Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
As the trade deadline nears, all eyes are on veteran Josh Smith, who the Hawks are actively trying to move in order to receive some form of compensation before he becomes a free agent.
Atlanta is doing its part to facilitate a deal, and is initiating a lot of the talk. One such call went to the Los Angeles Clippers in an inquiry for point guard Eric Bledsoe. According to the report via ESPN's Chris Broussard, the conversation was short because Los Angeles wasn't interested in making a play for Smith.
Bledsoe is seen as a movable piece because of the health and effectiveness of incumbent Chris Paul. The Clippers superstar is playing at an MVP level and is giving his team leverage to move Bledsoe, who is too talented to be a backup for long.
Monta Ellis of the Milwaukee Bucks is another potential target for the Hawks as they look to find a backcourt upgrade. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported that Ellis will likely decline his $11 million player option and become a free agent this summer, making a trade the best course of action for the Bucks.
Ellis would be an ideal fit to pair with Jeff Teague, who is having a career year in Atlanta while averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 assists per game.
Staying in Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings is another player being floated in the litany of rumors swirling before deadline day. Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reports that in an especially frugal NBA market this season, Jennings will not command a max deal that the Bucks will likely match this offseason.
No trade rumor roundup would be complete without mentioning the latest on Los Angeles Lakers superstar big man Dwight Howard. Though he's been assured by Lakers management that he will not be moved prior to the deadline, all bets are off given his unhappiness in Los Angeles, the recent passing of owner Jerry Buss and the fact that he's looked out of sorts this season.
Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com said that L.A. is keeping its options open when it comes to the 27-year-old. Howard hasn't meshed well in Los Angeles, and he's yet another player who could virtually walk away from the Lakers for nothing. If they can get value for him, it stands to reason that they may pull the trigger on a deal that ships him out of Hollywood.
When it comes to Kevin Garnett, the C's center has said he will not waive his no-trade clause, but Danny Ainge has historically been active around the deadline and may be looking for something that could be mutually beneficial for both parties.
As teams try to shed payroll and avoid hefty luxury tax penalties, it stands to reason that this year's trade market could remain relatively quiet. Still, there will likely be some activity as several teams are looking to add a small piece to bolster their rosters heading into the playoffs.