Buzz loud as deal deadline nears
February 21, 2005
DENVER -- All-Star Game, Shmall-Star Game. The NBA trading deadline is Thursday, which means I'll have to pay attention to basketball games after this week. It doesn't seem like there are any blockbusters coming, or as Michael Jordan would tell us, he's 99.9 percent sure of that.
Although Jason Kidd made a bunch of noise last week about being traded to Minnesota, it seems unlikely because New Jersey looks pretty good next season with Kidd and Richard Jefferson back. The Nets' acquisition of Cliff Robinson could help them win the Titanic, er, Atlantic Division.
Allen Iverson has taken back his supposed trade request of the month, though there are some big names floating around with some uncertainty, like Boston's Paul Pierce, Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic, Milwaukee's Michael Redd and, no, not the Bulls' Eddy Curry.
But there was some interesting buzz here with word that Curry is not too happy with his rotation and playing time and might make a fuss about re-signing to play for Scott Skiles. And with Skiles' option for next season not picked up yet.
Bulls general manager John Paxson continues to say Skiles will be the team's coach for a long time, and the way they're playing, there's no reason not to believe him. And Curry has given no indication to the Bulls he's upset with his situation.
This week should be a major indicator for the Bulls with Shaquille O'Neal and the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat at the United Center on Tuesday. Then the Bulls visit LeBron James' Cavaliers on Wednesday.
The word among the Cavs' types is they're more concerned now with holding off the Bulls than trying to catch Central Division-leading Detroit. The Pistons have found themselves after a 12-12 start and are 32-19, better than their All-Star break record last season, though they added Rasheed Wallace after the break.
So, yes, it is shaping up as a Heat-Pistons conference finals, but perhaps the Bulls can steal a player this week and make a run into the second round. Their needs are a shooting guard and a big-time scorer who can close a game or carry a team in a tough quarter.
No, you don't get those kinds of players cheaply, but there are special cases--like when a player has a few months left on his contract and doesn't appear he'll re-sign. Like Portland's Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
The Bulls aren't trading Curry or Tyson Chandler or Ben Gordon or Luol Deng, but would it be worth a run at Abdur-Rahim and give them a leg up on re-signing him by dangling Antonio Davis and Andres Nocioni? Why not shoot high? The Trail Blazers might go for a sweetener like Nocioni to take Davis for an extra season.
Donyell Marshall's contract is expiring, and the Bulls really gave him up only to get rid of Jalen Rose. Toronto wants Marshall out, and perhaps it would take some of the Bulls' extras and a second-round pick. The Bulls supposedly have inquired. They supposedly inquired about players like Robinson and Elden Campbell before they were moved.
Atlanta is trying to move Antoine Walker. Would coming home for a few months calm him down and be worth someone like Nocioni again added to Davis?
The East remains wide open, and there are plenty of games left to make a big move.
With a few days to the trading deadline, here's a look at how teams are thinking:
•Atlanta. Wants to move Walker and get something, but insiders believe the Hawks made a mistake on Al Harrington and that relationship also could end.
•Boston. Still holding out for a No. 1 draft pick for Gary Payton, who'll leave after this season. The Celtics have a chance to win the Atlantic Division, but the future is where they have their eye. They're still trying for Seattle rookie big man Robert Swift, and word is they'll move Pierce, perhaps this summer. Pierce said he doubts he's part of management's vision.
•Charlotte. Steve Smith asked not to be traded.
•Cleveland. Desperate for a perimeter shooter and will make one last bid for Milwaukee's Redd, a free agent. Also trying to unload DeSagana Diop and Dujuan Wagner, though the latter is probably out for the season.
•Dallas. Perhaps a shot at Payton because it still doesn't have a point guard.
•Denver. Another team looking for Redd, perhaps for Nene. Also trying to dump Nikoloz Tskitishvili.
•Detroit. Satisfied with its move for Carlos Arroyo.
•Golden State. Still trying to deal Dale Davis, on his last season but at $10 million. Would like to dump Derek Fisher's long-term deal, and after commitments to Jason Richardson and Troy Murphy, the Warriors aren't going to pay big money for Mike Dunleavy. He could be gone this summer.
•Houston. Has turned it around by adding speed in Bob Sura--one of 10 NBA players averaging double figures in scoring with more than five rebounds and five assists--and Jon Barry. After starting 6-11, the Rockets are the West's hottest team. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming both are averaging 20 points in their winning streak, and Juwan Howard has four double-doubles in the last six games.
•Indiana. With all the injuries to Jamaal Tinsley, perhaps a shot at Payton and another veteran to make a late run. There's still talk of a Ron Artest deal to Memphis, Atlanta or New York, though the Pacers deny it.
•Clippers. Amazing point guard problems with Marko Jaric and Shaun Livingston hurt again and perhaps out for the season. They're now concerned Livingston's fragile body cannot handle the NBA. Talk of a return home for native Baron Davis, whom the Hornets sent back to L.A. to do his rehab.
•Lakers. Talk this weekend of a Stojakovic and Bobby Jackson swap for Lamar Odom, who doesn't fit well with Kobe Bryant. Lakers want a shooter to pair with Bryant.
•Memphis. Among the Redd suitors. Has long been trying to deal Bonzi Wells and Lorenzen Wright.
•Miami. Looks like Alonzo Mourning is coming on board this week but still has talked about dealing Eddie Jones. Also has had an eye on Damon Stoudamire, in his final season, to spread the court better.
•Milwaukee. Big week to decide on unrestricted free agent Redd. Also concerned about future of Keith Van Horn and could deal him. But it's tough digging out from the mess George Karl left.
•Minnesota. The talk is coaching is Kevin McHale's exit strategy after this season now that the franchise is whole with its draft picks back from the Joe Smith fiasco. Would like Kidd and might take Payton. Wants to deal Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, Michael Olowokandi, Troy Hudson and Wally Szczerbiak.
•New Jersey. The Nets could be pretty good next season if they keep Kidd. So they should, but he can make himself difficult.
•New Orleans. Dan Dickau, another shaggy-haired guard in the Kirk Hinrich/Luke Ridnour mold, is looking good, having averaged 19 points in a recent 12-game stretch, which makes Baron Davis very expendable. The Hornets will listen for any of their veterans, including P.J. Brown.
•New York. Anyone, please take Allan Houston or Penny Hardaway. General manager Isiah Thomas recently had to prevent a fight between Kurt Thomas and Stephon Marbury, bitter internal rivals. The Knicks talked with Sacramento about Chris Webber and with Toronto about Rose and Marshall, but the contracts may be too much with their huge payroll.
•Orlando. Trying to peddle DeShawn Stevenson and Pat Garrity. Looking for more defense.
•Philadelphia. Iverson says he's staying. The 76ers have talked with Toronto about Marshall with the possibility of moving Samuel Dalembert. A plea from Iverson's camp about a trade is a message to the team to make a deal.
•Phoenix. Everything's going the Suns' way, but with all the money they've put out, they don't figure to re-sign Joe Johnson, a shooter several teams are eyeing as a free agent. He could be dealt.
•Portland. Most likely will deal Abdur-Rahim and Nick Van Exel if it can get something without taking too much long-term money. Otherwise, will just save the salaries and move on. Also, looking to unload Derek Anderson with rumors of a swap with Minnesota involving Darius Miles and Szczerbiak.
•Sacramento. Pretty close to making some major moves with Stojakovic, Webber and Jackson being named as trade bait.
•San Antonio. Still looks like league's best, and even with good play of late, it still wants to move Malik Rose's contract. Would take Marshall. The Spurs' international additions continue to amaze. Nobody knows that part of the game better.
•Seattle. Until it knows what's up with free-agent Ray Allen, the Sonics are limited in what they want to do. Will see if Boston can come up with something creative for them for Swift and could deal Vladimir Radmanovic given his pending free agency.
•Toronto. Most likely to deal. Trying to pair Rose with Marshall like the Bulls did, but also looking to move Eric Williams and Aaron Williams and reshape team in image of coach Sam Mitchell, whatever that is.
•Utah. Plenty of buzz about dealing disappointing--to them--Carlos Boozer, perhaps to Lakers. The talk includes a package of Caron Butler, Luke Walton and Slava Medvedenko for Boozer. With failing fortunes, the Jazz is said to be committed to dealing off big contracts.
•Washington. You wonder about Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood with the Wizards' defense and whether they can get better.
Pacers President Larry Bird issued a last warning to Reggie Miller about retiring, recalling how Pete Maravich and Dave Cowens retired before the Celtics won the 1981 Finals.
"Reggie needs to get another opportunity to win a championship," Bird said. "He had one [when the Pacers reached the Finals in 2000], and he knows what it's about now. He's not the player he was, but give him another opportunity. Give him a chance to play for the big one. I couldn't believe [Maravich and Cowens in 1980] quit. We had a good team. I was like, `Why would you do something like that?' That could happen here."
I find the Harrington comment interesting.....I wonder if Arkman has heard anything about Atl being upset with AL.