The NBA trade rumors are flying, but just how many teams are actually participating in roster-building (or perhaps roster-dismantling) discussions?
According to Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, it could be all of them.
"Everybody's talking right now -- everybody's always talking right now," Van Gundy said, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. "It gets a little more serious when more people get involved. Of the 30 teams, all are talking."
Now that free agents signed in the offseason are eligible to be traded, general managers are free to wheel and deal without any major restrictions.
The buzz surrounding big names in the NBA is deafening at this point. It would be a major disappointment for fans eager for new-look rosters and new storylines if no trades went down before the calendar year is up.
Here is a breakdown of the latest chatter regarding three notable players whose names have cropped up in recent trade rumors.
It feels like Rajon Rondo's name has been in trade rumors for years now, but it appears that the Boston Celtics might finally be ready to rip the Band-Aid and part ways with their highly regarded floor general, via ESPN's Marc Stein:
The Boston Celtics, after years of flirting with potential Rajon Rondo deals, are in substantive discussions on a trade that would send Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Celtics and Mavericks have been discussing a swap that would furnish Boston with multiple draft picks -- including at least one future first-rounder -- as well as blossoming Mavericks center Brandan Wright and other players needed to make the salary-cap math work.
The Celtics also have been talking to teams such as the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets about potential Rondo deals, according to sources, but the most advanced discussions have been with Dallas.
Although the possibility of seeing Rondo run the triangle offense to Pythagorean perfection in New York tickles the imagination—and would be an absolutely crushing development for Lakers fans who've been pining for Rondo for quite some time—moving the veteran point guard to the 19-8 Mavericks makes the most sense for both parties.
ESPN's J.A. Adande passed along his take on the potential blockbuster:
CBS Sports Network's Sean Grande noted that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised the point guard's all-around ability in November:
If the Mavericks can land Rondo—and perhaps even ink him to a long-term contract—he would greatly improve the franchise's prospects in both the short and long term.
Rondo and his 10.6 assists per game would be the perfect fit for a team replete with scoring options such as Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis.
|Dallas Mavericks Key Scorers Stats, 2014-15 Season|
|Player||MPG||PPG||FG %||3P %||RPG||APG||PER|
The West is ultra-competitive this season, but adding Rondo to this potent lineup would give Dallas another title shot before the aging frontcourt of Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler really starts to break down. If he signs with the team long term, he and Parsons can keep the team competitive if they are forced to search for another complementary star in a couple of years.
Rondo is a pest on defense and would be a fine asset for the Mavericks on this end of the court. Dallas is ranked 20th in the league in defensive efficiency, per ESPN.com.
Wright would be a notable asset to give up. He leads the team in player efficiency rating at 26.25, via ESPN.com, but wouldn't leave too big of a hole in the lineup as he plays just 18.7 minutes per game.
Boston risks losing Rondo to free agency this summer. The 28-year-old Kentucky product is a draw for free agents due to his unselfish nature, but the 2015 class is weak and the Celtics don't appear to have a young player in the pipeline who can develop into an elite scoring threat. Jeff Green leads the team with 19.7 points per game, but he's already 28 years old and unlikely to improve much beyond his current level of play.
Blowing things up and starting over with 2014 No. 6 overall pick Marcus Smart at point, draft picks and a young squad might truly be their best course of action.
Of course, nabbing Rondo would hardly gift-wrap the title for Dallas. There are two bona fide title contenders in the state of Texas alone with the 19-5 Houston Rockets and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. There are six teams in the West with winning percentages over .700, including Dallas.
If Rondo indeed goes to the Mavs, look for the 2015 Western Conference playoffs to be one of the most brutal postseason gauntlets in quite some time.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' Corey Brewer, when he's not busy taking leisurely strolls across the hardwood, is one of the league's better little-bit-of-everything contributors.
The 28-year-old veteran swingman is averaging 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a league-leading 2.3 steals per game. Unfortunately, it's not enough to help drag the young pups on the T-Wolves to victory.
Minnesota could be looking to go all in on its youth movement and give more time to the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad at small forward. ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Stein provided an update on Wednesday of the team's looking to snatch the league's resident master thief:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Timberwolves, beset with injuries and mired at the foot of the Western Conference with a record of 5-19, are again engaging contending teams in trade discussions for Brewer after making him available in mid-November and then abruptly pulling him off the market.
The Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers, sources said, remain the most interested suitors for Brewer, but have also been joined by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Brewer would make an excellent veteran bench contributor on an NBA contender, but he's best fit for either Houston or Los Angeles.
The Cavaliers defensive and bench issues are well documented, but the team already has small forwards in LeBron James, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller. They could also stand to use a rim protector to bolster a frontcourt that lacks a premier defender.
Teams are shooting 63.3 percent from within five feet of the basket against Cleveland, per NBA.com. That's the second-worst clip in the league, trailing only the Timberwolves in paint-protecting futility.
Brewer would be quite useful in Houston, as he could challenge Trevor Ariza, who is struggling on offense, and possibly help cover James Harden's occasional lapses in concentration on defense, although Brewer does gamble on some of his steal attempts. Still, he would be a nice veteran presence on the bench to go along with the young Kostas Papanikolaou.
The Clippers could use a defensive upgrade at a very thin small forward position, but as Clips Nation's Steve Perrin points out, they could have trouble coming up with an appealing deal for the Timberwolves:
He's making $4.7M and the Clippers have basically no flexibility to bring in more salary in their current situation. Nor do they have much to offer that might interest the Timberwolves. A straight up Jamal Crawford for Brewer trade would work financially -- but would just create a different problem for the Clippers, and wouldn't hold any interest for the Wolves since they already have Kevin Martin in that role and they're in rebuilding mode.
Minnesota is unlikely to take any veterans in return and should be committed to the in-house development of Wiggins and Muhammad. If that truly is the case, Brewer's best shot at landing on a contender might be with Houston.
The Detroit Pistons are 5-21 and face the looming prospect of losing Greg Monroe to free agency in 2015. If the team is to bolster its future prospects, as they have little chance of making an impact this season no matter how paper-thin the Eastern Conference is, it stands to reason they should try to make a trade of some sort.
According to Ellis, the team has discussed trading forward Josh Smith but should be wary of trying too hard to move him:
At this point, Smith is the only player the team (5-20) has seriously discussed trading. But even that is just preliminary; teams are scared off by Smith's price tag and the evidence that he's a declining player.
So the Pistons could be facing a Ben Gordon scenario.
In June 2012, the team gave up its eventual 2014 first-round pick -- along with Gordon's bad contract -- to the Charlotte Bobcats. That's a mistake the Pistons won't make again.
The numbers don't lie; Smith is 29 years old and providing the Pistons with diminishing returns.
|Josh Smith Stats, 2012-14|
|Season||Team||G||MPG||PPG||FG %||3P %||RPG||BPG||PER|
He's at least managed to curb his appetite for low-quality three-pointers, taking just 1.3 shots per game from downtown as compared to 3.4 last year, per Basketball-Reference.com.
The greater selectivity hasn't improved how often he makes these shots, but it's a sign of his willingness to play within himself. Smith also noted on Dec. 15 that he's feeling better after spending time hampered by lingering injuries.
"Yeah, I am," Smith said, via Ellis. "Time is good. Bones don't feel as stiff, but just been able to get a lot of work in before the game, a lot of stretching, a lot of massages on the legs and try to open everything up to be a little looser early on in the game."
If teams take note of Smith's recent performances, like his 21-point, 13-rebound, five-block effort against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, it's possible the Pistons might actually be able to complete a deal and then focus on retaining Monroe, who, at 24 years old, offers far better long-term prospects than an aging Smith.
Something has to give in Detroit, other than the porous defense. The capital "B" Big Three experiment of Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond just hasn't worked out at all for this franchise. Drummond looks to be a mainstay in Motor City, and if the Pistons are serious about getting some sort of return on their dubious investment in this trio of stars, Smith just might have to go, albeit at a cut-rate offer.
Otherwise, Monroe can walk in 2015 and Detroit is saddled with an aging Smith and Drummond as its two biggest stars with little in the way of a supporting cast.