We're officially less than a week away from the NBA trade deadline, and the plot just keeps getting thicker. Players are definitely going to be traded, but just where they will end up is still a complete mystery.
Let's start in Utah, where the idea of Paul Millsap and/or Al Jefferson being dealt is not just a rumor but a near certainty. Both men will be unrestricted free agents this summer, and Jazz GM Ted Lindsey would definitely prefer to move one or both of his best defenders in a deal rather than lose them for nothing later.
The real conundrum here is that Jefferson appears to be the one teams like more, but what will Lindsey demand to trade him?
Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, the Josh Smith saga just keeps getting crazier. Teams that didn't even appear to be in the mix before have started to pop out, so it's even harder to figure out fact from fiction. Granted, Smith is likely to be traded, but figuring out which team he goes to is anyone's guess.
Oh, and did I mention that one of the league's more dynamic guards could be on the move?
There's a lot of ground that needs to be covered in Rumorville, so let's get right to it.
Brandon Jennings Wants Out of Milwaukee...or Does He?
It's hard to figure out just what the story is with Brandon Jennings. ESPN's Chad Ford reported on February 13 that the dynamic point man was "frustrated" with the Milwaukee Bucks and wanted out. Jennings has made it clear in the past that he wants to test the free-agent market, and he is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, so it would make sense that he would want to leave Milwaukee.
However, it may be jumping the gun to say that Jennings will definitely be dealt. Shortly after Ford released his report, ESPN's Chris Broussard received a text from Jennings that refuted the initial rumor. Jennings stated that the idea of there being tension between himself and the Bucks was "not true" and that he was focused on this season.
The young point guard reinforced his points before the team's game against the Philadelphia 76ers when speaking to Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"Just because I got a new agent, that doesn't mean I'm trying to leave Milwaukee or I'm unhappy," Jennings said. "That has nothing to do with it.
"It was just a time for a change and it was a decision me and my family made. So all these stories coming out about me not wanting to be here and this and that, I never said that.
"That never came out of my mouth. If anything, I've always said I love Milwaukee."
This means one of two things. Either Jennings legitimately does want to stay in Milwaukee, or he's trying to cover his tracks and not look like a head case, as that would hurt his value on the free-agent market.
With so many conflicting reports, this is a rumor to look at with a wait-and-see attitude.
Al Jefferson More Likely To Be Moved Than Paul Millsap?
Both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are set to hit unrestricted free agency in July, and since the Utah Jazz have both Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings, it's a certainty that neither player will be playing in Salt Lake City next season. Thus, GM Ted Lindsey has been shopping both players in hopes of getting some top talent and/or draft picks in exchange for their services.
However, trading Millsap could be easier said than done. According to Ric Bucher of CSN Bay Area, the word is that teams are more interested in Jefferson.
This is not exactly surprising, as Millsap is primarily a low-post power forward, while Jefferson is a center with plenty of size and a decent jump shot. This season, Jefferson has averaged 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, compared to just 15.1 and 7.4 from Millsap.
Lindsey could certainly get more for Jefferson than he could for Millsap, but that does not mean he should stop pursuing deals involving the latter. The best thing the Jazz can do is unload both players, as they will bring in plenty of young talent and draft options for Utah to use in its next phase of roster building.
Jefferson will definitely be the more attractive trade chip, but Lindsey still must be sure to find a buyer for Millsap if he can.
Josh Smith's Suitors Piling Up?
Atlanta Hawks star forward Josh Smith is set to hit the open market this summer, and GM Danny Ferry has been listening to offers from multiple teams. However, with less than a week until the deadline, there is still no clear frontrunner.
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Philadelphia 76ers could be a sleeper team in the Smith sweepstakes. However, if the team does acquire Smith, John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that GM Tony DiLeo will not give up Spencer Hawes or Evan Turner in a trade.
However, while a frontrunner may not be obvious, there could still be one. According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times, the Boston Celtics are Smith's "primary destination" as of now.
I keep hearing Josh Smith's primary destination is Boston.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 14, 2013
The speculation continues as we head south to San Antonio. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports recently reported that the Spurs were interested in Smith, and the dynamic forward would definitely be a good fit in head coach Gregg Popovich's system.
But Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News refutes Spears' report. Not only does he not expect the Spurs to make a deal for Smith, but he believes that Smith doesn't make sense for San Antonio.
That all being said, there is still no conclusive answer as to what is going to happen to Josh Smith. For all we know, he could remain in Atlanta for the rest of the season, perhaps even beyond that.
His name is going to be popping up a lot over the next few days, so all that we can really do is keep our ears open and wait for further developments.