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NBA Rumors: Hottest Gossip Ahead of 2016 Trade Deadline

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIFebruary 16, 2016

FILE - This is a Jan. 13, 2016, file photo shows Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin on the bench during the first half of an NBA game against the Miami Heat, in Los Angeles. The Clippers announced Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 they had suspended forward Blake Griffin four games for his role in an altercation with a team assistant equipment manager last month. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

The NBA trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 18, and the rumors are plentiful.

The biggest names are being dragged through the rumor mill, but is there any truth to the banter? Let's start in Los Angeles, where a team's controversial superstar has been the subject of trade speculation.

Blake Isn't Moving, but What About Paul?

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Blake Griffin is nursing a hand injury, which he suffered while punching a Los Angeles Clippers equipment manager. Once he's healthy enough to play, Griffin will have to serve a four-game suspension for his actions.

Even with that hanging over him, Griffin is a hot commodity on the NBA trade market.

It's understandable. Despite the incident, Griffin hasn't been a lightning rod for controversy throughout his career, and when he's healthy, the 26-year-old is an MVP candidate.

Teams appear to be willing to look past Griffin's recent issues and are reportedly calling the Clippers about his availability. Per Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, Los Angeles is rebuffing those overtures:

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

Clippers sources continue to say they don't have interest in trading Blake Griffin.

The Clippers would be insane to part with Griffin. As crazy as it may seem, moving Chris Paul makes more sense. While he's still playing at an elite level, CP3 has been in the league for 10 years, and he'll be 31 in May. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see Griffin has more long-term value.

Paul could opt out after next season. If not, he'll become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 campaign. The Clippers should hold tight to Paul for now, but if the team falls short again in the postseason, moving him over the summer would be the right thing to do.

No Love

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:
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Teams are enamored with the thought of dealing for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. The Boston Celtics are reportedly his most fervent pursuer, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst:

The Cavaliers have been adamant for weeks that Kevin Love is going nowhere, but the chatter about potential Love deals won't go away until the deadline passes Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, since even Cavs GM David Griffin has acknowledged that "there's no such thing as untouchables."

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 Celtics have stockpiled draft picks over the past four years in an effort to create the type of reserve necessary to pluck a star like Love away from a team. Unfortunately for Boston, draft picks don't appear to be the right bait to hook the fish it covets.

The Celtics need more than Love if they hope to emerge out of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Also, the Celtics have ascended to the third spot in the conference standings. It seems unlikely that the Cavs would want to send Love to a team that could be waiting for them in the conference finals.

McLemore Wanted

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 28: Ben McLemore #23 of the Sacramento Kings shoots the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on January 28, 2016 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore needs a change of scenery, and a handful of teams appear to be willing to give that to him.

According to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Timberwolves are among the teams interested, and their infatuation with McLemore dates back to the organization's late head coach, former president and minority owner Flip Saunders:

Darren Wolfson @DWolfsonKSTP

Count the #Twolves among teams talking to the Kings about Ben McLemore, I'm told. Flip always liked him.

The 23-year-old McLemore has seen a steep decline in his minutes this season. Last year, he averaged 32.6 minutes and scored 12.1 points per contest. He's playing just 21 minutes per game this year.

Despite getting less burn, McLemore is shooting the ball better from the field than he did last year.

His field-goal percentage is 45.1 percent, compared to his 43.7 percent mark in 2014-15, and his three-point percentage is 37.2 percent. It was 35.8 percent in 2014-15. Even with the increased efficiency, McLemore's scoring average is down to 7.7 points per contest.

He's still an explosive athlete who can wreak havoc in transition.

A ton of teams could use him on the wing. If the T-Wolves have ideas of building a team that features Zach LaVine at point guard, McLemore at shooting guard, Andrew Wiggins at small forward and Karl-Anthony Towns at power forward, there wouldn't be a more talented and athletic young core in the NBA.

Ricky Rubio would be expendable.

If Tom Thibodeau is looking for the perfect head coaching job to take, he wouldn't find a better landing spot. There's a lot of ifs and speculation in these scenarios, but until Thursday, that's all we have.


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