NBA: The latest trade rumors around the league

More names are constantly being thrown into the NBA rumor mill, and you can bet that the number of potential deals will continue to increase the closer we get to the Feb 21 trade deadline. Let’s take a quick look at the latest rumors.

January 9, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay (22) dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Grizzlies defeated the Warriors 94-87. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The latest on Rudy Gay

Everybody is probably tired of hearing Rudy Gay’s name in the trade rumors at this point, as the athletic small forward has been linked with just about every team in the league that is looking to move players.

The latest news is that the Washington Wizards might be interested in dealing for Gay. Ric Butcher initially wrote on his sulia that the Wizards are prepared to make a good offer in order to attain the services of the 26-year-old.

It is hard to see what the Wizards could offer Memphis, unless Washington would entertain the notion of breaking up their young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. They could move Emeka Okafor, who is owed $14.5M next season, while also adding Jordan Crawford’s attractive contract. Crawford, who is averaging 15.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4 rebounds on the season, is owed a modest $2.1M next season.

Lionel Hollins, and several Memphis players, have been openly preaching to the organization for a chance to keep the team together, at least for this season. Unless the trade would involve John Wall, it is unlikely that the Grizzlies would be particularly interested in doing business with Washington.

Jan. 07, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) is hugged by Portland Trail Blazers center J.J. Hickson (21) as they celebrate during the fourth quarter of the game against the Orlando Magic at the Rose Garden. The Blazers won the game in overtime 125-119. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Blazers be looking to move J.J. Hickson?

John Canzano, of The Oregonian, recently highlighted the fact that J.J. Hickson will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Hickson has been a huge contributor in helping Portland to a 20-16 record this season, good for a 7th seed in a competitive Western Conference.

Hickson’s $4M contract will expire after this season. When players head into unrestricted free agency, the front office always has to go through an evaluation process. Does this player have trade value? Do we want to, and can we, retain him by signing him to a multi-year deal in the off-season? Do we just let him go?

In Hickson’s case, he has undoubtedly performed better than his $4M contract. He is averaging 12.2 points and 11 rebounds this season, being the starting center for the Blazers.

It is doubtful that the Blazers would get much in return for Hickson, other than perhaps future picks. Trading the team’s starting center would also hurt Portland’s playoff chances. Then again, even if Portland makes the playoffs this season, it will take at least a couple more years for Damian Lillard to be able to make the Blazers a serious contender.

It is indeed a classical dilemma for the Trail Blazers front office, who will have to decide whether Hickson is worth the extra money and will be in the team’s long term plans, or if he is expendable.

Jan 11, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (27) defends Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) during the third quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 105-93. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Jazz move Al Jefferson?

Both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are headed into unrestricted free agency this summer, and it has been rumored for a while that the Jazz might be moving one of the two before the deadline.

According to HOOPSWORLD, Jefferson himself is not losing any sleep due to the trade rumors:

It’s just part of the business. My first couple of years in the league I used to be listening to the rumors daily and then I’d hear my name in those types of trade rumors. But this is my ninth year and its part of the business. There are things you’re just going to have to deal with. It’s just like you say they’re rumors, you know, so that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be true. It’s a part of the game.” – Al Jefferson

Utah has a lot of expiring contracts this summer, having as little as $25.6M in salary commitments next season. This will give the team more than enough wiggle room to be very active in this summer’s free agency.

Jefferson will earn $15M this season and Utah faces the tough question as to whether the 28-year-old center is good enough to be the team’s franchise centerpiece

While Big Al is averaging 17.2 points and 9.8 rebounds on the season, signing him to another huge contract might be a mistake for this young Utah team. At 20-19, Utah is just outside of the 8th playoff spot right now, and even if the Jazz would manage to get over the hump, it is unlikely that this team would go beyond the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz should definitely look to trade for some good young pieces in return for Jefferson, although the $15M contract might not be that easy to move.


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