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NBA AM: Deals For Bucks, Pistons and Jazz?
Posted By Steve Kyler On February 11, 2013 @ 9:58 am In All,NBA | No Comments
NBA Trade Watch: With ten days to go until the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline on Feb. 21 at 3pm EST, there are a number of high profile situations to watch: What will the Atlanta Hawks do with pending free agent Josh Smith? Will the Orlando Magic pull the trigger on highly sought after guard J.J. Redick? Is there a deal the LA Lakers will do to help their playoff bid? Those headlines will dominate the landscape for sure, but there are a few smaller market/less sexy teams to watch as the deadline approaches.
Detroit Is A Player: The Detroit Pistons took part in the three-team deal two weeks ago that sent forwards Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis in exchange for Jose Calderon, who they obtained from Toronto. The move set the Pistons up to have more than $23 million in cap space this summer to re-tool their roster.
If the Pistons can off-load Rodney Stuckey and his $8.5 million player option for next season or Charlie Villanueva and his $8.5 million player option for next season before the trade deadline they could add to that number significantly.
League sources peg Stuckey as the easiest chip to move and there is a belief that Detroit is more than open to a deal involving one or both.
With so many ending contracts, there has also been speculation that Detroit would seriously entertain trading some of their own ending contracts like Jason Maxiel or Will Bynum if it could return one of the would-be free agents on their wish-list.
The Pistons have been linked to Hawks forward Josh Smith and Bobcats shooting guard Gerald Henderson; both are expected to be offseason targets of the Pistons, especially with so much cap space to play with.
The Pistons have been singing the song that they won’t go crazy with spending like they did in 2009 when they radically overpaid for Gordon and Villanueva. However, if Smith and Henderson headline the offseason shopping list, neither are going to come cheap.
One thing is clear: The Pistons are open for business. The question is can they find a taker for Stuckey and how much will they have to take back to make a deal happen?
Milwaukee Has A Move To Make: The Bucks have two names that fans love to talk about – Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis – the problem is both of those guys are likely staying where they are come deadline day two Thursdays from now.
The Bucks are however trying to find a home for Samuel Dalembert and Drew Gooden. Neither are overly sexy acquisitions, especially with Gooden owed some $13.3 million over the next two seasons, but those are the two names most linked to Milwaukee.
There is a third, albeit more expensive one, and that’s Ersan Ilyasova. The Bucks signed Ilyasova to a four-year $40 million deal this past offseason and have not gotten nearly the production out of him as they expected. Ilyasova has market value; both the Raptors and the Nets have made overtures for him. However, it does not look like either is eager to pay a premium to the Bucks for their troubles.
If there is a dark horse play at the deadline it might be Ilyasova, especially if Toronto and Brooklyn swing and miss on other options.
Milwaukee is active in the marketplace, so you can expect them to be involved in something next week. They have several ending contracts and a desire to bolster their team for a second half-push.
Toronto Wants More: The Toronto Raptors got their star in Rudy Gay two weeks ago with their trade with Memphis. With five games under his belt, Gay is paying huge dividends. He is averaging a career best 23.4 points per game and won three of the five games he’s played in. The Raptors, however, are not finished dealing.
Toronto had been linked to Chicago’s Carlos Boozer; however, Bulls’ sources downplayed that report as Toronto calling and not much more.
The Raptors are trying to offload Andrea Bargnani, who has returned from injury and has played surprisingly well.
The Raptors are looking for some serious frontcourt help, but may find the market a little bare, especially with Bargnani has the primary chip in a deal. Raptors sources peg Milwaukee’s Ilyasova as a target; however, it’s unclear how that would work with Rudy Gay now in tow.
Raptors president Bryan Colangelo repeatedly says his club is willing to take on more salary to improve the team, so it will be interesting to see what Toronto can do over the next ten days. They seem more than willing to make a deal, especially if it moves off Bargnani.
Utah Is On The Clock: If you are expecting to know what Utah is going to do before they do it, you are not paying attention.
The Jazz are one of the few remaining teams in the NBA that keep trade discussions confined to a small circle of three or four people, and typically they are not engaged in anything until they are ready to move.
With ten days left to make a deal, the Jazz are clearly on the clock with pending free agents Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
The word is that if the Jazz are paying a free agent $10 million or more, it’s Millsap who’d they’d give the money to. There is also a sense that if Millsap wants to leave, leaving via a sign-and-trade is more likely than Jefferson.
So the smart money says Jefferson is the odd man out in Utah and that he is most likely to be traded before the deadline.
That said, the Jazz still don’t seem to be close to anything. There had been reports of a possible deal with San Antonio, and that still remains a possibility, although San Antonio doesn’t have much to offer that they would part with.
Jefferson could be an interesting addition to Toronto, but it’s unlikely that Utah takes back Andrea Bargnani; although league sources say anyone willing to take Raja Bell off their hands might get more consideration.
The line from Utah has been fairly consistent all season; making a deal involving their free agents isn’t a priority as long as they were in the playoff discussions and at 28-24 the Jazz currently hold the seventh seed in the west.
It won’t be surprising to see Utah hold firm and let offseason business take care of itself, especially if they can make a postseason push, that seems to be more important to the Jazz than anything they are being offered.
Things are constantly in flux this close to the deadline, but if what other teams are saying about Utah is true, the Jazz may not make a bad deal just to make one, they might actually just ride this team into the playoffs and see what happens from there.
JJ Hickson: The Portland Trail Blazers are by all accounts ahead of schedule. The Blazers hoped to be in the playoff discussions but with so much change in the offseason the Blazers were viewed by most as a borderline playoff team at best, and as the NBA season shifts to the second half Portland is still right there in the mix for the last two spots in the West.
Blazers’ big man JJ Hickson is a big reason why. Hickson talked with HOOPSWORLD about this Blazer team and how the team believed in themselves when maybe others didn’t.
Snapping The Streak: The Orlando Magic hadn’t seen a win in almost a month, and with the specter of the trade deadline baring down on a team with almost no shot at the playoffs, their win last night against the Portland Trail Blazers was a much needed respite from the Groundhog Day-like stretch the team has endured.
“It’s good to win,” said Magic guard Jameer Nelson. “You go out there, you prepare to win and when you play as hard as we play and you lose, it’s tough. I could see if we were out there and not playing hard and don’t care, but we have guys on the team who have been on winning teams, whether it is college or the NBA. We have a bunch of guys that know how to win, we just have to continue to work at it and put it together.”
The Magic have been playing well over the last dozen games, but have been unable to close out wins.
“We didn’t make as many mistakes,” Nelson said of his team last night. “When we play defense in the half court, our defense is pretty good. It’s when we turn the ball over 17-18 times, we give the teams 20 point off turnovers, we give the other team a lot of offensive rebounds; those are the things that hurt you more than your half-court defense”
It’s not just the veteran Nelson that sees the differences between wins and losses for the Magic.
“I think there’s a lot of little things,” said Magic big man Nik Vucevic. “Like on the defensive end at the end of games; we really have to pay attention to details. The scouting report, do what the coach asks us to do and really communicate. We’ve had some games that we lost where a lot of it was miscommunication; we made some little mistakes that allowed some big shots from the other teams. That’s what we got to do, get stops down the stretch; compete a whole 48 minutes.”
That’s easy to say, but a little harder to do with so many young guys playing bigger roles.
“Play more physical,” Nelson said of his young team. “Block out and just value the ball more. When we get shots, we get good shots, if we make them or miss them; that’s in the game, but as long as we get shots. I think we’ll shoot a high percentage because we have the capability of it.”
Vucevic sees the situation the way.
“Just take something from each game,” said Vucevic. “Even though we had a lot of loses, I think guys learned from it. You look back, watch tape, learn from it, listen to what the coach says and learn from it. Every game is a new experience and you can learn a lot from it.”
The Magic have one more game before the All-Star break, and just three more before the Trade Deadline. As with most teams heading toward the NBA Draft Lottery, Orlando looks to be in the center of the trade speculation storm, the good news is they at least aren’t going into with a 13-game losing streak.
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