Trade deadline names to watch
Two-plus weeks until the trade deadline, and the Carmelo Circus aside, along with those guys who everyone knows are on the block -- like the Nets' Troy Murphy and the Knicks' Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry -- here are the guys that, according to front office sources around the league, are eminently gettable before Feb. 24:
Golden State center Andris Biedrins, Memphis guard O.J. Mayo, Lakers forward Ron Artest, Portland centers Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla, Philadelphia forward Andre Iguodala, Phoenix forward Josh Childress, Washington forward Rashard Lewis, Detroit guard Rip Hamilton, Cleveland forward Antawn Jamison, Minnesota guard Jonny Flynn, Charlotte forwards Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw and Houston forward Jared Jeffries.
There was less consenus on whether three former All-Stars -- Pacers forward Danny Granger, Memphis forward Zach Randolph and Clippers center Chris Kaman -- were really available, despite their names being out there in Rumorville the past few weeks.
Many of those names are unlikely to be dealt because of their prohibitively expensive contracts, which is why they're on the block in the first place. Count among these Iguodala (three years and $44.1 million remaining after this season), Lewis (two years and $43 million remaining after this season, though only $10 million of the 22 million due to Lewis in 2012-13 is guaranteed), Childress (who just signed a full mid-level exception for $34 million), Biedrins (three years and $27 million left after this season), Jamison (one year and $15 million left after this season) and Artest (three years and $21.775 million left after this season).
With the lockout looming, it's unlikely in the extreme that any team would take on any of these deals.
There could be takers for Flynn, who has never really taken over the starting point guard job in Minnesota and who likely won't next season when and if Ricky Rubio comes over from Spain (though Rubio is not having a great season this year playing for FC Barcelona, one of the ACB and Euroleague's top teams).
Mayo has been involved in trade rumors for weeks, and at 23 and still on his rookie contract, he'll likely be moving on (the fight with teammate Tony Allen on the team plane last month was not the only time Mayo has gotten into verbal altercations with teammates, I'm told).
Jackson was on the block before Larry Brown was "retired" by Charlotte, and even though interim coach Paul Silas has rarely met a tough guy he didn't like, S-Jax's inability to stay clear of the refs may be wearing out his welcome...
Bird, Pacers play waiting game
Now that Jim O'Brien is gone in Indiana, what about the future of team president Larry Bird, who's also in the final year of his deal -- along with any number of front-office personnel? Bird told SI.com last week that he has purposely not asked owner Herb Simon about a new contract because he wanted to give the owner maximum flexibility to decide whether he wanted to clean house after this season. The Pacers will have less than $35 million committed next season in player salaries, giving them incredible flexibility if Simon wants to open up his checkbook.
But will the 55-year-old Bird stick around if asked?
One close friend of Bird's thinks he'll be back next season, and shares my view that Simon wouldn't dare cashier one of Indiana's favorite sons, mediocre record the last few years or no. It's still Indiana, and he's still Larry Bird. "You look at it honestly, (Bird) helped get Conseco [Fieldhouse] built," the friend said, referring to the Pacers' still-state-of-the-art arena. But the friend disagrees with my view that Bird might return to the bench if asked by Simon.