HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Sometimes the juiciest trade deadline deals are the ones that never happen.
This reported dalliance between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and a proposed Rajon Rondo-for-Pau Gasol swap, ranks right at the very top for us as we countdown the final days to the Thursday’s trade deadline.
Any deal involving these two rivals would make the deadline infinitely more interesting. The notion that they could trade their most talked about players (in terms of trade rumors) for one another is obviously too good to be true for those of us who spend our days daydreaming about what could be.
The fact that it came up, that a conversation was had concerning the potential of a deal, warms the heart of trade rumor conspiracy theorists worldwide, courtesy of our main man Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times:
The Lakers and Boston Celtics hate each other, an animosity that extends into the front offices of the two teams. …
The teams talked last week about a trade for Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, though nothing was close to accomplished and discussions dried up.
The Lakers are unwilling to trade Pau Gasol for Rondo, making a deal with Boston unlikely before the trade deadline Thursday.
“Unless they give up Gasol, they’re not going to get a top-level point guard,” said a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Oh well, on to the next one …
DWIGHT’S “TELLING EVERYONE HE’S LEAVING”
At least that’s what CBSSports.com‘s Ken Berger is reporting. The Bulls, a team both Dwight Howard and league MVP and Bulls leader Derrick Rose insists will not chase Howard, could very well be the best option for the Magic, if they are indeed going to move Howard this week:
The feeling among rival executives remains that the Magic seem intent on rolling the dice and keeping Howard for the rest of the season, hoping a long playoff run, emotional ties to Orlando and an extra year and $29 million they could offer would persuade him to stay beyond this season. But the move would be highly risky, given that Howard has refused to publicly commit to the Magic — a stance that sources view as a strong sign that he’d leave as a free agent if he isn’t traded.
“He’s telling everyone he’s leaving,” one league source said Sunday.
Magic executives are said to be unimpressed with the assets Howard’s three preferred teams could provide in a trade, prompting them to engage in a calculated campaign to expand the field of potential suitors beyond the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers. But the team that can make the strongest case for Orlando to depart from its risky strategy of holding onto Howard are the Bulls, who could offer 7-footer Omer Asik, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer for Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, sources said. The Bulls also could offer a valuable first-round pick from Charlotte — top-14 protected in this year’s draft but unprotected by 2016.
As crazy as this sounds, we’re not sure Howard and Turkoglu (and his brutal contract) are worth parting ways with two potential championship pieces like Deng and Asik. We could be wrong there, but you have to seriously think about that one before considering this deal. The Bulls have avoided the quick fix up until this point and find themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference along with Miami. Why mess with that now?
MAGIC WAITING TO DECIDE
Magic CEO Alex Martins insists that they have not made any decisions regarding Howard just yet. They don’t have to until the final hour.
But that could change, if Howard and his camp decide to turn up the pressure between now and Thursday morning, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel points out:
So what happens if Howard tells the Magic that is what he wants to do? Are the Magic prepared to accept the risk of not trading Howard before the deadline?
“We’re not at the point where we’re ready to answer that question yet,” Martins told the Orlando Sentinel before the Magic hosted the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. “Sometime in the next four days we will be, but we’re not at the point where we’re ready to answer that question yet.”
In the meantime, Martins continues to speak with Howard in an effort to convince Howard to remain with the team.
On Friday, Martins met with Howard and at least two of Howard’s key advisers.
Martins would not disclose specific details, but Martins did say that he outlined the team’s marketing plan for the next year “as it relates to the team and how our plan is for Dwight an integral part of that.”
Time is running out on the Magic. We’ll know in a few days if all of this talk about keeping Howard in the fold has been posturing to get a sweeter deal or if they were serious from the get go.
BROOKS ON THE MAGIC WISH LIST?
Nets rookie MarShon Brooks, who has seen his role increase dramatically since the start of the season, is one of many next players who could be included in any potential deals for Howard.
But the laid back Brooks is not losing any sleep over what might be, per Colin Stephenson of the Star Ledger:
Brooks, the rookie shooting guard whose average of 14 points per game is second-highest among first-year players, is one who certainly could be shipped to Orlando as part of a package to get Howard. As it happened, Brooks scored a career-high 24 points (on 10-of-15 shooting, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range) against Orlando the last time the two teams met, on Feb. 22, in the last game before the All-Star break. For now, Brooks said he isn’t thinking about that.
“Nah, I actually just bought a couch,” Brooks said when asked about the possibility of being traded. “I think I’ll be around, but who knows? Seriously, I’m not nervous.
“I’ve never been that guy,” he added. “I just go out and play and do my job. I haven’t been doing the best, so I don’t need any extra on my mind.”
It’s the right attitude to have. But Brooks is the sort of young talent the Magic would have to demand in a deal with the Nets.
CLIPS WANT TO MAKE THE RIGHT MOVE
There’s nothing better than a playoff team willing to consider all options at the trade deadline, which is exactly where the Clippers find themselves right now. But, they won’t do anything just for the sake of doing it, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
While the Clippers have inquired about the availability of several “available” shooting guards after the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, they are reluctant to pay too steep a price unless they can find a deal that moves them closer to contending for a title this year and in the future, general manager Neil Olshey told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“We’re willing to do anything we can to move needle this year,” Olshey said. “But unless it’s piece for the future that also gives us to win a championship this year, we’re not going to give up our longterm flexibility and assets to do that.”
The price for the top shooting guards being mentioned in trade talks this spring — Boston’sRay Allen, Portland’s Jamal Crawford and Washington’s Nick Young — has so far been too high for the Clippers.
Most teams have asked for some combination of young point guard Eric Bledsoe, a future first-round pick and the expiring contracts of Randy Foye or Brian Cook.
That’s a steep price to pay for players the team could simply pursue as free agents this summer. Only Crawford could potentially be under contract next year, but he’d have to amend his contract and terminate his player option for 2012-13 similar to the way Williams did when he was acquired in a trade with Cleveland last February.
All those people who dismissed the importance of Billups when he went down probably have a better appreciation of his value today. Crawford would seem like a perfect fit, style-wise, but Allen would help replace some of the experience and championship swagger that they lost when Billups saw his season end.
SESSIONS WANTS TO STAY
Cavaliers point guard Ramon Sessions knows his name has been tossed around in rumors, most notably to the Los Angeles Lakers. But unlike others who have worn the uniform, he’d like to keep his talents in Cleveland, per Tom Reed of the Plain Dealer:
Sessions said he’s been unfazed by all the speculation. He’s already been traded once and is playing for his third franchise in five seasons.
“I have been hearing rumors since my first season in Milwaukee,” Sessions said. “It’s one of those things you get used to.”
Sessions holds a $4.55 million player’s option for next season, but said he will not make a decision on whether to exercise it until the off-season. If the Cavs do not move him at the deadline and Sessions opts out, they could lose him for nothing.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks are two teams rumored to have interest in Sessions. The Minnesota Timberwolves, fighting for a Western Conference playoff spot, might also be calling the Cavaliers after the season-ending knee injury to point guard Ricky Rubio.
Sessions was asked if he wants to remain a Cavalier after the deadline.
“Yeah, I like what we have going on,” he said. “I like working with the Young Fella [Kyrie Irving]. The guys in here respect me a lot. I definitely like what we have going on.”
Despite his warm feelings for Cleveland, Sessions might need to keep a bag packed. There are too many teams hunting point guards for the Cavaliers to close the door on moving him.
Hawks veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich is in stay-put mode as well. His name has been mentioned as a possibility to the Lakers, on his own and in a package deal involving Josh Smith, whose trade request went public last week.
But Hinrich isn’t interested in making yet another move, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
His name is circulating in trade rumors because of Atlanta’s glut of guards and his expiring contract but Hinrich hopes he’s still with the Hawks after Thursday’s deadline.
“I like our team,” Hinrich said before the Hawks played the Kings late Sunday. “I feel like we can be a dangerous team come playoff time. I want to be a part of that.”
Hinrich said it’s the fourth consecutive year he’s been part of trade speculation near the deadline but he’s only been traded twice. The Bulls sent him to Washington on the night of the 2010 draft and the Wizards traded him to Atlanta in February 2011.
… Hinrich’s contract expires after the season and Atlanta is deep at guard, two factors that have made him the subject of trade conjecture. He said he’s accustomed to it by now.
“You go out there and play the best you can and not worry about it,” he said. “If something is going to happen, it will happen and you deal with it from there. You can’t let it affect you. It’s just how this league is. It’s probably lot harder on my family more than anything.”
If the Hawks feel secure with some of their journeymen reserves at point guard, it will be tough to resist the temptation to fortify their frontcourt rotation with whatever prize they could get in return for Hinrich and his expiring deal.
BOGUT, BUCKS AT CROSSROADS
One wild card out there for teams searching for a big man is Bucks center Andrew Bogut, the former No. 1 pick who has battled injury issues during his tenure in Milwaukee. Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel says it might be time for the sides to part ways:
It may not happen this week, but it might.
Andrew Bogut, a fixture with the Milwaukee Bucks franchise since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2005 draft, could be a Bucks player no more.
The Bucks will listen to offers for the 7-foot center before the Thursday trade deadline and could move him if they get the right package in return.
The situation is complicated by Bogut’s fractured left ankle, making it somewhat unlikely he could help another team yet this season. Bogut was injured Jan. 25 in Houston when he went up to block a shot and landed on the foot of Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry.
And he is signed for two more years and $27 million, a lot of money for a team to risk on a player with Bogut’s injury history.
But he is a talented big man, a shot blocker and intelligent defender. Frankly, he’s the player the Bucks have built their team around since he was signed to a five-year, $60 million contract extension in the summer of 2008.
The problem from the Bucks perspective is Bogut has been injured for much of the time since signing the deal.
Bogut’s injury issues could derail any potential deals that are out there, but if you had a chance to get a player of his caliber (when healthy) in a deadline deal, you have to at least explore the possibilities.