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Will Al Horford trade rumors swirl this season?

Grantland's Zach Lowe predicts trade rumors will swirl around Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford this season

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Over at Grantland, Zach Lowe makes "33 Crazy Predictions" for the upcoming NBA season and says that trade rumors will once again emerge around Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford.

It happened in stealth mode last season, when the Hawks reached out to a select group and made it known that Horford could be had for the right price - including an unprotected 2014 first-round pick, per several league sources. Nothing materialized, and Horford is ready to return from another torn pectoral muscle.

We talked about this some previously but the Hawks apparently shopped Horford around in a targeted manner right before the trade deadline. What that means is they offered Horford up in exchange for something particular, such as an unprotected 2014 1st round pick like Lowe mentions in the article.

Will it happen again this season? More than likely yes and Horford might not be the only player. Paul Millsap is in the final year of his deal and could garner some trade interest at the deadline. Of course his upcoming free agency status would play a part in any return the Hawks could get but if the team struggled for some reason this season it could be an option.

In the two years that Danny Ferry has ran the team the Hawks have explored a number of scenarios. Very few players in the league truly deserve the "untouchable" tag. Horford is under contract through the 2016 season and would be an appealing target for a lot of teams. Atlanta would be looking for quite a haul if they were to pull the trigger on a trade involving Horford.

Of course the question remains on who will be calling the shots for the Hawks by the time the deadline rolls around. Ferry remains away from the team on a leave of absence and Mike Budenholzer is calling the shots with help from assistant GM Wes Wilcox. Atlanta's ownership situation will hopefully be resolved by the first of the year but there is no indication of when or if Ferry will return to the job.

So Lowe is probably right. Rumors will again swirl around Horford and perhaps Millsap or others on the Hawks' roster. He also predicts that the trade deadline will once again be dull while teams prepare for the salary cap increases. That doesn't mean there won't be noise.