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NBA AM: The NBA Trade Market Taking Shape
Posted By Steve Kyler On December 20, 2012 @ 9:28 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Its Trade Time: The February 21st NBA Trade Deadline is 63 days from today, meaning teams still have a lot of time before they have to pull the trigger on roster changing deals. Five days ago those players that signed new deals over the summer became eligible to be traded and things around the NBA are starting to heat up on the trade rumor front. While teams are more engaged in fact finding at this point in the season, the name to know have started to surface and here is where things stand according to sources close to the process.
Pau Gasol, LA Lakers: The LA Lakers have an inevitability ahead of them. It’s inevitable that Pau Gasol is traded, the problem is there is such a small market for Gasol – maybe three or four teams according to sources dialed into the Lakers thinking.
The Lakers could trade Gasol tomorrow if they wanted to, but they wouldn’t get nearly the value back that they’d expect for a player of his size, skill and marketability. It would truly be trading down and possibly includes taking on unfavorable contract dollars or players they do not want or need.
No one is offering the home run deal, which is why Gasol is still in LA. Given what the Lakers have heard from other teams, their first goal is to see if things can change for the better when Steve Nash returns to action. The view is that Nash will create a smoother running offense with better spacing and that Gasol will flourish or at least return to his norm. Given how bad Gasol has played, the lingering doubts about his knees and the overall malaise the Lakers are in, dealing Gasol now would truly be selling low and that might not achieve anything but swapping out his contract for worse-fitting pieces or contracts.
There is little doubt that the Lakers would like to flip Gasol for two smaller better fitting contracts, but sources say that kind of deal isn’t there yet and until it materializes Gasol stays a Laker.
Gasol isn’t the only player the Lakers have explored moving, sources near the situation say the Lakers would like to open up a roster spot to add a new player or two so don’t be surprised if guys like Jordan Hill, Devin Ebanks, Darius Morris or Darius Johnson-Odom are moved in exchange for a backup point guard or a second round draft pick in order to open a spot for the Lakers to sign one.
The Lakers are not sitting on their hands, but there isn’t a line of teams trying to do anything more than poach from the Lakers at this point either.
The Lakers want some level of value for their assets, and that’s why nothing has happened up to this point because the sellers outweigh the buyers – that generally changes as we get into January and February.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks: The Atlanta Hawks have a real good sense of where things stand with would-be free agent Josh Smith. They believe they have the inside track on re-signing him in July and with the way the Hawks are playing there are absolutely no plans to trade Smith.
The Hawks have been sniffing around for deals, but are mainly hoping to flip some of their ending contracts into a roster upgrade before the trade deadline. While the Hawks have been linked to some discussions, their stance according to sources that have talked with them is “unengaged” . If they are doing a trade it’s going to be the home run hit and that play just isn’t there.
The Hawks wants to have cap space in July; they plan to make runs at the major free agents like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. If they swing and miss they want to have cap space to either go after a restricted free agent or trade for a player already under contract.
Doing something trivial now does not seem to be in the cards, given how well the Hawks are playing. If someone else blinks on a player the Hawks covet as a free agent they might shake things up to get their guy early, but don’t count on the Hawks doing anything major, especially not anything involving Smith.
If the Hawks season starts to get away from them or things start to go bad with Smith, things could change, but as of today the Hawks feel really good about where they are with Smith and they believe he’ll be re-signed to a new deal in July.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks: One way or the other Bucks guard Brandon Jennings is going to get paid. The question becomes will Milwaukee bite the bullet and pay him, or will they simply concede that he’s going to cost them more than maybe they believe he’s worth.
At the extension deadline in October, Jennings camp watched as guards like Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry sign $11 and $12 per year pacts and tried to squeeze the Bucks into an even bigger deal. The Bucks passed and made it clear that they would issue a qualifying offer sheet on Jennings in July and retain the right to match whatever he’s offered. That still looks to be the thinking.
The more likely trade target in Milwaukee is Monta Ellis, mainly because he can opt out of his deal and hit unrestricted free agency.
League sources say there are a handful of teams with interest in both players, so Milwaukee will have some options to consider.
The other variable to keep in mind is that almost everyone in Milwaukee’s leadership is on the clock with ownership, as most are in the final year of their contract.
It’s been said ‘Playoffs or bust’ for the Bucks, and right now they are 13-11, sitting in the fifth seed in the East.
As long as the Bucks are playing well it seems they will remain intact at least as it pertains to Jennings and Ellis. If they crater before the deadline that could change.
The Bucks feel like they have control of Jennings, and when it comes to Ellis they feel like they can offer more money than anyone is likely to offer, so they are not as afraid of that. But, there isn’t a whole lot of tomorrow thinking going on in Milwaukee, mainly because they have to make the playoffs in order for tomorrow to be leaderships’ problem.
Gerald Henderson, Charlotte Bobcats: Bobcat rookie Jeff Taylor has played well this year, leading many to speculate on what the Bobcats will do with Gerald Henderson. The cats’ stance on Henderson is that they will re-sign him, but he continues to be doubt on how committed Charlotte is to that concept.
The Bobcats opted to not extend both Henderson and Byron Mullens, mainly because the Bobcats want to have salary cap flexibility in July. That does not mean they don’t want to re-sign both players this summer, they are just keeping their options open.
Some have speculated that Henderson could fetch a real offer in restricted free agency and might get priced out of Charlotte’s range; therefore they’d look at trading him.
A source close to the situation pointed to the Bobcats’ losing streak, saying with 13-straight loses, everyone is available in trade.
The Bobcats have stated that this was a rebuilding year and that accumulating assets and flexibility was the goal. Henderson is a low dollar rookie deal and while he might return some value, he won’t return a player better than he is to Charlotte. That’s something to keep in mind.
If Henderson could be used to offload Ty Thomas or an equally unfavorable contract the Cats seem like they would do it, but to think they are flipping just Henderson for anything more than draft picks or ending contract is over valuing Henderson.
The Bobcats stance from this summer was they would look to re-sign both Mullen and Henderson; they have the means to control that process through restricted free agency, so don’t expect a Henderson deal unless it is means to move others.
JJ Redick, Orlando Magic: When the Magic opened training camp in October the general sense was that JJ Redick would be liquidated at some point this season. That was mainly because new leadership didn’t know JJ and what they perceived of JJ from the outside was a little different than what they have gotten so far this season.
The problem for the Magic is that JJ will become an unrestricted free agent in July and he’ll have the chance to leave the Magic with nothing to show for him. Magic sources say re-signing JJ is something they’d consider, but the Magic want to hit July with as many open options as possible. So there are choices to be made.
The Magic have shown almost no desire to rip apart this scrappy Magic squad.
From the beginning of the process the Magic have maintained that the goal was to change the culture in Orlando, and that doing things the right way and winning games was the only thing that mattered. To that end, knowingly ripping apart the team or trying to tank for draft picks flies directly in the face of that goal.
There is little doubt that Redick could return some value for Orlando. Magic sources say moving JJ as means to offload Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington or Glen Davis’ contract is something the team would have to explore. However, it seems that since the start of camp Redick has earned the respect of the Magic organization in an unexpected way and moving him, even out of fear of losing him, seems like a last option move.
The Magic very well could trade Redick before the trade deadline, but according to sources it’s not a move they want to make. It would be 100 percent about what else they could offload in the deal and more importantly the assets and value they get back.
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves want to compete and if moving sophomore forward Derrick Williams makes that happen, the Wolves seem open to it.
Moving Williams for roster luggage is not going to happen, but there is some serious truth to the idea of Williams being the key piece of a major move.
Minnesota is still trying to find their way with Ricky Rubio back in the mix, so too much upheaval would be bad, but if Williams can fetch another proven veteran that fits the Adelman system, Minnesota has made it clear that Williams isn’t in the master plan and is a chip they’d cash for the right player.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors: There has been a lot of talk about the Raptors trading Andrea Bargnani and even Jose Calderon. Raptors sources say it’s exactly that – talk. But, there are a couple of burning truths to be stated.
Calderon won’t be in Toronto next year, and the Raptors have to deal him and get something in return for their investment.
Bargnani is not only severely injured with torn ligaments in his right elbow, he is the epitome of a NBA dented can.
Bargnani’s trade value really couldn’t be any lower, and the Raptors know it. They won’t get real value back for him and as much as Raptors’ fans want to see him traded, there isn’t much of a market for him for all the reasons why Raptors’ fans want him traded.
The Raptors are in a massive rut and making a trade or two to shake up the team is on the table, the problem is that not only is their doubt about the real value of Toronto’s assets, there is a growing consensus that Raptors president Bryan Colangelo could be on his way out and that massive trades may not be triggered by him.
Toronto is a mess, and there is no nice way to say that.
Making a deal is inevitable, but the problem with selling guys on the low is that you get so little in return for them. What’s been said a few times is even as bad as Bargnani has been, what they can get in return for him may not change things for the better and until a deal surfaces that can improve things both Bargnani and Calderon are staying where they are.
It seem inevitable that Toronto makes a deal involving one or both players, they just have to wait for the market to yield more value because today they’d get pennies on the dollar and be worse off for the move.
Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz: League sources peg Al Jefferson as the would-be free agent most likely to stay in Utah, mainly because they can pay him more money. The problem is will the Jazz value Jefferson as a max level player like maybe some other teams will?
The Jazz have maintained from the start of the season that they would need their depth to compete in the postseason and that trading off Jefferson and Paul Millsap would only weaken the team, regardless of what they got back for them.
The Jazz are currently 14-13 and sitting just outside the Western Conference playoff picture. If that where Utah is at the trade deadline, expecting a few moves is almost assured. If the Jazz can rebound and get back in the mix in the West hanging on to Jefferson and Millsap seems more likely.
That’s the Jazz’s stance, so we’ll have to see if they stick to it.
There is a serious marketplace for Millsap and Jefferson, so the Jazz could make a splashy move and get real value back for them; however, it more likely that Utah gets young guys on rookie deals and draft picks than a proven veteran to leap up in the standings.
Utah wants a postseason berth and as long as that’s in sight, don’t expect a shakeup in Utah. Once it’s clear that the playoffs are out of reach things may change.
Most NBA teams start seriously looking at trades after the first of the year, so you can expect the trade chatter and the trade speculation to really start to pick up in the coming weeks. Most of the NBA is eligible to be traded, and with ten-day NBA contracts possible starting on Jan. 7th, some teams will be looking to open roster spots.
Still The Youngster: Wolves forward Derrick Williams is still trying to find his groove in the NBA and again finds himself as the youngest player on the team. Williams talked with HOOPSWORLD about his sophomore season and about dealing with the trade speculation that’s surrounded him.
Still The Pelicans: Word leaked this week that the NBA’s trademark attorney Anil V. George filed for trade mark protection on several potential names on behalf of the New Orleans franchise.
Pelicans, Rougarou, Mosquitos, Swamp Dogs and Bullsharks were all submitted for trademarking as part of the renaming process the NBA requires of teams.
The long rumored Pelicans are on the list, however, the NBA is saying not to read too much into it, as the process is just starting.
“When teams may be looking at a possible name change, it is standard practice for the NBA league office to file trademark applications on the team’s behalf,” NBA executive vice president of communication Mike Bass told Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune. “We filed trademark applications for multiple possible team names for the New Orleans franchise.”
Pelicans seems to be the favorite option of new Hornets’ owner Tom Benson. He tried unsuccessfully to put a minor league baseball team in New Orleans using that name, and owns all of the trade marks to it.
Rougarou is a mythical creature similar to a werewolf that is part of Louisiana folklore. Its similarity in concept to the Timberwolves might make it impractical, and that fact that no two people could properly pronounce it makes it dubious as well.
Mosquitos is downright silly, however, ownership has said it wanted a name with ties to the Louisiana region and there is no doubting that mosquitos are rampant in New Orleans.
Swamp Dogs and Bullsharks are interesting, but actually sound more like minor league baseball teams than NBA teams. Since this list became public, there is a growing interest in Swamp Dogs from the New Orleans fan base.
The folks over at 99designs.com are holding a design contest, asking graphic artists to work up possible logos for the Pelican, and its yielded some interesting options.
None of these designs are sanctioned by the NBA or the Hornets, but it does start to illustrate that Pelicans could work if designed properly.
The Hornets, as part of their new arena lease agreement, are getting some $70 million in arena upgrades this summer, which will include a complete makeover of the inside and outside of the building.
Ownership would like to see the name and color scheme issue resolved quickly, so that this summer’s refit of the building matches the new look and colors of the team.
All team name changes have to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, and securing the proper league protections is the first step towards getting their blessing on a change.
NBA commissioner David Stern pointed to the LA Lakers and Utah Jazz as examples of awkward names, and said if the ownership wanted a particular name he and the NBA wouldn’t stand in the way. Despite some new options being put on the table, Pelicans remains the name most are expecting.
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