The NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline is only 15 days away and the chatter has really picked up. Here’s some of the latest buzz from around the league.
Durant wants to become a Splash Brother?
Analysis: Okay, so this isn’t a trade deadline rumour, but it’s too juicy not to talk about. Bobby Marks of Yahoo! Sports’ The Vertical explains how the Dubs can create the cap space to sign Durant in free agency, so this is a real thing that could happen. Will it happen, though? Why not?
Durant’s accomplished just about all he can individually and has reached the Finals, but it still hasn’t been enough. If winning really is all he cares about then swapping Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka for the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is a no-brainer.
The only logical explanation against making this kind of move from Durant’s perspective would be his own professional pride to want to go out and beat the Warriors juggernaut instead of joining it. LeBron James wasn’t big enough to do that when he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. Is Durant any different?
The Skinny: ESPN’s Marc Stein lays out a number of intriguing scenarios he’s hearing in his latest piece, including the Sacramento Kings shopping Rudy Gay, the Detroit Pistons’ interest in New Orleans Pelicans big man Ryan Anderson, the latest on the Phoenix Suns-Markieff Morris saga and the Minnesota Timberwolves trying to move Kevin Martin.
Rudy Gay: Stein says the Kings are seeking a quality youngster or a player under team control for more than just the end of this season. He explains that Sacramento isn’t looking desperately to move Gay, but would be willing to package him if the “right deal” came along.
Adding to the Gay rumours is Stein’s ESPN colleague Chris Broussard, who is reporting that the Los Angeles Clippers have strong interest in acquiring him. It's a move that would certainly help Doc Rivers’ squad, but wouldn’t make sense from the Kings’ perspective as L.A. doesn’t have the kind of assets Stein says Sacramento’s looking for.
Ryan Anderson: According to Stein, the Pistons’ interest in Anderson is strong because of the ties between he and Detroit coach/GM Stan Van Gundy during their time in Orlando. Despite the curiosity, however, Stein reports that the Pistons are more than willing to wait for the six-foot-10 sharpshooter to hit free agency and make a run at him then.
The logic behind waiting for Anderson now makes sense since they won’t have to give up anything for a potential rental. But if they really want him, would it not be better for the franchise to just go out and get him now?
Detroit’s a playoff team at the moment and should be looking for a way to secure its standing, and a player like Anderson would help. Not to mention, if you’re going to try to get Anderson in the off-season anyway, why not bring him in immediately and start working on your sales pitch right away.
Markieff Morris: Stein reports the Suns are definitely going to deal Morris, but the team is stubbornly waiting for a strong offer.
The entire league is aware of how badly Phoenix wants to be rid of Morris and vice versa. So, while the Suns kind of have to play a little hardball, they ultimately won’t get the return they’re looking for no matter how long they hold out.
Kevin Martin: Martin is likely to be dealt at the deadline, Stein reports, but the Timberwolves are seeking more than a salary dump and want to find a way to add.
Asset acquisition is key for a rebuilding team like Minnesota, but it’s tough to think the T-Wolves will get back a quality young player or impact draft pick from a Martin deal.
Hawks willing to listen to offers for Horford?
Analysis: A week ago Horford was rumoured to be untouchable at the deadline, with reports coming out of the Hawks’ front office calling the idea of trading the forward “laughable.”
So what changed?
The Hawks are likely just doing their due diligence and seeing what they could potentially get for Horford. In all likelihood, Atlanta does not want to see him go, but with his contract expiring and the fact he'll command a max deal the team may not want to hand out in the off-season, the Hawks need to get something back.
Atlanta’s also been stuck in the good-but-not-great tier for a quite a while, so taking a quick look at the market in an effort to shake things up may also be on its agenda.
Magic looking to buy?
The Skinny: Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel that his team will be “very active” in discussions and that they’re “in a position where a lot of teams like [their] players.”
Analysis: The Magic have a lot of young attractive pieces they could probably get a lot of value for, but why would they give up?
Hennigan’s comments almost make it sound like he’s getting pressure from up top to accelerate the rebuild suddenly, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Orlando is a team on the rise and showed flashes of what it could look like early in the season, but with a roster that has an average age of just 24.6, a drop-off was bound to happen. Was it expected to be as dramatic as it has been? No, but the Magic also weren’t supposed to have won as many games as they did before the calendar flipped to 2016.
The Magic have a good thing going. There’s pain now, but there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel should they just stay the course.