NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Monta Ellis, J.J. Hickson and Other Stars

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2013

December 21, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Milwaukee Bucks point guard Monta Ellis (11) controls the ball during the first half against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA trade deadline is just over 24 hours away, and the rumor mill is starting to heat up once again. More deals with big names are being tossed around and by tomorrow, chances are that some teams will look completely different.

In San Antonio, the Spurs appear to be on the verge of cutting out some dead weight. Not necessarily an imperative move for a top-seeded squad, but it still opens the door for another San Antonio title run, something that veteran Tim Duncan would surely love.

Head north to Portland, and it appears that the Trail Blazers are ready to give up on this season. Center J.J. Hickson is on the trading block, but just whether or not he will be dealt remains to be seen, given the soft market for big men and post players.

Oh, and let's not forget about the Milwaukee Bucks and the decisions general manager John Hammond has to make, particularly on guard Monta Ellis. He is set to hit free agency this summer, but will any team take on the remainder of his contract?

There's a lot to cover with just about a day to go until the league's foundation potentially shakes, so let's dive right in and catch the latest buzz on who could be on the move.


DeJuan Blair Trade All But a Certainty

This season, San Antonio Spurs big man DeJuan Blair has become more and more of a non-factor. The former Pittsburgh Panther plays the low post well, but still is slow on his feet and not much of an offensive threat. Moreover, at 6'7", 270 pounds, the man is undersized for the 5.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Spurs GM R.C. Buford will definitely deal Blair before tomorrow's deadline for the best offer he receives, even if it's just a second-round pick and another dead weight player.

It will be sad to see Blair in another uniform, but the fact of the matter is that there just isn't room for him in San Antonio anymore. What with the development of Tiago Splitter and the presence of Boris Diaw, the 23-year-old has become obsolete in head coach Gregg Popovich's rotation.

Hopefully, if a deal does go down, Blair can get a fresh start on a new team and get the minutes he deserves.


Blazers Still Seeking Hickson Trade

This season, J.J. Hickson has been great as the starting center for the Portland Trail Blazers. He may not be the biggest 5 at 6'9", 242 pounds, but he still has averaged a respectable 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

However, Hickson is earning $4 million this year and has an expiring contract. What with Portland seemingly falling further and further out of the Western Conference playoff race, GM Neil Olshey could pull the trigger on a deal involving Hickson.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported the Brooklyn Nets as a team interested in Hickson, but Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports said that Portland had not received any solid offers yet.

Moreover, now that cheaper big men in Jermaine O'Neal and Marreese Speights have become available, Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge reports that the market for Hickson has gone soft. Regardless of that, rival GMs must remember one key fact about Hickson.

Not only can Hickson veto any trade in which he is involved, but he also has Bird Rights, which he loses if dealt. For those unaware, Bird Rights are received by a player who has played three years without being waived or having changed teams as a free agent. As a result, his team can go over the salary cap to re-sign him, and Hickson isn't likely to give that right up.

This is a rumor to watch over the next hours, but not one fans should count on becoming a reality unless the deal is too good to be true.


Bucks Considering Options with Monta Ellis

If there's one thing that can be said about the Milwaukee Bucks offseason, it's that GM John Hammond is unlikely to bring back shooting guard Monta Ellis, who came to Milwaukee in the Andrew Bogut trade at last year's deadline. This season, Ellis has posted 18.4 points and 5.5 assists per game, but has shot just 40 percent from the field and 23 percent from long range.

As a result, the Bucks would probably love to find a team willing to take Ellis so as not to lose him for nothing in July. ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that Ellis recently turned down a two-year extension from the team, so the writing appears to be on the wall regarding his future in Milwaukee.

In another report by ESPN's Marc Stein, the Atlanta Hawks have targeted Ellis in negotiations with Milwaukee in exchange for star forward Josh Smith.

That all being said, it's almost definite that Ellis is going to be moved yet again. Despite low percentages, the man can still score points while at times playing excellent defense, and there are plenty of teams in the market for that kind of help.

It's just a matter of Hammond finding the right buyer who has an equally right offer, and the deal is probably done.