Marquee names are creating buzz on the NBA trade rumor mill as the Feb. 21 deadline approaches. Some of the most noteworthy among them are Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith and explosive New Orleans Hornets SG Eric Gordon.
But there are other players causing a stir in their own right, and the action promises to intensify despite the break in regular-season action for All-Star Weekend.
Here is a breakdown of the latest chatter that could prove true, and shake up the playoff picture as a result.
Josh Smith, F, Atlanta Hawks
GM Danny Ferry is looking to unload Smith's contract, and according to ESPN's Chris Broussard (subscription required), he is dead-set on not signing Smith once the talented, versatile forward hits the free-agent market this summer.
...Three opposing GMs told me definitively that Ferry has decided not to re-sign Smith in free agency this summer and is trying hard to move him within the next week.
"Danny's a Spur,'' one rival executive said, referring to Ferry's past work in San Antonio's front office. "So he won't give him away, but if someone comes with a good offer, Josh Smith is gone. I don't think Danny takes the Nets' deal. I think someone has to do better than that.''
Then there was this tweet from Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times:
Broussard notes that the Brooklyn Nets have made an offer of Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks in exchange for Smith, which isn't exactly the best but does alleviate any cap issues for the team.
Smith has been among the most buzzworthy names, especially with his stellar play over the past month and a half and his ability to dominate at times. Although he is a bit too flashy and not quite consistent enough, he could have easily been an All-Star for the first time this season.
Thus, the market should be relatively kind to the Hawks, who should get a strong return in a prospective deal.
Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Hornets
Once again, Broussard is on the case for this rumor. While it doesn't make much sense trading away a franchise cornerstone and explosive scorer, there is a lot to be had for Gordon in return. Broussard does caution, however, that a trade isn't very likely:
A Gordon trade this season is highly unlikely, with one source with knowledge of the situation telling ESPN.com this week that, as things stand, there's "less than a 10 percent chance'' New Orleans would move Gordon.
But remember that Gordon was trying to sign with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason but had his offer sheet matched by the Hornets.
This didn't appear to be a likely scenario at the outset of the season, considering New Orleans had just locked him up for four years and he was rehabbing from a knee injury.
Now, with the emergence of Greivis Vasquez, the selection of No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis and several other talented pieces in the fold, the Hornets could add multiple assets to the current roster. It would probably be best for both parties for Gordon to be moved.
Yet a trade still seems unlikely despite the intriguing scenario it presents.
Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
A report by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News implies that the Brooklyn Nets have all but given up on their chances to acquire Smith or explosive scorer Ben Gordon from the Charlotte Bobcats.
But what Lawrence does indicate is that Billy King and the Brooklyn brass are highly interested in adding Millsap or another big man.
...The Nets are focusing on Utah's Paul Millsap or another power forward to add by the trading deadline. The Nets and Jazz have been trading partners in the past, highlighted by the Nets' bold move to get Williams at the 2011 mid-season deadline.
Millsap is a very efficient offensive player, and while there have been whispers of frontcourt teammate Al Jefferson also being on the block, it appears that Millsap is most squarely involved in the latest discussions.
The Nets have a star-studded lineup as it is, and it's hard to figure out what they could offer in return that would satisfy Utah. It's better for the Jazz to move him for something, though, since Millsap becomes a free agent this offseason.
Broussard had some input on the latest with Jefferson, who has been linked to San Antonio but is now more prominently mentioned with the Phoenix Suns:
...The Suns have spoken with Utah about Al Jefferson. Those talks haven't gained much traction, though. Clubs calling the Suns have been mostly interested in Dudley, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris.
Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter form a promising future for the Jazz at power forward and center, which justifies moving Millsap or Jefferson at some point.