While some NBA teams continue wading the waters until injured stars return, other teams are basking in the glow of finally having a return date in mind for their top player. It's mostly rumor that could change in any minute, but it signifies hope for both fans and teammates in the interim.
However, with plenty of teams still in contention, injury conjecture isn't the only stuff being tossed about on the rumor mill. Plenty of teams are talking trades and free-agency splashes, leaving the speculation in a constant state of flux.
With that in mind, here is a look at the latest rumors on injuries and other possible roster moves coming down the pike.
Chauncey Billups Out a "Couple" of Weeks?
After playing limited minutes in three games upon returning from a torn Achilles, Chauncey Billups suffered a setback against the Jazz on Dec. 3 and has been out of the lineup. While coach Vinny Del Negro and the team say there is no timetable for a return, The Orange County Register's Dan Woike is reporting that the Clippers guard will likely be back within two weeks:
The Clippers and Coach Vinny Del Negro said there's no timetable for Billups' return, though the injury will probably keep him out for a couple of weeks. Though he has been dealing with soreness in the foot over the past few weeks, Billups said the injury limited his quickness and cutting against Utah in Monday's game.
Without Billups, the Clippers will have to resort to returning Willie Green to the starting lineup. The offseason acquisition has been a bit of a disappointment, scoring just 6.1 points per game, but wasn't expected to have such an integral role.
When and if Billups can return to the lineup, then the team will be able to accurately judge its rotation and figure out the glaring weak spots.
Ricky Rubio Wants Pau Gasol in Minnesota?
Though he's yet to step on an NBA floor this season, Ricky Rubio's return seems closer by the day. He recently returned to practice and 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson reported that the point guard was angling to play over the weekend.
However, even more interesting than his possible return is a little nugget from CBS Sports' Ken Berger. According to Berger, it's been a desire of Rubio's to play with Lakers forward Pau Gasol, his Spanish national team teammate, and some executives think the Timberwolves will try to make it happen:
Rival executives have long bought the notion that the Wolves want to accommodate Ricky Rubio's desire to play with Gasol. They, too, have a point guard D'Antoni covets in Ridnour, and could offer Nikola Pekovic, 2011 No. 2 pick Derrick Williams (whom coach Rick Adelman is down on), a first-round pick and filler.
In Berger's scenario, bringing Gasol to Minnesota would be a no-brainer. The 32-year-old star could fill Pekovic's role on the offensive interior and give the Timberwolves two of the most versatile big men in the NBA.
But the Lakers don't look to be moving Gasol anytime soon, so fans in the frozen Minnesota tundra should close their mouths before the drool freezes.
Celtics Considering Erick Dampier?
Languishing last in the NBA in rebounding, it's become readily apparent that the Celtics need to find a backup big man. Kevin Garnett is unable to play over 30 minutes on a nightly basis and the team's second unit has been continually unable to pick up the slack.
That's led many to speculate about the possibility of Kenyon Martin coming to Boston. However, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, the Celtics have trepidation about Martin's locker room presence.
Instead, they've considered other options, particularly free-agent center Erick Dampier:
Martin is one of many veterans — including Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, Erick Dampier, and Troy Murphy — waiting for another NBA chance. According to an NBA source, the Celtics have considered bringing in Dampier for a look.
A 16-year veteran, Dampier was last seen as a member of the Hawks in 2011-12. He played in just 15 games, where he scored a stellar 0.1 points per game and shot 12.5 percent from the field.
For some reason, I'm going to go out on a limb and say signing Dampier won't suddenly solve Boston's woes.