With the NBA trade deadline just a little over a week away on Feb. 20, the rumors will start flying around fast and furious, as contenders look to bolster for a playoff run and teams down the standings look to dump talent and accumulate draft picks with a strong 2014 class expected to hit the league.
This is the silly season, folks, when people spend their idle time playing with the trade machine and certain players (cough, cough, Pau Gasol, cough) find themselves linked to half of the teams in the league.
Below, you'll find three of the most juicy recent rumors to hit the Internet. Let's get to it.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics
Much like Gasol, Rajon Rondo has become a popular subject of trade rumors. While it remains unlikely the team would deal their franchise cornerstone, that won't stop teams from asking.
Here's more, from Sean Deveney of the Sporting News:
Rival executives say the rebuilding Celtics could be among the busiest teams at the trade deadline, at least in terms of phone calls logged. Boston would be willing to make a deal for just about any player on the roster, though there are no plans to trade point guard Rajon Rondo without an overwhelming offer. There has been discussion about Jeff Green, too, but his contract (two more years at $19 million total) makes him difficult to move.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, however, the New York Knicks plan on making a big push for Rondo:
Despite the consistent claims from Celtics general manager Danny Ainge that Rondo isn't available, the Knicks have a strong belief that he can be had if – in a nod to another show – the price is right. They can offer the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire (one season remaining after this one, at $23.4 million) while taking future money back (such as Gerald Wallace and/or Jeff Green) and helping Ainge clear the way for the summer of 2015 that is known to be a priority of his. (That summer is a major priority for the Knicks, too, but it appears the Rondo scenario is one of the few, if not the only, where they'd consider the impact of his addition great enough to justify taking on some money from that point on.) The Knicks can include Raymond Felton (a much cheaper point guard option) or Iman Shumpert (rookie contract) and even discuss beloved rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
What they can't include? Draft picks that the Celtics would value, as Amick notes, a major reason why this probably won't happen.
But hey, it is a reason for you to get going on the ol' trade machine, right?
Since returning from injury, Rondo has averaged 9.1 points and 7.4 assists in nine games. Those numbers are well below his career averages, but he's still rounding into form. More importantly, however, he also has a far less talented team surrounding him, meaning Rondo may yet desire to be moved rather than work through the rebuilding process.
Rondo probably won't be moved at the deadline, but he's worth monitoring closely.
Pau Gasol, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
What a shocker, a Gasol trade rumor. This is only, what, the 4,567,981st Gasol trade rumor in the past several years?
Sarcasm aside, there probably hasn't been a more logical moment for the Lakers to move Gasol than now. The team is going to have to rebuild (or retool, depending on how you look at it) through the draft and free agency next year, and Gasol is an obvious trade chip.
And according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, the Phoenix Suns are interested in adding the star power forward:
The Lakers were open to trading Pau Gasol until they couldn’t pry one of Phoenix’s top draft picks for this June away from the Suns. Phoenix could be getting No. 1 picks from Minnesota and Washington, and the Lakers are seeking one of those prime assets. Even as Gasol misses the next 10 days or so with a groin injury, the two teams are expected to resume talks.
The Suns are surprisingly in the thick of the playoff race, but adding a star to the ranks would be huge for their postseason push. And while Gasol isn't the player he once was, his 17 points and 10.2 rebounds per game would be welcomed with open arms in Phoenix.
Evan Turner, SG, Philadelphia 76ers
It's no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers would secretly love to keep on losing, as the team is looking toward a loaded draft this summer as a way to rebuild.
Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel give the team a nice start in that direction, but adding more draft picks to the stash they'll already have should be a priority.
And that means potentially trading veterans like Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. The latter should attract plenty of attention around the league, as Amick notes:
The fourth-year swingman is having a very productive season, averaging 17.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. But the price for that production in his forthcoming restricted free agency (if he's extended the qualifying offer) is likely too rich for the 76ers' blood, meaning they'd rather net a first-round draft pick in return for him and continue their rebuilding efforts with a more salary-cap friendly situation. One rival executive mentioned the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Bobcats as possible destinations via trade, though both teams could also wait until the offseason to see if they could simply sign him then.
If Turner could be brought back for a reasonable price, you have to believe the Sixers would do so.
He's still a young player and would be a solid mentor for his younger teammates, understanding the pressures of being a high draft pick and the expectations to produce instantly that come with it.
But Turner will be due to make some money, and the Sixers will look to stockpile resources for their younger players. Expect Philly to make a big push to deal him at the deadline.