No team is exempt from trade rumors as February approaches, and the last week has certainly kicked up a fair amount of dust when it comes to potential blockbuster deals.
Even the best teams are thought to be looking at making the big move that could prove to be the difference when the postseason rolls around and in the Southeast Division, there are no shortage of improvements that need to be made by teams top to bottom, leading to a whirlwind of rumors. So, here we take a closer look at the five most interesting rumors surrounding the five teams in the Southeast.
1. Pau Gasol to the Bobcats- Coming in at number one is a doozy of a rumor that would see Gasol exit the nightmare in Los Angeles to head to a brand new nightmare in Charlotte. The Bobcats would send back DaSagana Diop, Ben Gordon and a draft pick to acquire Gasol, all pieces the Bobcats would currently list as expendable. The Lakers could benefit from acquiring another guard with perimeter skills, particularly coming off their bench, but bringing in Diop is simply to get an expiring contract. His $7 million deal would come off the Lakers books in the summer and the team would benefit from having Charlotte’s pick in the draft to add some young talent to an otherwise aging squad.
As for the Bobcats, they acquire an all-star caliber front court player to partner Bismack Biyombo and improve their options around the basket for the next season and a half before his $19 million a year expires.
2. Derrick Favors to the Miami Heat- This one comes as a potential Pat Riley response to the Heat’s pathetic rebounding. The team is urgently in need of an athletic big man and recently showed their desperation by dipping into free agency to acquire Chris Andersen. Birdman has played a whopping four minutes since coming in on a ten day deal and really doesn’t fit what the Heat are doing when it comes to their system. Favors on the other hand is the type of agile, solid rebounder the team needs and can run the pick and roll with both Dwyane Wade or LeBron James. In his third season, Favors is averaging a career high 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 6.1 rebounds while playing 21 minutes a night for Utah.
The Heat would supposedly send Mike Miller in the other direction as the Jazz have plenty of front court options and don’t need to acquire a power forward or center to replace Favors. That said, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for them to bring in Miller who has two seasons beyond this year left on his $5 million a year deal, has proven to be injury prone and averages 14 minutes per game. In the end, I think it would take a bit more than Miller for the Heat to get a deal done for such a young player.
3. J.J. Redick to Boston for….somebody- This one doesn’t quite have legs yet though the Celtics do appear interested in bringing in the 28-year old sharp shooter whose contract expires at season’s end. With Rajon Rondo having gone down for the season, the Celtics are less likely to part ways with Paul Pierce, who is really their best trade asset aside from young power forward Jared Sullinger. It’s doubtful that Pierce will exit Boston having played his entire career there and is now being relied upon to lead the team to a postseason appearance. At present, Boston doesn’t have the pieces to make a real offer to the Magic who would probably only listen to offers that include expiring contracts and draft picks, neither of which are things Boston is blessed with. That said, it’s never safe to assume that the ever creative Danny Ainge won’t find a way to get a deal done for a player he wants, and Redick’s ability to dribble penetrate, move the ball around and shoot from anywhere on the court certainly fits the bill of what the Celtics need in Rondo’s absence.
4. Rudy Gay to the Wizards- The Wizards have made it clear they aren’t willing to move draft pick Bradley Beal, but that doesn’t necessarily take them out of the running for Gay’s signature. What does for now, is the fact that any deal for Gay is most likely going to be shelved until the summer after the Grizzlies moved $6 million dollars worth of salary off their bench to ensure that they keep their starting group together for one more postseason run.
Washington would part with Jordan Crawford and likely any other player other than John Wall or Beal that the Grizzlies wanted, but the question is, who would they want? Martell Webster is one player drawing interest due to the fact that his $1.6 million contract expires after this year and he is a talented option to replace Gay at the small forward position averaging 10 points and 4 boards in 26 minutes per game this season.
Another would be Trevor Ariza or Emeka Okafor due to the fact that the latter has an early termination option in his contract and the former has a player option. How attractive those options are to Memphis is tough to say, but given that they have already made a move that would allow them to keep their current group together without going over the luxury tax line, it’s tough to see a deal like this getting done right now.
5. Atlanta dealing Smith, Horford or nobody?- Everything surrounding the Atlanta Hawks involves Josh Smith right now. He is once again at the center of trade deadline drama and virtually everyone league wide is wondering whether or not a deal will get done. Smith’s agent went on record after the team’s recent loss to New York that he wanted to sit down with Danny Ferry and figure out what Smith’s future was with Atlanta. That meeting is set to take place this week, but what will come out of it is anyone’s guess.
ESPN analyst Jalen Rose caught some ears this week by saying the team should trade Al Horford and Kyle Korver for Dwight Howard. It’s a deal which could actually be an attractive option for Los Angeles while settling where Howard will be before he actually becomes a free agent as he would join his friend Smith in his hometown of Atlanta. For the Lakers, Horford is versatile player who can play in the middle or at power forward and be productive while Korver gives D’Antoni the pure shooting three point threat he needs to make his system work.
On the other hand, tomorrow could bring rumors of Smith heading to Los Angeles again, so we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out as getting Howard and Smith together is quickly becoming one of the most complicated deals in basketball.