The NBA may not have a neat nickname for trade season like the MLB has with "hot stove," but it's an exciting time for basketball fans nonetheless.
This year's trade action got started early with big deals that included Rudy Gay going from the Toronto Raptors to the Sacramento Kings, but the fun isn't over yet. With just a matter of days left before the February 20 trade deadline, we'll be hearing plenty of trade chatter and seeing a flurry of deals very soon.
Will any star players like Carmelo Anthony or Greg Monroe be trading addresses? Which teams will be buyers and sellers? Let's play a little buy or sell with the latest rumors as the trade deadline approaches.
The Rumor: According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Pistons "aren't going to move Greg Monroe unless it's a blockbuster deal."
The Verdict: Buy
We can argue semantics and say that any trade involving Monroe would technically be considered a blockbuster, but Aldridge's larger point stands.
Given the fact that Pistons general manager Joe Dumars is on an expiring contract and possibly in hot water, the chances he trades one of his best players in Monroe for just draft picks and an expiring deal are very slim. Talent needs to come back in return, as the Pistons are right on the brink of being a playoff team.
Given Monroe's status as a restricted free agent who will almost certainly command a max deal this offseason, Detroit may look to swap him for a better fit on the wing and slide Josh Smith to the vacated power forward spot.
Finding an equivalent talent on the trade market may be tough, however, as it's rare for a team that's buying to not use draft picks or expiring deals as the main currency. Considering that Detroit has both of those things, Aldridge is spot-on in his assessment that the Pistons won't move Monroe unless there are star players going back both ways.
The Rumor: According to a source of Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, there's "no chance" Anthony will be dealt before the trade deadline.
The Verdict: Buy
While there's certainly a logical argument to be made for trading Anthony before the deadline, the Knicks haven't been dealing in logic for years now. Like it or not, the Knicks are fully invested in Anthony now and going forward, and there's no turning back.
That may put New York in a difficult position considering the fact Anthony can opt out of his contract this season, but there are limited options available.
The Knicks lack the future draft picks to rebuild if Anthony is traded, and it's highly doubtful that there's a trade out there where New York can actually upgrade in talent. Anthony has said in the past that he'd like to experience free agency, and that should be enough to turn off most of his suitors at this point.
Add in Knicks owner James Dolan's love for Anthony, and this sure seems like a non-starter. It would be truly a shock if Anthony didn't remain with the Knicks for the rest of the season.
The Rumor: According to David Aldridge at NBA.com, the Raptors "are less likely than more likely to trade Kyle Lowry by the deadline."
The Verdict: Buy
Lowry's future has been debated quite a bit as of late, but it seems like there's far too much for Toronto to lose by dealing him now.
Since trading Gay, the Raptors have been playing great basketball. You could certainly argue that Toronto is the clear-cut third-best team in the Eastern Conference, and you never know what will happen in terms of injuries down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Lowry is on an expiring deal, but Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has a history of re-signing players and then dealing them down the road. For now, keeping the positive momentum and contending in this year's playoffs should probably take priority, unless a team is willing to drastically overpay. With so few teams needing a starting point guard now and in the future, that seems unlikely.
Basically, the Raptors can afford to set a very high asking price for Lowry, and I'm buying that there aren't many teams who will be willing to pay it.
The Rumor: According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Washington Wizards "can't pay [Trevor] Ariza, who also pines to return to the West coast."
The Verdict: Sell
In Aldridge's piece, Wizards point guard John Wall explained why Ariza has been so important to the team:
He's a long, athletic guy, and he reads it very well, and if he misses it, he knows how to recover. It's something he's good at. He's great defensively. But he'll also knock down corner threes and does a lot of things for our team, and he's probably the catalyst for our defense being as good as it is.
It would seem that Ariza would be expendable with Otto Porter and Martell Webster behind him, but I'd be shocked if the Wizards didn't find a way to keep him around going forward.
Ariza is on an expiring deal and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but his impact in Washington has been undeniable. Ariza has proved to be a great fit on the wing next to Wall and Bradley Beal, which isn't something to be taken for granted.
Although Ariza will have other suitors, Washington will have the cap room (and Bird rights) to give him a strong offer to stick around. There's no doubt that Washington will have some financial problems to solve with Marcin Gortat also a free agent, but there's no reason why Ariza has to be the one to go.
The Rumor: According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, the Atlanta Hawks are "looking to get Jeff Green, who is being shopped hard by Danny Ainge and the [Boston] Celtics."
The Verdict: Sell
While it's very believable that Green is available as a trade target given his long-term contract and Boston's rebuilding status, the Hawks don't make much sense as a destination.
DeMarre Carroll may not be a big name, but he's played incredibly well this season and seems to fit in perfectly on both ends of the floor. He's a much more cost-effective option than Green, and maintaining cap flexibility is likely a priority for Hawks GM Danny Ferry.
Green is a good player, but the Hawks have had good players on big contracts in the past and have seen the results. It just doesn't seem like Green is a good enough target to push the chips in for, especially since Atlanta likely won't be seriously competing this year with Al Horford out for the season.
Unless Green were to come at a highly discounted price, it's hard to see why Atlanta would be interested.