The Deadline View From The West

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LOS ANGELES –
The Clippers and Lakers continued to send strong signals on the eve of the trade deadline that they will not make a major move and possibly any move before noon Thursday, despite speculation to the contrary.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, with no reason to make such a definitive statement if he didn’t mean it, has flat out said, more than once, that Dwight Howard will not be traded. The same goes for Pau Gasol.

Neither comment is a surprise. Dealing Gasol was always going to be tough with so many specific needs to make it work – matching money, upgrade at power forward, the other team being willing to part with a good player because L.A. was not going to dump Gasol by the side of the road – and Howard is the superstar the franchise is relying on to take it to the post-Kobe Bryant world. Beyond that, the Lakers didn’t have any assets to move who would bring a significant return.

The Clippers have backup point guard Eric Bledsoe as a nice trade chip. But, as NBA.com reported Sunday, every indication is that any deal is unlikely, certainly a major deal, and that appeared to still be the case as of Tuesday evening. They would have to see offers much better than what has come in so far.

Elsewhere in the West, the Jazz (expiring contracts, prospects, the likelihood of multiple first-round picks in the 2013 draft, an inconsistent season) appear to be the best trade partner.

The team that isn’t getting much attention the final full day before the deadline but has a good chance to at least get into serious talks?

The Trail Blazers.

League sources said Portland has been involved in some conversations, though nothing major, in hopes of improving its depth without surrendering any of the foundation for the future. Indications are that if any move does come Thursday, it would be on that smaller scale.

But as one general manager said in assessing the mood around the league on Wednesday evening: “Everyone with tradeable assets is overvaluing them and don’t have the leverage they think they do and are going to be stuck with them.” That is directed at the Magic with J.J. Redick, Bucks with Monta Ellis and the Hawks with Josh Smith.

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