The Names To Know: The NBA trade deadline is roughly 45 days from today, meaning NBA teams still have a rather large window to make transactions and changes, however several teams have started dangling assets, and a list of available or in some cases unavailable guys is starting to take shape. Here are the situations to watch:
Chris Kaman: The New Orleans Hornets has decided to move out with Chris Kaman and have agreed to let him stay away from the team until they can find a trade. A number of teams are hoping the Hornets will buyout Kaman so they can get him on the cheap, but Hornets sources say that’s just not going to happen.
Word is a small handful of teams have called, and while the offers won’t reinvent the franchise there are a few teams willing to get close to the asking price on Kaman which is a first round draft pick, a young player still on a rookie deal and an ending contract to make it work under the cap.
The Rockets and Spurs have expressed interest according to John Reid of The Times Picayune. League sources say the list for Kaman is much wider with the Celtics, Jazz and Grizzlies said to have interest.
The Hornets say they will take as long as necessary to resolve this and Kaman has been allowed to stay home until a solution is found.
The Rocket Parts: The Houston Rockets have been active, but word is their asking price on players is very, very high. As one executive classified it; “they are asking the moon for role players”, but it is clear that Courtney Lee, Jonny Flynn and Terrence Williams all could be had.
League sources also say that Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger are also obtainable players, but what Houston is looking for from those guys is way too much.
The Rockets would love to add a serious small forward to the mix and have labeled point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Kevin Martin all but untouchable.
League sources say the team would part with Luis Scola if it returned a serious upgrade at the four, but given how rocky the season has been for Scola, his value is low but his price tag is high.
Houston seems to be banking on a team in panic-mode overpaying, so while there are Rockets that are available, a deal with Houston may take time, simply because the prices are too high.
Anthony Morrow: The New Jersey Nets are going nowhere fast, and while there are still lots of games to be played there is a sense that New Jersey is ready to start planning for the offseason.
The Nets have $34 million in salary commitments for next season which includes the final $4 million year on Anthony Morrow and the final $4.25 million Player Option owed to Jordan Farmar.
Both players at one point have been offered to Memphis in exchange for OJ Mayo’s ending contract, and league sources say there is a desire on New Jersey’s part to cash those guys in for ending deals before the trade deadline.
Of the two, Morrow has the most trade value because of his 41% three point percentage.
It seems clear the Nets will try and clean up their roster before the trade deadline, meaning Morrow and Farmar should be on notice.
Andre Iguodala/Elton Brand : You can take Iggy and Brand off your wish list. Sources close to the Sixers say unless a deal that upgrades the position surfaces, neither guy is on the block or being actively talked about in trade.
The 76ers are 14-6 with a two game hold on the Atlantic Division, meaning if the Playoffs started today they are the fourth seed in the East and hosting playoff games.
New ownership is far more concerned with getting into and competing in the playoffs, than they are in trimming costs, so the odds of a deal involving Iguodala or Brand seems extremely low.
If the floor falls out from under Philly, things may change, but as things stand now 76ers president Rod Thorn is not engaging in trade talks involving his core players.
Sources say Craig Brackins or even Andres Nocioni could be had, but that’s the extent of what Philly would part with.
The Cavs: The Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of attractive assets – Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker, Anderson Varejao even Antawn Jamison is playing well for the Cavs.
Cavs fans want draft picks, but Cavs management and coaches want to win.
As one Cavs source explained, ownership wants to get back to the playoffs quickly and the idea of playing for a draft pick does not ring anyone’s bell in Cleveland.
Losing a ton of games usually costs coaches and executives their jobs, so no one in a decision making capacity is ready to concede the season yet, and if the Playoffs started today the Cavs are the eighth seed and they view that as far more beneficial to their growth than tanking the season for a pick.
So for now, the Cavs are sitting out the trade market for the most part, but that may change in 45 days.
If the Cavs are still in the picture come March do not expect much by way of trade, mainly because the Cavs have only $32.5 million in commitments next year, and believe that a playoff team is more attractive to free agents than a lottery team.
They also believe that giving young guys like Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson a taste of the post-season could mean more to their growth as players than tanking down the stretch.
There is a real concern about acceptable losing, something head Byron Scott won’t tolerate.
As the Cavs source said “you can always buy a draft pick” but shaking a losing culture is much harder to do.
Stephen Jackson: The marriage between the Milwaukee Bucks and Stephen Jackson is getting bad. If you recall several weeks ago Jackson was suspended for a game for missing the team bus. Well the real story is not nearly as neat and clean. Apparently Jackson blew off shoot around because he wanted to sleep in.
Jackson recently lost a game to a league suspension for verbal abuse of an official, and to say the Bucks are growing weary of Jackson’s act is an understatement.
The Bucks’ players love Jackson, he is viewed a big brother to a number of them, but the Bucks are worried that Stephen’s off the court lifestyle is starting to rub off on Brandon Jennings and with his aging body and contract demands, that makes him problematic going forward.
The Bucks are still sniffing at the playoff picture, but if that changes over the next month or Jackson becomes even more problematic than he’s been, expect the Bucks to try and liquidate him.
From all accounts the asking price won’t be much because the league as a whole knows what’s going on with Jackson and when the Bucks pull the trigger it will be to get out of the Stephen Jackson business.
D.J. Augustin: The Bobcats continue to say DJ Augustin is not going anywhere, but sources close to several teams say he is available.
DJ is playing some solid basketball recently averaging close to 13 points and 6 assists per game. However it’s becoming clear that DJ could be sold off if it returns the right pieces in exchange.
The Bobcats would like to collect a few more draft assets. It’s also likely that any deal involving DJ either includes Corey Maggette’s contract, which has one year and $10.92 million remaining, or the contract of Matt Carroll, which has one year $3.5 million remaining.
The Bobcats are not shopping DJ, but sources say if they could use DJ to collect some draft picks and clean up the books it’s an option they would explore.
Jameer Nelson: Jameer is currently suffering from concussion-type symptoms and will miss tonight’s game versus the 76ers and his status is listed as day to day.
If you have been watching the Magic this season you’ve likely noticed that Jameer, who just three years ago was an All-Star, is now a shell of himself and getting beat out most nights by Chris Duhon for minutes.
Magic fans would love to see a trade, but as league sources point out Jameer’s value is likely at an all-time low and now that you factor in a concussion, his trade value is in the crapper.
The Magic have been sniffing around for trades, but the truth of it is with virtually no tradable assets outside of Ryan Anderson and JJ Redick, the Magic do not have much to work with.
On March 1st Glen “Big Baby” Davis can be traded as can Jason Richardson, but given the massive contracts both received this summer, league sources label them as low interest players. They have not played especially well and are owed a ton.
While the Magic may need to upgrade at a number of positions, they may not have the expendable chips to deal.
Jameer Nelson holds almost no trade value given how poorly he’s played and the fact that he has $7.8 million on his deal this year and one more year at $7.8 million next year, that makes moving him or upgrading him almost impossible.
Steve Nash: Do not hold your breath on Steve Nash being traded. Sources close to the process say that what’s been offered for Nash is laughable at best and that as long as Steve wants to be in Phoenix, he’ll be a Sun.
Suns fans are worried that the team may lose a future hall of famer to free agency, but sources close to the situation say the Suns may be willing to do a new deal with Nash this summer in the $8 to $10 million range to insure Steve stays in Phoenix and that kind of money may be more than anyone else in free agency would or could pay for Nash.
Nash recently told HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram that he felt a sense of loyalty to the Suns, that may change when his contract ends.
Phoenix’s stance on trading Nash may change too once the trade deadline gets closer.
Suns’ source continue to say what they have and get from Nash, they could never replace in trade, and if Nash is open to staying in Phoenix beyond this year the Suns seem open to that.
The Suns have $31.8 million in salary commitments next season, so without Nash’s $11.6 million deal on the books, they look to be sizable free agent players.
It’s not out of the questions that Nash is shopped and traded at the deadline, but what’s coming out of Phoenix is that they are not actively looking or entertaining anything with Nash and that keeping him beyond this season is the first option.
If that falls through and its clear Nash is leaving, that’s when a trade will likely happen and the Suns are not there yet.
Shawn Marion: The Dallas Mavericks have been winning games lately, including an overtime win against San Antonio last night.
The Mavericks won’t be defending their NBA title this year, but as things stand they could be in the playoffs as they are currently the fourth seed in the West.
The problem facing the Mavericks is they want to be free agent players this summer and have eyes for both New Jersey’s Deron Williams and Orlando’s Dwight Howard as free agents.
The Mavs are viewed as long-shots to land either, and the best case scenario for Dallas is to get enough cap space to offer both players near-Max deals and be enough of a threat to force a sign and trade for one.
The odds Dallas gets one, is directly tied to their ability to get the other.
As things sit, the Mavericks have $54 million in salary commitments next season.
That number includes the non-guaranteed year on Lamar Odom’s deal, so let’s knock that number off right out of the gate.
Assuming the Maverick drop Odom and use their roster Amnesty on Brendan Haywood’s $8.3 million deal; that would drop the Mavs down to $37.77 million in commitments or roughly $20.2 million in cap space.
Vince Carter has $2 million of his deal guaranteed, so you can add another million to the Dallas pie, bringing the commitments to $36.77 million and roughly $21 million in space.
Enter Shawn Marion.
If the Mavericks are genuinely going to be a player for both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, they either need a sign and trade for one of them, or they have to move off as much of Shawn Marion’s contract as possible.
That’s the dilemma the Mavericks find themselves.
They are currently the fourth seed in the West, meaning home court in the first round. If they liquidate Marion, they likely throw away the playoffs in exchange for a dream of tomorrow.
Even with Marion’s contract off the books the Mavericks would only have $29.6 million in space, meaning the most they could offer Williams and Howard is $14.8 million apiece, and that might not be enough without a sign and trade for one of them.
So watch how the Mavericks play the Shawn Marion card, if he’s dealt or aggressively shopped that means Dallas as stronger than average indications they could get the free agents they covet.
If Marion is on the roster after the trade deadline, there is almost no scenario in which Dallas gets Williams and Howard.
Timberwolves: The Minnesota Timberwolves are a two guard away from being very good. They know it. The league knows it and Timberwolves’ fans have known it all season.
The Wolves have a number of cashable parts. The problem is there does not seem to be a lot of interest in Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington or Luke Ridnour – especially not for a starting caliber two guard.
Sources close to the situation say there are few teams that would do a deal for rookie Derrick Williams but at this point the Wolves seem unwilling to move him or entertain talks involving him.
The parts the Wolves would cash don’t seem to be drawing much, so while the Wolves understand they need to upgrade, they are not eager to make a bad deal, but expect them to be active in the march up to the deadline. If a starter at the two spot shakes loose, they seem eager and willing to pull the trigger.
Keep an eye on Houston’s Courtney Lee… Wolves’ coach Rick Adelman knows him and it seems he is available from the Rockets. If the price comes down, don’t be surprised to see a deal.
Courtney is no Kevin Martin, but at this point the Wolves are buyers in a sellers’ market place.
Jose Calderon/Leandro Barbosa: The Raptors are shopping. They’d like to pick up another draft pick or two, but the real need is at Small Forward.
Sources close to the process say the Raptors plan to make life hard on the Denver Nuggets with regards to restricted free agent Wilson Chandler. Wilson is waiting for his clearance from China after dominating in the CBA.
Sources say that Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa could be moved to land a traded player exception or smaller assets to swap with Denver in a sign and trade.
The Nuggets say they will re-sign Wilson, but with the dollars committed to Nene, Arron Afflalo and now Danilo Gallinari – Toronto may put a number on the table via a sign and trade offer that makes re-signing Chandler in Denver tough.
Denver holds the power as Wilson is a restricted free agent, but Toronto has eyes for Wilson and seems willing to pony up the dollars. They’d still need a deal, but once one team puts a crazy number on the table that’s how prices get set.
A starting small forward still sits at the top of the Raptor’s wish list, and it seems Calderon and LB are the chips they will cash to get one, so keep that in mind as other names start to shake loose.
Devin Harris: The Utah Jazz have been winning games and if the playoffs started today they’d be the fifth seed in the West.
Not bad for a team without a true star player.
The Jazz have been shopping guard Devin Harris since last season when they acquired him as part of the Deron Williams deal. Harris is starting games, but he is not a huge factor for the Jazz.
Harris is owed $9.2 million this year and $8.5 million next year, which is a ton of money for an average player in the new NBA economy.
League sources say the only real way Utah is moving Devin Harris is if they take back an unfavorable contract or if they include one of their better players in the deal.
Jazz sources say Paul Millsap is not available, and that outside of maybe rookie Alec Burks there is not much the Jazz would be willing to move to dump Harris.
The Jazz have found a groove that works, so there is not a lot of urgency to deal, but at the deadline gets closer, look for Harris to be offered around a bit more as he’s the chip the Jazz would like to cash.
The NBA trade market is a fluid place that’s ever changing, especially with more than a month to go before the March 15th deadline.
As most executives have described it, this is more of a seller’s market, with teams looking to extract high value on the players they will part with. Eventually the market will come to the middle, that’s when deals will start to drop.