NBA AM: Few Deals On Tap For New Years
Not Many Gifts Coming: While the Christmas season is behind us, there are still some NBA teams hoping to turn unwanted assets into better fitting or missing pieces. There are several names that get mentioned in the press, however, most of them are going to be hard players to move, especially given where the marketplace sits today.
One league executive described the current trade environment as teams looking to gain something for nothing, or almost nothing. And, that most of the discussions taking place around the league are more fact finding and value gauging than true deal making.
Here is what’s being said about some of the names you’ve been hearing.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto: Bargnani tore some ligaments in his right elbow and has been out of action since Dec. 11. The word is that the injury did not require surgery and that an extensive rehab was all that would be required to get Bargnani back. The problem with that concept is Bargnani isn’t exactly the hardest worker in the league and the expected window of sometime in January seems more like late January or early February.
League sources say it would be almost impossible to move Bargnani and the three years and $32.25 million remaining on his deal until he returns and proves the elbow isn’t going to be a problem.
It is clear that Toronto will explore moving Bargnani once he returns to action, and the hope is that return is sometime in early February so teams can get a good look at Bargnani before the February 21st NBA trade deadline.
The Raptors want to dump the salary associated with Bargnani and are not seeking much in return for Bargs. Sources close to the Raptors say they have several players they would consider taking on – a shopping list of sorts – and most of them are players radically out of Toronto’s reach unless other assets are packed in.
The Raptors have been linked to Lakers big man Pau Gasol, Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova, and Denver’s Wilson Chandler; however, Raptors sources warn taking on a ton of long-term salary is not what they are looking for in a deal unless it’s exactly the right player.
Pau Gasol, LA Lakers: The stance from the LA Lakers is that they are not looking at deals for Gasol. In fact, the word is the Lakers are not looking at deals at all. That could change once the Lakers find a groove, but the word from the Lakers is that a trade isn’t in their immediate future.
There is little doubt that Gasol is, in more ways than one, a square peg to Mike D’Antoni’s round hole offense. That said, the Lakers have surveyed the landscape regarding trades for Gasol and have found the marketplace to be somewhat disappointing.
There are deals for Gasol, but all of them either have the Lakers taking back multiple assets, which they cannot do without eating some contracts or taking on bad financial deals.
The Lakers could make a deal involving Gasol today; however, there just isn’t anything out there that makes them better.
Laker sources say the goal is to compete for a NBA championship this year and that Gasol at this point gives them the best option to do that. While that’s always subject to change, especially as the trade deadline gets closer, the stance from the Lakers is that Gasol is staying put for the foreseeable future.
What’s been made clear is that the Lakers would likely explore trades involving Gasol around the NBA draft, when they would have the roster flexibility to take back multiple assets for Gasol and possibly extract better compensation and maybe some youth or draft picks in a deal.
The LA Lakers are finally at the .500 mark at 15-15 and are winning roughly 60 percent of their games over the last ten played. As long as things continue to progress, don’t expect much from the Lakers.
The next key date for the Lakers is Jan. 7, that’s when the Lakers will need to decide on guaranteeing the non-guaranteed contracts of rookies Robert Sacre and Darius Johnson-Odom.
All NBA contracts become completely guaranteed for the season on Jan. 10, so there is the possibility that the Lakers could opt to cut one or both and open roster spots for free agents, other cut players with non-guaranteed deals or 10-day contracts which can begin on Jan. 10.
The Lakers say they are not making changes; however, that could change in the next week strictly for luxury tax reasons.
Antawn Jamison, LA Lakers: A lot has been made about Jamison’s displeasure over not playing recently. With the healthy return of both Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, Jamison has found himself on the bench and voiced his displeasure about not having a role lately. That’s lead to some speculation that Jamison would ask for a trade, however, Jamison and sources close to him flatly deny that he’s looking for the door.
Ideally, Jamison plays and this issues goes away. Sources say that Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is trying to find a rotation that works consistently and that while Jamison hasn’t been part of the process lately, he has not been written out of the process altogether.
Jamison chose the Lakers as a free agent mainly because it would give him the best chance to compete for a championship, and while he is frustrated at not playing, he is not ready to force anything.
Laker sources say that trading Jamison is a non-story and that he was brought in, in a reserve role and they really could not be happier with what he has given them.
JJ Redick, Orlando: The Orlando Magic are on the clock. Redick hits unrestricted free agency in July, meaning the Magic stands a chance of losing him for nothing in return. Because Redick is on a three-year contract he is not eligible to sign a contract extension, meaning he couldn’t opt for more years with the Magic today even if he wanted to.
For his part, he has been on a public campaign saying he and his wife want to stay in Orlando. His family recently brought “Keep JJ” signs to a recent Magic home game.
On the Magic side of things, there was a real sense when the season opened that Redick was not part of the long-term plan and would be a chip the team looked to cash before the trade deadline.
As the Magic enter 2013 the thinking on Redick has changed considerably. That does not mean the Magic won’t deal him. He is arguably their best trade chip. It means Redick isn’t exactly the first players they’d like to move.
There is a reality that the Magic won’t control the free agent process and there is risk of losing an asset, and if the Magic trade Redick, it would be because of that fear and not a disliking for him.
Redick has made it clear that signing a new deal and staying in Orlando would be a priority. However, that doesn’t remove the risk and for the Magic and they cannot afford to lose an asset.
Magic sources say moving anyone on the roster will be about what does it achieve in the long-term – can they shed an unwanted contract? Can they add a better fitting piece? Can they obtain youth or draft assets?
There does not seem to be any “desire” on the Magic’s part to move Redick. However, it does seem as the trade deadline inches closer the Magic are going to decide if Redick is worth the risk.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland: The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to say they are not moving Varejao, who still has two more years on his deal after this season.
Anderson has been a solid contributor for the Cavs and is a favorite of head coach Byron Scott. That said there seems to be inevitability to the Cavs cashing in Varejao, especially as they move towards playing the youth they have drafted over the last two years.
League sources say the Cavs are asking the moon for Varejao today, and that if they cling to their valuation of Varejao as an All-Star type talent, they may not find many buyers.
Varejao has this year and two more seasons left on his deal worth $27.1 million, which isn’t a terrible contract for a guy averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds per game.
League sources say Varejao is one of the more talked about trade targets in the league and that there are a number of teams that would move for him. However, Cleveland values him too and unless someone makes a serious offer for Varejao, the Cavs say they don’t have interest in trading him.
That could and likely will change at the trade deadline, but right now Varejao might be the most overvalued would-be trade asset in the league.
Richard Hamilton, Chicago: There were some reports suggesting that the Chicago Bulls would like to trade Richard Hamilton before the February 21st NBA Trade Deadline.
Hamilton is owed $5 million this season and has just $1 million of his $5 million salary guaranteed next year, making him for all purposes of discussion an ending contract for most teams.
League sources openly question if there is a marketplace for Hamilton, who has had a lot of injuries since joining the Bulls and question whether or not he’ll be anything more than a role player on another team.
In the NBA, there is always a buyer for a middle tier ending contract, so the Bulls could move Hamilton. The problem is they would likely have to take back contract dollars to do it and that’s something Chicago is not open to doing.
The Bulls are sitting on $73.54 million in salary commitments and need to shed some $3.24 million in contract dollars before the trade deadline to avoid being a luxury tx payer this year. The Bulls are looking at a similar $73 million dollar salary commitment next year as well, so adding any money at all becomes a multiple because of luxury tax. The Bulls are also leery of the repeat tax clause in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, meaning they are far more likely to look to dump Hamilton to avoid the tax than to try and extract any real value for him.
There is little doubt that Chicago is motivated to make a change or two, if only to avoid the luxury tax. However, league sources say unless Chicago is looking to part with a core piece, they may not find much of a market for their castoff parts, even one with the history Hamilton has in the NBA.
Amar’e Stoudemire, New York: The Knicks are expecting Stoudemire back in the lineup this week. The word is Stoudemire will come off the bench for the Knicks and while everyone involved says that’s OK with him, it will be interesting to see how that plan plays out.
There have been some reports suggesting that the Knicks this past offseason shopped Stoudemire aggressively trying to find anyone who’d take on the remaining three-years and $65 million owed to him with little luck.
The fact that Stoudemire’s knees are completely uninsured and that he has had yet another knee injury, there is almost no scenario in which the Knicks could get any value out of Stoudemire and they know it.
The hope is that Stoudemire’s return doesn’t derail the Knicks’ progress on defense and that he can be a potent change of pace weapon from the bench.
Stoudemire is completely aware of where he stands with the Knicks, so it is on him to adjust and adapt. However, the Knicks may have very few options if it doesn’t work as planned.
Stoudemire’s name has been mentioned in connection with Pau Gasol and the Lakers and sources near the Lakers say there is absolutely zero interest on their part in Stoudemire and the Knicks deny any interest in Gasol.
Reports from New York suggest the Knicks tried to “give” Stoudemire away and found no taker, that’s not likely going to change until Stoudemire gets to the end of his contract in 2014-15.
New York may have an interest in moving Stoudemire, but there does not seem to be a buyer even remotely interested in his contract.
The 2013 NBA Trade deadline is in 52 days, so you can expect that the rumor mill in the NBA is going to start to pick up. Most NBA teams will be looking at their own non-guaranteed contracts next week and then looking at 10-day contracts to solve issues; so, expect that to happen next.
The 2013 D-League Showcase gets underway in Reno on Jan. 7 and that’s usually the first time the bulk of the league’s decision makers are in one place, so we should have a real sense of who the buyers and sellers are in the next two weeks.
The HOOPSWORLD Pick-Em Game rolls on, with three weekly winners this week. The season long contest is still wide open with just five players eligible for the Grand Prize and those five have only won two weeks, so there is still plenty of time for you to get in and compete. The game is simple – pick winners. We provide you roughly 12 games each week, and you pick the winners. Weekly winners get an adidias HOOPSWORLD t-shirt. The season long winners will get a shot at an iPad or Apple Store gift card. Week 10 is open and ready for your picks, so log in and play, it’s completely free.
DeMar Finding His Groove: Raptor swing man DeMar DeRozan has made steady progressions ever year. He’s never made the huge leaps Raptor fans have hoped for but he’s become one of the more consistent scorers in Toronto and with his new contract extension in place DeRozan isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The Toronto Raptors have been up and down this year, but are current riding a nice upswing. DeRozan talked with HOOPSWORLD about the recent upswing and how his team can turn the corner on the season
Some Smaller NBA Notes: Here are a couple of smaller nuggets of news for you on New Year’s Eve.
- Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that The Houston Rockets will not release Royce White, despite his refusal to report for his D-League assignment and issuing scathing commentary about the team. The Rockets insist they will not release White, who has two guaranteed years on his contract worth $1.64 million this season and $1.71 million next season. The Rockets selected White with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
- Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico is reporting that despite denials from Sacramento, the Kings are at least open to talking about a DeMarcus Cousin trade; however, Amico is reporting that the asking price tag on the troubled Cousins is “too high”. Cousins has been linked to the Pistons, the Wizards and the Rockets all though all three teams deny interest in Cousins, likely because they are hearing the same thing Amico is hearing. The price tag for Sacramento is too high.
- You can go ahead and cross New Orleans Hornets’ Eric Gordon off your trade deadline wish list. Hornets’ sources said recently that the game plan with Gordon was to get him back on the floor and playing. There has been a long-running belief that Gordon does not want to be in New Orleans and that he was genuine in trying to get out of town as a free agent. Both Gordon and the Hornets have been aggressive in denying that stance. Hornets sources point to the restrictions New Orleans has on trading Gordon because they matched a restricted free agent offer sheet and Gordon can veto any deal they construct as a key road block to a deal. The hope is once Gordon is back playing and gets accustomed to being around his teammates again his stance may soften. If it does not, the Hornets feel they can get more value out of Gordon after he’s proven his knee isn’t a problem and after the trade restrictions are lifted this summer. So while Gordon may or may not want to be a Hornet, sources say he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to insure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @SusanBible, @DPageHoopsWorld , @stevesraptors, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There will be just one NBA chat today with Bill Ingram holding down the New Year’s Eve chat at 11am EST. You can always find the next NBA Chat here: http://www.hoopsworld.com/upcoming-chats and if you are looking for Previous Chats try here: http://www.hoopsworld.com/previous-chats