(center) is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
By Rob Mahoney
Here's a quick survey of the latest bits of trade gossip from around the league:
• The potential for a deal centered around Hawks forward Josh Smith has been bubbling just below the NBA surface all season, but the trade deadline has naturally brought those possibilities to the forefront. First came a report from Chris Broussard of ESPN.com that the Nets had been exploring their options in an effort to acquire Smith, an interest that makes sense in the context of Brooklyn's modus operandi. Yet the Nets aren't likely to cobble together the pieces necessary to land Smith, leaving other suitors to try their hand at acquiring Atlanta's versatile free-agent-to-be.
Among those suitors, per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, is the Spurs. This particular report comes via an innocuous drop in Spears' weekly power rankings, but we have every reason to regard this blip as legitimately as any other trade rumor. By that, I mean to do with this information what you will. It's not surprising at all that R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich might be interested in a player like Smith. But as much as the Spurs may like Smith, they've got a good thing going with their 41-12 squad, and have managed to secure the best record in the Western Conference while pacing themselves for the playoffs. Smith would complicate that prospect, talented though he may be.
• Regardless of what becomes of the Josh Smith rumor, the Spurs appear to be active on a different front according to Broussard:
DeJuan Blair has been a redundant piece in San Antonio for a few years now -- so much so that every odd bit of playing time Popovich throws his way is seen as a showcase for a potential trade. Blair generally plays good basketball, but there isn't much room for him to earn minutes on a team with so many big-man alternatives. Situationally, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner typically make more sense as counterpoints to Tim Duncan, leaving Blair to make do as a practice player. He'd undoubtedly prove more valuable to a different team in a different context, which makes a potential trade (and the fulfillment of a long-lived rumor) a sensible endeavor.
• Pau Gasol isn't due back for about two months, Jordan Hill is ruled out for the season and Dwight Howard's status hinges on his comfort level while fighting through a pretty significant shoulder injury. Yet according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA, the Lakers aren't interested in using an open roster spot to sign a free-agent big man to help keep the team afloat. That's a pretty significant stance given the lack of trade options available to the Lakers, but it will be interesting to see if L.A.'s course changes at all based on an unexpected injury for forward Earl Clark:
For those counting at home, that leaves an injured Howard, Antawn Jamison, Robert Sacre and Metta World Peace to fill 96 total minutes per game at power forward and center, while also accounting for whatever playing time World Peace vacates in moving from the wing. Best of luck with that.
• This strikes me as a bit of a semantic claim, but according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, J.J. Redick has been told by Magic officials that the team is not "actively trying to move [him]." Good to know, I suppose, though it hardly changes what Schmitz points out in his post: Other teams will inquire about Redick no matter the Magic's course.
Redick is exactly the kind of complementary piece that could complete a contender's starting lineup or anchor its bench without issue, largely because his game is just so damn agreeable; he defends well, can handle the ball but doesn't need to and should thrive as a first-rate spot-up option and cutter in any remotely functional offense. Power to the Magic if they want to kick back and wait for the offers to roll in, but Redick -- who is on an incredibly reasonable contract with no long-term ramifications -- remains one of the hottest commodities on the trade deadline market.