Here is the latest buzz around the NBA with six days remaining before next Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline (click here for yesterday's buzz):
• Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: The Phoenix Suns broke off trade talks for [Pau] Gasol last week after thinking the Lakers' asking price was too steep. The Suns potentially control four first-round picks in the June draft, including relatively high ones from Washington and Minnesota. The Suns also own their own pick, which is surprisingly low because of the their unexpected success, and Indiana's first-rounder, an even lower selection. "Things are kind of quiet right now," Gasol said, referring to the Suns without mentioning them by name. "But I think there's something potential. But right now the offer would have to change a little to make it considerable."
• Dave McMenamin, ESPNLosAngeles.com: With the present all but meaningless [for the Lakers], it becomes all about the future. And with a team that's set up to have 12 of its 15 players on expiring contracts, pretty much everyone -- outside of Kobe Bryant -- is expendable. Pau Gasol has already been on the block for more than a month. ... Moving Gasol could accomplish two goals for Lakers management at this point: shedding salary to try to get under the luxury tax threshold and also adding a young piece or a draft pick it can use for the future. ... The Lakers are approximately $8 million over the luxury tax line, so there are other ways they could get under without dealing Gasol. Some combination of Steve Blake's $4 million expiring deal, Chris Kaman's $3.2 million contract or Jordan Hill's $3.5 million cap figure, along with a lesser contract or two, could accomplish the goal of getting under the luxury tax level of $71.7 million.
• Mark Medina Los Angeles Daily News: It seems certain the Lakers will miss the playoffs for only the sixth time in franchise history and that they will have a first-round pick for the first time since 2007. The Lakers entered Thursday’s game against Oklahoma City ranked 14th in the Western Conference. There’s far less certainty, however, on what the Lakers will do heading into the Feb. 20 trade deadline, which [general manager Mitch] Kupchak described as “pretty quiet.” “If you’re asking me if we’ll pick up somebody that will help us this year, I think that’s probably not the approach we’re taking,” Kupchak said. “Picks are more valuable than they’ve ever been. There’s only three ways to improve a team —trade, free agency or a draft pick. We’ll look to do it. If there’s an opportunity there, I can’t say it’s likely at this time.”
• Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports: Armed with trade exceptions, OKC has been active in search for a shooter to fortify them for title run, league sources tell Yahoo. To be exact, the Thunder are shopping more for a two-way wing player than simply a shooter.
• Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: The trade deadline arrives on Feb. 20, a day after the Phoenix game and a day before the Celtics make their annual visit to the Lakers. Danny Ainge is more open to a deal than most general managers in the NBA right now, though his paramount goal is to stay under the luxury-tax threshold. For that reason, don’t expect a major name to don green anytime soon, though a few names may indeed leave. According to a rival general manager, Ainge’s perceived mission is to hold onto his nuclear stockpile of first-round draft picks -- nine, possibly 10, in the next five years -- and take back as little salary as possible. Anyone from Brandon Bass to Kris Humphries, or maybe both, may not make it to Los Angeles next week.
• Bob Cooney, Philadelphia Daily News: The Sixers are in a pretty good place here, and even if they don't trade Evan Turner or Spencer Hawes, they can wash their hands of them at the end of the season if they so choose. Thaddeus Young, who probably has the most on-court value to other teams, is less attractive due to a contract that will pay him close to $19 million the next two seasons combined. The question is what would Turner or Hawes get them? If you get another player with an expiring contract and a late first-round draft pick, is that really worth anything? General manager Sam Hinkie could be looking to stockpile draft picks, so perhaps moving someone makes sense. The question has to be, how much interest is there around the league in these players? Maybe not enough to get value in a trade this year. • Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: [Rockets general manager Daryl] Morey would not discuss goals for the trade deadline, but several other individuals with knowledge of the team's thinking said the Rockets already sought to land a backup wing who is strong defensively and can catch-and-shoot, rather than a power forward (considered a priority before the season) or a perimeter player who creates off the dribble. This could reflect a change in their thinking. They had talks last month with then-free-agent center Andrew Bynum before opting against making an offer, according to a person familiar with the talks. It was unclear if the Rockets backed away because of questions about Bynum's contributing this season or signing after this season or because they decided to keep center Omer Asik. Morey expected to trade Asik in December, but a deal is much less likely now.