The NBA's trade deadline will once again alter the landscape of the league. While various deals are made, some deals that aren't will have just as big of an impact.
Rumors are circulating, and it's hard to determine which holds truth and which are completely unlikely to occur. As always with the trade deadline, there are deals and moves that will happen that weren't reported in the media at all.
The following slides are predictions and should be taken as such.
The Phoenix Suns have popped up in more trade rumors than most teams in the last few weeks. They have been linked to multiple moves, including big-name trades for Josh Smith and Iman Shumpert (per ESPN and Yahoo! Sports, respectively). All considered, the Suns will stick with what they have and won't complete a deal.
While the Suns are in a position to make deals and restructure their roster, neither Smith nor Shumpert makes them that much better. They are in full-rebuilding mode at this point without a surefire centerpiece to build around.
They should be looking to unload salaries instead of trying to land a package centered around one player. The Suns have around $51 million committed to next season, with just about $7 million coming off the books from this season's squad.
While the Los Angeles Lakers have rebuffed rumors saying they are looking to deal Dwight Howard, they would be foolish not to take and make calls regarding the center. Things just haven't worked out for the Lakers in the way they imagined. With Howard bolting in free agency a possibility, the Lakers should get as much as they can in return for the big man.
Whether or not the Lakers find a taker remains to be seen, but if they can somehow get the Boston Celtics to get serious about a Howard-for-Rajon Rondo swap, the Lakers need to take that.
At best, the Lakers are looking to make the playoffs and get beat in the first round by a top-tier team in the Western Conference. They would be better off ridding themselves of the problematic situation involving Howard.
The last two weeks have been filled with rumors about the New York Knicks trying to trade Iman Shumpert in a win-now move. The first trade rumor involved Phoenix Suns shooting guard Jared Dudley being shipped to New York (per Yahoo! Sports), while the second involved Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick (via Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD).
The Knicks will end up trading Shumpert and regretting the move afterward. Shumpert is the only youthful player on the Knicks' aging roster. Adding Dudley or Redick might help the Knicks win now, but neither player is worth taking Shumpert out of the equation. He adds perimeter defense to a team that desperately needs it.
If the Knicks don't immediately regret trading Shumpert, they will definitely regret it in the future. In a few years, the majority of this Knicks team will have to be rebuilt because of players getting too old. If Shumpert develops into a better all-around player, he could be a nice building block down the road.
The Brooklyn Nets have been in the market for a player to push them over the top in the Eastern Conference since they started to develop their core of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Rumors have linked the Nets to interest in Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (per Adrian Wojnarowski). After failing to land Smith, the Nets will drop in the Eastern Conference standings.
As of now, the Nets just aren't good enough in the East. They are a solid home team, but have struggled away from the Barclay's Center. They are 20-10 at home and just 12-12 on the road. With six more road games than home games down the stretch, the Nets need to improve their roster to ensure more wins.
Even if the Nets can maintain their level of play, they don't have the firepower to hang with the Miami Heat. It's even tough to imagine them beating the New York Knicks or a healthy Chicago Bulls team in a seven-game series.
Eric Gordon's injury problems have cost him a ton of action over the last two seasons. His generally unhappiness playing in New Orleans also seems to be a deterrent to his success. If the Hornets persist with their interest in the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (via NOLA.com), Gordon could thrive with the change of scenery.
Gordon would be great playing in the Warriors system and alongside Stephen Curry. He's also a proven scoring slasher, which would be an immediate improvement from Klay Thompson. The latter may become a better scorer as he develops, but as of yet, hasn't been able to do so. Gordon doesn't shoot as well as Thompson, but it's worth the sacrifice for the Dubs.
Despite being fairly inconsistent, Gordon has played very well in a number of games this season. A new location and good team would help him consistently deliver those types of performances.