The NBA hot stove is in danger of bursting into flames before Thursday's trade deadline.
With several teams hanging onto their playoff livelihood and just as many looking to throw in the towel and start anew, a heavy batch of trade rumors are emerging before the trade window closes.
The league's latest gossip is getting awfully juicy. A losing team is considering trading a young star, and an underutilized asset might get a fresh start for an Eastern Conference team gearing up for the playoffs.
In a move that would somehow ingratiate and infuriate the Big Apple at the same time, the New York Knicks just might try to bring back the point guard who stole the fans' hearts for a glorious few weeks.
Here are some of the top stories sweeping the rumor mill before tomorrow's deadline.
Kings Shopping Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas is 25 years old and averaging 20.2 points and 6.3 assists per game; that sounds like a guy an 18-35 team would want to keep around for the long haul.
ESPN's Marc Stein is reporting growing speculation that Sacramento is entertaining offers for Thomas:
Most intriguing Sacramento-based deadline story is increasingly loud buzz out there that Isaiah Thomas is available in midst of career year— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2014
Why would the Kings trade such a productive young player currently on his rookie contract? As Stein also notes, Thomas is in line for a massive raise as a restricted free agent following the 2014-15 season:
Kings in tough spot w/IT headed to restricted free agency. Of course ... anyone trading for his big stat line/low salary faces same issues— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2014
That still leaves the Kings more than a year to figure how to handle the situation. Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins form a dynamic duo that gives a struggling squad hope if it can find some more pieces in the draft.
The point guard's 44.3 field-goal percentage is right on par with his career average, and a career-high 34.3 minutes and 15.4 shot attempts per game have led to his enhanced scoring efforts.
In the Western Conference, anybody without a capable point guard is in a pickle against the NBA's finest facilitators. Chances are the Kings are only testing the market to see if a huge offer lands on their lap. Unless that happens, expect Thomas to stay put this season.
Jordan Hill to Nets?
How does a team with as many injuries as the Los Angeles Lakers not provide Jordan Hill with significant minutes?
In 19.5 minutes a night, the power forward has scored 8.5 points on 54.1 percent shooting to go along with 7.0 rebounds. Hill had a seven-game stretch in November when he notched 15.0 points and 11.1 boards per game, but he has logged 30 minutes just one time since that hot streak.
The Los Angeles Lakers have had discussions on a deal to send forward Jordan Hill to the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Nets have a $5.25 million disabled player exception that they can use in a trade or free-agent transaction until March 10, and could use a portion to absorb the remaining $3.5 million on Hill's expiring contract.
The Nets received that extension when Brook Lopez suffered a season-ending foot injury. However, Wojnarowski explained that Hill's salary would cause Brooklyn to pay a massive tax penalty.
Nevertheless, the luxury tax penalty on absorbing Hill's contract would be extraordinary for Brooklyn: Nearly $17 million. Hill could give the Nets a capable power forward and center replacement for a run at the postseason, but ultimately ownership would have to be willing to sign off on expanding its record $190 million-plus combined payroll and luxury tax.
Since Lopez went down, Jason Kidd has embraced the idea of small ball. Hill could spell Kevin Garnett off the bench at center while giving the Nets the flexibility to play big when the situation calls for it.
But is Hill worth doling out $17 million?
The Lakers are out of playoff contention, and there's no reason to believe the two parties have any interest in continuing their relationship once Hill hits the free-agent market this offseason. They might as well see if the Nets will forfeit any of their few remaining draft picks.
Linsanity Coming Back to New York?
Ladies and gentlemen, it may be time to get the Jeremy Lin Word Generator back into action.
On Grantland's B.S. Report podcast, ESPN's Chad Ford told Bill Simmons that the Knicks are interested in bringing Lin back:
We've heard about them going after a point guard (such as) Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague. I know another guy they'd love to get their hands on right now, and that's Jeremy Lin. And the question is, would Houston do it? I know the word is no, but maybe, to get out of that contract. Maybe if Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. are in the deal. Maybe.
Woah. For better or worse, that's going to create a stir.
How would you feel about Jeremy Lin returning to the New York Knicks?
The Knicks are a mess, and trading their two young assets is not the right solution. While Shumpert has fizzled offensively since his tearing his ACL in the 2012 playoffs, he is still a stout defender. Hardaway, who put his scoring skills on display during the Rising Stars Challenge, is a vicious yet streaky shooter from behind the arc.
New York is scouring the league for any point guard it can find to replace the struggling Raymond Felton, but risking the future to earn the right to lose to the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the first round is the type of thinking that created this mess.