NBA@2: Five NBA Players Who Should Pack
The NBA trade deadline is now just days away, and we prepare for the storms of deals that could go down mid-week next week, let’s take a look at five players who should seriously consider at least getting their suitcases out of the attic.
O.J. Mayo – Memphis Grizzlies
O.J. Mayo’s name continues to come up time and time again in trade rumors, largely because he’s been traded twice, only to have the deals fall through at the last minute. This time around Minnesota is trying to get into the discussion, while the Indiana Pacers continue their longstanding pursuit of the Grizzlies’ sixth-man. Simply put, Mayo could be the difference between the Indiana Pacers just making the playoffs and possibly moving up into the contending category. For the Timberwolves, Mayo could be the player who helps assure them of a playoff berth, while right now they’re still very much a bubble team. The Grizzlies would love to keep him, but they can’t afford to pay him after locking in Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol long-term. The Grizzlies could have to trade him to avoid losing him this summer, and it’s likely that they will do just that.
Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics
It seems absurd to Celtics fans that Danny Ainge would be as desperate to trade star point guard Rajon Rondo as he appears to be. Despite denying any sincere interest in dealing his floor general, the Celtics continue to make calls to gauge Rondo’s value around the NBA. The reason has to do with Rondo’s personality off the court, as he is not a leader or someone a young team can rally around. Since the Celtics are very close to jettisoning all of their older players and starting over, that’s an important consideration. It’s not a done deal, but it wouldn’t surprise us at all to see Rondo moved before the deadline.
Chris Kaman – New Orleans Hornets
Last month the Hornets were so intent on trading Chris Kaman that they asked him to step away from the team until they could get a deal done. They weren’t prepared to give him away, however, and when no worthwhile offers came they brought him back and he’s been great ever since. The Hornets would still move him for the right price, and that perfect offer could come in the days before the deadline. The determination to move him has changed a bit, however, as a group headed up by Mike Dunleavy closes in on purchasing the team. Dunleavy would like to convince both Kaman and Eric Gordon, who has made his displeasure about being in New Orleans known, into staying in town and being part of a new vision for the Hornets.
Luis Scola – Houston Rockets
Like Mayo, Luis Scola has already been traded, but the deal fell through and he remained with the Rockets as a result. The team was looking for an upgrade over the summer, either in the person of Nene or Pau Gasol, but they failed on both counts. As has been well documented, the Rockets are still very much pursuing Gasol, and Scola is at the heart of any deal with the Lakers. The holdup is that the Lakers really want Kyle Lowry from Houston, and the Rockets are unwilling to part with Kyle. Houston would prefer to send just about anyone else, from Kevin Martin to Hasheem Thabeet, to the Lakers, but LA is standing firm. Still, it seems likely that Houston will blink and make the move to land Gasol, who they view as a foundational franchise player. For some reason.
Marvin Williams – Atlanta Hawks
Not surprisingly, the Hawks are looking for ways to cut salary. The contract they signed Joe Johnson to is turning out to be the albatross everyone believed it would be when they announced it, and since the contract makes Johnson all but untradeable, some other pieces are going to have to go. Setting aside Josh Smith’s announcement that he still like to be traded despite being the central focus of the team this season, Marvin Williams seems to be the player who should be packing in Atlanta. He’s never lived up to his draft position in Atlanta, though it is very possible he could be a more dynamic player on a different team. Since his contract extends for two more seasons after this one, the Hawks would like to find a team willing to take that chance.
The NBA trade deadline is March 15th, so stay tuned . . .
Up Close: Landry Fields
New York Knicks guard Landry Fields talks about his good friend Jeremy Lin, the impact of Baron Davis and Tyson Chandler on the team, playoff hopes and more in this exclusive interview.
When the New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony at last year’s NBA trade deadline, the long-slumbering fervor surrounding the team roared to life. Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony were certain to lead the team back to respectability, perhaps even to a championship. They accomplished the former, as the Knicks didreturn to the playoffs, but they fell well short of the NBA Finals as they lost in the first round.
This season’s addition of Tyson Chandler, though it came at the expense of Chauncey Billups, stoked the inferno of championship all over again. Chandler was fresh off a championship run with the Dallas Mavericks in which Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki said Chandler was the most important player. The Knicks had their three stars in Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler, and a championship was sure to follow.
And then they lost four of their first five games of the new NBA season.
As the Knicks lost nine of ten games in a stretch in late January, media and fans alike started calling for head coach Mike D’Antoni’s job, and the entire New York edition of the offense D’Antoni rode to great success in Phoenix appeared to be nearing an end. The addition of Jeremy Lin went all but unnoticed until he took the court and led the Knicks to eight wins in nine games despite the absence of Anthony and Stoudemire for most of the run. The Knicks were suddenly back in the playoff picture and making up ground.
Now, a week past the NBA All-Star break, Linsanity fever is starting to cool and the Knicks are losing again – three of four since the break ended. The Knicks have slipped to the eighth seed in the East, and while it seems unlikely that they could slip further due to the poor play of everyone below them, the fan base is starting to brood.
This is where the rubber meets the road for the Knicks. The March schedule is brutal, pitting them against Philadelphia (twice), Chicago, Indiana (twice), Orlando and Atlanta, a full schedule of Eastern Conference playoff teams. They also playing Milwaukee twice, starting tonight, and if they lose either of those games the effect is amplified, as the Bucks would pick up a full game in the standings with a win. April comes in like a lion, as well, with a game in Indiana, then at Orlando and then a home-and-home with the Bulls. It would be difficult for the Knicks to face a much tougher list of opponents, and how they fare in those games will absolutely determine where the Knicks will be come playoff time.
The Knicks have an impressive lineup on paper; now that lineup has to start realize their potential on the court.
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