What we could see before the trade deadline?

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Thumbnail image for NBA_mcgrady.jpgA lot of the big shoes dropped yesterday — Antawn Jamison going to Cleveland was the size 16 shoe of those moves — but there are still some trades hanging in the balance. What could happen?

The Knicks could get Tracy McGrady. The Rockets and Kings have a deal that sends McGrady, hard-working Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Kings for sharp-shooter (at least before this season) Kevin Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong and the ugly contract that is Kenny Thomas.

But that is not what McGrady’s agent, Arn Tellum, had in mind. He was picturing the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, and that could still happen. That two team deal could expand to bring in a third team deal that includes the Knicks. The scenario would likely involve Rodriguez and McGrady going to New York, and Jared Jeffries heading out. However, who would get him and who else would be involved is still being negotiated.

If the three team deal does not work, the two-team deal will go forward.

The Heat could get Amar’e Stoudemire. The trade to get Jamison in Cleveland was as much — or more — about making LeBron James happy and getting him to re-sign as it was about winning a title this year (although they could get both).

Miami has one of those frustrated free-agent-to-be stars in Dwyane Wade, and keeping him happy is why they may make a move. Stoudemire, with his tremendous athleticism and versatile offensive game, would be a good fit and add an offensive spark to the Heat. But, the nagging question is what Miami would give up. Second year forward Michael Beasley has been mentioned, but the deal is going to need a lot more than that.

There have been rumors that the Heat don’t want to make a big move, that the interest in Amar’e was simply to placate Wade. The Heat may be focused more on the free agent class this summer to bring help to Wade than right now. Stoudemire said he doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. But, stranger things have happened. Like Ray Romano having a hit show.

The Heat could trade Dorell Wright. This would be all about the cash — right now the Heat are just a hair over the luxury tax threshold. If they don’t go big with Stoudemire, they may want to go small and trade Dorell Wright and his $2.75 million expiring contract just to save the tax money.

Possible trading partners (those under the tax or with a trade exception they would use) are the Grizzlies, Wizards (after all their recent moves), the Nets and the Clippers. Those teams may want more than just Wright to make this happen (a second round draft pick, for example).

The Bulls could trade Tyrus Thomas/Kirk Hinrich. Chicago is still looking for anyone who wants Tyrus Thomas, in part for cap reasons and in part because he and Coach Vinny just don’t get along. They will listen to offers if a team wants to take on a very talented, not always so focused forward.

The Bulls showcased Kirk Hinrich last night, giving him 40 minutes on the court, and he had 10 points on 5 of 14 shooting. Since Chicago moved John Salmons, they may not be as inclined to find a deal, however Hinrich is owed $17 million over the next two seasons, and that is a lot of money. One possible rumored destination was the Lakers, but the defending champions said they likely would not be making any moves.

Nate Robinson deal finalized. While the news the Knicks and Celtics were close to a deal to send Nate Robinson to the Celtics to backup Rajon Rondo are true, the deal has yet to be finalized and get a thumbs up from the league office. We will see what the final details of this deal look like.

Indiana tries to trade Troy Murphy. It’s the hottest thing in the NBA — doesn’t everybody want a stretch four? Doesn’t everyone just like to say stretch four? Murphy is probably the best available at the deadline, and Indiana would love to be involved in talks where they are not just being used as leverage.

Golden State could trade Corey Maggette. Anywhere. Golden State would love to unload Corey Maggette’s deal, which goes three seasons after this one, starting at $9.6 million and climbing to $10.9 million. Maggettee is the perfect scorer/sixth man, and gets to the line with the best of them, but plays poor team defense and is not a good passer. Which is to say he is overpaid. Golden State is going to have a hard time moving this contract, but they will try.

The Spurs could move Antonio McDyess. Frankly, what the Spurs would like to do is move Richard Jefferson’s deal, but if all the other GMs are sober today nobody is taking that deal on. A lesser option being thrown around is to move Antonio McDyess. That would not be a surprise.

Charlotte could trade DJ Augustin. The Bobcats are shopping around second year point guard DJ Augustin. The former University of Texas player is still on his rookie deal, which is affordable, if someone is looking for a backup point guard. The Bobcats want a power forward in return.

Memphis could add depth. The Grizzlies like their team and will not be making major tweaks that could change future prospects, but they would like a little more depth. Discussion of all reasonably priced bench players welcome.

Jrue Holiday hits game winner, Anthony Davis has 45, Pelicans beat Heat in OT, 124-123

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Miami Heat 124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade hit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami’s third straight loss.

Davis, who has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game during New Orleans’ winning streak – and 42 or more three times – raised both arms in triumph as he looked up at the jubilant crowd, and then exchanged high fives with fans along the court.

Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks. Ian Clark scored a season-high 21 points and Nikola Mirotic capped his 10-point, nine-rebound performance with a crucial 3 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in overtime when he hacked Davis on a put-back attempt. Davis hit both free throws to tie it at 117, and then gave New Orleans a brief lead with his fifth alley-oop dunk of the game on a fast-break lob from Holiday with 1:10 to go. Wade had 16 points, while Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 15 points.

Neither team was able to build a double-digit lead during game which riveted a boisterous crowd with its fast pace and array of highlights on both ends of the floor. There were 13 ties and nine lead changes.

New Orleans scored 37 fast-break points. Davis threw down seven dunks. He converted one alley-oop while being fouled and also turned a steal into a fast-break layup as he was fouled. And the All-Star wasn’t the only one blocking shots for New Orleans. Emeka Okafor, now in his second 10-day contract after being out of the league for four-plus seasons, had five blocks.

After trailing much of the second half, the Pelicans appeared to be seizing control with a 10-0 run during which Holiday scored eight points, giving New Orleans a 104-99 lead with 2:51 to go.

But the Heat rallied to tie it at 106 on Wade’s free throws.

Davis hit a jumper with 23 seconds left and Wade missed on the other end, but a rebound contested by several players fell to Dragic in the paint, and he hit an uncontested layup to tie it again.

The Pelicans had 14 seconds to set up a winning shot, but Davis’ drive was cut off along the baseline and his awkward layup attempted missed and the game went to overtime after Miami was unable to get a shot from an inbounds play with .8 seconds left.

 

Jimmy Butler leaves game with apparently serious right knee injury

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The Basketball Gods have not been appeased, and apparently have dealt the NBA another serious injury to a star player.

Jimmy Butler — Minnesota’s leader, an All-Star, and a guy having a fringe of the MVP ballot NBA season — went down grabbing his knee on this play against the Rockets Friday night.

Butler reportedly said “it’s torn” while being helped off the court.

After the game, Tom Thibodeau said it was a right knee injury that would be re-evaluated with an MRI tomorrow.

This is a non-contact injury that has the appearance of an ACL tear (hope that is not the case). Butler had ripped an offensive rebound away from Nene and was making a move to go back up when he went to the ground grabbing his knee.

Butler leads the NBA in minutes played per game. He was selected an All-Star but chose to sit out that game because he said he needed rest for the rest of the season. His coach, Tom Thibodeau, has a reputation for running players into exhaustion with heavy use (ask Joakim Noah) and does not subscribe to the kind of rest we see in Golden State, San Antonio, and other elite programs trying to keep players fresh.

This is troubling for a Timberwolves team looking to end an 11-year playoff drought — Minnesota is -8.3 points per 100 possessions when Butler is not on the court this season. While tied for the three seed going into Friday night, Minnesota is just four games from falling out of the playoffs in a competitive West.

Jimmy Butler to Lou Williams on All-Star snub: put up $100K for 1-on-1 game

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Jimmy Butler earned his spot on the All-Star team — he’s had an All-NBA, bottom of the MVP ballot level season. He deserved the trip to Los Angeles.

But when he got there, Butler didn’t play in the All-Star Game itself, saying he needed to rest. That frustrated a few All-Star snubs, and Lou Williams called him out on it.

Butler fired back before the Timberwolves took on the Houston Rockets.

“My thing is this, to Lou or anyone else who thinks they’re an All-Star, with all due respect, LeBron and them got $100,000 for winning, so if you got $100k to put up, you guard me I guard you, I’ gonna show you why. All this talk, put $100,000 up and I’ll show you why and where I’m at.” (That may have been paraphrased)

Butler earned his spot, he deserved to be there. He can do as he sees fit.

But if you’re not going to roll out there for even five minutes (LaMarcus Aldridge played four and nobody is saying anything to him), then give the spot up to someone else. You don’t need the $100K that badly.

Kevin Durant no fan of one-and-done, says he would have come straight to NBA

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With the money funneled to future NBA players through agents in the spotlight thanks to a FBI investigation (one that doesn’t even get into the money from boosters and shoe companies), the one-and-done rule the NBA has for players sending them to college for a semester of cakewalk classes one year has come back in the spotlight.

The league and players’ union are discussing changing the rule — with some input from the NCAA. If they want Kevin Durant‘s advice, scrap the whole thing — he would have come straight to the NBA if he could have.

“You want these players to go out there and play on the biggest stage. The Final Four is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, in sports, and they don’t get a dime for it. I don’t think it’s right

“If they want to come out of high school, it should be on them. You know what I mean? You can’t control everything. So if they feel as though they’re ready, that’s on them. They want to make a decision on their life, that’s on them. If they don’t get drafted, it’s on them. You can try to control it, but you’re still not really doing anything.”

Would Durant have come out from high school rather than spend a season at Texas?

“Yeah, probably. I needed the money.”

The NBA is discussing changes, and they want to see the recommendations from Condoleezza Rice’s NCAA commission. But the league’s owners are not all on the same page.

“In terms of the NBA, we’re conflicted, to be honest…” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said All-Star weekend. “And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA.

“On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a Development League and getting them minutes on the court there? And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old.”

There seems to be some momentum toward a “baseball rule” compromise — players can come to the NBA straight out of high school, but if they go to college they have to stay for at least two years. Unlike the last time high schoolers were rushing into the NBA, most teams are far better prepared to develop young players and be patient with them. There will still be busts — there are even with guys who spent years in college — but teams are in better positions to make it work.

The other thing I would want to see: If a player signs with an agent out of high school, does not get drafted, give him the chance to go to college still. Some young men are going to get terrible advice (from family, AAU coaches, friends, a whole lot of people) and they deserve a chance to choose a better path.