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NBA AM: Trade Situations To Watch – Part 5
Posted By Steve Kyler On August 29, 2013 @ 10:06 am In NBA | No Comments
Louisville's Russ Smith was the darling of the 2013 NCAA National Championship game, and while he could have entered the draft this year. Russ is locked into the 2014 NBA draft class and is looking for another big year as a Cardinal.Watch More Video Here
The More Situations To Watch:
Over the last two weeks we’ve touched on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Wolves and Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons as it pertains to possible trade situations to watch as NBA training camps get under way in less than a month.
Today we’ll touch on three more.
Lots of Depth In NOLA: It’s funny how having a full-time committed owner will change things for a NBA team. Last year the Hornets were mired in uncertainty. They had just closed the deal with Tom Benson and change was the theme in a big way. The Hornets were young and inexperienced and all over the place for most of the season.
As the Pelicans open their first training camp in less than 30 days armed with a new name and a new identity, the story surrounding them is radically different. The Pelicans have direction. They have a plan and now they legitimately have players that could make NOLA an interesting team to watch in the West. More important to that is no one is looking for the door via trade.
NOLA’s highest paid player, Eric Gordon, was the center of trade rumors and there were discussions about his happiness all season last year; likely for the first time since landing in New Orleans, he is optimistic about what his new team could do this year. Surrounded by super talented guards Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, Gordon is no longer going to be required to do all the work, as he has peers who he knows and can relate to. He’s actually healthy now also.
There is no doubting that there is something of a logjam on the perimeter, but the way the Pelican players talk about it, winning will solve a lot of issues.
Second year guard Austin Rivers understands he has to show up in a significant way this year or he won’t see the floor and for the first time in his short NBA career he is completely healthy.
As Rivers tells the story, he and Ryan Anderson plan to be the anchors of the Pelicans second unit and that playing with Holiday, Gordon and Evans won’t be an issue mainly because he expects his role to be to relieve one of those three when he’s on the floor.
The Pelicans do lack a bruising inside player and that’s something of a concern, because while last year’s top pick Anthony Davis could play center, that’s not likely his best fit physically in a tough and physical Western Conference.
As things start to shake out in New Orleans, keep an eye on Davis and his fit at the five as he will see time there, if it becomes a problem don’t be surprised to see the Pelicans liquidate some depth to get themselves a big man.
As the season came to a close last year, NOLA head coach Monty Williams bemoaned how much pure teaching he had to do with such a young and inexperienced roster. This year Coach Williams has some guys that know how to play and have a solid basketball IQ’s and for the first time in a long time, all the guys on the roster genuinely want to be a part of what will be the Pelicans inaugural season.
It’s Win-Now For New York: There is one thing that’s clear with the New York Knicks; they are not worried about tomorrow. The Knicks are all-in for this season and next season and will worry about free agents and things like that down the road.
As things sit today the Knicks have $87.458 million in contract commitments and are solely focused on contending today.
That doesn’t mean there are not question marks surrounding the Knicks. They invested a ton of money into JR Smith only to have him undergo surgery a few weeks later. Smith is expected to be on the shelf into November as he rehabs a patellar tendon surgery that also included a lateral meniscus tear. Both are nasty knee injuries that could linger. Few NBA players are the same after a patellar surgery, so the Knicks have to have some concerns.
The Knicks will likely look to third year guard Iman Shumpert to pick up some of the scoring slack, and while Shump didn’t exactly blow the door off in Summer League, he says he has been working relentlessly all summer on what he calls ‘looks he’ll get in games’ – transition pull-up shots and corner threes.
The Knicks also drafted Tim Hardaway Jr, who they hope can infuse some outside shooting and another go-to scorer. C.J. Leslie also joins the squad from the draft, and while Leslie is a freak athletically he may not have a huge role as a rookie.
Last season the Knicks became one dimensional in the playoffs, relying almost exclusively on Carmelo Anthony for points in isolation situations, the hope is that Shumpert and Hardaway can bring some scoring from the bench.
Returning starting point guard Raymond Felton has been talking a lot about the Knicks’ championship goals, and he too has put in the work to drop what’s being called 15 pounds as he gets ready to open camp.
It’s clear that the Knicks guards understand they need to contribute more. Especially with how much better the East has gotten.
While scoring and perimeter play was a huge area of disappointment last season, this season the Knicks have to get more from both Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Combined both represent $35.77 million of the Knicks’ salary cap commitments.
Stoudemire played in just 29 games last season. Word is that Amar’e is in great shape physically and that his knees are feeling better than they have in a while. That’s a recurring theme for Stoudemire every year, but to try and quell some of the rumors Stoudemire has taken to his Instagram account posting videos of his workouts and picture of his trimmed down body.
Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year two seasons ago, but was somewhat disappointing last year. Sources close to the situation point to wear and tear type injuries as a key reason for Chandler’s drop off. Durability has always been a concern with Chandler and while the word is he is in great shape in advance of camp; his ability to anchor the Knicks defensively for the entire season could swing the balance of power for New York.
Chandler proved two seasons ago he could change the tone of the team defensively. The hope for the Knicks is he can do that again this year.
The big X-Factor for the Knicks is former Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani. There is no doubting that Bargnani failed to live up to his top overall pick status in Toronto, however in New York all they expect is for him to knock down shots and spread the floor.
Bargnani has had a tough offseason, battling what’s been called a respiratory infection. It got so bad that Bargnani was hospitalized for several days and is sitting out FIBA’s Eurobasket that gets underway in Slovenia next week.
As the Knicks’ season gets underway the Smith situation is the big area to watch. If he hits roadblocks in his rehab or his fill-ins fail to produce, don’t be surprised to see the Knicks get aggressive around the trade deadline.
The Knicks are all-in on this season, mainly because their window with this roster is starting to close.
Don’t Count On Change In Miami: You can say what you want about Miami, but they are the best team in basketball. They have the best player on the planet in LeBron James and despite what some have written, they are absolutely ready to defend their title.
Before we get too far, let’s address the elephant in the room.
James isn’t looking for the door in July. In fact, most people around the situation believe its 2015 that Miami should be worried about, not 2014.
Miami’s big three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh signed basically the same kinds of contracts. They each have an Early Termination Option for free agency in July of 2014, and they each have a Player Option in July of 2015.
None of Miami’s guys are going to talk about free agency, except to say they are not going to talk about free agency.
There is almost no scenario in which Bosh opts out of his deal, mainly because what he’s owed by Miami – $20.59 million in 2014, $22.11 million in 2015 – he’ll never see in free agency.
Wade is arguably in a similar situation, not because of his free agent power, but because of his uncertain knee.
Wade will have some power with his next go at free agency and that’s mainly because of the connection and loyalty LeBron has to Wade.
The general belief is that as long as Wade is contributing and part of the roster in Miami, James is unlikely to leave. If Wade retires or isn’t part of the plan, there is a better than average chance James starts looking at his own future.
The thing to keep in mind about the HEAT is that ownership is not at all concerned about luxury tax or repeater tax as long as they are a Finals contender every year, which with a healthy James they likely are.
All three of Miami’s core guys love their situation. Now if injury strikes, or someone in the East finally knocks them out of the playoffs, that might change but the belief is that is not this year.
The HEAT do have a number of ending contracts – Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, James Jones and Rashard Lewis. They also have two somewhat tradable contracts in Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem.
So the HEAT have trade options if they want them, especially if things start to turn ugly.
The other thing to keep in mind is that all of Miami’s core guys could opt out in July and sign new more cap friendly deals to continue to add talent to the HEAT core.
For whatever reason there is this belief that this is Miami’s last season together, however if you listen to what’s coming out of Miami it might not be this year where things change, it might the following year and even then it would require things to go toxically bad in South Beach and do you really see that happening with a team that’s been to three straight NBA Finals and has won two straight championships?
Take a look at Miami’s Salary situation – they have zero dollars guaranteed for next season.
As everyone dreams of poaching Miami’s star, the concern should be that Miami might be in a position to add even more to their squad in July.
We will hit on a few more situations on Monday, so stay tuned.
We Want To Know:
Butler Traded To The Bucks: According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com the Phoenix Suns are shipping forward Caron Butler to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for guard Ish Smith and center Slava Krastov.
The move puts the veteran Butler in a better situation in terms of competing, but also sheds his $8 million contract from Phoenix’s books. When it’s all said and done the Suns will drop about $5 million below the salary cap, allowing them the flexibility to absorb a contract in trade down the road or play middleman in a future deal in exchange for an asset.
The Bucks had roughly $7.5 million in cap space before the deal, so this move should get them about to the salary cap.
As Coro points out this move, might also allow for the Suns financially to part ways with Michael Beasley who has had another troubled off-season.
The Suns have yet to comment on Beasley status after his two run-ins this summer, although the belief is that Phoenix is contemplating waiving Beasley outright and eating the $9 million he’s guaranteed.
Beasley’s $6 million salary next season is fully guaranteed, but only half of his $6 million salary in 2014-2015 is guaranteed.
The Suns do have the option of using the new “stretch” provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would allow them to spread out Beasley’s remaining $9 million over the next five seasons. The rule allows for deals signed after 2011 to be stretched out for twice the number of years remaining on the agreement plus one year.
In Beasley’s case his two remaining contract years would equal five “stretched” years. Teams are charged what they ultimately pay.
If the re-building Suns do opt to part ways with Beasley, they would need to decide if they simply want to eat the $9 million over the next two years, or take the $1.8 million cap hit over the next five.
The other issue facing the Suns is that this move now gives them 17 guaranteed contracts (including the expected deal for Alex Len), they must get down to 15 before the start of the regular season.
Coro’s report suggests that the decision on waiving Beasley and the uncertain status of Channing Frye could determine how the Suns handle those cuts.
Did You Miss It?: Every off-season we end up with more video interviews than you can possibly have seen so here are a couple more in case you missed them.
Orlando Magic forward Romero Osby talks about Summer League, fitting in with the Magic and what he expects this summer.
Justise Winslow is one of the prized High School players in the 2014 graduating class. Winslow is an electric small forward with tremendous explosion. He talked with HOOPSWORLD about his summer and what next for him as a top high school recruit.
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