HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Welcome to the end of the trade deadline days, where every deal is imminent until it’s not, where two sides are talking until they are aren’t and where everyday is basically Groundhog Day.
That is until someone does what the Warriors and Bucks did last night, and that’s make an actual deal.
Trade deadline rumors are often the figment of someone’s imagination (owners, executives, agents, players, members of the media and fans are all guilty as charged), but the fatigue that accompanies the rumors is real.
Portland guard Jamal Crawford, a trade rumor mill staple the past three years, offered up a fantastic take on the state of affairs in a radio interview with the Oregonian‘s John Canzano on 750 The Game In Portland:
“I think it’s a combination of everything, honestly. It used to be a time — especially when I first came in the league — that that you could kind of shut out from reading the papers or reading the internet, but now it’s everywhere. It’s on TV, it’s in the papers, fans are shouting it out to you at games, it’s on the Internet, it’s on Twitter. So it’s kind of hard to be oblivious to the whole thing. So you just try to do your best to stay professional and worry about the things you can control.”
Oh Jamal, you should know by now that no one has control during a wild time like this. Everything and everyone is in play, theoretically, until 3 p.m. ET Thursday!
Same as it is every day this time of year …
CARMELO AND THE KNICKS’ GREAT DIVIDE
You knew the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors would start at some point. We’re honestly surprised it’s taken this long to gain steam, given the awful state of affairs in Manhattan.
Anthony has been the object of scorn since Linsanity began (and ended). Howard Beck of The New York Times discusses the great divide between Anthony and … everyone else:
The Knicks are not a unified team. On one side is Anthony. On the other is everyone else.
It is evident in Anthony’s body language, in his teammates’ postgame remarks and in the minor wrinkles of the box score. It is most glaring in the win-loss ledger, which has been inverted since Anthony rejoined the lineup.
The Knicks were 7-1 without Anthony last month (including a victory over Utah in which he played only six minutes). They have lost 8 of 10 games since he returned.
For two weeks, the Knicks played a fluid, joyful game in which everyone thrived and pulled for one another. The joy has faded, pushed aside by tension and resentment and a six-game losing streak.
The causes are varied, and Anthony is not solely to blame. But multiple people with ties to the team cite a growing divide between Anthony and his teammates that is threatening to derail the season.
Anthony is breaking plays and demanding the ball in isolation, then snapping at teammates when they fail to get it to him. It happened late Monday, when Anthony called for the ball in the post, then smacked his hands in anger after Landry Fields went elsewhere. More often, Anthony saves the criticism for more private moments, on the bench or in the locker room.
There are other, much easier ways to fix what ails the Knicks than going crazy and trying to trade Anthony. But this drama won’t play out well for anyone involved, because we all know that a mess in New York is a supersized that will be blown completely out of proportion, complete with rumors of Mike D’Antoni losing the respect of everyone in his locker room. (Editor’s note: D’Antoni was let go Wednesday afternoon.)
JOSH SMITH ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE
If you let Hawks part-owner Bruce Levenson tell it, Josh Smith‘s trade request never existed. That’s a convenient thing for an owner to say publicly, but it’s just not true. A trade request was made, over a year ago. And the Hawks have told Smith’s camp repeatedly that they have no interest in trading him now or at any other time before his current contract expires, though Levinson refused to make that sort of definitive statement publicly.
For the record, Levenson told Associated Press:
“The likelihood of us trading Josh at the trade deadline is as close to zero as you can get. There were a bunch of guys in the All-Star game that I wouldn’t trade for Josh, given what he brings not only to our team but to the community. He’s from Atlanta. He’s made terrific contributions to the community. It’s really hard, particularly in the middle of the season, to find that caliber player for Josh.”
Smith’s value to the Hawks has been magnified this season with the way he’s carried his team with All-Stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford missing considerable time due to injuries. He was unreal last night against Denver before fouling out in the Hawks’ overtime loss.
The truth is, Smith is a much more valuable trade piece in the summer. He only has a year remaining on his deal and the Hawks can’t offer him an extension (remember, they matched an offer sheet from Memphis to keep when he was an unrestricted free agent instead of signing him as they should before he ever had to beat the streets and find a deal).
The Hawks botched this one years ago when they didn’t value Smith the way they do now and they’ll pay for it eventually.
WARRIORS HAD TO MAKE THE BOLD MOVE
The Warriors-Bucks deal that went down Tuesday night was a must for both sides, with players going in both directions wanting fresh starts elsewhere.
Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News points out that moving Monta Ellis was bold stroke the Warriors have been looking to make ever since their new ownership group took over more than a year ago:
Ellis was putting them under increasing pressure by giving signs that he might start airing his long-held frustrations with the direction of the franchise.
Ellis looked at the ownership-favored core of Stephen Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson (Ellis’ replacement in the lineup) and decided he didn’t fit into the new political mix.
And Ellis long ago tired of the Warriors’ promises that they were a move or two away from building a contending roster around him.
Plus, Ellis had the hammer: He can opt out of his deal and become a free agent at the end of next season.
That means the Warriors would have to start thinking about trading him … right about now.
There will be a feeling that the Warriors gave up more (Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown in addition to Ellis) than they got in return (Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson). But if Bogut comes back from his latest injury and defends and rebounds the way he has throughout his career, the Warriors will have the rugged low-post anchor they need for the immediate future.
All IS QUIET IN CLEVELAND … FOR NOW
Ramon Sessions has seen his name pop up on the trade radar, with the Los Angeles Lakers being the team mentioned as the team most interested, but the Cavaliers don’t seem to be inclined to make a move for the sake of making a move, per Bob Finnan of the News-Herald:
The Cavs are shifting through a number of trade proposals just two days before the NBA trade deadline. ESPN reported a possible three-way deal in which the Cavs would send Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Lakers would send their first-round pick to Houston and the Rockets would send point guard Jonny Flynn to the Cavs.
The Cavs aren’t interested in that deal unless the first-rounder is coming to Cleveland.
[Cavs coach Byron] Scott said things are quiet right now.
“I like this team,” he said. “I like the guys we have. I love the way we’re playing. I’ve been in this league long enough to know something might happen. Anything we do is for the betterment of this organization.”
The Lakers need Sessions much more than the Cavaliers need anything the Lakers would send back for him. The Cavs would be wise to sit this trade deadline out and continue quietly rebuilding their program the way they have thus far.
MAVERICKS WAITING UNTIL SUMMER?
The trade deadline is infinitely more interesting when the reigning world champs, the team with the best owner in sports (in our opinion) are involved.
But we might have to do this one without Mark Cuban and the Mavericks doing anything of note, if anything at all, per Dwain Price of the Star Telegram:
Don’t look for the Mavs to be involved in any trades by Thursday’s trading deadline.
With one exception, owner Mark Cuban said.
“Unless somebody has a brain lapse and makes a mistake,” Cuban said. “Then we’ll happily take advantage of it.”
The Mavs, who have roughly $16 million of salary cap space, are hoping to be a major player this summer when Dwight Howard and Deron Williams will likely be among the top-tier free agents available.
If the Nets work out a deal and snag Howard in a trade that changes the Mavericks’ summer plans considerably. But there are plenty of ways to fix your problems with the sort of cap space the Mavericks will be working with this summer.
TEAM IN PURSUIT OF THE OTHER HOWARD
There’s another Howard on the map this year, Utah’s Josh Howard.
While he’s not drawing the sort of attention the other Howard is in Orlando, there are a host of teams inquiring about his availability. Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that there are rumblings, that originated elsewhere, that Josh Howard is in demand right now:
The Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio, New York and Boston have shown recent interest in acquiring Jazz forward Josh Howard, Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears reported Tuesday.
HoopsWorld’s Alex Kennedy reported earlier Tuesday that Howard, in addition to Utah’s C.J. Miles and Jamaal Tinsley, has been discussed as part of a three-team deal involving Minnesota and the Spurs.
A source close to Howard told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday they were unaware of any trade involving the veteran small forward. Yahoo! reported the Jazz are reluctant to trade Howard, who has worked his way into Utah’s starting lineup and is well-liked by his coaches and teammates.
Veteran teams, playoff teams and legitimate contenders alike, are always on the lookout for veterans like Howard this time of year. But like we said at the start, it’s all talk until someone actually shakes hands on a deal.
Otherwise, all this talk is just that!