The trade deadline is a bit like multi-million dollar window shopping in that teams suddenly see and want things they never really knew they needed. Antawn Jamison becomes available, and all of a sudden every team in the league is desperate for his scoring at the 4. Caron Butler’s on the block, and everyone desperately wants his versatility and toughness, despite the fact that he’s having a down year. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the best record in the league and the likely MVP, are looking to upgrade.
Indisputable talents like Jamison, Butler, Andre Iguodala, and Amar’e Stoudemire all make sense as trade bait. If your team is amassing talent or looking to bound over the top, those are the kinds of players you want on your squad. But one of the most popular names in trade rumors has been Indiana’s Troy Murphy, a sweet-shooting big man that seems to have shed the “soft” label from his Golden State days. Suddenly every team in the league covets Murphy’s combination of range and rebounding, and the Pacers seem to have their pick from at least several potential deals (even one from the Bucks).
But Murphy’s suitors aren’t strictly playoff-bound clubs. According to Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee, the Kings are also interested in adding Murphy to their core, despite being a good 10 games out of the playoff race. The potential deal would revolve around Kenny Thomas’ (woof!) expiring contract and one of Sacramento’s young, cheap talents.
The Kings may already have two solid bigs-in-training with Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, but Murphy would provide a happy medium between the two. Though his shooting is much more reliable than Hawes, the Kings would be in a good place if Spencer could learn a thing or two from Murph on how to be an effective rebounder despite not being on the low block. Troy could form a pretty interesting three-man big rotation with Thompson and Hawes, in that he’s able to complement both players’ games well without stepping on anyone’s toes.
But the Kings acquiring Murphy is anything but a given; they’ll have to stave off a number of teams from around the league that are currently pursuing his services.
League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant
Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.
However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.
“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”
“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”
One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”
Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.
But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.