Do you hear that? That's the sound of the Trade Machine churning out fake deals with aplomb ahead of the NBA's February 21 trade deadline.
With mere days left until then, current and wishful general managers will be busy tossing around ideas and doing their best to make the numbers work. But as interesting as it will be to see which teams buy, which teams sell and to what extent each does so, the real intrigue of the trade deadline lies with those already at the head of the class.
Titles have been won and lost on deadline day in the past. The Detroit Pistons put themselves over the top when they picked up Rasheed Wallace in 2004, and the Los Angeles Lakers came ever so close to doing the same with the acquisition of Pau Gasol in '08 (a trade that paid off handsomely for both the Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, mind you).
Of course, potential champions don't always require significant midseason trades to put themselves over the top. The Miami Heat largely stood pat last March, the Dallas Mavericks kept quiet in 2011, and the Lakers opted against a shakeup during their title defense in 2010.
Still, the rumor mill is bound to be abuzz with trade suggestions for those at the top of the title-contending heap. These five in particular will certainly create a lot of chatter—however unlikely the possibility.