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NBA Sunday: Trade Market Taking Shape
Posted By Lang Greene On January 27, 2013 @ 10:00 am In All,NBA | No Comments
The NBA trade deadline is less than 30 days away and the market for players around the league is starting to take shape. There will be a lot of chatter over the next few weeks, but remember just because a team entertains talks for one of their players it doesn’t necessarily mean that player is on the block. League executives use this time of year to gauge the value of their assets, get under the luxury tax or acquire a veteran or two to aid in a playoff push.
Here is where we stand:
Timofey Mozgov, Center, Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are still very high on Timofey Mozgov but the financial side of the business may force their front office to explore deals for the third year center. Mozgov is expected to become a restricted free agent this summer and as it stands today the Nuggets have $73 million in salary commitments already on the books for next season. The team also has a logjam at center with Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee ahead of Mozgov on the depth chart. Koufos is owed $9 million through 2015, while the Nuggets are on the hook for $44 million through the 2016 campaign.
According to a recent report by the Denver Post, Mozgov is prioritizing getting more playing time over a commitment to the Nuggets when it comes to his free agency plans. Mozgov is on the books for $3.1 million this season, which as a standalone piece might not return a huge piece in a trade, but the Nuggets could package veteran wing Wilson Chandler with him as part of a bigger deal.
Josh Smith, Power Forward, Atlanta Hawks
Smith will undoubtedly be one of the most coveted unrestricted free agents on the market this summer. The Hawks can offer the versatile forward more money than any team in the league and can ink Smith to a deal in the five-year $95 million range.
According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, Smith has every intention of getting a MAX level deal this summer and that places some additional pressure on Hawks president of basketball operations Danny Ferry regarding the team’s expense sheet.
From a cap standpoint, the Hawks will have over $30 million in cap room this summer after Ferry traded Joe Johnson to Brooklyn and Marvin Williams to Utah last summer. The team also only has four players under contract for next season, so while there’s cap space the organization still must be extremely active on the free agent front.
Up until this point Ferry and Smith have both maintained that they are on the same page regarding the team’s future. But at the same time the Hawks’ front office will have to decide whether to take a risk on losing Smith for nothing in free agency or investing MAX level dollars for a talented player who has never been selected to an All-Star game.
The Hawks have been hesitant to field trade offers for Smith, but the player’s contract demands may change some minds in the team’s front office.
Kyle Lowry, Point Guard, Toronto Raptors
When it comes to Toronto Raptors point guards on the trading block, most expected Jose Calderon to be the floor general on the move. After all, Kyle Lowry was acquired by Toronto last summer in large part due to head coach Dwane Casey’s trust in his ability.
But the latest reports indicate Kyle Lowry may be the odd man out of the Raptors’ backcourt.
Lowry is owed $5.8 million this season, which isn’t a bad cap number to absorb for a guy averaging 13.8 points and 5.8 assists in less than 28 minutes of action per night. What makes Lowry even more attractive to executives around the league is that only $1 million of his deal (worth $6.2 million) is guaranteed for next season.
Lowry has been linked to the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers as potential destinations but the Raptors have been firm in their stance on not adding significant long term salary unless it brings them the right impact player in return.
JJ Redick, Shooting Guard, Orlando Magic
J.J. Redick is in the final year of his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. This makes him a big asset for the Orlando Magic as the trade deadline approaches. But here’s the deal, the Magic aren’t in a big rush to move Redick, but if dealing the sharp shooting guard nets the rebuilding team draft picks and additional young talent they’d entertain the offer.
The Indiana Pacers and the reeling Boston Celtics are reportedly interested in acquiring Redick as we approach the trade deadline.
Paul Pierce, Small Forward, Boston Celtics
As HOOPSWORLD’s Steve Kyler covered recently, the Boston Celtics may be forced to entertain offers for veteran forward Paul Pierce at the deadline. Pierce is on the books for over $16 million this season, but only $5 million of his $15.3 million next season is guaranteed.
Celtics president Danny Ainge has publicly stated many times he wouldn’t hesitate to proactively break up the team’s veteran core rather than enduring a lengthy rebuilding period. With the Celtics rapidly sliding in the Eastern Conference standings Ainge may be pushed to revisit the issue.
Rudy Gay, Small Forward, Memphis Grizzlies
Trade rumors have dogged Rudy Gay for months but it wouldn’t surprise many if the forward isn’t moved before the trade deadline. The Grizzlies’ front office have maintained from the beginning that they fully intend on remaining amongst the Western Conference’s top teams and any deal involving their core players would need to bring in equal value in return.
The Grizzlies completed a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, shipping out three players and a draft pick, which put the team under the luxury tax threshold – a priority of Memphis’ ownership team.
Memphis is still entertaining calls for Gay as they arrive as sort of a due diligence, but with the team now sitting below the luxury tax they’re not under the pressure to make any rash decisions and are looking for maximum value in return.
Pau Gasol, Power Forward – Center, Los Angeles Lakers
In some ways Gasol has been a scapegoat for the Lakers’ early season struggles. The veteran numbers are down across the board and he doesn’t seem to fit into head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system.
But there are two hindering blocks for a Gasol move.
First, he’s on the books for $19 million this season and another $19 million in 2014. That’s a hefty price to pay for an aging big man on the decline ever since the end of the 2011 campaign.
Secondly, if the Lakers were to deal Gasol they’re not in the least interested in taking back junk contracts or damaged goods. The Lakers want value and since Gasol hasn’t been playing great basketball this season the market for him has dried up rather quickly.
Veteran Players Still Looking For Another NBA Opportunity
We’re a little past the halfway point of the season and there are still some quality veterans out there seeking another NBA opportunity. The league trend has shifted toward taking chances on younger guys but as the playoffs get closer on the horizon contending teams may start looking for additional experience to solidify their respective depth charts.
Kenyon Martin, Power Forward
Martin played last season for the Los Angeles Clippers primarily in a reserve role averaging 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. At 35, Martin is past undoubtedly his prime but is one of the game’s best interior defenders in recent memory. Martin has been linked to the New York Knicks since the beginning of the season but there are concerns he still wants more contract security than the veteran’s minimum.
Delonte West, Shooting Guard
West recently signed with the Texas Legends of the D-League in an effort to get back to the NBA. The eight year veteran has a scoring average just under double-digits (9.7) and is a 37 percent shooter from three-point range for his career. West clearly has the talent to play at the pro level but there remains concerns on his behavior off the floor. West’s camp is viewing the D-League stint as an opportunity to put some of those concerns to rest.
Quentin Richardson, Shooting Guard / Small Forward
After being waived by the Orlando Magic before the start of the season, Richardson was linked to the Chicago Bulls (November 2012). But all has been quiet on the Richardson front since then. While Richardson has noticeably declined in recent years, the veteran boasts over 1,100 career three-pointers on the resume and has solid playoff experience.
Hedo Turkoglu Nearing A Return?
The Orlando Magic are in rebuilding mode but may get a boost from the return of their highest paid player. According to the Orlando Sentinel, veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu may be returning to action soon rather than later.
Turkoglu has appeared in just six games for the Magic this season since breaking his left hand in early November. The thirteen year veteran is averaging career lows across the board and readily admits this has been his most frustrating season as a professional.
“It’s been painful, man,” Turkoglu said. “I’ve been in the league for 13 years, and this is the first time I’ve missed this many games in my career. So this is the most frustrating year for me.”
According to the report, Turkoglu participated in the Magic’s latest full court scrimmage and ithe injured hand is improving.
“I’m feeling much better,” Turkoglu said. “My hand’s about to be 100 percent soon, so I feel more confidence and, hopefully, that will carry on for my playing, too. So far, I’ve been doing whatever it takes to put myself in the best situation I can. I’m just trying to wait for that situation and hopefully soon that will happen and I’ll be 100 percent.”
The Magic (14-28) have lost four straight contests but are still just five and half games away from the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
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