It could also be...well, pretty boring, considering the likelihood that none of the above players—or any other stars, for that matter—will be moved before the Feb. 18 deadline. It certainly wouldn't be the first deadline to come and go without a major splash.
If any superstar is moved, however, it appears most likely to be Howard from the Houston Rockets.
Marc Stein of ESPN reported on Tuesday that the Rockets and Charlotte Hornets "held exploratory talks on a potential Howard deal since Houston made him available last week," though "one source close to the talks expressed pessimism Tuesday that the sides will be able to find common ground on a deal."
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical also reported that any deal between the teams was unlikely:
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that the Rockets and Miami Heat were having discussions about a deal that would send Howard to Miami and Hassan Whiteside to the Heat, and that Goran Dragic would also likely head to Houston in the deal if one comes to fruition, given Dragic's poor fit with the Heat thus far this season.
That might make the most sense of all the deals, though neither team is exactly flush with cap space.
Ultimately, the Rockets have struggled to drum up a market for Howard. As Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote, "Houston has been making calls on him for two weeks, but the Rockets have found little interest so far, per several league sources."
Nonetheless, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report believes that the Rockets will do everything in their power to move the center:
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Another surprise contender could always emerge, but at this point, trading for Howard only really makes sense for teams that are one impact player away from competing with the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers, the four clear favorites to win a title this season.
And quite simply, there aren't that many teams a tier down from the top four who are one player away from reaching the elite and also have the assets available to obtain a player of Howard's ilk. In other words, if Houston isn't willing to lower its asking price, the big center may be finishing out his season with the team.
Don't expect Blake Griffin to go anywhere, either. Head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers told reporters on Tuesday, "We're not trading Blake," via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.
So for the time being, it appears that Griffin will be staying put. But where there is smoke there is generally fire, and the fact that Rivers had to address the fact that the team intends on keeping the star power forward is telling. There's been enough buzz around Griffin this week to suggest that the organization at least fielded a few calls.
It seems just as unlikely that Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony are going anywhere. Brian Windhorst of ESPN summed up why Love was unlikely to go anywhere, via ESPN Cleveland:
As for Anthony, it may not even matter if the Knicks work out a trade for the star forward since he has a no-trade clause and has had ample opportunities to leave New York but has remained with the franchise. Teams will do their due diligence and call the Knicks, but the no-trade clause looms large.
One player who could be moved is Pau Gasol, however, as reports began to surface on Wednesday that the Chicago Bulls were taking calls on the star power forward. Wojnarowski reported that the team was "aggressively shopping" Gasol, though Windhorst reported that the team has "taken some calls on Pau Gasol but aren't actively shopping him."
And the above paragraph, ladies and gentlemen, is the NBA trade deadline in a nutshell.
Ultimately, there will be trades. More than likely, those trades will see contenders add bench pieces and role players or teams look to dump expensive assets to free up cap space. But there may also be one or two moves that see superstars changing teams.
Yes, it remains unlikely. But at this point, well, the only real certainty we have is that we have absolutely no idea what will go down before Thursday's deadline. And that's what makes the whole thing fun.
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