It doesn't look like anything will derail a trip to the postseason for the teams currently in the top seven of the Eastern Conference, but with Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger both lost for the year, the Celtics appear more vulnerable than their three-game lead for the eighth spot would suggest. The Sixers, who could get Andrew Bynum back soon, are ninth, and the Pistons and Raptors, a pair of teams that could get a boost from this week's trade, are next in line. Here's more from the East:
- Though other reports have contradicted Alex Kennedy's recent dispatch that the Suns have interest in Josh Smith, the HoopsWorld scribe stands by his story, and says the Rockets and Bobcats have had exploratory talks with the Hawks as well (Twitter links).
- While Marc Stein of ESPN.com has heard the suggestion that the Raptors might have intended to get rid of Kyle Lowry as well as Jose Calderon, he doesn't see that happening now, especially given the close friendship between Lowry and new acquisiton Rudy Gay.
- The Raptors signed John Lucas III last summer with the idea that he would slide into the rotation if a Calderon trade went down, Stein points out. Lucas responded with 17 points in less than 19 minutes during last night's upset of the Clippers.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders about the possibility LeBron James could sign with the Bulls in 2014, when the team is set to have plenty of cap space to accomodate King James and others.
- Cowley also notes that Bulls GM Gar Forman is likely to sign free agents primarily to one-year contracts this summer, just as he did in 2012, as last year's free agent tracker shows.
- HoopsWorld's Joel Brigham provides an update on Bynum, Derrick Rose, Danny Granger, and other key injured players due back around the All-Star break, speculating that their returns might make it less likely that their teams participate in trade deadline deals.