The NBA trade deadline is rapidly approaching (Feb. 21), and if we know one thing about this league, it's that nothing is ever set in stone.
That being said, where there's smoke, there's fire, and the rumor mill has given us plenty to talk about up to this point.
Will Josh Smith be traded? What will happen with the Los Angeles Lakers?
Nobody knows the answer to these questions, but with the big day just around the corner, it's time to start picturing what the Association will look like come Feb. 22.
Prediction: Josh Smith Will Be Traded
If the Atlanta Hawks don't trade Josh Smith, it will be one of the more shocking non-moves of the 2013 trade deadline.
Smith wants to become a max-contract player, and the Hawks simply don't value him as such. In today's NBA, you're likely to find someone willing to shell out the cash, which means Atlanta can anticipate him walking in free agency if it opts to keep him past Feb. 21.
With a player of Smith's caliber, there are bound to be plenty of suitors. ESPN's Marc Stein has listed the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards as candidates.
Whether or not Atlanta gets back equal value is another question. Whichever team Atlanta chooses to deal with will have the leverage, and it's possible that a lopsided traded could be in the works before it's all said and done.
Prediction: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce Will Remain in Boston
It would be beyond easy for the Boston Celtics to abandon ship and start the rebuilding process immediately. Rajon Rondo is out for the year, the team isn't getting any younger, and rebounding has been a major problem up to this point.
The playoffs are going to be a challenge for this team, but spirits are high, and nobody in that locker room is expressing any doubt in their current abilities.
Would it be smart for Boston to move some pieces around? You bet it would be. A run at the Miami Heat is going to be tough without Rondo leading the way, and you have to wonder how much energy this team will have late in the year.
But with the losing stretches that have plagued them thus far, they've also had equally important hot streaks. The Celtics may make a small move to add size inside, but don't expect Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to be anywhere but Boston when the season comes to a close.
Prediction: Trade for Ben Gordon
The Brooklyn Nets would love to trade for Josh Smith, but the truth is that they just don't have the pieces necessary to acquire the 27-year-old.
What they do have is the ability to acquire Ben Gordon, and with the recent news of his incident with Mike Dunlap (according to Adrian Wojnarowski), his trade value should be reasonable.
Despite the attitude that came with Gordon to the rebuilding Charlotte Bobcats, he has proved that he can still contribute. He is averaging 12.4 points in just 22 minutes, and he's going to help bolster the backcourt when it comes to long-range shooting.
His contract is a bit too heavy to keep around for a Charlotte franchise trying to stay relevant, but if he can be the piece that helps Brooklyn in the playoffs, it will be money well spent.
Prediction: Ben Gordon Will Be Traded
The disconnect between Ben Gordon and the Charlotte Bobcats appears to be beyond reconciliation. He clearly doesn't want to be part of a rebuilding franchise, and he's not helping the image of a struggling organization.
The sad part about the situation is that Gordon is actually producing. His averages are good enough to make him one of the top producers on the roster, but with the good has come the bad in his first season with the team.
The Bobcats need to keep their heads up. It's easy to let morale drop when losing becomes the norm, but ridding themselves of a bad situation is going to be a huge step in a positive direction.
Prediction: Carlos Boozer Will Stay
Once considered a strong candidate to be moved at the deadline, it no longer appears there's a suitor for Carlos Boozer.
The power forward was a fantastic pickup when the Chicago Bulls signed him in the summer of 2010. He is having another solid year (15.7 PTS, 9.3 REB, 17.3 PER), but the money he's making doesn't seem worth it with Joakim Noah and Luol Deng surrounding him in the lineup.
The problem in striking a deal is that the team only had one viable partner in the Toronto Raptors, and they are suddenly less inclined to trade Andrea Bargnani (according to Hoopsworld).
At one point, the Raptors were given the opportunity to accept the swap "whenever they want" (according to Matt Moore of CBS Sports), but with Bargnani seemingly no longer available, Boozer seems like a lock to stay in Chicago.
Shedding the 31-year-old's contract would be ideal for the Bulls, but if their worst-case scenario is that they keep a solid player in their rotation, things aren't looking too bad.
Prediction: The Cleveland Cavaliers Will Stand Pat, Sign Greg Oden
The Cavaliers have been bombarded with injuries throughout the 2012-13 season, and while a free-agent signing is certainly not a "deadline deal," it is certainly a time-sensitive move that must take place before another team can snag their target.
Bringing in an injury-prone center might not make sense on the surface, but that's why this team should be expected to stand pat at the deadline. The Cavs have their sights set on 2013-14 with all the youth in their lineup, and this year will be quickly forgotten when that time comes around.
Cleveland hasn't played as well as most expected, and according to Fox Sports' Sam Amico, it has looked at Greg Oden. The team would let him rehab upon signing a contract, and the hope would be that he could return to the court the following year.
The Cavaliers are the second-worst shot-blocking team in the NBA, in the bottom 10 in rebounding and just 19th when it comes to points in the paint. Oden is a big question mark, but if he can stay healthy, he could help fix every one of those categories.
The situation works well for Oden, too. He's not going to a place where he's the savior of the franchise, and while there are sure to be Ohio State fans expecting the old Oden to return, most fans are sure to recognize that it's a low-risk, high-reward situation.
Prediction: Dallas Will Trade for Josh Smith
If the Dallas Mavericks are smart, they'll take full advantage of their expiring contracts and trade for this season's ultimate deadline prize—Josh Smith.
The Mavs added players this past offseason such as O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and Elton Brand (waivers) to one-year deals to give themselves free-agent flexibility. The problem is that they're no longer a hot destination, and it's questionable as to whom they could land next summer.
Making a move now will help the team immediately, and even if they can't make the playoffs, they'll set themselves up for success in 2013-14.
Prediction: Nuggets Shop Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov has become the unfortunate victim of one of the deepest rosters in the NBA.
The Denver Nuggets have depth, and they have the talent to limit minutes when they see fit. For Mozgov, he has the talent and size to contribute, but he just simply isn't earning time in front of the team's more proven options.
Luckily for the center, there are sure to be teams out there that need size, and the Nuggets should be willing to listen to whatever offers come their way.
Mozgov isn't the kind of player who can turn around a franchise, but he does have it in him to help a team get tougher inside—especially a team looking to make a playoff run. He blocks shots, he rebounds, and he takes up space at 7'1", 250 pounds.
The big man is set to be a free agent in 2013, so if the Nuggets don't want to let him walk, dealing him before the deadline becomes the best option.
Prediction: No More Moves
The Detroit Pistons made headlines when they acquired Jose Calderon from the Toronto Raptors, and it's unlikely that they'll make any more moves before Feb. 21.
According to Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press, the Pistons are expected to keep their roster as is until the summer of 2013. Fans may be disappointed without a deadline acquisition, but the move to stay quiet is the right one for Detroit.
This is a team that has talent, but they have to figure out who is going to be a part of the long-term picture. The only way to do that is to widen the rotation and try out more lineups.
The playoffs are still within reach for the Pistons, but the bigger goal has to be figuring out which players are going to get them further into the postseason for years to come.
Prediction: No Shakeup Necessary
Unless the Golden State Warriors are willing to give up multiple pieces for Eric Gordon, don't expect much noise coming out of the Bay Area at the trade deadline.
An unfortunate skid before the All-Star break made it easy to speculate when it came to this roster, but you have to remember what they accomplished early. They've been one of the biggest surprises of the season, and they have potential to shake up the Western Conference playoff race.
This team has a plethora of young talent, and while they're not likely a championship team right now, they'd be disrupting the growth process if they made a major move.
Keeping the team intact has to be the mindset, and seeing how far you get in the playoffs will help carry momentum into the 2013-14 season.
Prediction: Under-the-Radar Moves at Best
Unless the Houston Rockets can swing a deadline deal to acquire Dwight Howard, their primary target during the 2012 offseason, don't expect a major move come Feb. 22.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Rockets are fans of Josh Smith but are more likely to go after him in free agency. He would be a solid player to bolster one of the worst defenses in the league, but don't expect it to happen midseason.
Stein goes on to say that Houston is expected to trade for draft picks before the trade deadline. The Rockets have salary cap space left over following their flurry of moves from the summer, and they can afford to take on picks that teams are looking to trade to avoid the luxury tax.
Update: In a three-team, seven-player trade with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, the Rockets shipped out notables Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris and received Thomas Robinson and the Suns' 2013 second-round pick, according to ESPN.com.
Prediction: Stay Put, Wait for Danny Granger
The Indiana Pacers are arguably the best defensive team in the NBA. They allow the fewest points per game, they record the third-most blocks, and they give up the lowest field-goal percentage in the entire league.
The problem has been on offense, where they have trouble simply scoring the ball.
Bringing in someone to alleviate those concerns would be great for the Pacers, but the tricky part would be doing it while not sacrificing their defensive success. A trade might do just that, so waiting for Danny Granger to return is the best option.
When the forward is able to get back on the court, he's going to provide both offense and defense. This team won't find a better option on the trade block, and they'll likely sit back and wait instead of shaking things up.
Prediction: Trade Eric Bledsoe for Paul Millsap
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz have been in discussions regarding the potential swap of Eric Bledsoe and Paul Millsap.
Both teams would benefit from this deal, and they should make it happen before the Feb. 21 deadline.
In the case of L.A., it has two great point guards in Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups to get ready for the playoffs. As long as both stay healthy, Bledsoe's minutes are going to be limited, and there are other areas where they could use help.
Rebounding and low-post scoring have been a problem, and a player of Millsap's caliber would help improve both of those categories.
Bledsoe's stock is high, and the Clippers should look to capitalize.
Prediction: Dwight Howard Will Not Be Traded
The Los Angeles Lakers have been a train wreck for much of the 2012-13 season, but the fact is that they still have talent, and jumping ship at this point won't do them any good.
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Mitch Kupchak agrees, saying that the talent of the team can't be upgraded before the deadline.
If L.A. wants to deal Dwight Howard, its motivation has to be his looming contract situation. If the team is truly afraid of losing him in the offseason, the smart move is to deal him and get whatever you can in return.
The fact is, though, Los Angeles would much rather finish strong, win him over and lock him up long-term.
Call me crazy, but this team still has a push at the playoffs deep within them. Blowing up the roster isn't the way to make it happen, and keeping Howard assures that they have the best center in the game as they continue to jell.
Prediction: Memphis Will Quietly Look
The Memphis Grizzlies shook up the league when they traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, but there's a chance they're not done just yet.
The Grizzlies acquired a $7.48 million traded player exception (via Hoopsworld) when they sent Gay up North. They also have smaller exceptions that they can look to use if the right player is presented to them.
According to Hoopsworld, Zach Randolph won't be the one moved. He's having an All-Star season, and he's going to be a major part of a run deep into the playoffs.
Don't expect Memphis to make many headlines, but don't be surprised if it uses one of its exceptions to make a small upgrade somewhere on the roster.
Prediction: Miami Heat Won't Fix What Ain't Broke
The Miami Heat are the defending NBA champions, and while they haven't appeared 100 percent interested in the regular season, they're still the team to beat with their roster as is.
According to The Denver Post's Christopher Dempsey, Miami has shown interest in Timofey Mozgov. The center would give the team legitimate size, and he would help address the issues inside on the defensive end of the floor.
But with the recent addition of Chris Andersen, those needs appear to have been met, and there's nothing else the Heat need to do but play up to their potential.
This group has the roster to win their second straight championship, and it's going to come down to efficiency and motivation—not a midseason move.
Prediction: Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis Will Be Moved
The Milwaukee Bucks have a legitimate chance of winning the Josh Smith sweepstakes, and that's because they have two valuable trade assets in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
With the recent loss of Lou Williams for the season, you have to imagine the Atlanta Hawks would welcome either. Josh Smith is as good as gone, and they're not likely to receive another offer with a player as talented as Ellis or Jennings.
The future of the backcourt is in question in Milwaukee. The two guards were supposed to create one of the most dynamic combos in the NBA, and while it hasn't been awful, it appears that they've reached their ceiling sooner than expected.
One of these two players likely won't be in the long-term plans, and according to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times, Ellis is the player more likely to be moved.
Prediction: Luke Ridnour Should Be Gone
Luke Ridnour is a serviceable point guard who should be able to shoot, score and facilitate as a member of any team's second unit. The dilemma in Minnesota is whether or not he's deserving of minutes with Alexey Shved and Ricky Rubio running the point.
According to ESPN 1500, the New York Knicks are interested in acquiring the point guard. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz are also considered candidates to pull off a deal for Ridnour.
But while we don't know where the 32-year-old floor general will land, we can feel good with the chances that he'll be leaving Minnesota by the deadline.
Ridnour is averaging 12.3 points and 3.9 assists per game to go along with 46.0 percent shooting, and any team that picks him up will have a serviceable player to help run their offense.
Prediction: Eric Gordon Will Not Be Traded
The New Orleans Hornets are willing to consider a trade involving Eric Gordon (per ESPN's Chris Broussard), but chances are the 2-guard will remain with the team beyond the Feb. 21 deadline.
According to Broussard, teams are shying away because of Gordon's health. Nobody wants to commit long-term to a player with such an injury-riddled past, and it's unlikely that he lands somewhere new.
That doesn't mean that the Hornets should stop trying, though. It's been clear since Gordon signed an offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason (matched by the Hornets) that New Orleans isn't his top choice.
If he wants to be somewhere else, the Hornets should accommodate. They hold no contractual obligation to trade him if he's unhappy, but a disgruntled player could mean trouble for such a young core.
Prediction: Iman Shumpert Will Be Dealt
The New York Knicks are as close to an NBA championship as they've been in a long time. They can taste an Eastern Conference championship, but the fact is they're still a step or two behind the Miami Heat.
Iman Shumpert has decent trade value at this point, and if he can be moved for a player who will help the Knicks' chances, New York should do it in a heartbeat.
The choice to trade Shumpert won't be a popular one for many fans. He's the kind of player who people want to keep around, but if he's not the one who puts them into the next level, the team could decide to make the move regardless of how the fans feel.
There haven't been too many deals popping up just yet, but according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, the team has considered a trade for J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic.
Prediction: Eric Maynor Will Be Dealt
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Oklahoma City Thunder are "aggressively shopping [point guard] Eric Maynor."
The problem is, as Broussard notes, the team is asking for a lot in return. The 25-year-old is averaging just 2.8 points per game on 31.3 percent shooting (in 10.6 minutes), and he's never played more than 16.5 minutes per game throughout his career.
The question here has to be how high is "high" when it comes to the Thunder's asking price? If it's unreasonable, they're unlikely to send the fourth-year player anywhere.
But as the trade deadline nears, teams are typically willing to reevaluate league-wide values. Whether it's the Thunder lowering their expectations or another team buying what OKC is selling, it wouldn't be surprising to see Maynor don a new uniform at the end of the year.
Prediction: J.J. Redick Will Be Traded
The Orlando Magic are in the midst of an identity crisis.
Following the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, this team lacks any sort of true leadership. J.J. Redick hasn't been the problem, but he could very well be the next piece to go in this massive rebuild.
Redick is in the middle of a career year, and he's going to attract a lot of teams. According to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, a deal surrounding Redick and Iman Shumpert has been discussed.
The Magic are starting over from scratch, and while they're not going to get a franchise-saver in a deal for Redick, they will get someone who can help the team continue to move on.
Prediction: Sixers Stay Patient
The Philadelphia 76ers haven't played as well as their fans hoped they would throughout the 2012-13 season, but that has almost everything to do with the absence of Andrew Bynum from the lineup.
Bynum has stated that he will play this season (according to Philly.com), and bringing in a player via trade will only disrupt chemistry while trying to integrate the big man into the offense.
The problem for Philly this season has been scoring points. It lost a solid scorer when it traded away Andre Iguodala, and it's yet to make up the difference with Bynum still on the sidelines.
If Bynum can come back healthy, he has a chance to become a No. 1 option. There will likely be a learning curve when it comes to playing with this team, but bringing him into the lineup will be better than any deal they make before the deadline.
Prediction: The Phoenix Suns Will Be Active
Per ESPN, the Phoenix Suns are no longer considered threats to acquire Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith.
That being said, Ken Berger of CBS Sports has reported that the Suns are one of three teams most likely to swing a trade by the deadline—the Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks are the other two.
So the question becomes, where can Phoenix turn if it is truly out of the running for Smith? According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the team has talked to the Toronto Raptors about Sebastian Telfair and the New York Knicks are interested in Jermaine O'Neal.
Among the questions, one thing is simple: Something has to change in Phoenix.
The team is dead last in the Western Conference, and swapping out short-term veterans for long-term prospects should be the goal at the deadline.
Update: In a three-team, seven-player trade with the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, the Suns sent a 2013 second-round pick to Houston in exchange for Marcus Morris, according to ESPN.com.
Prediction: Stand Pat
The big question surrounding the Portland Trail Blazers is whether or not they'll trade away the expiring contract of J.J. Hickson. The forward/center has played well in Rip City, but a rebuilding team could use a more long-term piece to the puzzle.
What should prevent a deal from happening is a run at the playoffs. Portland would be nowhere without Hickson, and if it truly hopes to make the postseason, it needs him providing endless energy night in and night out.
Despite Hickson averaging 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per night (with a PER of 20.01), the team hasn't received any considerable offers (according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski).
The 24-year-old also has a no-trade clause in his contract, which could make it difficult for the Blazers to execute a trade.
Prediction: Not a Lot of Movement
The Sacramento Kings are in the midst of another taxing season, and there isn't much probability that they'll add a piece at the trade deadline.
According to Jonathan Santiago (via Sulia), the Kings may make no moves at all. Santiago explains that the Kings "can't do any deals that add to payroll because of the team's current ownership situation."
As the second-worst team in the West, Sacramento has more questions than answers. Nobody quite knows whether Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins are going to be with the team long-term, but it's more likely that those decisions are made following the 2012-13 season.
This team needs an upgrade at some point, but don't expect it to be by Feb. 21.
Update: In a three-team, seven-player trade with the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns, the Kings shipped out Thomas Robinson (among others) in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich, according to ESPN.com.
Prediction: A Quiet Deadline
According to Ric Bucher via Twitter, the San Antonio Spurs are not expected to make a trade for either Al Jefferson or Josh Smith.
These two have been widely regarded as the team's top targets, so don't be surprised if the Spurs stick with the formula that has gotten them where they are today and keep their roster the same.
In all honesty, this team doesn't need to make a move. Age may catch up to them during a championship run, but they're far less desperate to get young than a team like the Boston Celtics.
This group has youth that can spell the starters on a regular basis, and the entire team has proved to be as productive as any other squad in the entire NBA.
Prediction: Andrea Bargnani Stays
It's been widely assumed that Andrea Bargnani simply needed a change of scenery after lackluster basketball had plagued him up to this point.
However, Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick that "sometimes a change of scenery can happen just by redecorating the room."
As abstract as this quote is, it makes sense. The team has traded away Jose Calderon, brought in Rudy Gay and established DeMar DeRozan as a legitimate scoring option. Bargnani's role is different than it was to start the year, and he could benefit from having more options surrounding him.
Bargnani's contract appears to be the bigger issue, and if the Raptors could unload the money, they'd likely look to do so. But if the deal isn't right, don't expect them to give him away for free.
Prediction: Swap Paull Millsap and Eric Bledsoe
It's no secret that the Utah Jazz have a plethora of productive bigs. Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors make up arguably the deepest frontcourt in the NBA. Simply put, that's a problem that any team would love to have.
The real issue, though, is that Millsap and Jefferson have contract negotiations looming, and if the team can trade one to help bolster their backcourt, it's a move that needs to be made.
With the Los Angeles Clippers as a potential trade partner, the Jazz should take the opportunity to improve their perimeter play while locking up Jefferson long-term.
This trade should be made with Eric Bledsoe going to the Jazz, and it's one of the rare deals that truly helps both teams get better.
Prediction: Jordan Crawford Will Be Moved
If the Washington Wizards are smart, they'll feel out the market and see what Jordan Crawford's value is before the Feb. 21 deadline.
Crawford has had a decent season, which should make him worthy of consideration to teams around the league. He can score in isolation sets and is averaging 13.2 points in 26.2 minutes per game.
The stellar play of Bradley Beal and the return of John Wall have made the 24-year-old expendable, and quite frankly, he takes away from the team's efficiency. Washington has shot the ball horribly throughout the year, and according to 82games.com, it shoots nearly four percent worse with Crawford on the floor.
There are teams in this league that need an isolation shooter, but with Washington building around Beal and Wall, the Wizards are no longer one of them.