NBA Saturday: Pacers Want Crawford, Gasol
The Indiana Pacers will be one of the most active teams in the coming weeks. They have the third-most cap space of any team in the NBA, and they’re keeping their trade options open, as well. In recent days they have reached out to a number of top free agents and expressed interest in their services.
It appears Indiana’s dream scenario would be signing both Jamal Crawford and Marc Gasol. Sources close to the situation say the Pacers love Crawford and Gasol and have the money to sign both. Crawford is an unrestricted free agent and Gasol is a restricted free agent.
“I think they would love to sign Crawford and Gasol and call it a day,” said one source.
Crawford’s camp is interested in Indiana and will continue to communicate with them throughout next week. The two sides have been contacting each other back and forth since Wednesday and Indiana will likely make an offer to Crawford on December 9.
Gasol may be tougher to land since the Memphis Grizzlies seem ready to match any offer sheet that comes his way. However, the Pacers do have one thing that other potential suitors don’t have: a replacement center to offer the Grizzlies. Indiana is prepared to send Roy Hibbert to Memphis in a sign-and-trade if necessary. Indiana believes Gasol is one of the top centers in the game and is zeroing in on him.
After mainly using the draft to build their talented young core, the Pacers feel that they’re close to competing in the Eastern Conference. That’s why they’re going to be active in free agency and continue working the phones to see what trade options exist. They feel they’re only a piece or two away from being one of the top up-and-coming teams in the conference.
There had been some talk that Indiana was interested in David West, but he doesn’t appear to be at the top of their wish list. Not only are they concerned about West’s age and recent knee injury, the Pacers are looking away from West because they really liked what they saw from Tyler Hansbrough last season. They felt he showed progress and want him to continue receiving the bulk of the minutes at power forward so that he can keep developing his game.
Indiana would love to sign Crawford and Gasol, and they’re one of the few teams in the league with the cap space to actually do it.
Rondo Ignoring Trade Rumors: One of the most surprising names to be mentioned on the trade block in recent days has been Rajon Rondo. The Celtics hadn’t aggressively shopped him in the past and the decision to gauge interest around the league had rival executives wondering what changed in Boston.
Was it something Rondo did? Nobody is quite sure why he was suddenly made available.
With that said, Rondo is doing his best to ignore the rumors, according to sources close to the point guard. He doesn’t believe he’ll be dealt and doesn’t think there is any truth to the rumors that have linked him to teams like New Orleans and Indiana. Rondo is understandably agitated by all of the talk, but he’s continuing his workouts and staying away from the reports.
Even though Rondo isn’t buying the rumors and Danny Ainge has vehemently denied that he intends to trade the 25-year-old, there is truth to the rumors. While they are dying down a bit in the last few days, but don’t be surprised if Rondo’s name is mentioned again if the right deal comes along.
The Celtics would love to acquire Chris Paul, first and foremost. If Paul were to change his mind and choose to sign an extension in Boston, Ainge would likely ship Rondo to New Orleans in a heartbeat.
Paul’s Camp Demanded Trade: Yesterday, there were conflicting reports over whether or not Chris Paul’s representatives spoke to the New Orleans Hornets and demanded a trade. Sources close to the situation confirm that Paul’s camp did ask for a trade, specifically to the New York Knicks. While Leon Rose has denied the reported trade demand, sources say that it happened and the Hornets know that they must deal Paul at some point this season.
“Chris Paul’s camp did make the request,” said the source. “The Hornets are painted into a corner. Dell Demps will do the best he can.”
It’s becoming clear that the Hornets don’t want this situation to play out over the course of several months, as Carmelo Anthony’s saga with the Denver Nuggets did last year. The source believes New Orleans will trade Paul “as soon as a possible” in order to prevent similar drama and chaos.
Evans Drawing Interest from Contenders: Maurice Evans has been a topic of conversation in recent months because of his role as vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. But now that he’s done attending labor meetings and debating with the league’s owners, Evans is a free agent and generating interest from a number of contending teams.
Evans displayed his leadership throughout the labor negotiations and showed that he can still be a significant contributor last season in Washington. After being acquired midseason by the Wizards, Evans averaged 9.7 points in 26 games and served as a mentor to many of Washington’s young players.
Now, the Wizards would love to re-sign Evans, but they’ll have some competition from a number of contenders. The San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers have reached out to Evans’ camp because they view him as a reliable role player.
Evans is a player that can likely be had for the new mini mid-level exception, which would pay him $3 million each season.
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