7 Tasty NBA Trade Deadline Rumors That Were Actually Hot Air

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

7 Tasty NBA Trade Deadline Rumors That Were Actually Hot Air

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    Jeff Lewis/Associated Press

    Despite the media's best intentions, predicting the outcome of the NBA trade deadline is anything but an exact science. That's been proven year after year, and this season's last-minute scrambling was no exception.

    Danny Granger and Evan Turner trading places raised some eyebrows, but this deadline's biggest surprises were the deals that didn't go down.

    Of course, inactivity doesn't mean changes aren't in the offing around the league. We could just be in store for another draft day where trades take center stage. Those trades just weren't ready to materialize this soon into the season, with most organizations looking to push ahead with in-house options and others simply unable to find a match.

    A relatively quiet deadline didn't stop a loud swirling of rumors in advance. Here's a look at some of the best ones that didn't pan out.

Rajon Rondo to the Houston Rockets

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Since the departures of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, attention has turned to Rajon Rondo's future with the Boston Celtics. That's understandable. With the organization clearly in rebuilding mode, it's hard to know what's going on in general manager Danny Ainge's head—or in Rondo's for that matter. 

    But we do know what Ainge thinks is going on in Rondo's head (via CSNNE Staff):

    I believe he loves the city of Boston. He believes in us, in turning this thing around. There's not a lot of stress right now because he knows he's not 100 percent. He's still getting healthy. I think by next year you'll see the real Rajon Rondo. I think right now, it's all good and we'll just go from there.

    Even if Rondo does believe in Boston, it remains to be seen whether Boston believes he's the right centerpiece to build around going forward. For now, that seems to be the case, but maintaining the status quo could just be a function of the offers Boston's getting.

    Leading up to the trade deadline, ESPN's Marc Stein cited sources claiming the Houston Rockets were interested in Rondo's services, but apparently talks didn't get too far.

    It wouldn't be surprising to see similar reports pop up closer to the draft, but nor would it be surprising to see Rondo remain in place. Finding leaders and point guards of his pedigree isn't easy, so the organization may be best served holding on to the 27-year-old for at least a little while longer.

Kevin Love Leaving Minnesota Timberwolves

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    ANDY CLAYTON-KING/Associated Press

    Trade rumors are nothing new for Kevin Love, particularly ever since he told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears in 2012 that his "patience [was] not high." Speculation has run rampant that the UCLA product will somehow, some way find his way back to Los Angeles—or at least to a major market.

    Peter Vecsey tweeted on Wednesday that Love would likely be moved before the deadline or in the offseason, reigniting the rumor mill surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves' star forward. 

    So far Love hasn't gone anywhere, and Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has refuted Vecsey's claim that Love requested a trade. Love himself told GQ that he was "having fun" with the T-Wolves, noting that Minnesota had a "better foundation" than the Los Angeles Lakers.

    After the deadline passed, Love had more to say (via the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda):

    It’s a media-driven story. For the past couple years, I can’t believe some of the stuff that has come out. We went out and played hard last night, great performance as a team. To see some stuff like that is just kind of disheartening. ... The worst part is it takes away from the team and I have to be here answering questions today after a great performance from us last night.

    Nevertheless, rumors and speculation are likely to persist until the Timberwolves start winning. With or without reports like Vecsey's, players of Love's caliber are sure to draw attention—wanted or otherwise.

Pau Gasol to the Phoenix Suns

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    It wouldn't be a trade deadline without the perfunctory Pau Gasol rumors. This time they centered around talks between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

    Shelburne explains that the first hurdle to moving Gasol is that Los Angeles hasn't been entirely sure what it wants to do with him. While the organization would love to get its hands on some young assets, it's also positioned to allow his hefty contract to come off the books in exchange for considerable cap flexibility this summer.

    That flexibility could be used to re-sign Gasol at a lesser rate or go after an entirely new set of acquisitions. Between the Lakers' asking price and reticence to move him in the first place, talks with the Suns apparently didn't get very far.

    After a slow start to the season, Gasol had a strong January. Granted, the production has been inflated by the Lakers' woeful lack of depth and scoring options, but for now the Gasol of late remains one of the few bright spots in a season that desperately needs them.

Luol Deng Getting Traded...Again

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Luol Deng has barely had time to make Cleveland home, but several reports suggested he might be on the move yet again.

    Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski correctly cautioned that Deng's unwillingness to commit to signing an extension would make it difficult for the Cavaliers to find a taker in short order. That apparently didn't stop the organization from trying, though.

    CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that Cleveland had at one point abandoned attempts to acquire a first-round pick and had instead sought a veteran in exchange for Deng. The Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd indicated the Washington Wizards' Trevor Ariza was one such veteran.

    The status quo may be the best option for the Cavs. Deng has been playing well and lends some veteran leadership to a locker room that's in a state of relative disarray. Sometimes no news is good news, regardless of the club's intentions.

Iman Shumpert to the Los Angeles Clippers

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    The possibility that Iman Shumpert would be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers wasn't exactly hot air, but nor did talks produce anything concrete.

    Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported via Twitter that a potential deal centered around exchanging Darren Collison, Matt Barnes and Willie Green for Shumpert and Raymond Felton. Woj further tweeted that talks went "down to the wire."

    In other words, it sounds like there was something going on. But deals involving five or more pieces aren't always easy to assemble in short order. Perhaps this one just got too complex. Or perhaps the Clippers weren't entirely sure what to make of Shumpert.

    The New York Post's Marc Berman quotes one skeptical NBA executive who raised concerns about the 23-year-old's game: "He’s not a good shooter. Is he a stopper or just a good defender? His performances are all over the place. He’s an OK rotation player on maybe a playoff team, but on Indiana or Miami, he wouldn’t even play."

    When all was said and done, Shumpert's mixed results will remain in New York. The only real news made was an MRI revealing an MCL sprain Shumpert suffered Wednesday night.

Dallas Mavericks Dealing Shawn Marion

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy reported that the Dallas Mavericks were taking calls for Shawn Marion and rookie guard Shane Larkin.

    Given the organization's willingness to shake things up, that came as no surprise. Mark Cuban has never been shy about doing whatever it takes to put the best possible product on the floor, and his willingness to do so has presumably increased given Dirk Nowitzki's narrowing window of championship opportunity.

    Marion is the longest-tenured Maverick outside of Nowitzki, though, and that will continue to be the case. With his $9.3 million contract expiring at season's end, it certainly made sense for Dallas to keep him around in the name of cap flexibility if nothing else.

    And in the interim, Marion remains a very good defender who rebounds well from the small forward position. There's still enough to like about his game that Dallas wouldn't want to give him away for the sake of giving him away.

Houston Rockets Dealing Omer Asik

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    In relatively surprising news, Omer Asik still belongs to the Houston Rockets. 

    Ever since Dwight Howard's arrival, it's seemed like a matter of time before Asik makes his way somewhere with more minutes to offer. That time hasn't come yet, though.

    Confirming what we already expected, ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) reported on the eve of the deadline that Houston was continuing to "shop" Asik, but the asking price is apparently too rich for the rest of the league—especially considering Asik's price tag next season: just under $15 million.

    USA Today's Sam Amick reported that Asik "has been asking for a trade since Dwight Howard arrived via free agency last summer, but a person with knowledge of his situation said it's unlikely he will be dealt before the deadline."

    Amick had it right.

    The Rockets may view Asik as a pricey insurance policy in the event injury issues return to plague Howard. Even if Asik isn't getting many minutes now, he could become indispensable in a worst-case scenario.