NBA @ 2: Boris Diaw as Trade Pawn?
According to multiple sources, including this report of Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, the Bobcats are looking to trade multi-skilled forward/center Boris Diaw.
Diaw is in the final year of his deal, earning $9 million this season. If the Bobcats cannot find a trade before the deadline, Diaw could be bought out and join a playoff team as a free agent.
Boris, who came into the league as a guard but has since grown into a front-court player (listed at a very conservative 235 pounds), would be a strong addition for a team looking for a play-making big with playoff experience. It wasn’t too long ago that Diaw was a major piece for the Phoenix Suns during their deep postseason runs.
The difficulty for the Bobcats is in finding a team who can take on $9 million in salary without sending back any long-term contracts. Charlotte isn’t willing to take on any contracts, especially any that extend beyond the current season.
Additionally, given that Diaw is an obvious buy-out candidate, he’s not going to warrant a first-round pick or likely to draw any bright, young prospects to the Bobcats.
The Bobcats have been woeful this season at 4-31. Injuries have been a major factor but even at full strength, this was a lottery club.
The best case for Charlotte is to lose as many games as possible for the best possible odds at the top pick in the draft (25%). Currently, the Bobcats have two more losses than their nearest competition (Washington and New Orleans both at 31). In the win column, is there any way Charlotte even nears the eight or nine already logged by the Wizards and Hornets, respectively?
The Los Angeles Lakers have a large enough trade exception ($8.9 million but the rules allow for $100k of flexibility) to acquire Diaw outright although he doesn’t fit their need either positionally (point guard) or age (Diaw is almost 30). In theory (and completely speculatively) LA could line up two-straight moves, Diaw for the trade exception and then a second, separate deal – Diaw out to acquire Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon who is also rumored to be available.
Calderon is on Toronto’s books for $9.8 million this season and $10.6 million the next. The Lakers have no means to acquire Jose given his salary is larger than their exception but Diaw, along with a first-round pick might appeal to the Raptors.
Toronto, like Charlotte, is rebuilding. While they would need a point guard to replace Calderon, the Raptors may be better served to that end getting Calderon’s eight-figures of the books next season.
Calderon also has a 10% trade kicker, which wouldn’t be an impediment in this theoretical exercise.
While Calderon is not much of a defender, he is one of the better play-making point guards in the league. He’s a strong shooter and has a close relationship with Lakers forward Pau Gasol.
LA has flirted with trading Gasol but that decision hasn’t been made. If the team can acquire a suitable point guard while keeping the existing core together, they may choose to do so. Certainly the Lakers won’t deal Pau unless the return is tremendous.
Whether they’d be willing to take on Calderon’s sizable salary is a bigger question but Calderon’s contract expires before the dreaded “supertax” kicks in as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Regardless of where he lands, Diaw has nothing left to offer the Bobcats. He won’t return as a free agent and it’s looking like he won’t finish the season with the team, trade or no.
(A quick tip of the hat to column contributor David Segal for the complicated Diaw/Calderon notion.)
Fran Vazquez, Finally?
According to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, the Orlando Magic may finally be bringing over Fran Vazquez, the 11th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
Vazquez, at the time, was considered to be one of the best international big man (Spain) but instead of joining the Magic, he chose instead to sign overseas.
Fran wouldn’t be the first draft pick to take his time to join the NBA. Ricky Rubio, Luis Scola and even Arvydas Sabonis each took a number of years before joining their clubs in America.
Now it may finally be that time for Vazquez.
Quoting Magic General Manager Otis Smith, Schmitz writes, “That’s the plan.”
Obviously Orlando is a team in flux. The Dwight Howard situation remains unclear but if the center does decide to stick with the Magic, even for a year, perhaps a productive Vazquez (along with whatever additional talent the Magic can acquire) will make a long-term stay in Orlando more appealing to Howard.
Some argue that Howard will leave for a bigger market regardless but the team holds out hope that the right series of moves can return the team to the NBA Finals.
That may not be easy given their potential trade assets and the competition, most notably the Chicago Bulls and Miami HEAT.
Howard has yet to tell the team outright that he won’t be back next season. If he doesn’t paint a vivid picture, Orlando may still take their chances over the offseason, although they would lose significant leverage and Howard could easily leave them high and dry with nothing to show for it.
While the New Jersey Nets have yet another injury to center Brook Lopez, it may be the Nets’ first-round pick in the talent-loaded 2012 NBA Draft that is appealing to Orlando. The minor ankle sprain that will keep Lopez sidelined three weeks may not be a significant obstacle should the Magic decide that a trade is their best path.
If the Los Angeles Lakers believe that Howard will stay long term, they may make Orlando a lucrative offer built around All-Star center Andrew Bynum but again, that would be on Dwight to indicate his intentions first.
The trade market in general has been slowed as teams wait on Dwight and his decision. Whatever he decides likely impacts where Deron Williams plays.
Howard is one-massive sized domino that needs to fall with the trade deadline less than two weeks away.
Green/Simmons – Strong 10-Day Pickups
The New Jersey Nets are about to issue a second 10-day contract to guard/forward Gerald Green. In just three games since he was called up from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Green has averaged 7.7 points a game on 52.6% shooting.
Green was a force for the D-Fenders, averaging 19.1 points a game while shooting 48.0% from the field and 45.8% from three. His long-range shot hasn’t quite translated yet to the NBA (28.6%) but the sample size is still small.
It seems like Green should be older than 26 but he drafted right out of high school by the Boston Celtics with the 18th pick back in 2005. Gerald has also had stops in Minnesota, Houston and Dallas before landing on the Nets. Perhaps the highlight of his career was winning the 2007 NBA Dunk Contest.
A number of sources behind the scenes marveled at his play in the D-League. He looks like the kind of talent, albeit late-blooming, that New Jersey will hold onto for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers have moved forward Bobby Simmons, also on a 10-day, to an active part of their rotation.
Reserve Ryan Gomes has struggled through much of his tenure with the team. Simmons has done a solid job through five games backing up starter Caron Butler.
Simmons, who once one the league’s Most Improved Player Award with the Clippers many years ago, has been logging 20.2 minutes a game. Bobby is still a solid defender and while his overall field goal percentage isn’t high (38.1%), he’s been sharp from three (42.9%).
It may be a harder decision for the Clippers when it comes to locking in Simmons for the rest of the year. While he’s already shown that he can help the team, LA may need to keep their roster at 14 heading into the trade deadline.
LA would like to add in a shooting guard to replace the injured Chauncey Billups but so far haven’t been open to moving any of their players/picks out to do so. The Clippers have two trade exceptions from the Chris Paul trade ($3.8 and $2.8 million) but with their 2012 pick headed to the Boston Celtics (through a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder), LA is very reluctant to part with another future first.
The Clippers have interest in Ray Allen and have been linked to Jamal Crawford. Perhaps a more likely option might be signing a player who is bought out after the trade deadline on March 15th.
If the team opted to keep Simmons, one veteran who might be released/bought out to make a roster spot would be the seldom-used Brian Cook.
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