In addition to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers both flirting with the Boston Celtics, here are five of the most intriguing trade possibilities involving NBA playoff teams. Deals must be completed by 2 p.m. Thursday:
1. San Antonio (42-12, No. 1 seed in Western Conference): The team with the NBA's best record could use its heavy influence to work a significant deal before the deadline. Former Spurs employee/player Danny Ferry is now general manager of Atlanta and Hawks forward Josh Smith is available. Trading him to a Western Conference team makes more sense than keeping him in the East. Spurs assistant general manager Scott Layden is a former Utah assistant coach, which likely puts the Spurs in the driver's seat to obtain Jazz forward Al Jefferson. Prediction: Trade executed.
2. Memphis (33-18, No. 4 seed in Western Conference): After the Grizzlies made their salary-dump trades in January, there were rumors more moves were on the way. Even if power forward Zach Randolph is dealt in another salary dump move, he insists he'll be staying in Memphis. “I love the city of Memphis and the people in it,” Randolph said. “I love interacting with the kids and the charity. That's my home. I just bought a house there and my daughters go to school. I'm always going to be in Memphis, if they trade me or if they don't.” Prediction: No trades.
3. Denver (33-21, No. 5 seed in Western Conference): The hot-and-cold Nuggets got hot and won nine straight, but then hit the road and lost three straight at Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn. Denver previously has dangled role players such as Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph as trade bait, perhaps for Orlando shooting guard J.J. Redick, who has an expiring contract. Another possibility is trading 7-foot-1 center and pending free agent Timofey Mosgov to the Chicago Bulls for veteran forward Richard Hamilton. Prediction: Trade executed.
4. Chicago (30-22, No. 5 seed in Eastern Conference): Point guard Derrick Rose said he doesn't want to rush coming back from major knee surgery, so there is a genuine possibility he might sit out the entire season. Though the Bulls are hanging tough, they entered All-Star break having lost four of their last five and five of their last seven. This latest cold spell could rekindle the offer that would send forward Carlos Boozer and guard Nate Robinson to Toronto for forward Andrea Bargnani and former Oklahoma State point guard John Lucas III. Prediction: No trade.
5. Brooklyn (31-22, No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference): Like several teams, the Nets also have an interest in Atlanta's Smith. But as mentioned earlier, residing in the same conference as the Hawks might nix the possibility of a deal. Brooklyn would be willing to part with forward Kris Humphries and guard MarShon Brooks. Also keep in mind the Nets were high on Dwight Howard's list of options last summer before he was traded to the Lakers. Given all the uncertainty surrounding Howard and LA, Brooklyn could still be an option. Prediction: No trade.