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Big names could be on the move at NBA trade deadline

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Through All-Star weekend, the NBA trade waters were calm.

Tuesday, the Pistons made the first big ripple by trading for Magic forward Tobias Harris.

With Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline approaching, the rumor mill still has plenty of potential deals, with big names on the verge of moving. Some could tilt the balance of power in the Eastern Conference and give teams such as the Cavaliers the ability to better challenge for an NBA title.

Rockets center Dwight Howard, Cavaliers big man Kevin Love and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony were rumored to be in play, along with Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Hawks guard Jeff Teague and center Al Horford, and Bucks forward Greg Monroe.

The Cavaliers, who started 30-11, fired coach David Blatt and promoted assistant Tyronn Lue. It’s a glimpse into the premium they’re placing on getting to the NBA Finals.

Cleveland reportedly would deal Love to the Celtics in a three-team blockbuster, with Anthony going to the Cavaliers — provided he waives his no-trade clause — and the Knicks getting draft picks.

That would enable Cleveland to maintain a “Big Three” to remain in contention, and Anthony would be paired with James to make a run at the Warriors and Spurs, who are expected to duel for the Western Conference title.

The Raptors, who have the second-best record in the East, could be one move away from contending with the Cavaliers. They could be looking to get power forward Thaddeus Young from the Nets or toss their hats in the ring to get Horford.

It’s unclear whether the Hawks, fourth in the East, would want to break up their nucleus, but they could be tempted if they could get the right pieces in return.

Michael Lee, senior writer for The Vertical on Yahoo Sports, sees the benefit of the Raptors putting all their chips in the middle of the table to try to make a run.

“I don’t know if they will make a move, but Toronto should do everything it can to pry Al Horford from Atlanta,” Lee said. “It’s disappointing that the Hawks are even considering the player who has brought about the longest sustained playoff run since the franchise left St. Louis. But Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have never been better and the Raptors should go all-in to make a deep postseason run. Another first-round exit will not suffice.”

The Celtics have a wealth of picks and are looking to be heavily involved in any deals, as they reportedly are looking to add a superstar to the mix to go with All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. But they’ll likely have to work in the parameters of a three-team deal to make it happen.

If they’re unable to get a big name, they also could work on a smaller trade, such as Danilo Gallinari, Lee said.

Howard’s plight is a little shakier. While he and All-Star forward James Harden haven’t been a good fit, the thought Howard could opt out of his $23 million for next season has to be a concern for the Rockets. That will put a damper on his trade value, but they’d have to get something for him.

One new suitor could be the Heat, which could be facing more health concerns with Chris Bosh, who didn’t play in the All-Star Game and reportedly will miss time.

“It would be good for Houston to move on from Dwight Howard,” Lee said. “If Miami could get him, especially with new concerns about Chris Bosh’s health, the East could at least pull some attention away from the powers in the West.”

There aren’t any reports for the Warriors and Spurs, showing the stability they have as the top two teams to win the NBA championship.

But if one of the rumored blockbusters goes through, that could change as well.

rod.beard@detroitnews.com

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