We're a day from the NBA trade deadline and no closer to any certainty than we were this time last week. Deals are definitely going to happen, but the mystery surrounding them will make each one a surprise once the triggers are pulled.
In Atlanta, there is no sure answer as to where star forward Josh Smith will end up, if anywhere at all. So many teams are connected to him, so it just seems like a matter of GM Danny Ferry picking which deal he likes best. With just over 24 hours remaining, he had better choose soon.
In Minnesota, GM David Kahn is still looking for a way to slash payroll in what has become a lost season due to injuries. Guard Luke Ridnour is the most likely to be moved but, like Smith, where he ends up is completely up in the air.
Head out west and the Portland Trail Blazers could be on the verge of making a puzzling deal.
There's a lot to cover, so let's dive right in and get the latest news.
Blazers Shopping Hickson
The Portland Trail Blazers are on a five-game losing streak and have dropped to three games behind the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 spot in the highly competitive Western Conference. As a result, GM Neil Olshey has opened himself up to making a trade.
However, though the team still has a shot at making the postseason, Olshey has decided to make center J.J. Hickson available. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the team is willing to move Hickson, but has not yet received a good enough offer.
On the season, Hickson has averaged 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He does not have much size at 6'9", 242 pounds, but is still a solid presence at the 5. Were Portland to trade him, the team's best options at the position would be rookies Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard, assuming head coach Terry Stotts opted not to shift LaMarcus Aldridge to center.
This deal really only makes sense if Olshey can receive a solid center in return for Hickson on top of whatever else he is seeking, so there's no real certainty that Hickson will indeed be dealt. The next 24 hours will be interesting to watch, so fans should keep an eye on Portland.
Minnesota in Shopping Mode
In a season lost by injuries, the Minnesota Timberwolves have gone into shopping mode. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the team is going after top talent and has been "aggressive" in its approach, offering a number of first-round draft picks.
However, Minnesota is also likely to include guard Luke Ridnour in any deal in hopes of dumping his salary. The former Oregon Duck is set to make $4 million this season and $4.3 million in 2013-14. As reported by Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, the New York Knicks are just one of a few teams interested in the combo guard's services.
Minnesota GM David Kahn is a front office guy known for getting deals done, but this rumor remains one that fans should look at with a wait-and-see approach. There is no clarity on which players Minnesota has recently targeted, so all that anyone can really do is sit back and wait for further development.
The Josh Smith Saga Continues
Clearly, the Atlanta Hawks would prefer to trade Josh Smith rather than risk losing him for nothing come the offseason. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the team seems "determined" to deal its star player and has spoken to multiple teams, with the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks reportedly being the ones with the most interest.
However, both of those teams have some competition. ESPN's Chris Broussard has reported that the Brooklyn Nets are considering Smith a "prime target," and also that the Washington Wizards have taken an interesting approach in negotiating with Atlanta.
It's an intense competition, but it might not just be about which players are involved in a deal. Keep in mind that if Smith is indeed traded, whichever team lands him will be burdened with the task of convincing him to sign an extension this summer. To land him but only see him become a rental could be looked at as a giant front office mistake, so teams need to be careful in what they're willing to offer for him.
No real front-runner has yet emerged, so this is definitely something to watch in the coming hours.