'Melo deal could set off trade frenzy

STEVE LOUNG, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

TORONTO -- A look at five hot-button topics around the NBA:

SWAP TALK

The NBA trade deadline is nearly a month and a half away and not surprisingly, there is plenty of speculation to go around.

Starting with the biggest prize, Carmelo Anthony, the latest rumor has the three-time All-Star headed to the New Jersey Nets in a trade that would also involve the Detroit Pistons.

The specifics of the proposed swap, according to multiple reports, would see Anthony, Denver teammate Chauncey Billups and Detroit's Richard Hamilton going to the Nets.

The Pistons would receive New Jersey's Troy Murphy and Johan Petro, while Denver would be acquiring the Nets' Devin Harris, rookie Derrick Favors, a pair of first-round draft picks and likely a combination of players to satisfy salary considerations.

Another big star involved in rumors is Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash. With the Suns going in a new, defence-oriented direction, the former two-time MVP looks like he'll need to find a new home and Madison Square Garden has been mentioned as a possible landing spot. A reunion with Mike D'Antoni and Amar'e Stoudemire makes a lot of sense for Nash, but does it work for the New York Knicks? Raymond Felton has been having a career year and is doing an outstanding job leading the attack, so New York may have no need for the 15- year veteran.

Other names that have popped up in rumored trade discussions have been the Philadelphia 76ers' Andre Iguodala, the Charlotte Bobcats' Stephen Jackson, O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph from the Memphis Grizzlies and Detroit's Tayshaun Prince.

With a potential lockout on the horizon, there will be several teams looking to shed as much salary as possible or go for broke and try to win a championship now.

BIG MAN NOT NEEDED

A major point of criticism against the big trade the Orlando Magic made in late December is the fact they don't have a true backup center anymore and the logic was that Orlando general manager Otis Smith would be in the market for one.

That isn't the case, however, as Smith's team has won nine games in a row and don't appear to need a spare big man anytime soon.

"Why do I need one?" Smith told the Orlando Sentinel. "If I wanted a big, I could get a big. A lot depends on what's available. I'm not going to bring anybody in here just to have a body. I'd rather work with the guys we have that know our system and how we do things."

Smith's comments have as much to do with the strong play of Ryan Anderson than anything else.

The former California Golden Bear has done an effective job backing up both Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass during the streak, averaging 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. His ability to shoot the long ball is also a great asset for a team with an offence that's predicated around the three-point shot.

HITTING ROCK BOTTOM

One of the saddest ongoing stories in the NBA has been the state of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs, who currently hold the worst record in the league, are in the midst of their second 10-game losing streak of the season and things are about to get worse.

On Sunday, news came down that Anderson Varejao, arguably the team's best player, would be out for the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a torn tendon in his right ankle.

The Cavaliers are sitting on eight wins and even though the Nets' dismal mark of just 12 victories from a season ago is well within reach, it's possible they may not even match that total because in looking at the schedule, Cleveland only has three realistic chances remaining at getting a "W."

NOT WORTH THE GAMBLE

After an altercation involving Grizzlies teammates O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen, head coach Lionel Hollins has banned gambling on all team flights. According to The Commercial Appeal, Mayo and Allen got into a scuffle during a flight from Los Angeles over an unpaid debt from a card game that reportedly left Mayo with a swollen face.

It's also been reported that the former USC Trojan was in a similar situation during the 2008-2009 season with then-teammate Darius Miles.

This isn't the first time gambling has been banned on NBA team flights as the Washington Wizards did the same a season ago after a game of cards between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton spiraled into an argument that led to Arenas attempting to prank Crittenton by bringing guns into the locker room.

A DUNK CONTEST OF LARGE PROPORTIONS

The participants of the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest were announced recently and for the first time in the event's history, three players of at least 6-foot-10 will be participating.

The Los Angeles Clippers rookie phenom Blake Griffin (6'10"), Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka (6'10") and JaVale McGee (7'0") of the Wizards will be in attendance.

McGee is especially noteworthy because he's the first seven-foot participant since Ralph Sampson (7'4") competed in 1984 - the NBA's first official slam dunk competition.

The odd man out is Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (6'1") who isn't intimidated at all by the size of his competitors, citing Nate Robinson (5'9") as a little guy who was able to rise up over his competition.


Videos

Photos