Trade Deadline Update

With less than three days before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, here are the latest rumblings from around the NBA:

* The Trail Blazers and Clippers are discussing a deal that would send Jamal Crawford to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe and Ryan Gomes, league sources told CBSSports.com. The talks have not advanced to the ownership level, but the two teams have exchanged proposals and were mulling over this idea on Monday. It's not clear whether the deal would be a precursor to a second trade for Portland involving disgruntled point guard Raymond Felton. Rival executives believe the Blazers are interested in exploring a swap of Felton to the Lakers for Steve Blake, with L.A. sending another piece to make the salaries match and compensate the Blazers for getting the better player and future cost savings in the deal. The Portland coaching staff and front office are comfortable with Blake, who could provide a calming presence as the team battles through numerous distractions. Coach Nate McMillan appears to be safe for the time being, according to people in contact with Blazers officials.

* With Ricky Rubio out for the year, the Timberwolves are almost certain to keep point guard Luke Ridnour. Another interesting result of the Rubio injury: If the Wolves fade without Rubio, their unprotected first-round pick sent by the Clippers to New Orleans in the Chris Paul deal potentially becomes more valuable. But one rival executive believes it's unlikely that teams would be willing to take on Emeka Okafor's $28 million over the next two years -- even for a pick that could turn into, say, Anthony Davis. Rick Adelman has done such an exemplary job with the Wolves -- with a short training camp and virtually no practices -- that it's hard to envision them dropping off too much with Ridnour taking over for Rubio. But it's a situation that bears watching. If the Hornets wind up with a top pick as a result of the Paul trade, it would be vindication for commissioner David Stern's veto of a prior three-way deal with Houston and the Lakers. What would the commissioner/owner say if presented with the chance to parlay that pick into $28 million in savings for the new owner? Probably not likely, given that what the Hornets need more than anything are players. They already have payroll flexibility to a degree.

* The Hawks appear determined to stand pat with their roster through the deadline, barring a minor deal that could help them for the stretch run and playoffs, sources say. One possibility would be moving Kirk Hinrich, but it would have to be a trade that helped them basketball-wise, not simply a salary dump. As for Josh Smith, who isn't exactly denying that he's requested a trade, Hawks GM Rick Sund's approach to such things historically has been to deal with them in the offseason -- say, around the draft, when more teams will be active in the trade market and draft picks acquired in trades will be known quantities.

* The Lakers are said to be serious about trading Pau Gasol in the right deal, with the emphasis on saving on future payroll. But Rockets guard Kyle Lowry being out 2-4 weeks with a bacterial infection may have put the brakes on a potential Gasol-to-Houston deal. If the Lakers could've gotten a healthy Lowry, rival executives believe it would've eased the loss of Gasol. Luis Scola has been showing signs of age, but while he has two guaranteed years totaling $19.6 million left, that's about half what Gasol is owed over the next two seasons. In any event, the Lakers need to be aware that an obvious cost-saving trade as opposed to a basketball-upgrade trade would send the wrong message to Kobe Bryant, who is running out of time to chase his sixth championship to equal Michael Jordan's mark. "If they're going to send a message to Kobe Bryant that they're not about winning, they're about money," one league source said, "that's going to set off a whole new deal."

* Seeing/reading a lot of Dwight Howard scenarios that seem to be coming out of thin air? Welcome to the 96 hours before the trade deadline, the time for Orlando to smoke out all potential offers and prime the pump as they decide whether to trade Howard by Thursday or hold onto him and take their chances in the summer. "The player holds all the cards," said one person on the periphery of the Howard saga. "He's killed (Orlando's) market." By making it clear that he'd only sign a long-term deal if traded to the Nets , Mavericks or Lakers, Howard has the leverage for now. The only way he loses is if the Magic send him to a team on a rental basis, thus cutting off Howard's chance at getting a five-year deal as a free agent. Staying in Orlando is the only way Howard can get the fifth year under the new rules, and indications are that he'd like to hang onto that fallback option as long as possible. It's up to the Magic whether they afford him that chance.

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