One of the most exciting days on the sports calendar is nearly here.
The 2014 NBA trade deadline is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, signaling teams' final opportunity to retool for the upcoming playoff push.
While rumors have been swirling all season long, several names could in fact be on the move this February as clubs aim to rebuild their roster and clear cap space.
With the deadline fast approaching, here's what you should be watching for.
Date: Thursday, February 20, 2014
End Time: 3 p.m. ET
Latest Rumblings from Around the League
Sixers Searching For Draft Picks?
According to one Eastern Conference executive, via Philly.com's Keith Pompey, the reeling Philadelphia 76ers are looking to load up on draft picks ahead of Thursday's deadline.
The source adds that Philly would be willing to part ways with Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young in exchange for future picks.
NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper reports that Turner doesn't anticipate he'll be moved ahead of the deadline:
Evan Turner not expecting to be traded by Thursday deadline. If 76ers are holding out for a No. 1, strong sense is they won’t get it.— Scott Howard-Cooper (@SHowardCooper) February 15, 2014
Pompey also points out that the Sixers are expected to be the most active participants at the trade deadline this winter given their immense cap space and willingness to deal. Even more telling, Pompey reports that Philly has held trade talks with each of the other 29 teams in the league.
Therefore, there's a good chance the Sixers will make headlines on deadline day. However, if they stay put, it's more than likely because they were unable to land any quality first-round draft picks.
The Sixers are 15-39 through the All-Star break and are nearly nine games out of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. At this point, it's clear that the franchise is looking toward 2014-15 and beyond.
Which 76ers player is most likely to be moved at the deadline?
Although Philly appears determined to make moves this winter, it's unlikely the team will come across an offer that will land it a top lottery pick in return.
While the players the Sixers are shopping are all serviceable, they aren't stars capable of turning a franchise around. Top-tier draft picks carry that kind of potential, which could make it hard for Philly to find an offer it feels comfortable pulling the trigger on.
As a result, I expect the Sixers to stay put at the deadline and look to work with their cap space this coming offseason.
Will T-Wolves Hold onto Kevin Love?
Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love hasn't been shy when it comes to voicing his frustration in recent years. And with a player option coming up for the All-Star big man in July 2015, it appears that he'll be garnering plenty of interest at this year's trade deadline.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported on Saturday that Love is impacting the 2014 trade season and has caught the eye of several teams.
Kevin Love is having an impact on this trade season. Teams believing they have a shot at signing/trading for him looking to keep flexibility— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) February 15, 2014
Some top talent could be available in the summer of '15 (Aldridge, Rondo) but Love is clearly the crown jewel.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) February 15, 2014
Given Love's ability and his current situation, it's no wonder why he's such a hot topic at this year's deadline. Not only does he rank second in rebounds, but his 25.8 points per game rank him fourth in the league in scoring. Still, there are plenty of questions he'll have to answer regardless of where he winds up.
The most important one is, can he anchor a successful franchise?
Although there's been a lot of talk surrounding Love's talent, he's yet to record a winning season since he entered the league back in 2008.
It's certainly not difficult to see Love leaving Minnesota in the summer of 2015 or even earlier. However, it is tough to see the Timberwolves dealing him before Thursday's deadline considering the team is just six games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 29 games left to play.
Plus, recent comments made by Love regarding his upcoming free agency suggest he's not giving up on his current situation in Minnesota, per USA Today's Sam Amick:
If I say that I like Charlotte, or I say, 'Oh yeah, Charlotte's a great city; I love spending some time there,' then all of a sudden I'm going to Charlotte. Anything I say is going to be a misconception or be sort of a headline. To me, it's silly because, yeah sure, it's brought up, it crosses my mind. But in a way I just try to put that aside. It's just a question that's always going to be brought up. Really, I would love to not talk about it and focus on winning right now with the team I'm on.
With the Timberwolves looking to turn in their first winning season since 2004-05 and Love under contract for at least one more season, it's much more likely for the versatile forward to be dealt at next year's deadline.
It appears safe to assume that Love will be staying put on Thursday.
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