NBA trade talk is intensifying as we near the Feb. 21 trade deadline. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings headline an attractive crop of players on expiring contracts who could find themselves in new homes soon.
Following this weekend's All-Star Game, there may be a number of deals. Let's take a look at a sampling of the NBA's hottest trade rumors, beginning with Smith.
Josh Smith: The Most Coveted Player in 2013
Nick Borges of ESPN (subscription required) reports that several teams are interested in acquiring Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith. Among those are the Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats and—astoundingly perhaps—the San Antonio Spurs.
Smith seems to be a near-lock to be dealt with so much interest, and Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicated that there have been no discussions between Smith and the Hawks regarding his contract demands.
Multiple sources: There have been no contract talks between Hawks and Josh Smith, including team refusal to give him a max deal.#ATLHawks— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) February 8, 2013
Smith told Jeff Schultz of the AJC that he feels he is worth a max contract. While it seemed on a superficial level that such a demand would scare teams off, it certainly hasn't.
Smith's unique skill set and defensive talents enable him to impact a game in a variety of ways, and it's easy to see why teams want to add him. The real issue, though, will be whether he'll remain on their roster after this season.
Dallas Mavericks Looking to Acquire Bucks' Point Guard Brandon Jennings
As a rookie, Brandon Jennings seemed to be the type of shoot-first point guard who was destined to be a chucker who shot a perpetually low field goal percentage. Cleaning up his shot selection over the last two seasons instead has rendered Jennings one of the most attractive guards on the market.
And now, it appears he may want out of Milwaukee.
He's still shooting less than 40 percent from the floor this season, but it's mostly because he's forced to shoot a lot of shots on a mediocre Bucks team. Jennings still averages 6.1 assists per game in a backcourt which requires him to share the ball with Monta Ellis.
That could change elsewhere.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Dallas Mavericks are reported to be interested in the lefty's great scoring ability, and while Darren Collison has been having a solid season for the Mavericks, Jennings is a clear and obvious upgrade.
The possible sticking point for the Mavs may be the possible inclusion of Drew Gooden in any potential deal. Gooden is owed $6.7 million over the next two seasons, and he hasn't shown anything this season to indicate he's worth even half of that sizable contract.
Jennings would bring a nice scoring punch to Mark Cuban's squad, and Cuban himself described what he is looking for in a potential acquisition:
There's been lots of players we picked up over time that weren't All-Stars that turned into cornerstones. We'd take those. They don't have to be proven…
Jennings is proven to a degree, but could reach new heights in Dallas, and it seems he may have run his course in Milwaukee.
Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap: Which Big Man will be Dealt?
NBA insider Ric Bucher reported via Sulia that the Jazz are most likely to deal Paul Millsap rather than Al Jefferson if they make a move before the trade deadline. Both are on expiring contracts, and the duo has kept an otherwise very mediocre Utah roster afloat in the rugged Western Conference for the last few seasons.
Millsap will be in high demand. There has been a lot of speculation about possible fits (Houston and Brooklyn both make sense), but no reports exist of any talks about acquiring him.
Jefferson, meanwhile, has been linked to both the San Antonio Spurs (via Sheridan Hoops) and Phoenix Suns (according to AZCentral.com). The Suns were also reportedly looking into swingman Gordon Hayward.
Bucher's sources indicated the reasoning behind dealing either Millsap or Jefferson is to retain Hayward. So, Phoenix's pipe dream of acquiring the Butler product along with Jefferson seems unlikely.
A potential deal with the Suns would likely center around Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley.
The Spurs would be likely to send point guard Patty Mills, center Tiago Splitter (expiring contract) and European prospect Erazam Lorbek.
Which package is more attractive to Utah?
J.J. Hickson Not Drawing Appropriate Interest Level From League GMs
J.J. Hickson is playing the best basketball of his five-year NBA career, but demand for the power forward/center's services doesn't seem to be all that high, according to John Canzano of The Oregonian.
Canzano reported that despite averaging a double-double and posting a rebound rate of over 20 percent, Hickson is likely only going to cost an interested team a second-round draft pick.
In what world does that make sense? I'm not questioning Canzano's credibility at all. Rather, it casts aspersions on the prospect evaluation of a number of NBA GMs.
ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton (subscription required) said the following:
Hickson was claimed off waivers by the Blazers after the Sacramento Kings were unable to move him at last year's deadline. Hickson was a strong candidate to bounce back, and he's actually played the best basketball of his career in Portland. Now Hickson might be due to go the opposite direction, especially on the glass. He's pulling down 20.7 percent of all available rebounds this season, far surpassing his previous career high (17.7 percent). The real problem is that Hickson's double-double averages (12.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG) overstate his value because he's such a poor defender. Hickson is a strong candidate to be overpaid as an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Blazers would be wise to get value for him now.
Hickson should be a hot commodity (or at least "hotter"), and Pelton speculates that he will be due for a pay increase this summer.
The likely sticking point in acquiring something of value is the fact that Hickson is on an expiring contract. As is the case in such situations, teams are hesitant to deal for such players without some kind of assurance they'll re-sign as free agents.
Devin Harris and DeShawn Stevenson Returning to Dallas Mavericks?
DeShawn Stevenson praised the Dallas Mavericks organization when speaking with Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News and said he would love to spend his last "two or three" seasons in a Mavs uniform.
Teammate Devin Harris echoed his sentiments, saying it would "be great to come back here. I loved it in Dallas."
While neither Harris nor Stevenson are really coveted around the league in any way whatsoever, they are both still valuable role players who could impact the Mavs for the better.
Well, Harris could, anyway.
Stevenson, meanwhile, is posting a pedestrian PER of 9.04, which is actually about twice as good as John Hollinger of ESPN (subscription required) forecasted for this year. But he's still not really worth being added to a possible contender's roster.
Carlos Boozer for Andrea Bargnani: Who Wins a Potential Swap?
There'd been chatter of a Carlos Boozer for Andrea Bargnani trade, which in some way makes sense, considering both players have been underachieving and are on big contracts.
Boozer has been playing better as of late and looks more like the 20/10 stalwart he was in his days as a member of the Utah Jazz.
Bargnani, meanwhile, has been doing his best to showcase his talents so he can find a new home. Bargs has shot 14-of-27 from the floor in three games since returning from injury, a marked improvement from the 43.2 percent he shot last season, albeit in a small sample size.
Nevertheless, Dan Talintyre of Bleacher Report nailed it when he said that acquiring the former No. 1 pick from the 2006 NBA draft would "cripple" the Chicago Bulls. For all Boozer may or may not be as a rebounder and defender, Bargnani is infinitely worse.
He's essentially Matt Bonner with five times the salary and 100 times the expectations, which is about the last thing Bulls fans want to deal with. After the disappointment of Boozer himself (and Ben Wallace prior to him), Chicago fans have had enough of players trying to rejuvenate themselves in the Windy City.
DeJuan Blair on the Block
SA offered D Blair to Detroit but nothing. Hear Boston, Miami, Portland could have interest.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 12, 2013
Apparently, Detroit Pistons general manager Joe Dumars scoffed at the offer of an undersized power forward who lacks ACLs in both knees.
However, not all GMs feel the Pitt product is without his merits. Chris Broussard noted that Boston, Miami and Portland all "could" have interest. Because the Celtics and Heat are both in dire straits in the paint, Blair could be a great help to either squad for the right price.
Blair is on an expiring contract, but has fallen out of Gregg Popovich's rotation this season. A move to another contending team more who needs his abilities may revitalize his career.
Eric Maynor Unlikely to be Dealt
Eric Maynor seemed to hold a lot of promise prior to this season. He posted per-36 numbers of about 10 points and seven assists while shooting 34.8 percent from behind the arc and about 40 percent from the field.
The story has been quite different for Maynor this season, as he is recovering from a torn ACL. His poor shooting (31.3 percent from the floor this year) caused him to fall out of Scott Brooks' rotation in favor of rookie Reggie Jackson.
But there still may be teams who want to acquire Maynor given the fact that he's just a short recovery away from being a solid NBA point guard again. He's paid only $2.3 million this season, so his services would come cheap to a Thunder team that is cap-strapped and sitting pretty this season with no real need to shake up the roster.
Because Maynor is on such a small contract and depth has never once hurt an NBA team, John Rohde of The Oklahoman felt the Thunder are highly unlikely to make any deals before the deadline. His reasoning is sound, but if a team came to Sam Presti with a good enough offer, it could work.
J.J. Redick Drawing Mass Interest, But Is Not Being "Actively Shopped"
Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick has drawn vast interest around the league, with Milwaukee, Indiana, Chicago, Minnesota and Utah all having expressed interest in the Magic 2-guard. He's having a career year and, like most mentioned in trade talks, is on an expiring contract (which has a cap hit of $6.75 million this season).
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Redick said that the Magic are not "actively shopping him."
That, essentially, means very little.
Rob Hennigan may not be wearing his fingers out dialing for teams to take Redick off his hands, but to be certain he's fielding each and every incoming call he gets to see if he can land a nice package for the Duke legend.
Teams such as Milwaukee, though, have said that they aren't interested in acquiring Redick unless he'll stay in Brew Town.
Weekend Dime addendum: Milwaukee now in mix for Magic's JJ Redick. Bucks, I'm told, assessing their ability to retain sharpshooter long term— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 9, 2013
It's understandable that the Bucks wouldn't want to part with any assets for a half-season rental of Redick's services. He's not the missing piece on a title team, at least not for the Bucks.
But I speculated for Presto in the Paint as to what Redick's market value is moving past this season and reached no concrete conclusions:
Redick posts a Player Efficiency Rating of 16.83. That ranks Redick seventh among NBA shooting guards, trailing only Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili, O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter...
As for determining his ultimate market value—it’s difficult. As the PER rankings illustrate, a number of players are paid significantly more to play at a lower level, while the Dallas Mavericks have snagged two bargain players that rank ahead of Redick.
This isn’t to suggest that Redick should be paid on the level of max players Wade, Harden, Bryant (beyond max), or even a big contract like Manu Ginobili ($14 million this season and an expiring contract, too).
But it seems very reasonable that Redick is in for a modest increase in income. Truly, if he were to receive a contract that accurately matched his talents as a player, something in the neighborhood of $7 to $9 million sounds about right.
If Redick's agent is just as uncertain of his value, wouldn't he advise his client to test the waters this summer to maximize his earnings?
Houston Rockets Interested in Danny Granger?
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported that the Houston Rockets might be in the hunt for Indiana Pacers swingman Danny Granger.
The fact that organizations may be making calls for Granger is unsurprising since he's a bit of a redundancy on a team that already has a similar (and younger) talent in Paul George, who is on his way to being a legitimate All-Star and potential All-NBA defender.
Granger has missed the entirety of the 2012-13 NBA season with a knee injury, and his uncertain health undoubtedly lowers his selling price in any potential trade. Ever the opportunist, Rockets GM Daryl Morey likely sees this as a chance to upgrade his team at low cost while rolling the dice on the one-time NBA All-Star.
It's not clear as to what Granger's role would be on a team that already has Chandler Parsons starting and playing well at the 3-spot. Parsons is quietly having a brilliant year for the Rockets and is a vital cog in their blueprint towards rebuilding, so his inclusion in a deal for Granger is unlikely.
Granger is owed $14 million next season, the last year on his current contract. Morey's thought may be that if Granger doesn't return to form following this injury, his commitment to the forward would not last beyond 2014, making him a low-risk, high-reward acquisition.