The Feb. 20 NBA trade deadline is approaching soon, and while some of the latest chatter on the rumor mill concerns potential last-minute trades this season, there is another reported development worth monitoring.
It's possible that the Phoenix Suns could pursue Sacramento Kings star small forward Rudy Gay should he opt-out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason, according to a Monday report by USA Today's Sam Amick.
Let's take a closer look at the whispers surrounding Gay's situation, along with the other notable storylines to monitor as a couple of teams weigh their options in an effort to build for the future.
Rudy Gay to Phoenix?
Having already been traded to Sacramento by the Toronto Raptors, it remains to be seen whether Gay will want to move to his fourth NBA squad in three seasons.
However, per Amick, the Suns would be excited and eager to at least pursue him due to their current lack of star power:
The Sacramento Kings small forward has a player option for next season worth $19.3 million, and the Suns are expected to have serious interest if he decides to opt out. While second-year Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is clearly open to a star player of any kind, it's believed that he would prefer it to be a perimeter player.
Phoenix does have a promising nucleus in place, led by all-star-caliber point guard Goran Dragic, the Morris twins, this year's still-developing lottery pick Alex Len and hopefully Eric Bledsoe, should he remain with the Suns.
Gay still isn't sure he'll opt-out of his contract even though he's on a wayward Kings team with an awful roster, though it will likely have a high pick in the 2014 draft. The 27-year-old recently told ESPN.com's Marc Stein he has to weigh his options on whether or not to leave this summer:
I'm not sure. I have to go into the summer with my people, think about everything, weigh out the pros and cons. I don't know yet. But Sacramento's been great to me thus far. Obviously I'm trying to tune it all out right now. All I can think about right now is how great Sacramento's been to me..
The promise of stability in the desert exists, though, so Gay would have to listen to the new regime led by head coach Jeff Hornacek—who's done an outstanding job with a team that had no expectations—and general manager Ryan McDonough. The young executive is proving to be up to the task in already building a competitive team in his first year at the helm.
Amick also discusses how the Suns are rumored to be interested in Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, which would impact their potential Gay courtship. In any event, this is an exciting storyline, and if Gay joined the Suns with the current foundation they have in place, Phoenix would be a far more legitimate contender in the Western Conference.
Eric Gordon on the Block for New Orleans Pelicans
Who would benefit more from a fresh start with a new team?
The former top-10 draft pick of the Los Angeles Clippers has never quite lived up to the hype despite his immense talent, making him a bit of a concerning investment for a prospective suitor. To further feed that notion, he's averaging just 16 points per game and shooting 43 percent from the field.
Although his percentage from beyond the arc is 39 percent, Gordon's production doesn't exactly scream "franchise 2-guard." To be fair, injuries have played a part in hampering Gordon from reaching his full potential, and he still has a promising career ahead.
As NOLA.com's official Twitter account alludes to in a report by beat writer Jimmy Smith, Gordon leads the Pelicans in minutes this season:
Are you surprised that Eric Gordon leads the New Orleans Pelicans in minutes played this year? http://t.co/wuv3UlCkik— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) February 6, 2014
This isn't the first time Gordon's name has popped up as a potential trade piece, but now that New Orleans is 7-3 in its last 10 games, dealing him might be less attractive with slim postseason hopes still alive.
Gordon also has an exorbitant contract that should scare teams away at least somewhat, given that he makes over $30 million over the next two seasons if he doesn't become a free agent via his 2015 player option (h/t Spotrac.com).
It doesn't seem all that likely that the Pelicans will ship Gordon out with the recent momentum the team's gathered and his hefty price tag.
Metta World Peace Open to Trade
On the other hand, the New York Knicks may soon be parting ways with volatile defensive forward Metta World Peace. Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that World Peace is open to being traded because of his diminished role since returning from a blood spinning procedure for his ailing left knee.
Per Berman, one person close to World Peace said, "He didn't sign up for this." It seemed like a perfect fit—World Peace's big personality that has been rendered less violent in recent years in the media market of New York.
Well, it hasn't quite turned out that way because of the Knicks' poor performance on the hardwood in 2013-14. While World Peace could potentially help on the defensive end, head coach Mike Woodson doesn't appear interested in playing him all that much moving forward.
Berman pondered whether or not World Peace could have helped contain Kevin Durant when the Knicks lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-100 on Sunday:
Metta World Peace in game with 1:24 left for garbage time. Could he have slowed down KD? Never know,— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) February 9, 2014
World Peace has vehemently denied Berman's report about his desire to be traded, even incorporating some humor into it:
Being Traded never came out my mouth. Dont listen to these stories. life is fun. Whats so bad about playing.— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) February 8, 2014
Come on Mark Berman. Let me enjoy my netflix movies with twitter notifications on trade talk. now i have to re watch "Breaking Bad"— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) February 8, 2014
Whatever the case may be, the Knicks are a bit of a mess, and Woodson's job may not be safe anymore. Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com reports that Woodson expects to be fired by the all-star break, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.
It probably wouldn't hurt to give New York another physical presence and some swagger to a lackluster rotation by deploying World Peace more often. With a 20-31 record to show for the season, the Knicks need a spark fast even in the weak Eastern Conference to make a strong playoff push.