With NBA rumors swirling at this point in the season, sometimes the most important league news goes unnoticed. There have been several intriguing stories that have surfaced recently, and each has implications on the respective NBA teams.
Injuries have been a killer for some teams early on. Derrick Roses' injury has changed the landscape of the Eastern Conference, as now there is no clear team behind the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. One team in the East stands to improve when an injured star comes back, however.
Suspensions and future plans for one Western Conference team also made headlines recently, and it'll be interesting to see the ramifications of each situation.
Here's the breakdown of all the latest NBA buzz.
Rajon Rondo Cleared for Practice
The Boston Celtics lead the Atlantic Division almost by default it seems, but they have reinforcements on the way.
Star point guard Rajon Rondo has been cleared to participate in full-contact practice, though that doesn't mean he'll see the court in games right away. It should be some time before we see him in action.
Rondo is cleared for full-contact practice. When will he return? Read Danny Ainge's comments in my story: http://t.co/GN9yckW4DT— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) December 15, 2013
“I don’t know a timetable,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said, via Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe. “None of us do and none of us can. As we can recall from every one of these incidents that have happened from the past few years, it’s all just guessing. So it’s sort of silly to speculate."
Rondo would transform the 11-14 Celtics into an above-average team under first-year head coach Brad Stevens. There will be an acclimation period for Rondo to get used to playing with his new teammates, though a significant amount of practice should help to fix those issues.
I'd put my money on him being back by the end of January, perhaps for their Jan. 21 bout against the Miami Heat.
Phoenix Suns Looking to Deal Picks
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports that the Phoenix Suns would be willing to deal picks from a very talented 2014 NBA draft to acquire top-flight talent that will help them win now.
Phoenix is 13-9 and off to a surprisingly strong start. Young players like Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Eric Bledsoe have played well thus far, and adding in a bona fide star would work wonders for their roster.
Giving away a pick from this talented draft class would be a questionable decision, but it would be hard to argue with the move if it brought immediate success. The NBA trading scene should start to pick up within the coming days, and that makes the Suns a threat to the rest of the West.
This team is already pretty dangerous without a top talent. Throw in a big-name star, and you've got yourself a team with a shot at the No. 6 seed in the West for the playoffs.
Meyers Leonard, Daniel Orton Suspended
Per an official release from the NBA, Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard and Philadelphia 76ers center Daniel Orton have each been suspended one game without pay.
This comes as a result of an altercation between the two that saw Leonard body slam Orton to the floor. Orton responded with an elbow to Leonard's mouth. Leonard's suspension will be served Sunday, while Orton's will be served the following night.
Neither player has been featured significantly for his respective team, though Orton has started four games this season. Each player averages around 10 minutes per game and doesn't really make an impact on either end of the floor.
Considering the suspensions are only for one game, both the Blazers and the Sixers will be fine playing a man down on Sunday and Monday.