With this season’s NBA Trade Deadline about a month and a half away, trade rumors are slowly but surely creeping into our eyes and ears, setting the stage for what could be an eventful February 21st morning and early afternoon. Usually about a fortnight before the deadline is when rumors are swirling around at a critical rate, so this current period is what we could call the calm before the storm. Nevertheless, basketball fans have been taking it to ESPN’s Trade Machine to play GM and have begun worrying about what lies in their favorite team’s future, and how they will get there. Will your favorite player be dawning a new jersey? Would this move be smart? What team would suit this player best? All of this speculation and gossip, and things really get hectic in a few weeks. Here you’ll find what you can expect when that time comes.
Now what follows is a list of potential players that will be on another team by 3:00 P.M. ET on Thursday, February 21st, based on the various omnipresent rumors and noticeable distaste with fans that I’ve picked up.
The Sacramento Kings organization has said no trade shipping Cousins off to another team is in place, nor is being discussed because the 6’11″ 270-pound center is off the market. But, they still have a month to change their minds. Now why would they trade a franchise player who’s averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a game without being fully committed to the game in just his third season in the league? Well if you need a refresher on the Cousins situation, here is Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today on his immaturity this season. Usually in these star player versus member(s) in the organization situations, the player wins out. (See: Anthony, Carmelo and Howard, Dwight) Though for such a young prospect who’s already gotten one coach fired, the line may be drawn here. The most mentioned destination for Cousins has been the Boston Celtics, who are desperately looking to get younger, and who’s head coach in Doc Rivers may be the only one in the league who can straighten Cousins out according to popular belief.
I don’t feel any need to say this, not even to the smallest of NBA fans, but I’ll do it anyway. The Los Angeles Lakers have been pitiful. In case you weren’t exactly sure how pitiful, try searching #ThisLakersSeasonRemindsMeOf on Twitter and see the vivid comparisons. The immediate scapegoat for the Lakers dismal 15-18 start? Pau Gasol, of course. Now whether or not the idiotic opinions of uninformed, blatantly dumb fans could push management to push a trade sending Gasol to another squad is debatable, though many experts believe a Gasol trade is in the near future. The funny thing is, hardly any of the proposed trades by many would even help the Lakers. The most popular trade scenario would be a Gasol-for-Josh Smith deal, which would highly benefit Los Angeles, but I see no chance of this happening. Why? Because Smith’s contract is up this season and Atlanta is in a full-on rebuilding mode, while somehow simultaneously being the third best team in the Eastern Conference. Note the Joe Johnson trade this summer which stockpiled a ton of expiring contracts onto the Atlanta Hawks‘s roster, and the lack of interest in giving Josh Smith an extension.
Fans that have been targeting Rudy Gay as a primary source of his team’s struggles may actually have a reasonable point. Gay takes the majority of the shots of any player on the Memphis Grizzlies, while owning just the fourth-best field goal percentage of the Grizzlies starting five. His potential has never been in doubt, though his projected leap from athletic, decent wing scorer to superstar has been non-existent, and has not showed signs of coming anytime soon. Which is a shame really, because Gay constantly take superstar shots and plays superstar minutes, though has yet to make an All-Star game. On top of that the Grizzlies managed to make it out of the first round in the Playoffs before last with Gay sidelined and Shane Battier taking his place, however Memphis was eliminated in the first round in last year’s Playoffs with Gay playing. Ouch. Zach Lowe reports that: “Memphis, over the last few weeks, has made it known in preliminary talks with other teams that Rudy Gay could be available via trade, according to sources around the league.” Now who these teams could be is beyond me, but look out for a possible Rudy Gay deal.
Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap
Marc Stein reported in mid-December that: “It’s a working assumption in front offices all over the league that the Jazz will trade Jefferson or Millsap for a front-line point guard at some point in the next 10 weeks.” Both of these supremely talented big men (PER of 20 for both Jefferson and Millsap) are free agents come this summer, and although the Utah Jazz have some prospects with large ceilings ready to replace the two, it would be in the Jazz’s best interest to try and retain at least one of the two players. Stein mentions the need to go after a point guard, however I expect the Jazz to pursue a wing, likely a small forward instead. That position is clearly their biggest concern, even with starting point guard Mo Williams out for some time with an injury. What’s caught my eye now is a possible deal in which Utah gets the aforementioned Rudy Gay, although Memphis would have no real use of Jefferson and Millsap would be playing slightly out of position there.
A much less appealing name, yes, but this name is more probable to be traded than all of the rest. Reason being, reports have surfaced that Casspi, after being dropped out of the Cleveland Cavaliers rotation, has requested a trade. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports says: “Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant has been making calls on possible deals for Casspi, but nothing has materialized. The request for a trade was made through Casspi’s representatives with Creative Arts Agency (CAA), sources said.” Casspi has for the most part, declined year after year in his four-year stretch in the NBA. It’s a shame too, as he’s shown that he could be a solid role player, just not throughout an entire NBA season. In fact, because of how disappointing his play has been, the only reason you may have actually heard of Omri is because he is the first Israeli-born player to ever step onto an NBA court for an NBA team.
Once Toronto Raptors fans embraced that the post-Chris Bosh era had begun, all eyes turned to the first European to ever go first-overall in the NBA Draft Andrea Bargnani to help lead the team back to the Playoffs. In the past couple of seasons, Barg has not even come close to living up to whatever unrealistic, fantasized, head-scratching expectations some fans had conjured up of him. This season is different though, because he has literally been a cancer to his team, despite entering the season as the team’s second-best player according to the masses. In the games that he has played, Barg has been the fourth-worst player on the squad in on-the-court NetRTG, and the Raptors are a solid 8-4 with Andrea sidelined for the past 12 contests. Marc Stein reports that the Raptors are a lock to move Bargnani, so the idea of his poor play going unnoticed by the Raps front office should not be in anyone’s minds.