NBA AM: A Few More NBA Trade Situations
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A Few More Trade Situations: Last week we ran through six situations (here & here) to watch in the NBA as we get even closer to the opening of NBA training camps. As is typical when you address one team, there are questions about others, so let’s dig into a few more this week starting with:
What’s Houston Got Up Its Sleeve?: The Houston Rockets got their big free agent fish in Dwight Howard and that immediately set off a firestorm of speculation that other moves had to be made, namely moving incumbent big man Omer Asik.
To be fair and clear the Rockets did listen to overtures for Asik and teams did express interest in him, but given Howard’s health – coming off of a season with both shoulder and back issues – the Rockets couldn’t find a deal worth doing that could justify putting everything on Howard. There is enough pressure on him and giving some help in the frontcourt is a key part of the Rockets’ plan this season.
Equally the Rockets now moved from upstart playoff contender to a team with deep playoff aspirations and depth is a requirement, especially in the West.
The Rockets also have the Jeremy Lin situation to consider. To say Lin fell out of the picture towards the end of the season is an understatement and in the playoffs he had virtually no role. Lin has been working hard this offseason for his new role as pick-and-roll man with Howard and hopes to regain some of the luster that landed him in Houston.
To be fair about Lin, when Houston signed him last summer they didn’t have Linsanity dreams. They liked that he was an attack-the-rim player. They knew full well what his limitations were as a player and they legitimately were daring to be great with Lin and knew there was an equal chance he might not blossom. The fact that Patrick Beverly took over in the post season wasn’t as much about Lin as it was about Beverly.
As camp opens in just seven weeks the Rockets are hoping for competition at the guard spot, they are hoping that Asik can play with Howard and they are willing to try some things out to find out if it works.
The Rockets are playing for something now, so making rash decisions because a player may not like their new roles isn’t driving the process. Finding the right mix of guys for a string postseason run is.
There is no question that Houston has some duplication and as things start to take shape in the regular season there is a better than average chance that parts that don’t fit are shopped around the trade deadline, but what is clear is that Houston wants to play big and Houston wants to be aggressive. The players that can make that happen aren’t going anywhere; the players that can’t make that work are clearly going to be available.
Don’t expect Houston to do much more than they have done before camp, but as roles get defined in the early part of the regular season, things might change. Keep in mind Houston wants depth, mainly because they feel like they are playing for something this year and that’s going to be the overarching theme all season.
The Minnesota Conundrum: It’s easy to look in on Minnesota and start counting the days before they have to break up the team. The truth is that this is probably as stable as the Wolves have been since the Kevin Garnett era and that’s a testament to how Flip Saunders has approached his role as team president.
Things have been patched up with Kevin Love. Ricky Rubio is happy. The team has added solid pieces both in free agency and in the draft and they have committed both personally and financially to the guys they plan to build around.
So everything should be ducky right?
Unfortunately there is a looming problem in Minnesota and that’s head coach Rick Adelman. For big chunks of the season last year his wife battled health issues that pulled him away from the team, so much so that throughout Summer League there was speculation that Adelman might not coach this season.
Sources close to the process have been adamant that Rick is not retiring, but having just turned 67 years old this summer and with the uncertainty surrounding his wife there are real doubts about his future in Minnesota.
Love is committed to Adelman. Rubio is committed to Adelman and it was the long history and success with Adelman that lured Kevin Martin to Minnesota.
I don’t think anyone can fault him for taking care of his family, and at this point in his career he’s earned the right to do whatever he feels he needs to, and that’s exactly how the Wolves see it.
But with so much pressure to make the playoffs surrounding the team, can that happen if Adelman has to step away? How do the Wolves keep things moving forward if Adelman has to be absent again? Maybe the fall back for Minnesota is that Saunders isn’t that far removed from coaching and could step in to insure that things move along if Adelman needs to miss some games again.
But with so much going right for Minnesota, it would be a shame if coaching, one of Minnesota strongest components, is the weak link to a playoff run.
Here is hoping that Adelman and his family don’t have to endure more health battles and Minnesota can truly see what they are made of.
Injuries derailed last season in Minnesota and that seems to be behind the Wolves coming into camp, if Adelman can be there for all 82 games. Things look good for the Wolves, mainly because they have a deep and balanced roster and everyone in the equation is buying in.
Trapped In Transition: The Phoenix Suns have been penciled into the tank mode column by most pundits. The belief around the league is that the Suns want to lose some games to get into the draft this year and really add some star power and the 2014 NBA Draft seems loaded with it.
The Suns have over the last year have also traded for a number of young up and coming talents – Marcus Morris, Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee while also drafting Alex Len and Archie Goodwin.
The problem for Phoenix is they still have some veterans who want to compete and that puts them at a crossroads.
It’s hard to develop young guys and win games in the NBA; equally it’s hard to convince older players that have limited shelf lives to give up on winning for the betterment of the team long-term.
Caron Butler is in a contract year as is incumbent center Marcin Gortat. Shannon Brown and Channing Frye are not exactly household names, but they too want to win and that’s not accounting for Goran Dragic, mainly because he’s under contract for roughly three more seasons.
In talking with the Suns about their situation they feel like they can compete and develop at the same time, but that has rarely been the case in the NBA. It’s usually one or the other and given that Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len and the Morris twins – Marcus and Markieff, all need time, the writing is on the wall that at some point Phoenix is going to have to commit to their young guys.
Earlier this summer there were some rumblings that Gortat could be had in trade, although the Suns have been pretty adamant that he is a core piece this season.
It is hard to imagine that Phoenix is going to pay market value for a 30-year old center next July, so it seems inevitable that Gortat is going to be traded at some point before the trade deadline. He is simply too valuable a trade chip to be allowed to walk away for nothing.
If Gortat is on the way out is Dragic not far behind him?
It’s time to pay Bledsoe; he is eligible for a rookie scale contract extension now. The Suns have until October 31 to extend him or they can wait until next summer and play the restricted free agent game. The Suns will surely want to see what he can do with a bigger role and a different team before fully committing to him. If all goes as expected Bledsoe is the future starter in Phoenix and that means moving Dragic at some point.
The Suns don’t have nearly the urgency in dealing with Dragic because he is under contract so they could look at a Dragic deal around the draft or in the off-season.
Phoenix isn’t a contender as they sit, so rumors are going to surround the team all season. The reality is that Phoenix is likely a seller at the trade deadline and when you look at their roster they have a lot of interesting pieces to cash in.
We will look at three more situations like these in tomorrow’s AM, so stay tuned.
We Want To Know:
Signing Dante Exum?: Dante Exum isn’t just a star college recruit, there are pro teams in his native Australia that are trying to lure the 18 year old guard to the pros this season too.
The Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League have kicked the tires on signing Exum, as most of the teams in the NBL have, but according to Wildcat’s managing director Nick Marvin, the odds don’t look good.
“We have been doing all that any smart club in the league would do to try and entice arguably the best point guard to come out of Australia since Patty Mills,” Marvin said to Shane Hope of The West Australian.
“If he plays in the NBL, we’re a 12.5 percent chance like any other team, (but) we think our chances are a bit better than that.
“It’s really up to him. We’ve made it perfectly clear that we would love to have him, but Perth’s a long way from Melbourne, so that’s probably something that will work against us.
“I don’t think he’ll make a decision for another four weeks.”
Exum is still debating on where or not he’ll play college basketball in the United States next season. He took a recruiting trip to Indiana but word is he soured pretty quickly on the college recruiting process and is leaning strongly towards coming to the NBA in July.
HOOPSWORLD spent some time with Exum at adidas Eurocamp and Nike Hoops Summit this summer and talked about his plans at length. Exum’s biggest concern about the NBA was whether or not he’d be physically able to compete and be successful.
In June, an informal survey of NBA executives in Italy for Eurocamp pegged Exum as a lock for the top 14 in the 2014 draft, but that was before he blew up in 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague. The consensus today is the Exum could be a top five talent, with many draft pundits pegging him in the top three.
According to Hope’s report, the Wildcats don’t believe money is the sticking point with Exum,
“If he wants to keep his (US) college options open, he’ll be a development player, so there’s no issues with money,” Marvin said.
“If he wants to be a signed, contracted player, we only have a certain amount in our (salary) cap that we can afford to give him. So he’ll have to make a call on that.
“Most teams [in the NBL] would be in the same position. They’ve already recruited and filled out their cap.”
Sources close to Exum said recently that Dante would make some decisions in September, and the belief is that Exum may forgo college altogether so there is a real chance that the 18-year point guard could sign professionally in Australia.
HOOPSWORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis mapped out the Top 40 2014 NBA Draft prospects this weekend, he has Dante Exum ranked as the fifth best talent in the class.
Did You Miss Something?: Every offseason we end up with more video interviews than you can possibly have seen so here are a couple more in case you missed them.
While a lot of attention is being put on the 2014 NBA Draft, high school standout Myles Turner could be one of the top prospects in 2015. Myles talked with HOOPSWORLD about his college decision making process and what he's been trying to work on this summer.
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart could have been a top 5 selection in the 2013 NBA Draft but opted to return to OSU for another season. Marcus talked with HOOPSWORLD about his summer, his decision and what he expects this year.
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