HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Brook Lopez is definitely back. He put on an offensive show for the Nets last night in their win over the Mavericks.
A trade deadline cynic would argue that he was being showcased as well. He’s long been rumored to be the piece the Nets would have to deliver to the Magic in a potential blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard.
The broken right foot that cost Lopez 32 games this season appears to be in fine shape, he dropped 38 points and the go-ahead free throw to power the Nets over the Mavericks last night. His every move will be analyzed as the perfect bait for the Magic, who have to make a decision to either deal or not deal Howard before the March 15 deadline.
Deron Williams gushed about his current big man after the win over the Mavs, telling reporters:
“He was a monster tonight. He carried us from the start of the game and it makes a difference, I’ve said it all season. … He knows how to play the game and we’re glad to have him back.”
Williams has to be measured in his praise. And the Nets have to be careful with Lopez, who outside of his ability score, isn’t in Howard’s category in any way. If they see him play at a high level for long enough, they might start to rethink this notion of moving him for Howard or anyone else.
Still, you can’t argue that Lopez has great timing. The Nets have won three of their last five games, and that includes wins over the Bulls, Knicks and now, the reigning champs.
BEASLEY BEING SHOWCASED, TOO?
Go ahead and add Timberwolves’ forward Michael Beasley to the list of players being showcased as the trade deadline draws near. So what if he’s still coming off the bench.
Rookie Derrick Williams and Beasley dropped 27 points a piece as the Timberwolves knocked off the Clippers in Los Angeles. They’ve both been overshadowed this season by All-Star power forward Kevin Love and rookie sensation Ricky Rubio. But with rumors swirling about the Timerbwolves hoping to get involved in a potential deal for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Beasley would have to be a part of that deal.
Williams would have to be off limits for the Timberwolves. But not Beasley, whose season has been altered by injuries and Rick Adelman‘s decision to play him off the bench.
This one bears watching.
RAPTORS RESISTING OFFERS FOR CALDERON, BARBOSA
With suitors lining up to inquire about guards Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa, the Raptors are pushing back from the idea of moving either one of them, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun:
Moving Calderon doesn’t make much sense at this point — he has had a fine season and is the only man on the roster capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA. He will be even more valuable in the summer with only a year left on his contract should the team acquire other options by then. Or he could stay put with a bevy of talented young potentially restricted free agent point guards hitting the market in the summer of 2013.
Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo has said in the past that he is interested in extended Barbosa, who will be unrestricted this season.
Colangelo drafted Barbosa while running the Phoenix Suns.
For his part, Barbosa said he pays trade rumours no mind and would be quite happy to stay put.
“I love my teammates, I love the way we work together. If it happens, it’s part of the business, there’s nothing I can do about it,” Barbosa told the Sun.
“I like Toronto, I like the organization, don’t have a problem with anybody. We are young, but we are learning. The team has grown a lot, especially with Dwane Casey coming to the team, he’s really helping us.”
Things can change in an instance and certainly overnight or during a fortnight. The trade deadline is far enough away that minds could be changed in Toronto regarding both of these guys.
JAZZ READY TO DEAL?
While the Raptors are sending out signals that they are not interested in dealing anyone at the deadline, the Jazz remain open for business, though there is no deal imminent, according to a report from Brian T. Smith the Salt Lake Tribune:
The Jazz are still evaluating a team that has 10 contests remaining before the trade deadline, including tough home matchups against Miami and Houston, and a five-game road trip featuring contests at Dallas, Philadelphia and Chicago. Utah has lost eight of 10 and is just 6-13 since starting 9-4. However, the Jazz are only five games behind the fourth-place Mavericks in a stacked Western Conference, and Utah has not become a seller yet.
The Jazz remain open to moving starting point guard Devin Harris, league sources said, and reserve small forward C.J. Miles could be made available in the right situation. But Utah continues to take a long-term approach in building its team after the Deron Williams trade last February, and the Jazz won’t make a move simply to pull the trigger.
With a frontcourt logjam that includes starters Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, you might expect the Jazz to be shopping one of those big men. But according to Smith they are not. And that’s probably a wise move since no one is quite sure what they have right now in Kanter and Favors is steadily improving.
MONTA ELLIS MAKES ANNUAL RUMOR ROUNDS
Warriors guard Monta Ellis continues to see his name tossed into the trade rumor mix, same as he does every season at this time. (What would a trade deadline be without at least two or three juicy Ellis rumors to spice things up?)
But he has company this time around. David Lee and even Steph Curry are being mentioned in hypothetical deals, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Ellis, Lee and Curry are all hearing their names among trade rumors as the March 15 deadline approaches. The Warriors have been active in talks about Ellis, looking for a star in return or considering deals that would package the scoring dynamo with Andris Biedrins’ bad contract.
Warriors sources said there is little to the buzz about dealing Ellis for New Jersey center Brook Lopez. They’re still convincing themselves that they’re in the running for Orlando center Dwight Howard, who has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want to play in the Bay Area.
“That’s for the front office. We have dialogue every day, but my focus is on getting better every possession, every quarter, every game,” [Warriors coach Mark] Jackson said. “We talk about how we can get better and how we can accomplish our goals, which are to get to the playoffs and have a legitimate chance to win it all.”
Winning it all? It’s good to have goals. But if the trade deadline isn’t the focus (at least of the bosses in Oakland), something is seriously wrong.