As we approach the halfway point of the season, teams around the league have pretty much established and realized what they are—and what they need. A handful of teams have bowed out of contention, vowing to be sellers, while other teams have the playoffs in their sights.
With the trade deadline not too far off in the distance, it's time for teams to really ramp up the trade efforts.
That means, of course, that plenty of rumors are going to start piling up. Let's take a look at five of the bigger rumors that could really impact the league.
The Rumor: According to sources of Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the New Orleans Pelicans are interested in a trade for a big man after losing Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith to injuries.
The Verdict: Buy
Typically, I'd sell on a team eight games under .500 in a loaded conference being a buyer, but there's an important factor to consider with the New Orleans Pelicans, and that's the lack of incentive to lose.
Remember, it's the Philadelphia 76ers who hold the Pelicans' pick via the Jrue Holiday trade made this offseason. While that pick is top-five protected, it may take some luck for the lottery balls to bounce right if New Orleans opted to tank.
Instead, it probably makes more sense to try to compete, and playing Greg Stiemsma starter's minutes probably isn't the best way to accomplish that. If New Orleans could find a big-bodied center to put next to Anthony Davis for the future, that would be ideal.
Problem is, the Pelicans may not have the assets to do that, as Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans may be viewed more along the lines of salary dumps than talent acquisitions by opposing teams. The desire to find a big man is there for obvious reasons, but the means to do so might not be.
The Verdict: Sell
I can't speak to Jabari Parker's character or personal goals, but we can look at what most players in his shoes have done in the past.
When a guy is projected as a top-five pick in the draft, like Parker is now, very rarely does he stay in school another year. Obviously every situation is unique, but it's very rare to see that actually happen.
And it makes sense for Parker to give off the vibe that he's going back to Duke next year. That's his sole allegiance right now, and it would do a disservice to himself and his teammates if he were to give off the impression that he wasn't fully committed to both the present and future at Duke.
I'm not selling the idea that Parker will forgo the draft and the guaranteed money necessarily, but rather that the decision is anywhere close to decided. Let's talk once his season is over and everything is more solidified than it is right now.
The Rumor: Per the league sources of Grantland's Zach Lowe, some executives view it as a lock that Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner will be on the trade block.
The Verdict: Buy
It just makes too much sense. Evan Turner will hit restricted free agency next season, which essentially means he's on an expiring deal for the Philadelphia 76ers.
It seems highly unlikely that a rebuilding team like Philadelphia would invest major money into a player like Turner, despite his improved play this year. Turner could develop into something more eventually, but the price and risk may be too high for Philadelphia to willingly take on at this stage.
That makes Turner a prime target to be dealt, even if it's for a minor future asset. If general manager Sam Hinkie has no intentions of giving Turner his qualifying offer or matching in restricted free agency, now would be the time to deal him.
The Rumor: According to Sam Smith of Bulls.com, more executives think the Boston Celtics want to trade Jeff Green.
The Verdict: Buy
The Jeff Green trade rumors have been overshadowed by all of the Rajon Rondo talk, but I'll buy that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is looking to move him for future assets.
The big issue at play here is Green's contract, which has two years left on it and then a third year that's a player option. It's that final year worth $9.4 million that could become problematic down the line, as Boston will likely want to clear as much cap space as possible in that offseason to recruit another major star to play with Rondo (or go after two max-deal players).
With that in mind, it may make sense to shop Green and Gerald Wallace as a tandem, as they are now the only two significant contracts on the books for Boston in the 2015-16 season. If Boston could shed both, they'd have massive cap space in the 2015 offseason.
Of course, this is a tentative buy, if only because it's not a lock that Green would accept his player option. While it seems unlikely he would receive $9 million a year on a new deal in free agency, Green could secure long-term money and more financial security if he opts out.
All that said, it's hard to imagine Ainge isn't shopping anyone at this point.
The Rumor: Dirk Nowtizki wants to stay with the Dallas Mavericks for two or three more years.
The Verdict: Buy
Dirk Nowitzki is a rarity in this day and age, as he's one of the only superstars who has managed to play his entire career for just one team.
As for his future with the Mavericks? Here's what Nowitzki told the media outlet Sport1:
“In the summer I will be free agent and likely extend the contract for two or three years” said Nowitzki. “As long as the body supports me, it is still fun to play basketball. After the new contract I will be 38 or 39 and I will probably stop. (...) Mark has always supported me. Even when things were not going well, he has always told me: ‘You are and will remain my franchise player” ended Nowitzki.
Nowitzki certainly seems like a man of his word, and given the loyalty each side has shown over the years, it would be a shock if he ended up playing elsewhere. So long as Nowitzki wants to keep lacing them up, he should be a member of the Mavericks.
Three more years may be a little optimistic, but a two-year deal seems perfect for both Nowitzki and Dallas.