With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, the rumor mill is spinning with prospective trade scenarios. When it comes down to the validity of such rumors, however, we're often left wondering what is and what could be.
With that being said, the only question we can ask at this stage is simple—what should the significant movers do come the trade deadline?
For those unfamiliar with this dreaded day, the deadline strikes at 12:00 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, Feb. 21, after which teams will no longer be allowed to make trades, per league regulations.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, there are three teams who are expected to be particularly active:
Three teams that league GM's on phones believe will make significant moves before trade deadline: Atlanta, Milwaukee and Phoenix.—Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
This is consistent with what we've heard all along.
The Atlanta Hawks are a team that has been trading for expiring contracts since the offseason. It was for financial reasons that first-year general manager Danny Ferry dealt All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets (via ESPN New York).
Atlanta now has a decision to make on the expiring contract of Josh Smith.
The Milwaukee Bucks are a team that is often linked to trade speculation, with guards Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis as the most notable potential trade options. They also own expiring contracts, which has fueled speculation that the Bucks will have their hand in a deal of some form.
As for the Phoenix Suns, they've been looking to make a trade since missing out on both Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay.
So what should these teams actually do? Just as important, what other teams are looking to be significant movers?
Let's find out.
When it comes to the Atlanta Hawks, trade rumors are constantly swirling around All-Star forward Josh Smith, whose expiring contract and reluctance to re-sign with Atlanta has made him an obvious trade candidate.
Chris Broussard of ESPN Insider reports that general manager Danny Ferry has already decided to let Smith walk come free agency.
With this being known, the Hawks would be best off trading Smith. They'd likely receive in return a package of current players that would include at least one draft choice, thus resulting in the addition of promising pieces to a growing team.
A soon-to-be-revealed Phoenix Suns scenario could be the perfect trade to execute.
Brandon Jennings is set to become a restricted free agent after the 2012-13 regular season concludes. Monta Ellis has an early termination option.
With this in mind, the Bucks are looking to make a trade. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that such a deal could include J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic.
That is, if Redick is willing to sign an extension.
Teams trying to trade for J.J. Redick surveying cost to re-sign him in summer. If Bucks move a starting guard, he's a major target for them.—Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
Could Jennings be a part of this deal?
Unfortunately, Jennings didn't say that he would stay beyond 2013:
That's something me and [agent] Jeff [Schwartz] will discuss in the offseason...The Milwaukee Bucks are in 8th place in the East, and I'm looking forward to helping them get to the playoffs in the second half of the season.
So what should Milwaukee do?
Jennings may be inclined to sign elsewhere, but he is a restricted free agent. The worst-case scenario would be that he ends up wanting to go elsewhere and the Bucks agree to a sign-and-trade with whichever franchise wants him bad enough.
Until that time comes, the Bucks are best off by trading Ellis and gaining some weapons to place around Jennings.
Kevin Love broke his right hand for the second time this season in early January. It was announced at the time that he would miss 8-to-10 weeks.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Minnesota Timberwolves have responded by aggressively pursuing "established talent."
Minnesota has been aggressive in offering multiple first-round picks for established talent, league sources tell Y!—Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
So what exactly are they looking for?
With the inclusion of multiple first-round draft choices, one can only imagine that Minnesota is thinking big. Whether that entails acquiring a plethora of role players or a star, the T-Wolves have their sights set on a brighter future.
As long as the reward meets the risk, such a deal is one that Minnesota must execute.
Earlier this month, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Phoenix Suns were pursuing a trade for New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert. The deal would have seen seen Shumpert head to Phoenix in exchange for Jared Dudley and a future first-round draft choice.
Wojnarowski now reports that the Suns have their eyes on a bigger prize.
One more: In Josh Smith derby, several teams believe Suns are determined for deal after missing on Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay in past months.—Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
Well, that escalated quickly.
This deal would be of a great risk for the Suns. After all, Smith is set to become a free agent after the 2013 season concludes.
With that being said, Phoenix has the perfect formula for a trade to get done.
If the Suns include Marcin Gortat in the potential deal, they'd lose a key player but placate Atlanta's trade demands. Gortat would enable the Hawks to move Al Horford back to power forward.
From there, Atlanta can capitalize on an abundance of cap space during this summer's free-agency period.
As for Phoenix, they'd have a legitimate star presence for the first time since Steve Nash left, you know, in July. This would potentially elevate ticket sales and locker room morale.
When it comes to Smith re-signing, however, that's a different story.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers center J.J. Hickson presently ranks fourth in the NBA with 27 double-doubles. This comes with averages of 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, as well as a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.01.
Even still, Portland appears inclined to trade their undersized but overachieving center.
Portland still willing to move J.J. Hickson, but hasn't found an appealing offer yet, sources tell Y!
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013
As productive as he's been, this deal makes sense.
Portland currently ranks last in second-unit scoring, efficiency and defensive efficiency. In other words, they have the worst bench and the least depth of any team in the NBA.
As painful as it would be to see Hickson go, it may be the only option to salvage their postseason dreams.