NBA Saturday: Ben Gordon to Brooklyn?
Could Nets and Bobcats Swap Ben Gordon and Kris Humphries?
Now that we’re well into the month of February, trade rumors are going to start swirling around at an incredible rate, and while some are going to make people shake their heads in disbelief for being too crazy and unrealistic, there are some—like this proposed Ben Gordon-for-Kris Humphries swap blazing up the rumor mill right now thanks to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com—that actually make quite a bit of sense.
Both teams have plenty of reasons to pull the trigger on a deal. Charlotte, who according to Howard Beck of the New York Times said initiated these talks, was reported to have had some interest in Humphries in the offseason, but Humphries ultimately decided to stick around for the Nets’ first season in Brooklyn. Paying $24 million over the next two seasons may seem like a steep price for a guy that has not only been dealing with injuries but also isn’t even averaging seven points or rebounds per game, however Gordon is pulling in a similar paycheck and the Bobcats need more help in the frontcourt than the backcourt, where they already have quite a few talented young guards.
Hakim Warrick is the starting power forward for the Bobcats right now, with the perennially disappointing Tyrus Thomas slotted as the backup, so Humphries would have no problem finding minutes with the ‘Cats and would definitely inject a bit of toughness into a frontcourt that doesn’t really have a whole lot of that.
From Brooklyn’s perspective, the move would help them add some three-point shooting because they’ve been atrocious behind the arc and Gordon is shooting over 41 percent from deep this season. Gordon makes a little more money over the next two seasons—$25.6, assuming he picks up his $13.2 million player option next year as expected—but money clearly isn’t issue for the Nets. If they feel like Gordon is a guy that can help spread the floor and make this offense more relevant, they’ll pull the trigger, especially with how well Reggie Evans has hit the boards this year. Just like the Bobcats can afford to thin out their backcourt a little, Brooklyn has the same luxury with their frontcourt.
Of course, the question is, will this trade actually happen? Like a lot of rumors this time of year, it’s hard to tell which are real and which are just preliminary discussions that broke down and then leaked out. Whatever happens here—and it sounds like Charlotte is game and just waiting for Brooklyn to make a decision—the trade makes a pretty decent amount of sense on the surface, and those are the ones fans really seem to glom onto most often, because they seem most likely to happen.
John Lucas III Misses Chicago, But Moving On in Toronto
With Jose Calderon now traded to the Detroit Pistons, John Lucas III is officially the backup point guard in Toronto, which means he’s finally getting a consistent opportunity to see the floor and become a regular part of the Raptors’ rotation.
But it’s been a long season for a guy that had a great season and great chemistry a year ago with the Chicago Bulls, and it doesn’t take long talking to him now to know that he misses some of his old teammates.
“It was a really tough decision to leave Chicago because those were my brothers,” Lucas said. “It was hard leaving them and the city and playing in the Madhouse (the United Center), but that experience will always stay with me. The support of the fans, the support of the city, how they embraced us, that was so great.”
A couple days ago, a trade rumor surfaced that suggested the Bulls may be willing to take Lucas back in part of a larger deal that would have included Carlos Boozer and Andrea Bargnani, possibly showing that the Bulls also occasionally wax nostalgic over their parting of ways with Lucas.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Lucas said, grinning, “but I’m trying to stay focused on what I have in front of me now. Trade rumors happen every day, so whatever happens, happens. I’ll be ready to step up to whatever comes my way.”
However much he may miss his buddies from the Windy City, Lucas is really starting to gel with his Toronto teammates, including new addition Rudy Gay and the recently returned Bargnani, and that’s more than enough to help him begin this new chapter in his career.
“It’s all about opportunity,” Lucas said. “You never know when your number is called, and when your number is called you’ve got to go out there and perform. You can’t have any off days, and that’s something I pride myself on. I’ve stayed ready, even at the beginning of the season when I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d play. I still kept in shape, I still got my shots up, I kept watching film and learning our terminology, our plays, where guys like to get the ball. I had to learn a whole new system, but I’m a student of the game and I want to be the best I can at my profession.”
The Raptors are very different from last year’s Bulls, but Lucas is starting to do some positive things in Toronto. Players always talk about the business aspect of the game, but it is absolutely true that sometimes a pay raise can take you to a new work environment that requires a little bit of adjusting. In the end, though, things have a way of working themselves out.
“I didn’t know how it would be at first,” Lucas said. “I was going back in forth in my mind over whether I made the right decision, but the opportunity has been there, and I’ve stepped up to it every chance I’ve gotten. I’m enjoying myself now.”
Cleveland Looking to Offer Oden a Two-Year Deal
If the Cleveland Cavaliers still have their $4 million or so of cap space once the trade deadline comes and goes, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that they are prepared to make a two-year offer to free agent center Greg Oden.
Of course, Cleveland isn’t the only team that has shown interest in Oden; Miami, San Antonio and Boston have also earned audiences with him, and all of them would like to get Oden under contract before the end of this season. This, despite the fact that he has no intention of playing this season, because Oden’s suitors would rather have him spend the summer getting familiar with a new system and working with his new team doctors to get back into game shape for the 2013-14 season.
Cleveland makes the most sense, however, because they’ve got more cap space available to them to make a substantial offer to Oden, plus Oden played his college basketball in Columbus, Ohio, which just so happens to be where he’s currently living.
That proximity has allowed Oden to interview with the Cavs more than once already, and his agent, Mike Conley, Sr., has intimated that another interview could be on the horizon.
“Greg has been up there (to Cleveland) before and he’ll probably be up there again in an official capacity,” Conley told Lloyd on Friday, but he was evasive when asked whether or not the Cavs should be considered frontrunners for Oden’s services.
Oden’s injury issues are well-documented, but teams are willing to take a risk on the former #1 overall pick because he could still potentially be a difference maker, particularly on the defensive end, and he’s had more time to heal than at any other point in his basketball career. He’s also apparently in very good shape and very motivated to play again, which could bode well for the Cavaliers or any organization that gambles on him.
“He’s going to make an impact on whatever team he’s on—a big impact,” Conley said. “He’s already back in my eyes. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll get better and better. He hasn’t had a chance to improve his game of basketball because of all this. The upside of him is tremendous. He’s a young kid. He just turned 25. He’s in the prime of his life.”
And that’s why teams are so hungry to add him to their roster, even though he won’t even wear a uniform until next season. Cleveland may very well be the front-runner, but no one is going to offer him a deal until after the deadline. Once that passes, he’ll officially become the prettiest girl at the dance, and that’s when the real fun will start in the Greg Oden Sweepstakes.
Leonard Adjusting to the NBA in Portland
Meyers Leonard, who the Portland Trail Blazers selected with the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft, is still getting adjusted to the NBA. He discusses his transition from college to the pros, playing with fellow rookies in Portland and what it’s like playing against NBA bigs as a 20-year-old in this exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD.