HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’re getting close to crunch time, trade deadline style.
The amount of faulty information that permeates every corner of the basketball universe this time of year is off the charts and has been known to infect even the most responsible of observers.
And that means more names, more rumors and in turn, more foolishness for us all to sort through.
Hawks forward Josh Smith was added to the list of players that have gone on record as asking for a trade request, joining his good friend and the best man in his wedding, Dwight Howard (he was last season destroying the Chicago Bulls on TNT last night). Another member of Smith’s wedding party, groomsman Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, has also seen his name surface, disappear and resurface again in trade talks at least a dozen different times this season.
This notion that Smith and Rondo could be swapped for each other is laughable, when you consider that they played together their senior season at Oak Hill Academy and have been tight ever since. If anything, it makes sense for them to be lobbying to play together (in Boston?) as opposed to being traded for one another.
But that’s just more fuel for the trade-deadline rumor fire.
One thing is clear, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard probably won’t be teammates anywhere else but All-Star weekend (provided Howard remains in the Eastern Conference) and at the Olympics.
They both expressed their opinions on the trade deadline drama. Rose has had enough of it all, by the way, telling the Chicago Tribune:
“It definitely is getting old,” Rose said of being asked about Howard. “I’m sick and tired of hearing it. Chicago, marketing-wise is a great city. If someone chooses to come here, they definitely could.
“But I’m cool with the teammates I have. We have a winning record. It ain’t like we need to change anything. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the front office.”
There are zero indications Howard will add the Bulls to his list of teams with which he would sign an extension or that the Bulls are pursuing him.
“If it’s not about the Bulls, I really couldn’t care less about it,” Rose said.
Howard sounded off as well, citing the weather and other issues as to why Chicago isn’t on his preferred list, telling the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Nah, it’s pretty cold here,’’ Howard said when asked about the Bulls rumors.
Nothing says warrior-poet like a player who doesn’t want to chase a ring because of lake-effect snow.
As far as playing alongside the league’s 2010-11 MVP, Howard again couldn’t help but let his true colors shine through.
“I don’t think there’s a player in the NBA who wants to be a nobody,’’ Howard said. “I think everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot, be that guy that everybody is leaning on for whatever reason, and I don’t think there’s any problem with wanting to be that guy. I’ve been that guy for this team since I’ve been here.’’
Well, that takes care of that!
PACERS TARGETING CRAWFORD, KAMAN?
Pacers boss Larry Bird deserves a lot of credit for promising last season that the Pacers would use their resources to build a contender and then actually doing just that.
The Pacers aren’t shying away from making yet another move by Thursday to see if they can add another valuable piece (Jamal Crawford or Chris Kaman) to their situation, according to ProBasketballTalk.com:
Indiana is a team you can expect to be busy around the trade deadline. There are a couple of reasons, for one they have a ton of cap space so they can take on contracts and not have to send back equal value (something teams trying to shed payroll covet). Secondly, they are a good team in the East (currently the fifth seed) who thinks they are a few tweaks away from being a real threat.
Reports on Thursday have them in talks to get both Jamal Crawford from Portland and Chris Kaman out of New Orleans.
Rumors of the Pacers being interested in the up-tempo style and scoring of recent Sixth Man of the Year Crawford have been out there for a while, and the price may be A.J. Price and a first round pick in 2012, reports Ben Golliver at Eye on Basketball.
Indiana, the source said, is hesitant to part with a first round pick, given the quality and depth of this year’s draft pool as well as Crawford’s contract situation.
Crawford has a player option for next season that he is expected to exercise because he wants to test the free agent market. Whoever trades for him is essentially getting a two-month rental — is that really worth a first round pick.
Kaman also would be a rental in that he is in the last year of his contract, but the Pacers are interested reports Pacers beat writer Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star.
Center Chris Kaman still sits at top of the list for Pacers, but they will not give up a 1st rd pick for his expiring contract
MAGIC WANT “MELO-LIKE” HAUL FOR HOWARD
Everyone has their sights set on draft picks this time of year and nothing is more intoxicating in NBA circles than the anonymous promise of what could be in the form of a future draft pick.
Magic executives have continued to tell teams this week they do not intend to trade Dwight Howard, but several teams came away from the conversations with a clear picture of what the club wants if it changes course: a replica of the deal Denver pulled off last February for Carmelo Anthony, multiple league sources told CBSSports.com Thursday.
If the Magic decide to trade Howard, they have “not closed any doors” on potential suitors, said a person familiar with the organization’s strategy. Teams that are on and off Howard’s list of preferred destinations – the Nets,Mavericks and Lakers – will be considered, and may the highest bidder win, sources said.
What Orlando is seeking if it makes a deal for the All-Star center is a package similar to what the Nuggets received for Anthony at the 2011 trade deadline: multiple good, young players and draft picks. Orlando executives view the Denver model as a middle ground between blowing up a contender and starting over with draft picks and reaching for veteran All-Stars whose contracts ultimately could hinder the recovery from a Howard trade.
Representatives of three teams in the mix for Howard – either on his list or among teams willing to gamble on trading for him in the hopes that he can be persuaded to stay beyond this season – told CBSSports.com Thursday that the Magic have not decided which path to pursue. Howard, 26, can opt out of his $19.5 million contract after the season and become an unrestricted free agent. His formal trade request through agent Dan Fegan of Lagadere Unlimited remains on the table and he has not given the Magic any commitment to opt in and/or re-sign after the season.
WHISPERS ABOUT BOGUT?
Stephen Jackson‘s name is the one most people would expect to be on the hot list in Milwaukee. But according to Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times, Andrew Bogut‘s name is the one being whispered about:
While a trade doesn’t appear imminent, team officials have been in trade talks with several teams and are apparently open to dealing anyone.
Andrew Bogut is, unquestionably, the Bucks’ most appealing trade commodity. The veteran center is generally regarded as one of the four best players at his position in the league.
Just two years ago, the 7-foot Bogut appeared on the brink of stardom as he was accorded all-NBA third team honors. But Bogut has since suffered two significant injuries. He severely injured his right elbow and wrist in a horrific fall late in the 2009-2010 season and subsequently underwent surgery. Then, on Jan. 25 in a game against Houston, Bogut fractured his left ankle.
Bogut isn’t expected to return to action for several weeks, but that hasn’t prevented several teams from showing interest in him. He’s coveted by these teams, who fully realize there is a dearth of quality big men in the league and that the upcoming June NBA draft is also devoid of blue-chip centers.
Bogut, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, has never publicly expressed any displeasure playing in small-market Milwaukee.
But there are whispers Bogut wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, having become frustrated about the team’s lack of progress and his strained relationship with Bucks head coach Scott Skiles.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein corroborates the report and adds that to land the big man, Jackson may have to be part of the deal, too:
NBA front-office sources say that the Bucks, who have always swatted away trade inquiries for Bogut in the past, are now listening to pitches for the 7-foot Australian, who is said to be intrigued by the prospect of a fresh start elsewhere after more than two years of injury misfortune and teamwide tension under coach Scott Skiles over the past two disappointing seasons.
This development, though, comes with a crucial caveat:
Sources say that the Bucks, at least for the moment, are insisting that any team that trades for Bogut take on the disgruntled Stephen Jackson as part of the trade.
And that’s what is bound to keep Bogut in Milwaukee past Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline more than his latest health setback, after he suffered a fractured left ankle against Houston on Jan. 25 after landing on the Rockets’ Samuel Dalembert in the lane.
CAVS SET PRICE FOR SESSIONS?
Cavs point guard Ramon Sessions has served as a valuable sixth man and has been a veteran guide for rookie phenom Kyrie Irving. But the Cavs are looking to the future and seem willing to part with Sessions (to the Lakers, perhaps?) for the right price, writes Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com:
This one was somewhat obvious considering Sessions has an opt-out in his deal and has made no secret that he’ll use it this summer to try and land a better deal.
The Cavs were holding on to Ramon in part as insurance for rookie guard Kyrie Irving, but given that the Cavs are now 14-23 on the season and 4 games out of the playoff picture, the writing is on the wall. The Cavs have lost seven of their last ten games and 11 of their last 17 and seem ready to take care of business.
Sources close to the situation say the Cavs are not looking for much in return for Sessions and would rather have a draft pick and a roster spot than a cap filler type player.
The Lakers are considered the front runner for Sessions, although the Lakers still have their eye on a bigger fish like Orlando’s Dwight Howard or Boston’s Rajon Rondo — although both are extreme longshots.
Once it becomes clear that the major piece the Lakers are targeting cannot be obtained, moving on a Sessions deal seems likely, unless someone else swoops in with a better offer for the Cavs which is always possible in the march to the deadline.
Ah, there’s nothing like the season!