Trade rumor roundup: Lots of talk Tuesday, no action

6 Comments

We warned you this could be a slow trade deadline — with the new CBA kicking in fully next summer teams are concerned about both the more regressive tax and the repeater taxes for going over the luxury tax line. Meaning teams that might normally take on more salary simply are hesitant now.

Here is a roundup of where things stand as of late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning:

• Josh Smith remains the biggest name on the market and the Hawks have been aggressive and have talked to a lot of teams. They are trying to create leverage (good luck). They want pieces that can help them rebuild — first round picks, good younger players — and not expensive veterans (although they have to take on something to make the numbers match up), reports Ken Berger at CBSSports.com. The teams at the front of the line are the Suns, Bucks, Celtics and Nets. A number of other teams are hesitant because Smith is a free agent and wants a max contract this summer — five years, $90 million. Teams are balking at that. Understandably.

If the Hawks don’t get a deal they like they may well keep him, but they are aggressive in shopping him.

• The Clippers have stopped talks with the Celtics regarding Kevin Garnett, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Maybe that has something to do with Kevin Garnett saying at All-Star break he would kill any deal with his no-trade clause. The only deal Boston would consider would send Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan back to Boston, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

What I’ve heard is that coach Vinny Del Negro wants the deal but the rest of the front office doesn’t — it is a win now move that would have the Clippers with a roster of guys over 30 and Blake Griffin. As the Yahoo report says the one thing that could tip the scales is Chris Paul — the free agent to be who wields a lot of power — saying he wants it.

• If Boston were to move Garnett they would almost certainly move Paul Pierce as well. Wojnarowski said there have been some talks with the Hawks about a Pierce for Smith trade. That really doesn’t work for Atlanta, which wants to both save money and get younger, not take on Pierce for a year. But if Boston blows it up, they will blow it all up.

• The Hornets have shopped guard Eric Gordon around but because he has a max contact and hasn’t been his old self after knee surgeries there’s not a lot of interest reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.

• No deal for J.J. Redick yet but you can expect one, the Magic know contending teams are going to bid more than they are willing to pay for him this summer when he’s a free agent. Orlando has wanted a first round pick. Indiana, Milwaukee, Chicago and Minnesota are interested according to Wojnarowski but are not willing to part with that pick. Yet. I could see him doing a lot of damage as a Bull or Pacer.

• The list of guys being shopped but without a deal yet is long — Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in Utah, Eric Maynor in Oklahoma City, Timofey Mozgov from Denver, Monta Ellis in Milwaukee, and of course Andrea Bargnani in Toronto (he may be the least likely of the group to be moved).

• The Knicks wants some size off the bench and have talked to the Suns about Jermaine O’Neal, according to ESPN’s Broussard.

• The Nets continue to shop Kris Humphries. But in a salary cap conscious world nobody wants to pay him $12 million next season.

• The Bobcats continue to try to find a home for Ben Gordon, who has issues with the coach in Charlotte. But again, he makes $13 million next year and teams are balking.

• There is this line from Wojnarowski:

The Minnesota Timberwolves were turned down on an offer of Brandon Roy and a first-round pick to Denver for center Timofey Mozgov, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

My only question is how much Masai Ujiri laughed before saying no.

• The Spurs will move DeJuan Blair before the deadline, they are just trying to get the best deal for him.

Michelle Roberts says if you don’t like player movement blame owners, too

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last summer was one of the wildest offseasons in NBA history, maybe the wildest, and the headline was player empowerment. Anthony Davis pushed his way to the Lakers, Paul George forced his way out of Oklahoma City to go to the Clippers and join Kawhi Leonard, which soon had Russell Westbrook joining his old teammate James Harden in Houston. It led to frustration by some owners and changes in how the NBA will handle tampering.

Except, by choice is not how most players change teams. While AD or George has the leverage to make a power play — because of their exceptional talent — most of the time players are traded because the owner/team has all the power and can uproot players for whatever reason (basketball reasons sometimes, saving money other times). The stars have free agent options, rotation players much less so in that system.

Michelle Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players’ Association, wants you to remember that it’s not just player power that has led to the increase in player movement, as she told Mark Spears of The Undefeated.

Michele Roberts, told The Undefeated that she believes there is a “double standard” between how stars are viewed when they decide to move on compared with when franchises choose to make a major transaction, adding that team owners “continue to view players as property.”

“If you want to be critical of one, be critical of both,” Roberts said from the NBPA’s offices in Manhattan. “Those of us who made decisions to move, it’s really astounding to even consider what it feels like to be told in the middle of your life you are going to have to move. But that’s the business we’re in. …

“No one seems to spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s like to make those kinds of moves completely involuntarily. You volunteer to play or not play. But, yeah, if it’s still the case that if you think you’ve got to suck it up, player, then, hell, you’ve got to suck it up, team.”

She’s right. From Chris Paul to Blake Griffin, plenty of big stars have been moved against their will. The door swings both ways, but in those cases most fans tended to see why and like what the teams did. Those fans like it less when players do the same thing.

There’s also a classic labor vs. management angle to all this, which has political overtones.

For my money, how one views player movement tends to be part generational and part where you live.

Older fans remember days — or, at least think they remember days — when players stayed with teams for much or all of their career. It’s understandable, fans form a bond with players and want them to stay… while they’re still good and useful, after that fans beg ownership to get the “dead weight off the books.” Players before the late 1980s stayed with teams because they didn’t have a choice — for Bill Russell in the 60s or Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the 1980s, free agency was not an option. And for every Kobe Bryant that did stay with a team, there were a lot more Wilts and Shaqs, who were traded several times and played with multiple teams.

Younger fans (generally, nothing is universal) are okay with the player movement, sometimes are more fans of a player than a team, and like the action and buzz of all the trades.

Location matters because if you’re in Oklahoma City there’s reason to not like what George did and the era of player empowerment. New Orleans fans can feel the same way (although part of that case is the “supermax” contract that owners wanted but really forced up the timeline on teams and players to make a decision on paying stars). But fans in Los Angeles or wherever players ultimately choose to go will feel differently. Fans want what’s best for their team, but there is no way in the star culture of the NBA to wash away the lure of big markets or of teaming up with another elite player.

The NBA dynamic is different from the NFL’s (for now), but it’s not changing. LeBron James helped usher in an era of player empowerment and it’s the new reality for the NBA, one the best franchises will adapt to rather than fight.

Evan Fournier says that Frank Ntilikina just ‘needs a real opportunity’

Getty
Leave a comment

New York Knicks fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for recently. The team traded away Kristaps Porzingis, who is thought to be the franchise cornerstone. Now they move forward with a young core, RJ Barrett, and tons of cap space.

So what does that mean for players who have been around in the Big Apple like Frank Ntilikina?

Based on how Ntilikina played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for France this year, things might be looking up.

Ntilikina’s statistics weren’t eye-popping, but he was seen as a very solid player in a backcourt that helped propel France to the bronze medal in China.

To that end, fellow countrymen Evan Fournier thinks that all Ntilikina needs is a chance to shine.

Via Twitter:

Ntilikina’s season last year was marred by injuries, and he played in just 43 games. Still, he has the physical tools to be a useful NBA player, and he’s just 21 years old. With the surprisingly low-pressure situation in New York, it’s possible that extended time playing in the World Cup could help aid what Ntilikina is able to produce next season for the Knicks.

Report: Lakers receive DeMarcus Cousins disabled-player exception

Stacy Revere/BIG3 via Getty Images
1 Comment

A chance at a championship. LeBron James. Anthony Davis. The Los Angeles market. Great weather.

The Lakers can offer plenty to anyone who gets bought out this season.

Now, the Lakers – who lost DeMarcus Cousins to a torn ACL – get a mechanism to offer post-buyout players more money.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The exception holds little value presently. It’s worth less than a full-season minimum salary for anyone with more than four years experience.

But minimum-salary and mid-level exceptions decline throughout the season. This exception does not.

So, on March 1, a team with only a minimum slot available can offer a free agent just between $233,459 and $666,546 (depending on the player’s experience level). The Lakers can offer $1.75 million.

This means an NBA-appointed doctor ruled Cousins is “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15. Given that prognosis, the Lakers could open a roster spot by waiving Cousins, who’s on a one-year deal and facing a domestic-violence charge. They’d still keep the exception.

If Cousins can return more quickly than expected, he’d be eligible to play, whether or not the Lakers use the exception.

Damian Lillard says he plans to play for Team USA in 2020 Olympics

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
3 Comments

Stephen Curry said he wants to play for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics.

He isn’t the only star point guard eager for Tokyo.

Damian Lillard, via James McKern of news.com.au:

“I plan on being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard said

Though neither Curry nor Lillard played for Team USA in this year’s World Cup, there’s a potentially large difference: Curry never agreed to play. Lillard did then withdrew. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo indicated particular scorn for players who decommitted.

Of course, Colangelo also wants to win. That might require swallowing his pride and accepting players who withdrew this year. He has talked tough in the past about players who didn’t show his desired devotion to USA Basketball. Lillard got cut in 2014 then missed the 2016 Olympics citing injury. It can be difficult to determine which absences Colangelo forgives.

One factor working against Lillard: The Americans’ point guard pool is deep. Curry rates higher. Kemba Walker earned respect by playing in the World Cup. James Harden (who also withdrew from the World Cup) and Kyrie Irving also factor.

I expect Colangelo to operate on a sliding scale: The better the player, the less prior commitment to USA Basketball necessary. Lillard is an excellent player. We’ll see how far that gets him.

And whether he’ll even want to play next year. The reasons for playing – pride of representing your country, prestige marketing opportunities – are more obvious now. The reasons not to play – injury, fatigue, personal commitments – are more likely to emerge closer to the Games.