ATLANTA HAWKS: No shortage of rumors involving the Hawks, who (depending upon the report) are either shopping F Josh Smith, whose contract expires at season's end, or are in the market for frontline upgrades, even looking at Kevin Garnett or Dwight Howard. Those latter two are real longshots, although in Howard's case it's only for the moment, as insiders report that Atlanta and Dallas are lining up the biggest bids (aside from the Lakers) for FA-to-be Howard this summer. Howard is an Atlanta native, so the Hawks think they have a chance. As for Smith, there were recent rumors of Phoenix having interest, although those seem to have died down for the moment.
BOSTON CELTICS: Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury further complicated the situation in Beantown, where GM Danny Ainge previously contemplated breaking up the older core of the his team and might be tempted to do so again. As expected, Kevin Garnett is generating plenty of interest (the Clippers and Nuggets reportedly having inquired), but K-G has veto power over any deal and is said to be unlikely to bolt. Paul Pierce would be a more likely candidate to be moved. Adding more intrigue to the mix is how well the Celtics have played since Rondo's injury, winning five in a row, as the likes of offseason additions Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa have delivered. Still, it would be hard to envision Ainge standing pat, especially with rookie frontliner Jared Sullinger also sidelined. If the Celtics keep winning with their current no-Rondo lineup, would Ainge be tempted to add, rather than subtract, at the deadline? And would that put previously-rumored names such as frontliners DeMarcus Cousins and Marcin Gortat back into play?
BROOKLYN NETS: With Brook Lopez healthy for the moment, the Nets are not in the market for frontline reinforcements, although there have been reports of interest in Orlando's vet F Hedo Turkoglu. Brooklyn can, however, be expected to field some queries regarding second-year ex-Providence G MarShon Brooks (12.6 ppg last season), whose minutes have diminished greatly with Joe Johnson's arrival.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: The Bobcats aren't going anywhere, but would like to upgrade their rinky-dink frontline if possible. One possible target who would generate some buzz is former top draft pick Greg Oden, whose career in Portland was derailed by injuries but who is now apparently willing to give it one more shot. Not a lot of downside should Oden (who has other suitors) be signed, but don't expect Charlotte to be a major player at the deadline.
CHICAGO BULLS: The Bulls figure to do better than any trade as soon as All- Star G Derrick Rose is healthy enough to return from his knee injury. And the emergence of ex-Marquette swingman Jimmy Butler has been a revelation in the last month. Still, Tom Thibodeau would still reportedly like to add one more outside shooting threat if possible; the name of Orlando's J.J. Redick, who was extended an offer sheet by Chicago a few years ago, has popped up in the Windy City as a potential target.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: The Cavs are looking for some frontline help in the wake of Anderson Varejao's injury, and the aforementioned Greg Oden (who played college ball at nearby Ohio State) could be a target. The bigger news at The Q is that LeBron James might be contemplating a return to his hometown team in the summer of 2014. File that away for future reference.
DALLAS MAVERICKS: The Mavs are likely going to lay low at the deadline before trying to make a bigger splash in the summer, when sources say they'll make a run at Dwight Howard. Also on the radar could be PG Jose Calderon, recently dealt from Toronto to Detroit but an unrestricted free agent this summer. Sources say that HC Rick Carlisle is not altogether pleased with the progress of new PG Darren Collison and could be very interested should Calderon be "in play" this summer. With the long-term prospects of vet Fs Vince Carter and Shawn Marion not looking to promising in Big D, both could be on the block later this month. Center Chris Kaoman and his expiring contract could also be of some interest to teams looking for cap relief in the offseason.
DENVER NUGGETS: George Karl is thinking his team might be one player away from making a serious run in the West playoffs, which might explain the apparent curiosity in Kevin Garnett. A player likely to be targeted from elsewhere is frontliner Timofey Mozgov, whose playing time has decreased at Pepsi Center.
DETROIT PISTONS: Joe Dumars has already made his big moves, as part of the three-team trade with the Grizzlies and Raptors that sent Tayshaun Prince (the last link to the 2004 title team) to Memphis and brought PG Jose Calderon to the Palace from Toronto. Now we'll see if the Pistons are serious about making a long-term commitment to Calderon, who some see as a perfect orchestrator to trigger the pick-an-roll that HC Lawrence Frank would like to employ with frontliners Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Brandon Knight has already moved to the 2-G spot, so the next couple of months will be an audition of sorts for Calderon, who will have other suitors in the summer.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Sources said that the key to the Warriors getting active at the deadline was Andrew Bogut's progress as he returned from his ankle injury; so far so good, so no urgency for Golden State to acquire reinforcements, although if the Warriors do get active, they likely target a frontliner. One of the West's deepest rosters had already held its own when Bogut missed almost two months of action.
HOUSTON ROCKETS: GM Daryl Morey has been active at the deadline before and could be a "buyer" in the next few weeks. Sources say the Rockets have inquired about the availability of FA-to-be F Josh Smith from Atlanta, who would prove a nice fit for the Rockets' uptempo style, and perhaps Indiana's Danny Granger, due back soon from injury but perhaps now considered expendable by the Pacers.Speaking of whom...
INDIANA PACERS: Would Indiana really move Granger? Some sources believe it's possible now that the Pacers appear to have re-made themselves into the NBA's best defensive team in Granger's absence, while F Paul George emerges as their new go-to scoring threat. But Granger is also due to earn $14 million next season, which could limit his market of potential suitors. More than likely, however, Indiana hopes the imminent return of Granger provides added offensive spark to make the team an even more-serious threat in the East than a year ago. Just ask Miami, which had its hands full with Frank Vogel's team in the second playoff round last May and was recently drubbed by the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: The aforementioned interest in Kevin Garnett was real at the Clip joint, with Gs Eric Bledsoe (due to be a restricted free agent at season's end) and Caron Butler reportedly among those to be involved in the deal the other way. No movement yet, and K-G has veto power (as mentioned before), which makes the deal unlikely, but it looks as if the Clippers believe they need one more piece to make a serious title run.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS: All bets seem to be off now that Pau Gasol has gone down for at least six weeks (maybe longer) with a torn plantar fascia in his foot. FA-to-be Dwight Howard, who has been bothered with a shoulder injury, has been rumored to be on the block, but it now seems very unlikely that GM Mitch Kupchak would even listen to offers for Howard, who the Lakers still believe they can keep (and they can offer more to Howard than any team) this summer. There are no reassurances the Lakers can hold onto Howard, however, which means they were unlikely to move Gasol even before the Catalan's recent injury. But LA is getting dangerously thin in the frontcourt, especially with Jordan Hill also sidelined due to a torn labrum, so Kupchak might be looking to add another big body for depth purposes (especially if Howard's shoulder continues to be an issue) and the Lakers still gunning for a playoff berth.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: They've already done more wheeling and dealing than any team in the league, losing much of their depth and top scorer Rudy Gay in the process, and not getting much besides an aging Tayshaun Prince in return. Or maybe not, as GM Chris "Fox News" Wallace has also afforded himself plenty of financial flexibility, including a valuable $7.5 million trade exception that could relieve a luxury-tax burden for another team. If the Grizzlies continue to do more wheeling and dealing, they'll be looking for wings and perhaps some bench depth.
MIAMI HEAT: Unlikely to make a major move, although there could be some activity on the fringes as the Heat looks for some luxury-tax relief. Which could make vulnerable some of the supporting cast, most likely Joel Anthony or perhaps Mike Miller. As far as reinforcements, Miami is the other destination (along with Boston, Charlotte, and Cleveland) where Greg Oden's name has popped up in the past few weeks.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Sources say the Bucks are poised to make some moves, with C Samuel Dalembert likely on the block, though pterodactyl-like Larry Sanders' recent injury might cause the Bucks to be a little less aggressive shopping Dalembert. Sources say Beno Udrih, Ersan Ilyasova, and yes, Monta Ellis, could also be moved at the right price. Ellis could command a high price, and his replacement would likely have to arrive in return, but the possibility he could opt out of his current deal and become an unrestricted FA in the summer has the Bucks thinking. Milwaukee has a nice collection of assets and some financial flexibility, so this could be an important team to watch at the deadline.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: The main source of interest is beastly 6-11, 290-lb. C Nikola Pekovic, who could become a restricted FA this summer and thus be likely to be moved in a sign-and-trade deal at that time. Or, perhaps sooner, as Pekovic is getting lots of interest, with Portland reportedly a top suitor.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: Unlikely to be very active, although there is a chance the Hornets will get some inquiries regarding F Ryan Anderson, a "stretch 4" with superb long-range shooting prowess. One possibility could be the Lakers (rumored to be interested in Anderson long before Pau Gasol's recent injury), who could be looking for more frontline help.
NEW YORK KNICKS: For once, the Knicks are likely to be very quiet at the deadline, with the team finally getting all of its pieces together at once for HC Mike Woodson. Although the Knicks would love to deal Amar'e Stoudemire for cap relief purposes, there won't be any takers thanks to his contract and his health risks. The only other trade option the Knicks have could be Marcus Camby, as contending teams may want to add a defensive presence, but that is a stretch considering Camby signed a three-year deal in the offseason which no other team will likely want to touch, and he has had health concerns of his own. Because of the lack of tradeable players and the current salary cap situation of the franchise, it all but rules out a midseason improvement. The Knicks can't even sign a player(Kenyon Martin?) without releasing a player and eating his contract first.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: The Thunder seemed to make their "deal" on the eve of the regular season when moving James Harden to Houston, although some believe Ok City might still make a run at Kevin Garnett, veto power or not. Garnett, it is said, might even fancy the idea of going somewhere else with a real chance to win a title, which the Thunder would provide. He'd be an upgrade from Kendrick Perkins in the middle, that's for sure. If the Thunder decides to roll the dice, it does have enough young assets (including rookies Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb and the rights to Toronto's protected first-round pick) to make a significant deal without having to overhaul its lineup rotation.
ORLANDO MAGIC: The aforementioned J.J. Redick is already drawing a lot of interest; now it's up the Magic, who know Redick becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but is also partial to remaining in the area, where he and his family have settled. Long-term, however, Orlando seems committed to Arron Afflalo as its preferred 2-G, yet the Magic risk losing Redick for nothing unless they move him now. Vet F Hedo Turkoglu is also reportedly on the radar screen of a few contenders, of which Orlando isn't one this season.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: The Sixers' frontline has been a mess with Andrew Bynum out since the beginning of the season, so Doug Collins is likely to add somebody at the deadline. A potential target could be Minnesota's F-C Louis Amundson, a journeyman type who could see some enhanced minutes with the Sixers. Don't be surprised if Philly moves G Nick Young, productive recently with Jason Richardson on the shelf and due to be an unrestricted FA at the end of the season, when his expiring $6 million contract could give some team a bit of cap relief in the summer.
PHOENIX SUNS: The Suns are perhaps in the early stages of a thorough housecleaning, having already dismissed HC Alvin Gentry and unlikely to hand the reins over to interim Lindsey Hunter on a full- time basis. Phoenix has plenty of movable assets in the final years of contracts, including Wes Johnson, Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair, and Jermaine O'Neal, and C Marcin Gortat is likely to receive interest. As mentioned, Phoenix is also reportedly interested in Hawks F Josh Smith. Expect the Suns to be active in the next two weeks.
PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: As mentioned earlier, the Blazers are reportedly inquiring about the T-wolves' bruising 6-11 C Nikola Pekovic. There are also rumors from the Rose Garden of interest from elsewhere in F J.J. Hickson, who has picked a very good time to post the best numbers (12.2 ppg, 11 rpg) of his career. But the Blazers are not especially deep and do not have a lot of personnel outside of the starters that would generate much interest on the market.
SACRAMENTO KINGS: While there was considerable chatter earlier in the season about DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans likely being available at the deadline, with new ownership coming in, it's unlikely that GM Geoff Petrie makes any deals unless they could either save money or be cash-neutral. The new owners could be willing to make some moves in the summer, but don't expect the Kings to be too active at the deadline.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Recent speculation has the Spurs in pole position to lure Al Jefferson from Utah, which is overloaded with frontcourt options. Personnel-wise, this would be a nice fit for San Antonio, maybe even a necessary one with Tim Duncan nursing knee problems once more (though not considered serious...for now). The Spurs have plenty of young backcourt depth (Patty Mills, Nando De Colo). As for Jefferson, he's in the final year of his contract, which would also appeal to the Spurs.
TORONTO RAPTORS: Pau Gasol's injury has temporarily taken his name off the table in Toronto, where GM Bryan Colangelo was reportedly cooking up an offer to the Lakers that would have sent F Andrea Bargnani and a few other spare parts to the Lake Show in exchange for Gasol. But with Pau's foot injury, nothing is going to happen on that front before the deadline. Colangelo has already been active, part of the three-team deal with the Grizzlies and Pistons that eventually landed Rudy Gay at Air Canada Centre.
UTAH JAZZ: This could be one of the real interesting teams to watch in the next two weeks, with the aforementioned Al Jefferson and frontline mate Paul Millsap both due to become unrestricted free agents this summer. As noted above, San Antonio would seem to be the favorite for Jefferson's services, while the rugged rebounding Millsap is reportedly on the radar at Houston and Brooklyn.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Drawing the most interest from around the league is 3rd-year G Jordan Crawford, slumping a bit lately but a real spark off the bench in the mold of Jamal Crawford or Jason Terry. He's also earning a relatively-modest $1.9 million this season, enhancing his value.