Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — But for the most established and confident superstars, the month of February generally brings forth tension in NBA locker rooms across the league.
As we count down the days toward February 21—the 2013 NBA trade deadline—most of the league’s players begin to “X” the days off of on their calendars.
Especially as the NBA inches toward the era of the Super Duper Luxury Tax, trades involving the likes of Rudy Gay might become more commonplace.
Gay was probably the first of a few all-star caliber talents to be moved. Pau Gasol and Josh Smith, according to various reports, may not be too far behind.
Jose Calderon, Austin Daye, Ed Davis, Tayshaun Prince, and Hamed Haddadi were just byproducts of a team—the Toronto Raptors in this case—going after a coveted player in Gay.
For a talented young player on a rookie deal, getting caught in the middle of that type of transaction is more common than a Blake Griffin dunk. In New York City, the chatter is non-stop and MarShon Brooks has heard it all by now.
"I don't even pay attention to it, anymore," he said after the Nets defeated the Bulls on Friday night.
Though the Nets are a respectable 28-19 through 47 games, the team had been wildly inconsistent and has been linked to several attractive NBA talents that are said to be available on the trade market. The Dwight Howard rumors won’t stop anytime soon, and the Nets were said to be very interested in Gay before he was traded to the Raptors on Wednesday.
On a team with players with huge contracts, and especially one that very often looks like it could use a jolt, Brooks is easily the most attractive chip that the Nets have at their disposal to make a move. Any impact player that is brought to Brooklyn would likely result in Brooks being sent packing.
For a young player, the rumors and speculation can also be a major distraction. The writing looked to be on the wall for Brooks back when Avery Johnson was still coach. After talking about competing for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, Brooks barely had a place in the rotation.
I've kept close tabs on him throughout the season and right now, he seems happier than at any point prior. He has a newfound confidence and it's due to P.J. Carlesimo giving him more opportunity to prove that he deserves a spot in the Nets rotation.
Brooks is happy again, and though he wants more consistent playing time—something he's made no secret—he continues to stay ready when his number is called. According to him, the trade talk is something that players just have to live with and he's seemed to have mastered that.
Under Carlesimo, Brooks has been getting opportunities and has made the most of them, even if his minutes are still somewhat inconsistent.
That’s the catch-22 for Brooks. On Friday night, he single-handedly took over the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter and helped the Nets seize control and eventually escape Barclays Center with a victory over a short-handed but spirited Bulls team.
Though nothing is imminent for the Nets, Brooks knows that he actually increases the odds of his being moved the better he plays.
As the Nets and its front office continue to survey the trade market and ponder potential moves, Brooks will continue to be discussed. As a second year player, Brooks earns $1.19 million this season and $1.28 million next season. For what he's capable of producing, that's a bargain.
When asked how he planned on spending Saturday—an off day for the Nets—Brooks told me that he would catch up on some rest and play his XBOX 360.
It will be a well deserved day off from the grind of an 82-game regular season.
Certainly, though, Brooks will take a look at his calendar.
"X" marks the spot... Just 20 days to go.