yeah, have you traded Pau Gasol yet? Go do that really quick. Get Kevin Love or Michael Jordan or Bill Russell.
Kupchak: Jim, Kevin's injured, Michael Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats and Bill Russell is 79. Besides, Gasol is hurt himself. Didn't you see? We can't get much out of an injured player.
Buss: Jordan owns the Bobcats? When did that happen? Wasn't he doing something with the Bullets or something? Ah, whatever. Besides, I'm too busy. I've got to go fire this D'Antoni character. Do you think you can get Phil Jackson on the horn? He won a few championships for us.
Kupchak: Jim, seriously, don't fire Mike. And Phil Jackson won five championships for us, but I don't think he's coming back. Just go play checkers with your dad and calm down.
Buss: Whatever, Mitch, just go trade for a championship team, will ya?