Vince Carter,

The Circle of Stupidity is complete: Suns expected to buy out Vince Carter

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This is like some crazy train of poor decision making and it just jumps from car to car to car. Let me try and trace this back for you.

Hedo Turkoglu looks awesome in the 2009 NBA playoffs, helping the Orlando Magic make it all the way to the NBA Finals. He rebounds, runs point forward, hits threes, the works. It’s a bright, bright, sun-shiny free agency day for Turkolu when he hits the open market that summer. The Magic decide to let him go by the wayside, instead opting to take on Vince Carter and his ridiculous contract which pays him $16 million in 2009-2010, largely to miss games with minor injuries, miss free throws and not be able to carry a team at all like he did back when he could… in the Mesozoic era.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors get into a bidding war over Turkoglu’s services, despite many intelligent people saying this was a bad idea given Turkoglu’s age and declining abilities. Many of these people aren’t even on the internet. The Blazers think they have their man but dodge a huge bullet when Turkoglu instead opts for Toronto. Toronto pays him a huge sum of money, and he is terrible. Absolutely terrible, worse than even the harshest critics thought. He says he feels “wronged” by Toronto management (the same people that gave his elderly self that ginormous contract) and he’s eventually traded, because the Phoenix Suns lose Amar’e Stoudemire and are desperate for any forward they can get their hands on. They trade their expiring contract of Leandro Barbosa and pieces for Turkoglu, hoping he can rekindle some magic.

He can’t.

Meanwhile, the Magic have gone on and taken a big step backwards with Carter as it becomes apparent that not only is he not the high-flying, dagger-dropping Carter of old, he’s not even a vacant shell of that. He’s incapable of running the pick and roll with Dwight Howard. Let me say that again. He couldn’t figure out how to run the pick and roll with the best center in the league who is an athletic freak of nature and who’s biggest talent offensively is working in the pick and roll. Carter struggles, struggles some more, has a late season breakout game where everyone says he’s back…. and then goes right back to being Vince Carter.

So the Magic get desperate to trade him as they frantically try and hold onto Dwight Howard and prop the championship window open. The Suns meanwhile are looking to liquidate, now wanting expiring contracts, like the Barbosa one they shipped, and the Magic and Suns find themselves talking. Somehow in this process, the Suns let Jason Richardson, the younger, better player who actually contributes go in the deal, along with his $14 million expiring contract, just to get rid of Turkoglu. The Magic are willing to take on Turkoglu in order to get Richardson and because Turkoglu had had such success in Orlando. Also, they’re desperate.

So the Magic now have Turkoglu on the contract they knew they shouldn’t give him, because they opted to go after a player notorious for, well, being Vince Carter and who was aging. The Suns meanwhile, took on two more years of Vince Carter just to get rid of Turkoglu, and managed to nab Marcin Gortat, despite Gortat not being anywhere near the offensive weapon they need and regardless of their long-term prospects with Robin lopez.

The Raptors wind up with cap space. Bryan Colangelo is considered the worst of the three front offices. We haven’t even started to talk about Gilbert Arenas yet.

Anyway, the circle is almost complete as the Arizona Republic’s always reliable Paul Coro reports that the Suns are expected to buy out Vince Carter’s remaining year for $4 million instead of trying to move his final year on some other poor sap. Carter will then be a free agent in a dramatically different NBA free agency landscape following the CBA restructuring, but will inevitably get an offer from someone and probably start on top of it. The Magic will still have Turkoglu for the rest of eternity, and the Suns will pay $4 million to get rid of the player they acquired to get rid of Turkoglu, after the Raptors paid them to take him after they gave him the money the Magic knew they shouldn’t give him in the first place, which they are now paying him.

In unrelated news, NBA ownership meets with the player’s union again next week to continue discussions about how it’s the system which is unsustainable and that their economic troubles have nothing to do with their decision making on the open market.

Three players most likely to be moved on Trade Deadline Day

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There will be trades today. Unexpected ones.

Probably not the big names fans are hoping to see. The offers for Carmelo Anthony have been so poor that as much as Phil Jackson wants to move ‘Melo he can’t take those offers. Indiana isn’t eager to trade Paul George, same with Chicago and Jimmy Butler, and it’s going to take a very unlikely Godfather offer to get those deals done (such as Boston parting with one of their Brooklyn picks). Andre Drummond likely remains a Piston.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer on the big trades.

But here are three guys likely to be moved.

1) Jahlil Okafor, Philadephia 76ers. He’s been in more rumors than Khloe Kardashian the past few months. The latest rumors have the Chicago Bulls making a push to land him, but demanding the Sixers take Nikola Mirotic back in the deal. The Bulls don’t need Mirotic — a stretch four shooing 29 percent from three this season — with the emergence of Cristiano Felicio. where Okafor would give Chicago more scoring inside. However, why exactly do the Sixers want Mirotic when they have Dario Saric? The Bulls are going to have to throw more in that deal.

Other teams have expressed interest in Okafor, including Indiana. The Sixers need to move people around up front, the only question is because there is a glut of centers on the market — Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe, to name a few — the price is low. Bryan Colangelo may decide to wait until this summer, but he’s prefer to just get this done.

2) P.J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns. He’s a physical, tough defender who can get you buckets on the other end, a lot of teams could use him. The Clippers had interest and offered a couple of second round picks, but the Suns wanted a first-rounder. The Knicks also had interest at one point, but they don’t have a first-rounder they can move until basically the second coming. Still, Tucker is on the market and I expect some veteran team will come in and try to scoop him up.

3) Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings. After owner Vivek Ranadive finally changed his mind, the Kings moved quickly to trade DeMarcus Cousins and put the team on a path. A rebuilding path. One that doesn’t have a lot of roster spots for older players. That includes Darren Collison. He’s a solid point guard averaging 13.7 points per game this season, shooting 42 percent from three, and he knows how to run an offense. There’s a lot of teams that could use him, and the Kings can listen to multiple offers than take the best one. But there’s no reason to keep him around the rest of the season.

 

Report: Unless they trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, Celtics likely to keep main assets

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The Celtics have been linked in trade talks to the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and Pacers’ Paul George, but that requires the other team to deal with Boston. Indications are neither Chicago nor Indiana is particularly amenable.

So, time for the Celtics to pick another star to target?

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

With less than 24 hours until the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline today, the Celtics were said to be still holding out hope that internal discussions within the Bulls and Pacers would lead to one or both making their best player available.

But short of that, the view from around the league is that the Celts are becoming more and more enamored with the idea of keeping their main assets and using the first-round draft pick they have coming from Brooklyn in June via a swap of positions. (They also have the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder unencumbered.)

Sources continued to say that, while there remains a chance things could change as the deadline draws nearer, Chicago and Indiana are more likely to retain Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Those All-Star talents have been the Celtics’ two main targets

This could just be the Celtics playing hardball — either through leaks to the media or through conversations with other teams that have trickled out. But Bulpett is well-connected, especially in Boston. This is more likely than most reports of this nature to be accurate, but it’s always difficult to break through the smokescreens this time of year.

The Nets’ upcoming first-rounder is extremely valuable, as they’ll likely finish with the NBA’s worst record. The Celtics could do far worse than keeping that pick.

But Boston’s top players — Isaiah Thomas (28) and Al Horford (30) — are already at ages where they can’t necessarily wait for a 2017 pick, even someone as talented at as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, to develop. It makes sense to cash in chips now.

Still, the Celtics’ deep pool of assets mean the window isn’t closing yet. There should be no desperation to make a win now trade.

If Boston keeps its main assets — mainly the Nets picks — past the trade deadline, we’ll just revisit all this again in the summer.

Cavaliers sign forward Derrick Williams to second 10-day contract

Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Williams, right, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers' Rodney Stuckey in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.

The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.

Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.

The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.

Hornets’ Miles Plumlee out at least two weeks with leg injury

Charlotte Hornets' Miles Plumlee (18) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.

They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.

So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.

And now he’ll add even less.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.

Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.