The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away and the basketball rumor mill remains full of rumblings on potential deals. By Feb. 20, there figure to be a few big men who will be switching jerseys and playing in new home arenas.
It's about the midpoint of the season and 2013-14 features another stacked Western Conference, while the East features three playoff seeds that currently have sub-.500 records. There haven't been any blockbuster player swaps in the NBA just yet, but with injuries piling up around the league and teams falling out of contention, the landscape for deals is set to change in the coming weeks.
Here's a look at the latest trade rumors involving some quality frontcourt players who could help shape the playoff races in both conferences.
Looking at Detroit's collection of bigs that includes Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith, many have assumed that the Pistons will try to move one of the three to free up some more minutes. The latest rumor, via Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com, pegged the Washington Wizards as an interested suitor for Monroe's services.
Monroe was once the crux of Detroit's frontcourt but now he's been supplanted by Drummond as the team's center while moving to power forward. In his fourth season, Monroe is averaging 16.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, figures slightly down from his production the past two years. Still, he has more trade value than Smith at this point of their respective careers, and his departure would allow Smith to go back to his natural position of power forward instead of trying to play at the 3.
Per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Monroe admitted that the trade rumors are getting to him.
Asked Wednesday if it bothered him, Monroe said: “It does, to be honest, especially when we’re trying to still get things right here, to see that stuff. I just try to focus on what we’re doing here, and I’m here. If that changes, then I’ll move forward, but until then or if it never does, I’m just going to focus on playing these games and trying to win these games.”
While it makes sense for the Pistons to move Monroe before he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season, Pistons President Joe Dumars isn't one to make rash decisions and will likely demand a big return in exchange for Monroe.
Omer Asik/Jeff Green
Ever since the Houston Rockets acquired Dwight Howard before the season, it seems like Omer Asik's name has continually popped up in trade rumors. For now, he's still on the Houston roster and trying to get healthy in time to showcase his talents for potential suitors.
Asik has been out since early December with a knee injury, but Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston reported Wednesday that the 7-footer is getting back on the court.
Sam Smith of NBA.com fueled the latest Asik rumors when he labeled the Boston Celtics as a logical landing spot for Asik.
More executives think the Celtics want to trade Jeff Green. They’re probably trying to persuade someone to take Gerald Wallace along with Green, though many figure they’ll eventually move Green. A nice exchange could be for Omer Asik, giving the Celtics a point guard/defensive center core to move forward with along with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. And Houston could use Green as a stretch four scorer.
For Asik, this would be a step back team-wise in 2014, but he would get an opportunity for major minutes while joining a talented young core and a bright coach in Brad Stevens. For the Rockets, Jeff Green would give them some toughness at forward and reliable scoring option to compliment James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons.
Could we be seeing the brothers Gasol together with the Memphis Grizzlies? Don't count it, according to a recent report from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
The 2013-14 season is essentially a lost cause for the Los Angeles Lakers (16-26), and Pau Gasol has been one of the biggest names in the trade rumor landscape ever since Kobe Bryant went down with his knee injury in December.
Kyler all but squashed any notions of Pau joining his brother, Marc Gasol, in Memphis for a reunion, despite persistent rumors connecting the two parties.
And lets stop the Pau wants to be in Memphis talk. They want no part of his $19 million contract. If he'll sign there as a free agent on the cheap they'd take him, but they are not trading for him.
The Lakers have thoroughly shopped their options, and while its possible something happens at or near the trade deadline, the size of Gasol's contract, the Lakers unwillingness to take on money and teams being unwilling to part with anything of real long-term value make it more likely than not that Gasol ends the season right where he is.
The Lakers want flexibility this summer and seem unwilling to entertain anything in trade that would compromise that.
As good as Pau is, it's hard to move his contract for a 33-year-old past his prime. For now, it doesn't look like he is going anywhere before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer.