Posted on: December 14, 2010 2:35 pm
The next milestone in the NBA season hits Wednesday when dozens of players signed as free agents over the summer become trade-eligible. ‘Tis the season for re-gifting.
Don’t like the aging veteran you overpaid in your giddiness as GM of an undefeated juggernaut shopping for free agents? Dump him on some unsuspecing colleague who may be able to to make better use of his meager talents. Having a reality check about how good your team was going to be? Shed the contract you thought you were wise to execute back in July and start getting ready for another draft lottery.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, players who sign as free agents cannot be traded for three months or until Dec. 15, whichever is later. So theoretically, any free agent signed prior to Sept. 15 can be shipped to a new destination beginning Wednesday.
It’s not useful to look at this year’s crop of trade-eligible free agents as a free-for-all, because there are plenty of names on the list who will be traded about as soon as pigs sprout wings. (Forget the LeBron-to-New York trade rumors. I think he’s staying put.) Similarly, the Lakers aren’t trading Derek Fisher, the Celtics aren’t trading Shaquille O’Neal, and the Knicks seem mildly happy with MVP candidate Amar’s Stoudemire so far.
What the Dec. 15 milestone does is expand the pool of assets and contracts available to GMs to make trades work under league guidelines that require salaries to be no more than 125 percent plus $100,000 when over-the-cap teams make deals. Sometimes, one more asset or another $2 million in tradeable contracts makes all the difference in completing a larger deal.
Something else to keep in mind: Unless it’s a key player who’d fill a crucial need for a contender, executives say teams will be much less likely to take on multi-year contracts this year due to the expected work stoppage. Buyer’s remorse for Brendan Haywood, for example, isn’t going to be easy to assuage because he’s due $45 million over the next five years – when nobody can accurately predict where such a contract will fit into the new salary structure. But players on shorter deals with less than full guarantees could be moved if it helps complete a bigger deal – such as a Carmelo Anthony trade.
So with that in mind -- and with the assumption that the Heat aren’t’ trading LeBron, the Hawks aren’t trading Joe Johnson, and the Celtics aren’t trading Paul Pierce or Ray Allen -- here are a few of the more interesting names who become trade-eligible Wednesday, based on the likelihood that they could be involved in a trade sometime before the Feb. 24 deadline:
* Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves: At $12 million over the next three years, Ridnour won’t break the bank and his play-making abilities could be appealing to a team looking for point-guard depth. The Knicks, underwhelmed by Toney Douglas as Raymond Felton’s backup, are interested.
* Tony Allen, Grizzlies: Allen’s strengths off the bench are wasted on a team like Memphis, which has plenty of other tradeable assets. If the Grizzlies decide to part with O.J. Mayo, for instance, Allen’s contract could help facilitate the deal.
* Quentin Richardson, Magic: Nobody gets traded as much as Q-Rich, so he has to be on this list. If Orlando decides to pull the trigger on a significant deal -- say, for Andre Miller or Gilbert Arenas -- Richardson could be a throw-in. Complicating matters is the fact that his contract contains a 15 percent trade kicker, but that’s manageble since he’s only due $8 million over the next three years.
* Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams, Nuggets: Denver is virtually assured of making a big deal for You-Know-Who, in my opinion, and these could be throw-in pieces. I’d include Al Harrington, but A) they’ll need someone to shoot a lot after they trade Melo; and B) nobody will want Big Al for five years at the full mid-level when we’re entering what could be the no-mid-level world of a new CBA. (Even though the last two years are only half-guaranteed.)
* Anthony Tolliver, Timberwolves: Minnesota already has been fielding a lot of calls because they have draft picks, cap space, and young assets. Though injured at the moment, Tolliver is big and cheap and could be part of a bigger deal.
* Josh Howard, Wizards: On a one-year deal, Howard has the right to veto any trade. But if he gets back on the court and proves he’s healthy before the deadline, his expiring $3 million contract could be used to sweeten a potential Arenas deal.
* Chris Duhon and Jason Williams, Magic: Stan Van Gundy can’t decide which one is his backup point guard, and you know what they say: When you have two backup point guards, what you really have is none.
* Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow, Nets: New Jersey is highly likely to make multiple trades between now and the deadline, and team officials continue to believe one of them will be for Anthony. With efforts under way to acquire additional assets Denver has requested, dangling either one or both of these names could help accomplish that. Reluctantly, I’ll include Travis Outlaw here, as well. While his five-year, $35 million deal will scare some teams, his salary is flat throughout with no increases -- a friendly feature as we enter the great CBA unknown.
* Tyrus Thomas and Kwame Brown, Bobcats: When Larry Brown says his team has begun tuning him out, it’s time to start the stopwatch on LB blowing up the roster with trades. When Brown goes into teardown mode, no one is safe -- not even Thomas, who just signed a five-year, $40 million contract. Good luck peddling that deal amid labor uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean Brown won’t try.
* Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Rasual Butler and Craig Smith, Clippers: The Clips are ravaged by injuries, underperforming, and owner Donald Sterling is heckling his own players. Who knows what the Clips will do? I do know they have one of the most sought-after first-round picks in the league -- Minnesota’s 2011 pick, which is unprotected in ‘12 -- and will be getting a lot of calls. Butler and Smith can veto any trade since their both on one-year deals. But why would they?
* Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye, Suns: If Phoenix rapidly falls out of contention, keep an eye on Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is pushing as hard as any owner for a lockout. Warrick’s deal actually is fairly reasonable, with $4.25 million due each of the next two seasons and a team option for the same amount after that. Frye, however, is owed a poisonous $24.8 million over the next for years.
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony Carter, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Tolliver, Bobcats, Carmelo Anthony, Celtics, Channing Frye, Chris Bosh, Dec. 15, Derek Fisher, Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick, Hawks, Heat, Heat, Joe Johnson, Jordan Farmar, Josh Howard, Knicks, Lakers, LeBron James, Luke Ridnour, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Quentin Richardson, Raymond Felton, Shaquille O'Neal, Shelden Williams, Suns, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, trade-eligible, Travis Outlaw, Tyrus Thomas Kwame Brown, Wizards
Posted on: December 15, 2008 10:44 am
* Most intriguing game on the slate by far Monday night is the Knicks at the Suns -- Mike D'Antoni returning to the team he nurtured to 58 wins a year the past four seasons. Turns out D'Antoni is missed in the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix continues to struggle under the defensive-oriented, halfcourt approach favored by new coach Terry Porter. What's astonishing is not so much the record (14-10) -- all teams have their peaks and valleys -- but the discontent that is boiling in the locker room. The Suns are so unrecognizable to Steve Nash that he feels like he's been traded. The subplots are thick. D'Antoni had some choice words for Suns owner Robert Sarver over the weekend, but D'Antoni doth protest too much. Everybody should know that he came out of Phoenix smelling like roses, given that Sarver and Steve Kerr conspired to force a style on him he didn't want to play. Who was the coach, anyway? If things keep going downhill, eventually the coach could be Kerr, who keeps coming up with these harebrained ideas.
* It's Money Back Guarantee Day in the NBA; Monday is the first day players who signed contracts this past offseason become trade-eligible (as long as 90 days have passed since they signed their deals). Among the players in that category are Baron Davis, Corey Maggette, Elton Brand, and Monta Ellis. A person familiar with Golden State's situation said the Warriors are, indeed, fielding offers for Maggette -- as difficult as it will be to trade a player in the first year of a five-year, $50 million contract.
* The Lakers (20-3) joined the Celtics (22-2) and Cavs (20-4) on the 20-win plateau, easing past Minnesota 98-86. The best part about Kevin McHale coaching the T-Wolves is that, like Isiah Thomas the past two years in New York, he'll now have to meet with the media three times a day and explain, for example, why he traded O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love. Thanks to TrueHoop for linking us to McHale's comments in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Kevin's a 20-year-old rookie," McHale said Sunday. "He really brings a lot of stuff: great energy, a nice basketball feel. He's learning all the time. With all these kids, there's a learning curve that goes into it and you've got to be patient while he learns."
* Which segues nicely into the Grizzlies' fourth straight win, 102-86 over Miami, fueled by Mayo's 28 points. With five coaches sent packing already, it's nice to see Marc Iavaroni climb off the canvas and turn things around. Rudy Gay (18 points) was back in the starting lineup as Iavaroni played small Sunday night. The Grizz are expected to take another step toward the future with a buyout of Antoine Walker. (Or at least Antoine has that impression.) Also, let not your hearts be troubled, Grizzlie fans, by the team's decision to sign troubled former No. 3 overall pick Darius Miles to a non-guaranteed contract. It's basically being handled as a short-term tryout, a person with knowledge of Memphis' plans told me. The Grizzlies also will be looking to the D-League to bolster the back end of the roster.
* The Hornets showed why they lead the league in 3-point shooting, hitting 12 from beyond the arc in a 99-91 victory over Toronto. James Posey accounted for half of them. To borrow a phrase from the great Clyde Frazier, New Orleans is beginning to percolate with eight wins in its last 10 games.
* Gotta love the media biz. Columnist gets scoop on former coach ripping previous employers. Not to be outdone, previous employers circle wagon and feed aforementioned columnist material for follow-up column asserting that previously ripped team is on the right track. Welcome to my world!