TrueHoop: Trade Reports

Follow the NBA Trade Deadline

February, 17, 2015
Feb 17
By Staff
The NBA trade deadline finished with a bang at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday with a flurry of deals that went down to the wire. ESPN insiders have you covered with rumors, reactions and analysis from across the league.

Catch up on each of the last-second moves that were made.

Why Iman Shumpert is still a Knick

February, 24, 2014
Broussard By Chris Broussard
Iman ShumpertTom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SportsThe Thunder and Clippers were both interested in Knicks guard Iman Shumpert at the trade deadline.
While there's certainly no need to panic in Oklahoma City, the Thunder's last two losses have exposed a need for the Western Conference favorite: perimeter defense. Miami's Dwyane Wade and the Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford combined to score 60 points on 65 percent shooting from the floor in those games.

Granted, Wade and Crawford light up a lot of teams, but the fact is that, outside of starting 2-guard Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City provides very little resistance in the backcourt. That's why the Thunder were hoping to land Iman Shumpert before last Thursday's trade deadline.

Even after Shumpert suffered a strained left MCL in a Knicks loss last Wednesday, Oklahoma City was willing to part with this season's first-round draft pick to land the Knicks shooting guard, according to sources with knowledge of the trade discussions. The Knicks, however, refused to do the deal because they weren't getting a current player in return who could help them make a push for this season's Eastern Conference playoffs. At the end of the day, they deemed Shumpert more valuable than the 28th pick (or whatever low pick OKC gets) of the draft, sources said.

The Knicks' priority all along in trading Shumpert was to attach Raymond Felton's contract to the deal and get a solid point guard in return. That nearly happened with the Clippers.

While Shumpert's injury did not deter the Thunder, it did kill the Knicks' hopes of sending him to Los Angeles. Clippers coach Doc Rivers really wanted Shumpert, sources say, and Rivers was willing to do a deal that would have sent Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, Byron Mullens and two second-round picks to New York for Shumpert, Felton and Beno Udrih. But Clippers owner Donald Sterling and others within the organization were hesitant to bet on Shumpert after seeing him go down in Wednesday's game at New Orleans, according to sources.

Shumpert's camp was hoping for a trade, but it can rest assured that he'll be back on the market around draft time.

Tuesday Buzz Bullets

February, 18, 2014
By Staff

Monday Buzz Bullets

February, 17, 2014
By Staff


Draft Day rumblings: Will Cavs keep No. 1?

June, 27, 2013
Ford By Chad Ford
Here are the latest draft trade talk rumblings:

• The Cavs' top option is to trade the No. 1 overall pick for a combination of a veteran plus a 2014 lottery pick. If they can pull that off, they'll move the pick. If they can't, they'll keep attempting to move whomever they draft until all their options have been exercised. In other words, don't assume that they are keeping the player they draft at No. 1.

• The hardest asset for a team to get right now is a 2014 lottery pick. As I've written over and over this year, the 2014 draft is shaping up to be one of the strongest since 2003. There are between five to eight future All-Stars in the draft. No one wants to give away a pick next year for someone this year in a much weaker draft. I'd put the odds at 95 percent that no potential 2014 lottery pick is moved tonight.

• The teams working hardest to move up higher in the lottery are the Jazz, the Wolves and the Thunder. The Jazz appear to be targeting Lehigh's C.J. McCollum. They are offering picks 14 and 21, but they might have to give up Alec Burks if they really want to get high enough to get C.J.

The Wolves are also trying to get up very high in an attempt to land Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore. Their trade bait, as we've previously reported, is in the form of picks 9, 26 and Derrick Williams.

The Thunder are on the hunt for a big man (they like Nerlens Noel and Alex Len), but they don't have as much to offer. The assets that they're willing to move -- Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, possibly Reggie Jackson -- don't have enormous trade value. Their own pick next year won't be great, and the Mavs pick that they own is top-20 protected next year.

The Bobcats and Kings look like the two teams most willing to move down.

• A ton of teams are trying to get the Mavs' 2013 pick. The Cavs have been the most prominent suitor, but the Bucks, Hawks and Nets are also trying to get up there. In virtually every case, the target is Sergey Karasev. The biggest issue for each team is that both the Sixers and Thunder are sending signals they might take Karasev before 13.

• Later in the first round, the Celtics are trying to pick up a late-first or early-second-round pick. Sources say their target is Missouri's Phil Pressey if they decide to go big with their first pick.

• Finally, the excitement over Giannis Antetokounmpo might be fading a bit. Sources say that teams are being told that Antetokounmpo wants to come to the NBA now and doesn't want to be stashed in Greece for a couple of years. That's a problem for a number of GMs who think he's years away from being ready to play in the NBA. They don't want to start paying him on the rookie scale to sit on the bench in the D-League.

Draft buzz: Rockets shopping Robinson

June, 26, 2013
By Chad Ford and Marc Stein
Some fresh dribbles of NBA Draft chatter and corresponding trade talk:

• The Houston Rockets have been openly shopping forward Thomas Robinson in an effort to clear more cap space for a run at Dwight Howard and have been confident that they will shed Robinson's contract by Thursday night.

Houston is looking to move Robinson to a team that can absorb his salary (either because it is under the cap or possesses the requisite trade exception) and get back a first-round pick in return. And two teams appear to have emerged as serious suitors: Cleveland and Chicago. Sources close to the situation say both teams would be willing to give up a first-round pick in this draft to land Robinson, who went No. 5 overall in the 2012 draft.

The Cavs, though, have also been linked to a potential trade with Dallas for Shawn Marion and the 13th pick that could cost them the second of their two first-round picks, No. 19 overall. They've also made an unsuccessful run at Minnesota's Kevin Love and continue to send signals that they want to make a "big" trade this week. But if Cleveland doesn't need No. 19 for one of those transactions, look for them to try to acquire Robinson from the Rockets.

Sources say that the Bulls, meanwhile, also covet Robinson and are offering the 20th pick. Chicago doesn't have cap space to absorb Robinson's contract but does possess a trade exception that Robinson could slide into. If the Bulls do acquire Robinson, word is they intend to flip him to another team in a subsequent (or connected) deal.

Who would the Rockets take if they meet their objective to shed Robinson for a late first-rounder? It's virtually guaranteed to be an international player that they can stash overseas and thus keep unwanted additional salary off of their books. Russia's Sergey Karasev, Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brazil's Lucas Nogueira, Germany's Dennis Schroeder and France's Rudy Gobert are all known targets for the Rockets.

• The Wolves continue to try to move up higher in the draft to land either Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore. The latest rumbles have them reaching out to the Magic, Bobcats and Suns offering Derrick Williams and the No. 9 and No. 26 picks in return for Orlando's No. 2 pick, Charlotte's No. 4 pick or Phoenix's No. 5 pick.

• There is a growing belief that Indiana's Cody Zeller is seriously in the mix for the Bobcats at No. 4 along with Alex Len, McLemore and Otto Porter ... provided that Charlotte keeps its pick.

Bobcats GM Rich Cho is said to be a big Zeller fan, but word is he's having a tough time convincing ownership to take him at No. 4. If the Bobcats were to move a little farther down in the draft, Zeller becomes a strong possibility for Charlotte.

Who will Cavs pick No. 1? Theories abound

June, 26, 2013
Ford By Chad Ford

When the Cavs had the first pick in the 2011 draft, Kyrie Irving didn't find out he was going No. 1 until his name was called by David Stern.

Two years later, the Cavs are back on the clock with the No. 1 pick and they're still not giving any hints on who they'll draft.

But that hasn't stopped rampant speculation around NBA circles about who they'll take No. 1. Over the course of the past few weeks I've heard elaborate theories from NBA scouts, GMs and agents about what the Cavs will do. While I don't particularly put stock in any of these theories, here are the arguments being made:

Argument: The Cavs will take Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 pick

I went into depth on Monday about why I have kept Noel as the No. 1 pick in my mock draft, but I'm also hearing this:

The theory: Cavs GM Chris Grant scouted Noel heavily all year and, for most of the season, Noel was atop their Big Board. Grant also recommended Noel's surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, to Kentucky head coach John Calipari and has been keeping a very close eye on the rehab.

Argument: The Cavs will take Alex Len with the No. 1 pick

Len is the hottest name on the Internet right now thanks to several unsourced reports claiming the Cavs are taking him. Would the Cavs really pull the trigger on Len after just a so-so sophomore season? Here's where the speculation is coming from:

The theory: In early June, the Cavs hired Vitaly Potapenko as a development coach for big men. Potapenko is from the Ukraine. Len is from the Ukraine. People are connecting dots. The reports are also claiming that both Potapenko and former Cavs big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas are pushing hard for Len. Ilgauskas is from Lithuania, not the Ukraine, but you get the picture.

Argument: The Cavs will take Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick

While Bennett isn't getting the buzz at No. 1 that Noel and Len are, the Cavs are considering him despite the fact Bennett doesn't appear to be a great fit in Cleveland. He, too, has a tie to the Cavs, however:

The theory: Head coach Mike Brown is pushing for Bennett. Brown's son, Elijah, was recruited by UNLV last year (but ultimately signed with Butler) and Brown made visits with his son to watch the Running Rebels play. Brown fell in love with Bennett and wants to coach him. He has support in the Cavs' front office, because Bennett might be the most offensively talented player of the top six in the draft and would add scoring punch to the Cavs' offensively challenged frontcourt.

Argument: The Cavs will take Otto Porter with the No. 1 pick

Porter was the guy we had the Cavs taking in our mock drafts before Cleveland landed the No. 1 pick. Is there still a chance he goes No. 1?

The theory: The Cavs have a gaping hole at small forward. Porter is the perfect fit for a team that already has two ball-dominant guards. Porter fits the culture in Cleveland, rates highly on virtually every analytical test and the Cavs still have lingering regret for passing on Harrison Barnes in last year's draft. They see Porter as a perfect fit.

Argument: The Cavs will take Ben McLemore with the No. 1 pick

McLemore was widely regarded as the second- or third-best prospect in the draft for most of the season. His stock has only slipped recently because of some poor workouts and some off-the-court issues involving his representatives.

The theory: The Cavs either believe that Dion Waiters' game is better suited to a sixth-man role or are trying to trade him (I've heard both). They want better shooting in the backcourt, and with an established star already on the team (Irving) they feel the pressure will be off McLemore. McLemore has as much upside as or more upside than anyone in the draft and the Cavs aren't worried about his off-the-court issues.

Argument: The Cavs will take Victor Oladipo with the No. 1 pick

Actually, of all the six players the Cavs are seriously looking at, very few in the league believe they'd take Oladipo at No. 1. There isn't a running theory out there about him going first. So ... here's mine:

The theory: He's my favorite player in the draft and the favorite player of many GMs (see our Secret NBA Draft Big Board for proof). The Cavs have been using the other five players as smoke screens to ferret out trades. But if they can't get a trade, they'll shock the world and take Oladipo. One can dream, can't they?

UPDATE: I finally found a theory on Oladipo for No. 1 that bears repeating. I've heard somewhat convincingly that owner Dan Gilbert loves Oladipo. And then I found out that Oladipo is the only draft prospect that Gilbert follows on Twitter!

Argument: The Cavs will trade the No. 1 pick

There is plenty of evidence that they are trying. And there is plenty of evidence that they really don't have a viable deal so far.

The theory: The reason different names are being floated to the media ("It's going to be Len!" ... "It's going to be Porter!") is because the Cavs are trying to gauge trade interest for the various players at the top of the draft. That's why we are all so confused!

Cavs, Thunder, Mavs shopping draft picks?

June, 25, 2013
Katz By Andy Katz
The Cleveland Cavaliers are down to a final list of three players for the No. 1 pick and hope to make a decision by Thursday morning, according to a source.

The list is expected to include Alex Len, Nerlens Noel and either Otto Porter or Ben McLemore. Chad Ford reported on Monday that it could come down to Len and Noel.

But the Cavs are also exploring trading the top pick since they’re not in love with any one player who in a “normal” year wouldn’t be a top pick. According to a source, Cleveland offered the No. 1 pick, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters to try and land Minnesota’s Kevin Love. But new Timberwolves president Flip Saunders won’t move Love.

The Cavs are fond of Thompson and Waiters -- the latter being one of the top six rookies last season -- but Cleveland would love to get an All-Star forward to pair with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.

The problem for Cleveland is there aren’t any takers for the top pick at the moment.

Elsewhere, a source said Oklahoma City was interested in packaging its two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 29) and Kendrick Perkins for a top-five pick. But the Thunder have had no takers either.

Meanwhile, Dallas is openly shopping its No. 13 pick, but is having a hard time finding a quality deal.

There are a still a number of moves that could occur before the draft, like Golden State trying to purchase a second-round pick. But as of Tuesday afternoon, there was a lot of talk, but not much action.

Flurry of trade talks surrounding draft

June, 24, 2013
By Chad Ford and Marc Stein
As we get closer to the Thursday night's draft, here are some rumblings we're hearing around the league.
  • What are the Cleveland Cavaliers seeking in exchange for the No. 1 pick? Sources say they reached out to the Portland Trail Blazers in an attempt to land LaMarcus Aldridge for the Nos. 1 and 19 picks. The Blazers quickly rebuffed them.

  • The Sacramento Kings are looking to acquire a second first-round pick and are using guard Jimmer Fredette as bait. Sources say the Kings have reached out to a number of teams in the mid-to-late first round in an attempt to secure another pick. Both the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz are potential destinations for Jimmer. Kings coach Mike Malone is enamored with both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Tony Snell, but the Kings feel that they can get them much lower in the draft.

  • In addition to the Pacers' Jimmer discussions, sources say Indiana has made the No. 23 pick available in hopes that an interested party would be willing to take on the contract of Gerald Green for the right to acquire Indy's pick.

  • The Brooklyn Nets are trying to find a home for their 2011 first-round selection, MarShon Brooks. Sources say the Nets are trying to land a second first-rounder in return. One team to watch is the Minnesota Timberwolves. If the Wolves will give the Nets the No. 26 pick in return, they'll probably have a deal on draft night.

  • The Wolves continue to try to move higher up in the draft to get their hands on Victor Oladipo. They're offering Derrick Williams, the No. 9 and the No. 26 pick to move up, but so far haven't found a taker. New Wolves GM Flip Saunders is enamored with Oladipo.

  • The Houston Rockets are doing anything and everything they can to move Aaron Brooks or Carlos Delfino in conjunction with the draft before they're forced to just let them go in order to create as much cap space as possible for the long-planned pursuit in free agency of Dwight Howard.

  • For all the latest on the Mavs' plans with Shawn Marion, amid constant speculation about Dallas packaging Marion with the 13th pick in Thursday's draft in the name of creating more salary-cap space for its own pursuit of Howard, click this post.

Magic ready to pounce if Noel falls to No. 2

June, 24, 2013
Ford By Chad Ford
I just wrote that I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely take Nerlens Noel at No. 1. However, what happens to Noel if he doesn't go to Cleveland?

Will he slide down the draft board? I don't think so.

Sources close to the Orlando Magic told on Saturday that if the Cavs pass on Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, the Magic are leaning strongly toward selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

Sources cautioned that things could change in the next five days as the Magic continue to gather information. "If the draft was held today, Noel would be our first choice," one source told

Noel, a 7-foot freshman from Everett, Mass., is a long, lithe athletic center who led the nation in blocked shots this season with 4.4 blocks per game. While Noel's offensive game is still limited (he averaged 10.5 ppg on 59 percent shooting) many NBA scouts believe he has the most upside of any player in the draft.

The Magic, according to sources, scouted Noel heavily during the season and have been doing exhaustive background work on Noel the past few months. The team believes that, with patience, Noel should end up being the best player in the draft.

Noel certainly fits a need for the Magic. Despite the strong play of second-year center Nikola Vucevic, the Magic ranked 24th in the NBA in blocked shots and 25th in defensive efficiency. Noel made a visit to the Magic on June 2 and sources said he wowed everyone despite the fact that he's still months away from playing basketball because of a torn ACL.

Cavaliers weighing the No. 1 decision

June, 24, 2013
Ford By Chad Ford
Nerlens NoelBecky Stein/Getty ImagesIs Nerlens Noel the future face of the franchise in Cleveland? That has yet to be determined.
Despite numerous reports to the contrary, multiple sources say the Cleveland Cavaliers have yet to make a decision concerning who they’ll take with the No. 1 pick.

The Cavs continue to mull their options at No. 1.

They are engaged in trade talks with a number of teams. Sources say the Thunder, Timberwolves and Blazers have been the most proactive in trying to get the No. 1 pick -- but so far neither team has persuaded the Cavs to move out of the top pick.

The Cavs have narrowed down their list of prospects, according to sources, and it looks like it may ultimately come down to a battle between Kentucky's Noel and Maryland’s Alex Len. I’m still persuaded, though not convinced, that it will be Noel.

Here’s my thinking:
  • Noel told Louisville's Courier-Journal on Sunday that the Cavs' lead doctor, Dr. Richard Parker, had medically cleared him. I’ve had that confirmed by several sources. The Cavs have no serious issues with his knee.
  • The Cavs are stressing that they’re taking the best talent available, regardless of team needs or development curve.
  • The Cavs believe that given the strength of their roster, it’s unlikely that they’ll draft a starter. They believe their core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao is better than anyone they could draft at No. 1. They also believe that while they have a huge hole at small forward, they’ll use their cap space to find a veteran small forward to fill that hole. Regardless of who they draft, he is likely coming off the bench.
  • That means the Cavs are less likely to focus on which prospect will have the greatest impact now. They are free to take the player they think will be better down the road.
  • If history is any guide, the Cavs have a proven track record of taking young, less experienced prospects that show big upside.
  • They also have selected players that have, historically, graded out strongly in the various analytic measures they employ. Irving, Thompson and Waiters all ranked very highly by virtually every analytical tool.
  • All of that suggests to me that Noel, not Len, is likely to be the No. 1 pick. Noel has the most upside of any player in the draft. He tests at the top or near the top of every analytical tool I’ve seen (here’s Kevin Pelton’s WARP where Noel comes out on top). In fact, if I had to put a second player down, I think it would be UNLV’s Anthony Bennett who fits the criteria best.
  • While I know Len is in the picture and is a tempting option, he has a couple of things going against him. One, he has his own medical concerns and may be on a return timetable similar to Noel’s. Two, he rates poorly on most of the analytical tools I’ve read (he came in as the 26th prospect on Kevin Pelton’s WARP). While he might be the “safer” pick, I would be surprised if the Cavs made it just out of fear.
  • One last point on Noel. Given his steep improvement from November to February, if Noel had not hurt his knee -- Kentucky is in the tournament, Noel is the leader of the team, his numbers keep improving and he's the consensus No. 1 pick across the board. So, if he Cavs aren't worried about the knee ... isn't he the same guy they had ranked No. 1 on their board all season?

Sources: Deng for No. 3 pick explored

June, 24, 2013
Stein By Marc Stein
The first decent NBA draft trade rumble of the week involves an All-Star who's no stranger to the speculation game.

Sources close to the situation told that the Chicago Bulls, in their latest attempt to gauge the trade value of All-Star swingman Luol Deng, have had exploratory discussions with Washington about a deal that would land Deng with the Wizards and bring the No. 3 pick in Thursday's draft to the Bulls.

The most likely trade construction, if talks were to progress to the serious stage, would send Deng to the Wizards for the No. 3 pick and center Emeka Okafor, who would have to formally opt into his contract for next season ($14.5 million) this week for the trade to go through.

Yet it's worth noting that Cleveland, sources say, has interest in Deng as well ... and there will surely be other potential trade partners to surface if the Bulls decide they're legitimately ready to part with Deng after years of flirting with the idea.

Latest on Josh Smith talks

February, 21, 2013
Stein By Marc Stein
The Atlanta Hawks inched closer to Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline more determined than ever to trade Josh Smith, according to sources with knowledge of the Hawks' thinking.

They still have to find a suitable trade partner, though.

The consistent word circulating in front-office circles late Wednesday was that Atlanta has yet to find a deal it likes for Smith in a down market despite the determined pursuit of the Brooklyn Nets and consistent (but conditional) interest from Milwaukee and Boston.

The Nets, sources say, will continue Thursday to search for a third team to help facilitate a deal for Smith, since Atlanta has made it clear that it wants no part of Kris Humphries.

Milwaukee would appear to be the most likely destination for Smith entering deadline day, but it remains to seen whether the Bucks will ultimately be willing to part with guard Monta Ellis, whom Atlanta has targeted as the primary player it wants from them.

As for Boston: Including Paul Pierce or Rajon Rondo in any deal with the Hawks is presumed to be the only way for the Celtics to land Smith, which is problematic for the Celts for a number of reasons. Focusing on just two of them: (1) Trading Pierce somewhere he doesn't want to go isn't nearly as easy as it sounds given what PP's stature is in his city and with that franchise; (2) Boston's chances of getting Atlanta's unrestricted free agent-to-be to sign for the long term there would almost certainly be damaged if Rondo, one of Smith's best friends, weren't still there to team up with him.

As of late Wednesday, sources close to the situation said Atlanta hadn't yet found a deal it particularly liked and was still holding out hope that offers would improve or that previously uninterested teams, such as Houston, would change their minds in the final hours of trade season.

Yet sources stressed that the Hawks do remain eager to part with Smith and went into Thursday expecting to move him by day's end to the team offering the best deal that won't hurt their long-term financial flexibility. Atlanta, of course, is determined not to let any trade it makes Thursday affect its planned pursuit of Dwight Howard in free agency in July.

The Hawks, as a result, figure to attract more attention than anyone else on deadline day. Especially with most rival teams increasingly expecting the Clippers and Jazz to stand pat no matter how much we've talked about Eric Bledsoe, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson possibly moving.

Similar pessimism about Phoenix -- long considered one of the teams expected to be busy leading up to the 2012 deadline -- moving center Marcin Gortat was also in abundance Wednesday.

Brandon Jennings now 'near untouchable'

February, 20, 2013
Stein By Marc Stein
The Milwaukee Bucks continue to discuss Josh Smith trade scenarios with the Atlanta Hawks in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

But those discussions, sources say, also serve as a strong indication of the rising likelihood that Brandon Jennings will not be moved this week. reported Tuesday that Monta Ellis is the primary player Atlanta is targeting in its discussion with Milwaukee. Sources say that the Hawks, furthermore, want Milwaukee to add at least one expiring contract to the equation with Ellis and possibly take on some salary.

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, meanwhile, reported Wednesday morning on “SportsCenter” that Smith would be interested in playing with both Jennings and Ellis if he wound up in Milwaukee, leading the Bucks to try Wednesday to make the deal without surrendering Ellis.

Yet amid all of those talks, sources say, Jennings has moved alongside Larry Sanders and John Henson on the Bucks’ list of near-untouchables. This is despite Jennings’ widely presumed desire to leave Milwaukee in free agency this summer after failing to seal a contract extension in October like fellow point guards Jrue Holiday, Steph Curry and Ty Lawson and then changing agents earlier this month.

The Dallas Mavericks were at the forefront of the list of teams hoping that the Bucks would make Jennings available this week, but Milwaukee appears intent on taking its chances in the offseason, knowing that Jennings will be a restricted free agent and thus unable to leave town unless the Bucks decline to match an offer sheet he receives.

The Mavericks, sources say, have been pessimistic from the start about their ability to trade for Jennings before the deadline anyway. They know he’s the closest thing to a face of the franchise for the Bucks in the wake of Andrew Bogut’s departure at the 2012 trade deadline, meaning Milwaukee would likely set a high bar for teams inquiring about the fourth-year point guard.

The latest word on veteran center Samuel Dalembert, meanwhile, is that the Bucks are actually more inclined to keep him than move him now in the wake of Dalembert's fine fill-in work since Sanders was sidelined by a back injury. For much of the season -- largely when he was barely playing under Scott Skiles -- Dalembert was regarded as one of the players most likely to be traded this season.

Hawks seem determined to deal Josh Smith

February, 19, 2013
Stein By Marc Stein

Elsa/Getty Images
You don't have to listen too closely to hear trade chatter about Kevin Garnett and Josh Smith.
It didn't take long, coming out of All-Star Weekend, from the trade chatter to crank back up again.

Some fresh dribbles of that chatter follow in the lead-up to the NBA’s 3 p.m ET Thursday trade deadline:

The Atlanta Hawks have convinced numerous teams that they're definitely trading Josh Smith this week, largely because they see the unpredictable lefty as a virtual lock to leave them in free agency this summer.

So ...


One team close to the situation consulted Monday night predicted that the Nets would ultimately land Smith via a three-way trade after ESPN's Chris Broussard reported Feb. 11 that Smith is a prime Brooklyn Nets trade target.

Another team pinpointed the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks as the strongest contenders to win the Smith sweepstakes. The big worry for both of those teams, though, is whether they could really risk trading for Smith when convincing him to re-sign for the long term is likely to be a serious challenge in either city. Especially with Smith said to be angling for a max deal … and with nobody confusing the Suns or the Bucks with Mikhail Prokhorov's Nets.

Broussard, furthermore, tweeted early Tuesday that the Washington Wizards have made anyone on the roster available for Smith, apart from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene.

Which brings us to the Boston Celtics.

NBA front-office sources told on Monday that the Boston Celtics have, indeed, registered their interest on the Smith front, with the caveat that they also remain highly interested in the Clippers' Eric Bledsoe.

Yet a Boston deal for Smith, sources said, would almost certainly have to be built around Paul Pierce, because Kevin Garnett isn't waiving his no-trade clause to go to the Atlanta Hawks if he's not willing to waive it to go to Clipperland. And the prospect of Celtics front-office chief Danny Ainge exiling Pierce to the Hawks for Smith, after everything Pierce has done to restore the Celtics to glory over the past half-decade, is still hard to imagine.

At least for me.

According to one theory in circulation on the personnel grapevine, Celtics officials could be moved this week to try to make the case to Garnett that waiving his no-trade provision to accept that long-rumored trade to the Los Angeles Clippers would be the best thing not only for himself but for the long-term health of the franchise. Combine that approach with the expected lobbying from the L.A. side by good buddy Chauncey Billups, as the theory goes, and maybe Garnett will ultimately relent and consent to a swap.

Have to add three follow-up caveats here, though:

1. After spending a solid 15 minutes in the same room with Garnett in Houston as part of ESPN Radio's All-Star Weekend team, I became convinced that KG isn't waiving that no-trade clause. For anyone or any team. My impression is that it's going to take more lobbying than anyone out there can muster.

2. Broussard reported late Monday night on "SportsCenter" that Billups has already warned the Clippers that Garnett's position appears to be firm … and that Garnett spelled out the exact same thing to Chris Paul last summer when Paul informed KG that the Clippers wanted to pursue him via trade.

3. Even if Garnett did wind up with the Clippers this week, after all the bluster against the idea, I still struggle to picture the Celtics telling Pierce that they're going to send him to the Hawks for the good of Boston's long-term health. The deal might make sense for Atlanta -- since Pierce's $5 million buyout for next season would extend the Hawks' window of flexibility and create a new set of options -- but it still looks like as an impossible sell in Boston.

I've always thought Rajon Rondo, not Pierce or Garnett, would be the first member of Boston's star trio to be dealt. There simply might not be a shake-up move available to the Celtics at this deadline now that Rondo has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.

There's more on that subject.

The Clippers, according one source close to the situation, would not be willing to surrender both Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Boston even if Garnett was willing to waive his no-trade clause.

Is that posturing? An absolute stance?

We'll find out for sure between now and the deadline, but the source insisted that the Clippers feel that a Bledsoe-and-Jordan combo is too much to surrender for a 36-year-old who isn't sure how much longer he'll be playing.

The consistent word out of Houston, incidentally, is that the Rockets -- long known to be Smith fans -- are far more likely to pursue J-Smoove in free agency than to try to trade for him this week.

The Rockets are expected to use their leftover salary-cap space from last summer to extract an extra draft pick from teams looking to shed salary for luxury-tax reasons right before the trade buzzer.

Veterans who remain available in trade talks this week include San Antonio's DeJuan Blair, Cleveland's Omri Casspi, Charlotte's Ben Gordon, Brooklyn's Kris Humphries, Oklahoma City's Eric Maynor, Minnesota's Luke Ridnour, Phoenix's Sebastian Telfair and Washington's Jordan Crawford.

Orlando, meanwhile, continues to seek no less than a first-round pick for sharpshooter J.J. Redick, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July.