NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Chatter Surrounding League's Hottest Deadline Names
Not even the NBA All-Star break has been enough to quell the rampage that is the Association's rumor mill.
With plenty of teams looking to shed payroll and/or capitalize off of an impending departure, league-wide chatter has only increased.
The scary thing?
We're still days away from the February 21 trade deadline, and it's only going to get worse from here on out.
Will Kevin Garnett finish the season with the Boston Celtics? Are the Atlanta Hawks really that motivated to move Josh Smith? Is Paul Millsap on the verge of leaving the Utah Jazz? Can the Toronto Raptors shed the burdensome contract of Andrea Bargnani?
Those are just a few of the questions being posed as we head into the deadline's homestretch—and the answers seem to be changing by the second.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.
Andrea Bargnani Not Going Anywhere?
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According to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, the reported Andrea Bargnani swap isn't likely to go down.
Because, per Wolstat, the Toronto Raptors aren't amenable to taking on Carlos Boozer and the $32.1 million remaining on his contract after this season.
Part of me questions why. Toronto is in need of an additional interior presence after sending Ed Davis to the Memphis Grizzlies. While overpaid, Boozer provides an ample amount of rebounding as well as a versatile scoring presence. That his contract runs out after 2014-15, the same year as Bargs', only makes even more sense.
Dealing Bargnani in favor of Boozer, however, adds more than $5 million in payroll for the Raptors next season. They've already committed more than $65 million, so taking on Boozer puts them in luxury tax territory.
Though it's easy to justify Toronto's financial logic, they are going to have to make some concessions if truly committed to moving Bargnani. Few teams are about to pounce on the $10 million he is owed annually after he has barely played this season. Even fewer are going to pay that much for a big man who can neither rebound nor defend.
Unless a surprise suitor emerges that is willing to send an expiring or cheaper deal the Raptors' way (doubtful), I wouldn't bank on Toronto moving Bargs by the deadline.
Josh Smith Still Drawing Plenty of Interest?
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The Hawks will have no shortage of suitors should they decide to part ways with Josh Smith before the trade deadline.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the list of teams interested includes the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics, among others.
Wojnarowski also reports that there's a growing belief Atlanta will deal Smith as opposed to waiting for his contract to come off the books this summer.
Still many involved for Atlanta's Josh Smith, including Bucks, Nets, Celtics, 76ers, Wizards, others, sources say. Strong belief he's moved.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 17, 2013
I'm all for the Hawks capitalizing off of Smith's seemingly inevitable departure, but only if the price is right.
Atlanta is on pace to have more than $40 million worth of cap space this summer, and jeopardizing said flexibility without fetching a star in return makes little to no sense.
Should the Hawks be able to land that star-caliber talent, or even an expiring contract of equal value coupled with some draft picks, then expect to see them make a move.
But don't be surprised if the list of suitors grows and the quality of offers doesn't.
In which case, general manager Danny Ferry will likely ride out the rest of Smith's contract and reap the financial benefits of his departure this summer.
Dwight Howard to Remain with the Lakers?
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Per ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has denied Ken Berger of CBSSports.com's report that the Celtics and Lakers had talked about a potential swap regarding Dwight Howard for Rajon Rondo.
With the Lakers already in possession of Steve Nash, I can't say I'm surprised this rumor has been refuted.
Though Nash is 39, he's still one of the best playmakers in the game. Having Rondo on the same team would just be overkill.
Would the Lakers be willing accept the long-term deal of a Jeff Green or Brandon Bass?
Unlikely. Los Angeles has positioned itself to be a major player in the summer of 2014, and this deal obliterates most of its flexibility.
Plus, have we forgotten the Lakers still intend to build around Howard? The experiment hasn't paid dividends thus far, but looking ahead to next season, a healthy Howard is too good of a possibility to just cast aside.
Rondo's ACL injury doesn't make this any more likely, either. Howard's health has been a hindrance to him and Los Angeles all season. The Lakers aren't going to deal with an even more fragile injury.
Of course, there remains the chance that Howard spurns the Lakers and leaves them with nothing this summer, but with their ability to offer him roughly $30 million more than anyone else, you have to follow the money.
And the smart money says Howard will remain a member of the Lakers not just for the rest of this season, but beyond as well.
Paul Millsap Headed to the Land of Make-Believe?
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According to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein, the Los Angeles Clippers and Jazz have had talks about a deal that would land Paul Millsap in Hollywood.
The parameters of such a deal would consist of third-year point guard Eric Bledsoe and either DeAndre Jordan or Caron Butler headed to Utah in exchange for Millsap and likely another player (Raja Bell?).
Such a deal arguably makes sense for both sides.
Bledsoe is steadily turning into a star, and with Chris Paul likely to re-sign with the Clippers, he is valuable trade bait. There is reportedly some friction between the organization and Jordan, which could pave the way for his inclusion, but I'd bet on Butler being the one shipped out here.
I don't see Utah wanting to pay the annual $10-plus million Jordan is owed for the next few years, not with Al Jefferson still in the fold, and I assume he still will be. If they were willing to pay such a price, Millsap probably wouldn't be on the trade block.
If the deal includes Butler and Bledsoe, though, the Jazz could jump on it. They need a point guard in the worst way and again, Bledsoe has been sensational this season.
While the trade seems promising on the surface, Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld is reporting that a Bledsoe trade is still unlikely.
We keep hearing a Bledsoe trade is unlikely, but people are making that leap based on # of PGs in Clipperland.— Bill Ingram (@TheRocketGuy) February 17, 2013
Not to play both sides of the fence, but this also makes sense. As bright as the outlook is on Paul's contract situation, Bledsoe provides insurance in case he changes his mind.
Would the Clippers risk that, especially knowing their other options (Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford) aren't as crafty playmakers?
At this point, I'm inclined to say no. Unless the Clippers get blown away by an offer, I'd expect them to wait until the offseason to resolve such issues.
Kevin Garnett's Days in Boston Are Numbered
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Speaking of a deal worthy of prying Eric Bledsoe away from the Clippers, I give you Kevin Garnett.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics and Clippers have talked about a potential deal regarding Garnett for Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan.
Jordan's defensive presence would be a welcomed commodity in Beantown, and Bledsoe would open up an array of doors for the Celtics in the backcourt.
That said, per Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, Garnett has repeatedly said he will not waive his no-trade clause even for the Clippers, though Los Angeles believes it can change his mind.
Overly optimistic though the Clippers may seem, Garnett does make his offseason home in Malibu, and the prospect of continuing to contend for a title alongside Chris Paul might be too good to pass up.
Still, it's tough to imagine the man who "bleeds" Celtics green waiving his no-trade clause for anyone, especially if he has come out and said he wouldn't.
Until Danny Ainge and company actually bring a proposed deal to Garnett, though, seeking his input and ultimate decision, we really don't know what could happen.
For fear of a potential deal blowing up in Boston's face, perhaps we never will.