NBA Trade Rumors: Top Buzz on Kevin Love and More as 2016 Deadline Approaches

Thomas DuffyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2016

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 8: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers warmup on the court prior to the game against the Sacramento Kings at Quicken Loans Arena on February 8, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Kings 120-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Happy Woj season, everybody.

We’ve finally reached that time of winter when the most reliable source of warmth is tweets from The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As this year's Feb. 18 trade deadline creeps closer, there are rumors surrounding some big fish—Dwight Howard and Kevin Love are the most notable. In addition, sound players like Ricky Rubio are also the subject of much discussion.

Let’s hop right in.


Kevin Love

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 30: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James #23 celebrate during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at Quicken Loans Arena on January 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Spurs 117-10
Jason Miller/Getty Images

On Tuesday,’s Marc Stein reported that while the Cleveland Cavaliers “have been adamant for weeks” that Kevin Love will not be on the move, there’s still a way to acquire the three-time All-Star.

With a bona fide stud.

Here’s Stein:

But league sources say that the Cavs have made it clear to interested teams -- starting, of course, with the Love-hungry Boston Celtics -- that they'd covet a star in return if or when they do reach the point of letting Love go ... and not a package of draft picks and role players like the Celtics are offering.

The Boston Celtics don’t have a genuine superstar. Isaiah Thomas just participated in his first All-Star Game on Sunday, but he’s playing with one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. Plus, Cleveland already has a score-first point guard in Kyrie Irving.

Still, if the Celtics were to offer the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick, which is a near lock to land in the lottery, would Cleveland turn it down?

AUBURN, AL - FEBRUARY 2: Ben Simmons #25 of the LSU Tigers looks on against the Auburn Tigers during the game at Auburn Arena on February 2, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. LSU defeated Auburn 80-68. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

While a proven threat on offensive, Love is a defensive liability. According to, opposing players’ shooting percentages go up 4.3 percent when they’re guarded by the 27-year-old veteran.

Cleveland signed him to a five-year, $110 million deal last summer. His marksmanship from the perimeter makes him an ideal complement to LeBron James, but he’s not worth keeping around when a potential franchise player like Ben Simmons could be taken with the pick.


Dwight Howard

PORTLAND, OR - FEBRUARY 10:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on February 10, 2016 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by do
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

The James Harden-Dwight Howard tandem has been a letdown.

Sure, both Houston Rockets stars have put up strong individual numbers over the past three years. Many even felt that the Beard deserved the regular-season MVP award last season.

But what do they have to show for it all? Two playoff series victories.

Last week, Howard told Stein that he has not requested to be moved despite a report from Wojnarowski stating that Houston has “started contacting teams” about a deal.

“I have not asked the Rockets to trade me,” D12 said. “Nor have I talked about right trades. I want to win. I want this situation to work. I chose this team. And I'm not running because we have been faced with some adversity.”

With Thursday’s deadline approaching, there are several rumors swirling around the big man.

Here’s Stein’s take:

New York Daily News reporter Frank Isola noted the possibility of the Miami Heat trying to deal shot-blocking, headache-inducing center Hassan Whiteside:

Adam Spolane of Sports Radio 610 reported that the Atlanta Hawks could hop into a Howard-Whiteside blockbuster:

With Chris Bosh’s health up in the air, swapping Howard for Whiteside would be a monumental win for Pat Riley and Co.


Ricky Rubio

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

While writing about point guard options for the New York Knicks on Sunday, Isola reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves had placed 25-year-old point guard Ricky Rubio on the market:

Incumbent Ricky Rubio is readily available and the feeling is that the Spanish guard could be moved prior to Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

Phil Jackson is in the market for a point guard but it's hard to envision the Knicks having the assets to acquire the 25-year-old Rubio, whose season average in points (9.7), assists (8.6) and minutes (30.3) are down this year.

A day later, however, Woj dumped a bucket of cold water on Isola’s report:

With Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine looking like the foundation of the future, it isn’t a bad move for the Wolves to keep a pass-first guard like Rubio around. The Spanish floor general is only 25, so he’s not some old guy holding the young fellas back.

For now, Minnesota needs time—in two years, this should be a playoff team.

Drastically shaking things up doesn’t make much sense.