Tag:Timberwolves
Posted on: February 21, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 2:42 pm
 

Melo-to-Knicks deal expanding?

LOS ANGELES -- As the Knicks and Nuggets remained in advanced talks Monday on a trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to New York, CBSSports.com confirmed that the deal could expand to include an unlikely facilitator -- the rival Nets.

A person familiar with the rapidly unfolding negotiations said New Jersey could be willing to send two first-round picks to Denver for Russian center Timofey Mozgov and another Knick -- perhaps Danilo Gallinari -- if those players were dealt to the Nuggets for Anthony.

ESPN The Magazine first reported the latest twist in the Anthony saga, which suggests that the Nets are willing to abandon their pursuit of Anthony but only if they can divert two key Knicks assets across the Hudson River in the process.

A second source with direct knowledge of the talks cautioned that it was premature to address the new angle involving the Nets as an indirect facilitator in what would be a separate transaction with the Nuggets because the Knicks and Nuggets have yet to agree to a deal.

As CBSSports.com reported Sunday, the Knicks sweetened their proposal for Anthony in what sources described as their "final offer," agreeing to send Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and their 2014 first-round pick to Denver for Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter. The Nuggets also would get Corey Brewer from Minnesota, which would receive Eddy Curry's expiring contract and forward Anthony Randolph from the Knicks.

The Nuggets, nearing the end of an arduous process that has been unfolding for five months, were pushing for the Knicks to include Mozgov in the deal -- a concession New York has been unwilling to make, especially considering the Nets' minimal chances of persuading Anthony to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with them. Such an agreement from Anthony has been the key obstacle to the Nets completing a trade agreed to with Denver during All-Star weekend -- with the package including Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and multiple first-round picks.

Nets officials, led by owner Mikhail Prokhorov and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, met with Anthony Saturday in Los Angeles but did not come away with a commitment from the four-time All-Star. Unwilling to abandon any leverage in his pursuit of the extension heading into the uncertainty of a new labor agreement, Anthony also did not close the door on the Nets in that meeting, a person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com.

Prokhorov covets Mozgov, a six-year pro in Russia before signing with the Knicks last summer. But he also hopes the prospect of two key Knicks players thriving across the river -- and in Brooklyn in 2012 -- could make the Knicks reluctant to complete the trade for Anthony. It's a tactical gamble that would be a win-win for Prokhorov, who would either swoop in to steal Anthony if the Knicks backed away or land two ex-Knicks to make their New York rival uncomfortable.

Either way, the Nets' willingness to allow Denver to flip two Knicks to them in exchange for draft picks could be the final piece that pushes the painstaking Anthony talks to their conclusion. The Nuggets' new management team of Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke, having shown patience and negotiating muscle beyond anyone's expectations, would come away with every conceivable asset they were seeking in an Anthony trade: quality young players on reasonable contracts (Chandler and Felton), three first-round picks (one from New York and two from New Jersey), and upwards of $20 million in savings.

Hours before the Nuggets were scheduled to practice at 6 p.m. MT Monday in Denver, it remained an open question whether Anthony would be there -- perhaps for his final public appearance as a Nugget. The trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET Thursday.


"Obviously something has to happen, whether I stay in Denver or they trade me or whatever," Anthony said after the West's 148-143 victory in the All-Star Game. "The end is here." 









Posted on: February 8, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Reggie Miller sticks up for small markets

As the superstar exodus to greener pastures and glitzier cities continues in the NBA, Reggie Miller rode to the rescue of the small market Tuesday. 

In TNT's pre-All-Star conference call, Miller said a franchise tag to curb player movement will be "tough" to implement in collective bargaining. But if that's what it takes to keep stars in small markets -- Miller played his entire 18-year career in Indiana -- he's all for it. 

"I was disappointed when LeBron left and went to Miami," Miller said. "I'm not faulting him, because obviously this is America and people change jobs and occupations and locations all the time. But for a guy that's been in a small market for 18 years, I just love when stars and superstars -- and you had the biggest superstars in our league in terms of name recognition in LeBron in a small market -- I didn’t think overall that helps the brand. Therefore, I hope Deron Williams stays in Utah and Chris Paul stays in New Orleans. It's good to have superstars in smaller markets because it helps the brand." 

Fellow Turner Sports broadcaster Kevin McHale, who famously traded Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2007, called the franchise tag an "interesting concept." Depending on how it's implemented, a franchise tag would either give teams cap relief to help them retain a star player, further restrict star players' movement, or both. 

"There's something to that," McHale said. "It gives the team that drafts a guy and develops a guy more of an opportunity to hold onto the player. I agree having the talent distributed throughout the whole NBA is much better for the game as whole. If you win, they'll want to play in different cities, no matter if it's Oklahoma City or New York City. If you're winning, they're going to want to go there and be part of it." 

Whether the owners can get such an onerous request past the union without a fight? Good luck. 

"They're going to have to get the players' association to buy into that," McHale said. 

The prospect of a franchise tag in a new CBA plays directly into the future of Carmelo Anthony, who is seeking a trade yet is concerned about losing money by passing on a three-year, $65 million extension that could be less lucrative in the new labor agreement. If the Nuggets decide to keep Anthony, part of their motivation would be having solid knowledge that they'd be in a position to retain Anthony with a franchise tag after the new deal is ratified. Anthony's countermove, obviously, would simply be to opt out of his $18.5 million contract for next season. That game of chess is likely to unfold all the way down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 11:32 pm
 

Nuggets prepared to weigh Melo offers

The Denver Nuggets are considering offers from at least five teams for Carmelo Anthony and soon will begin the process of deciding what direction to go when they trade the three-time All-Star, multiple sources told CBSSports.com Friday. 

Among the teams that have registered the most credible interest are the Nets (obviously), Knicks, Rockets, Bulls, and Clippers, according to three sources familiar with the situation. Details of the various discussions are still evolving, but the one constant has been efforts on the part of the Nuggets and Nets to involve a third team in the discussions. 

The Nuggets have been trying to recruit the Timberwolves as a third team that might be willing to take the expiring contract of Troy Murphy from the Nets and send the Nuggets a first-round pick in the equation. The Wolves have two extra first-round picks in 2011 -- one from Utah and another from Memphis. 

But just as efforts on the Nuggets' part to involve the Cavaliers in the discussions -- an attempt to have Cleveland use its $14.5 million trade exception from the LeBron James fiasco to absorb Murphy -- have gone dormant, so have talks aimed at involving the Detroit Pistons in the scenario. Two sources confirmed to CBSSports.com Friday night that the Nets were trying to recruit the Pistons to enter a blockbuster three-team scenario in which New Jersey would've gotten Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Nuggets and Richard Hamilton from the Pistons. The complicated and intriguing scenario was first reported by the The Record of Hackensack, N.J. 

One of the sources confirmed Yahoo! Sports' report via Twitter that the talks died when the Nets tried to extract a first-round pick from the Pistons and dump Johan Petro's $6.75 million due over the next two seasons on Detroit. 

"Dead," is how the source described those talks, although in another form, the Pistons could be enticed to participate if it meant dumping Hamilton's $25 million due over the next two seasons -- $21.5 million of which is guaranteed. 

The Nuggets' essential posture hasn't changed over the past few weeks. They are taking their time, evaluating interest from various teams, and one person familiar with their strategy said they soon will begin weighing the various offers. Denver GM Masai Ujiri and executive Josh Kroenke are in no hurry, and most executives involved in the talks believe the situation will go right down to the Feb. 24 trade deadline -- with the Nets still the leader in the clubhouse, pending Anthony's approval of a contract extension with New Jersey. That is where the Pistons' potential involvement could become crucial, as Anthony presumably would be more likely to sign off on a three-year, $65 million extension with New Jersey if Billups and Hamilton were on board. Oddly enough, it would represent a formation of the trio that could've been created in Detroit if the Pistons had selected Anthony instead of Darko Milicic in the 2003 draft. 

Such a scenario wasn't in play about a month ago, when a person directly involved in Anthony's decision-making process told CBSSports.com that Melo -- if traded -- would only agree to a contract extension with the Knicks. There have been no indications that Anthony has changed his stance, although that hasn't stopped his suitors from lining up and putting their best offers forward. 

Among the teams that believe they have at least a puncher's chance of landing Anthony, the Nets have always been the one with the most attractive assets to the Nuggets: Derrick Favors, the expiring contract of Murphy and multiple first-round picks. The Nuggets appear to have decided they prefer going young while acquiring draft picks and prospects over established players -- which would seem to bode poorly for the Knicks, whose existing players have yet to draw serious interest from the Nuggets. But the Knicks continue taking a patient approach, with the understanding that they're performing at a playoff level without Anthony and would have the inside track to sign him as a free agent if the Nuggets weren't able to achieve an acceptable trade by the deadline. 

If the Nuggets were able to parlay Murphy's expiring deal into another first-round pick while also going farther down the road toward youth and savings by unloading Billups, it would seem to represent nirvana among the various Melo scenarios they are considering. The Nets also have made it clear they'd be willing to take on Al Harrington -- due $27 million over the next four years, of which $20 million is guaranteed. 

As for the other teams in the mix, the Rockets can offer the Nuggets enormous savings in the form of Yao Ming's expiring (and insured) contract as well as the expiring contracts of Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries, plus young assets such as Aaron Brooks, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger or Courtney Lee. The Clippers have one of the most valuable first-round picks on the market in the form of Minnesota's 2011 first-rounder, which is unprotected in 2012, plus young assets such as Al-Farouq Aminu and DeAndre Jordan. The Bulls have not been regarded as a serious contender since signing Joakim Noah to a contract extension, which signaled their unwillingness to trade him and made it impractical due to base-year compensation rules.
Posted on: December 24, 2010 10:04 pm
 

NBPA prez Fisher disagrees with contraction talk

It didn't take long for LeBron James' idea of creating a new golden age of basketball by eliminating teams to reach the ears of National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher

"I agree that the '80s was a great time for NBA basketball," Fisher told reporters Friday after practice at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. "But I don't agree that contraction or arbitrarily trying to get Hall of Fame or All-Star guys all on the same team is necessarily how you re-create one of the greatest times in NBA history." 

Via the Los Angeles Times Lakers blog: Derek Fisher disagrees with LeBron James endorsing league contraction

When asked Thursday night in Phoenix – by me, if you must know – whether the anticipation of Saturday’s clash between the Lakers and free-agent-fortified Heat was validation for the decision by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to team up in South Beach, James went on an articulate and controversial tangent about how the NBA’s overall talent is “watered down.” 

“Hopefully the league can figure out one day how it can go back to the situation like it was in the ‘80s,” James said. “… The league was great. It wasn’t as watered down as it is. You had more [star] players on a team, which made almost every game anticipated -- not just a Christmas Day game, not just a Halloween game. I don’t ever think it’s bad for the league when guys decide that they want to do some greatness for the better of what we call a team sport.” 

Via CBSSports.com's BergerSphere: LeBron: Contraction would be 'great' for NBA

When it was pointed out to James that the NBA only had 24 teams back then, as opposed to the 30 it has now, James said, “That’s why. That’s my point.” 

Unsolicited, he then listed some of the teams in the ‘80s that had multiple All-Stars or Hall of Famers. But his soliloquy took a decidedly anti-union direction when he went so far as to name teams that are “not that good right now” – Minnesota and New Jersey were his examples – and spoke about what would happen if you took the good players on those teams and put them on better teams. Such a move would “shrink the guys” James said – a nice way of saying jobs would be lost through contraction, a concept that league negotiators have already confirmed is on the table as part of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. 

“I’m not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league,” James said. “But hey, you guys are not stupid. I'm not stupid, but I know what would be great for the league." 

Fisher, whose union clearly would oppose such a move, said he disagreed with LeBron’s comments but didn’t believe they will hurt the NBPA’s cause in negotiations. 

"I don't think it's my place to tell one of our guys what they should be thinking or feeling or saying,” Fisher said. “But I don't necessarily agree with it." 

One of the biggest stars in the NBA talking about making the league great again by concentrating the talent on fewer teams? That’s certainly something the 30 worse players in the league can’t be happy about – considering that’s how many jobs would be lost if two teams were contracted. 

It’s also hard to see how the overall product wouldn’t be better. That’s something Fisher, union chief Billy Hunter, commissioner David Stern and his 30 (for now) owners will have to figure out.
Posted on: December 23, 2010 10:21 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2010 12:20 am
 

LeBron: Contraction would be 'great' for NBA

PHOENIX -- During a candid pregame discussion about whether the formation of Miami’s free-agent trio was good for the NBA, LeBron James said the most sensible thing I’ve ever heard him say. 

Contraction would be great for the NBA. 

Well, he didn’t us the word “contraction,” but James said he hopes that some day the NBA will be able to figure out how to bring the game back to the greatness that was experienced in the 1980s, when “ten teams had probably two or three All-Stars on one team, at least.” 

When someone correctly pointed out that there were only 24 teams then, as opposed to the 30 that exist now, James said, “That’s why it was great. That’s my point.” 

The conversation began when LeBron was asked if the nationwide anticipation of the Heat-Lakers game on Christmas Day was validation of Dwyane Wade’s plan to join forces with James and Chris Bosh in Miami. Oh, and before we’ve even gotten to the showcase game on Saturday, the league’s TV ratings are up 30 percent this season. Something must be working. 

But as owners of high- and low-revenue teams continue to debate how to enhance the league’s revenue-sharing system in conjunction with negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, the greatness James remembers from the NBA of the ‘80s is only being experienced in a few cities. The Lakers, Mavericks, Spurs, Celtics, Heat and Magic – plus maybe Utah and Chicago – have a legitimate chance at winning the championship. The rest of the teams can only wallow in their own pity – and tens of millions in losses, according to commissioner David Stern. 

“Hopefully the league can figure out one day how it can go back to the situation like it was in the ‘80s,” James said. “… The league was great. It wasn’t as watered down as it is. You had more [star] players on a team, which made almost every game anticipated -- not just a Christmas Day game, not just a Halloween game. I don’t ever think it’s bad for the league when guys decide that they want to do some greatness for the better of what we call a team sport. 

“I’m a player," James said, "but that’s why the league was so great. You can just imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the guys … I’m just looking at some of the teams that are not that great. You take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off teams that are not that good right now and add them to a team that could be really good. I’m not saying let’s take New Jersey, let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid. I’m not stupid, but I know what would be great for the league.” 

He’s right. So you see, there was genius in LeBron’s decision to go to Miami. Because that was only part of the plan. 

I wish he’d announced on “The Decision” that after signing with the Heat, he was also eliminating six teams from the NBA. He wouldn’t have been nearly the villain he’s become.
Posted on: December 17, 2010 2:13 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2010 9:28 pm
 

Post-Ups (UPDATE)

Houston and Portland, we have problems. 

Two teams that have been tantalizingly close to championship contention in recent years are suddenly in turmoil due to injuries -- franchise-shaping injuries to their franchise players. 

Portland had no sooner come to grips with the loss of Greg Oden -- again -- when the gathering storm of controversy between ailing star Brandon Roy and veteran point guard Andre Miller popped up. The Rockets, struggling without point guard Aaron Brooks, now may have to completely rethink their style of play and strategy for the future with word that center Yao Ming could be out for the year with a stress fracture in his ankle. 

“They built around Yao and they’re going to have to change who they are and become a more transition-oriented team,” a rival executive said. * No one ever thought the Rockets would commit to Yao beyond this season until they learned whether he’d be able to return to the court and be productive. With the answer to that question now being no, it’s time to scrap the notion that Houston can rely on Yao to ever be the centerpiece of a title-contending team. 

Changes are needed in the short run, too. Once Brooks returns -- and that will be soon -- the Rockets will need to forget about Yao and push the pace in a way that fits the talent they have. Kevin Martin is a transition player, and Brooks certainly is. So is recently acquired Terrence Williams, who could be a key part of this new strategy if the change of scenery also changes his attitude. 

As for the Blazers, it would appear that their incredible aptitude for overcoming serious and numerous injuries has come to an end. In the past, winning masked the uncomfortable co-existence of Roy and Miller. Now that Portland is struggling, there’s no way to hide the fact that Roy and Miller aren’t a good fit in the backcourt together. Sources already have told CBSSports.com that Blazers officials are considering going young and moving some of their older pieces -- such as Miller, Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. Miller, with a fully non-guaranteed $7.8 million in 2011-12, has off-the-charts trade value -- especially for a contender in need of a steadying force at point guard. 
UPDATE: A person familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Friday that Roy's recent comments about the difficulty he's having playing with Miller were no accident. "He's an unhappy camper," the person said. "A very unhappy camper. For Brandon to talk like that, he's got to be at his breaking point."
Sources continue to tell me that Orlando, which is concerned about not measuring up to Boston and Miami in the East, would be the perfect fit for Miller. The Magic are not going to accept carrying a $94 million payroll into the playoffs, only to lose in the conference semifinals -- which seems to be their fate as currently constructed. Rashard Lewis’ impact continues to diminish, Vince Carter is little more than a jump-shooter, and Jameer Nelson is too inconsistent to rely on as the floor general of a championship-contending team. 

Miller could be the elixir for Orlando. All he does is find open shots for his teammates, and Dwight Howard would be thrilled with Miller’s elite talent as a lob-passer. Howard, who will be part of a blockbuster free-agent class in 2012, has quickly grown frustrated with the Magic’s obvious limitations. 

The piece that could get it done is Marcin Gortat, who’s a starting center on any team but one that has Howard. Though Gortat’s contract goes out three more years, it’s at a reasonable rate for a starting center -- topping out at $7.7 million in 2013-14, when Gortat has an early-termination option. 

Blazers GM Rich Cho has liked Gortat since his days working as Sam Presti’s right-hand man in Oklahoma City, so such a deal would seem to make sense from all angles. Gortat would give Portland a reasonable insurance policy in case Oden never becomes worthy of his No. 1 overall selection in 2007, and Roy would have the ball in his hands more -- which is something he can’t have when playing alongside Miller. Whether Roy’s knees will hold up under those demands is a valid question, but one Portland may very well need answered one way or another. 

UPDATE: According to one source, Roy’s contract is insured against injuries to either knee. There is an outside, secondary policy, the person with knowledge of the policy said, and it also covers one of his ankles. Another person familiar with the details pointed out there are restrictions tied to the length of disability and stipulations related to the timing of a particular injury. Either way, that’s an insurance policy the Blazers never want to have to dust off. Better to put the ball in their franchise player’s hands and see what happens. What have they got to lose? 

Nothing, which is the opposite of what we have in the rest of this week’s Post-Ups: 

* Executives working the phones during these early days of trade inquiry say the teams that appear most determined to make deals before the Feb. 24 deadline are Portland, Detroit, Minnesota, Memphis and Charlotte. But while execs have seen the usual volume of calls, the urgency to clear cap space and/or dump salary isn’t nearly as high as it was last summer. Leading up to the 2010 deadline, multiple teams were hellbent on clearing cap space for a robust free-agent class. Not only will this summer’s free-agent class pale in comparison, teams also are unsure of how and when free agency will take shape due to labor uncertainty. 

* Amid commissioner David Stern’s latest CBA rhetoric, sources say there won’t be any bargaining meetings the rest of the year due to scheduling conflicts and the holidays. As of now, the goal is to gather key participants for a smaller negotiating session in January leading up to an all-important full bargaining session during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. Union officials will be most disturbed by Stern’s assertion during a trip to Memphis this week that the NBA needs to transition to a hard salary cap in order to restore competitive balance. The players view this as a smokescreen, believing that the league wants a hard cap simply as a mechanism to reduce salaries. Meanwhile, Stern dismissed aspects of the NBPA’s proposal that were geared toward improving competitive balance, saying those changes actually would cost owners more money than the current system. So that’s where we are: nowhere. 

* One aspect of the players’ proposal, complete details of which were reported for the first time last week, has gone largely overlooked. The NBPA proposed a broad outline for redistributing draft picks as a way to respond to the owners’ desire to enhance competitive balance. The precise method would be subject to negotiation, but the union envisioned taking draft picks away from the top-tier teams and giving extra picks to the bottom feeders. For example, the top three or top five teams in the draft order would see their first-round picks go to the bottom three or five. So using last year’s lottery order and redistributing the top five teams’ picks, the Wizards would’ve selected first and 26, the Sixers second and 27th, the Nets third and 28th, etc. Not a bad idea, although I wonder if some of those teams would simply be inclined to sell the second of their first-round picks. Either way, it would give struggling teams more assets in their quest to return to playoff contention. 

* As the Nuggets continue to weigh their options with Carmelo Anthony, rival GMs and high-profile agents are divided on whether Anthony would even be a good fit for the Knicks if New Jersey wasn’t able to get him to agree to an extension. There’s no doubting the star power Anthony would bring to New York. Would he make the Knicks better? Clearly, he’d give them the closing perimeter scorer they lack, and in that way he’d be a perfect complement to Amar’e Stoudemire. But would Anthony make the Knicks that much better than a defensive- and transition-oriented wing, such as Gerald Wallace or Andre Iguodala? “I don’t think the Knicks win any more or less games if it’s Gerald Wallace vs. Carmelo,” a rival GM said. “They’re already scoring 120 points a game. I think they have enough offense.” Others point out that Anthony is a low-efficiency shooter and a ball-stopper; coach Mike D’Antoni could live with the former but detests the latter. But my point is, if the ball stops with Anthony and its next stop is in the basket, so be it. In some ways, the inside-outside combination of Stoudemire and Anthony -- with a capable point guard, Raymond Felton, divvying up the shots -- would be more dangerous than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But here’s what the Melo-doesn’t-fit crowd will tell you, and I concede this point: The Knicks controlled the pace of Wednesday night’s game against Boston for 47-plus minutes. At the end, when they needed someone to stop Paul Pierce, they had nowhere to turn. Anthony is capable of playing better defense than he’s been asked to in Denver; he showed it in Beijing with Team USA. But it’s worth wondering if a player like Wallace or Iguodala would get you just as much scoring in transition and as the second option on Felton-Stoudemire pick-and-rolls and be capable of defending the other team’s closer on the last possession. Other than the fact that Donnie Walsh never panics, this line of thinking could have a lot to do with why he isn’t crushed by the Nets’ all-out pursuit of Melo. “The Knicks are in a pretty good position to sit back and see where the cap falls,” another executive said. “I don’t think Knicks will give up much to get [Anthony], and I don’t think they have much to give up to begin with.”
Posted on: December 14, 2010 2:35 pm
 

Dec. 15 trade-eligible shopping list

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.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 1:14 pm
 

Post-Ups

Their three-game winning streak and 22-gun salute from the 3-point line against the Lakers notwithstanding, these are delicate times for the Phoenix Suns. So delicate, in fact, that a speculative riff on an NBA writer’s podcast last week sparked a flurry of trade rumors surrounding Steve Nash.

Such is life in the NBA blogosmear, but there’s an element of truth to the speculation. Watching Nash play without Amar’e Stoudemire, and Stoudemire without Nash, is a classic lesson in being careful what you wish for. The Suns, like many NBA teams, were hesitant to lavish five guaranteed years on Stoudemire given the uninsurable state of his knees. The Knicks, boxed out of the LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes, were in the rare position of being open to Stoudemire’s in-person overtures back in July. It was a match made in Desperadoville.

The Knicks were in Denver Tuesday night to face the Nuggets and the latest apple of their eyes, Carmelo Anthony. They arrived in a tailspin, having lost five in a row, and left with a 120-118 loss, a six-game losing streak, and much of the hopelessness inspired by Knicks teams of the past decade. No fewer than 15 power forwards playing at least 25 minutes per game are ahead of Stoudemire in efficiency rating, according to Hoopdata.com. Among them are Michael Beasley, Charlie Villanueva and Hakim Warrick – who replaced Stoudemire in Phoenix. You don’t need data to see that Stoudemire is struggling in his new home. Watching him search in vain for someone who knows how to run a pick-and-roll is evidence enough.

Despite Warrick’s statistical accomplishments, things aren’t much better for Nash and the Suns. Lost in the Suns’ unconscious shooting exploits in a 121-116 victory over the Lakers Sunday night was the ongoing horror show of watching Nash dribble around desperately in search of someone to set a capable screen and roll to the basket. Both Nash and Stoudemire have lost something irreplaceable in each other.

While the Knicks plan to do their due diligence and inquire as to Nash’s availability, the Suns haven’t gotten to the point of entertaining offers, according to an executive familiar with their strategy. Coach Alvin Gentry already has made it clear publicly that the Suns aren’t trading Nash, and the executive familiar with the team’s posture characterized the flurry of rumors as “random” and “not factual.” But in Phoenix, as with many revenue-challenged NBA cities, basketball sense doesn’t always align with financial reality.

Without Stoudemire – and assuming they can’t make 20-plus 3-pointers a night for the rest of the season – the Suns will be struggling to get a whiff of the eighth seed come April. They’re the worst rebounding team in the league in terms of defensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding differential, and the loss of center Robin Lopez to a sprained knee certainly won’t help.

“We’ve got to be a little bit more scrappy than we’ve been in the past,” said Jared Dudley, a key member of the superior bench that made the Suns such a threat to the Lakers in the conference finals last spring.

But Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose non-basketball businesses in the banking and real estate sectors have been hammered by the recession, isn’t paying $63 million for a scrappy, barely .500 team. The Suns are comfortably below the $70.3 million luxury-tax threshold, so there’s no urgency there. However, Sarver has been one of the most vocal in a new wave of owners in the collective bargaining fight, and rival executives believe he’ll be on a rampage at the trade deadline if the Suns are out of the playoff hunt. That’s an eventuality the Suns hope to prevent, and despite their current upswing, it will prove to be a difficult fight.

“Hopefully we can get a couple of wins in a row so we can get those rumors away,” Dudley said of the Nash speculation. “You don’t want your franchise player to go. He makes everybody better here and he’s the face of Phoenix. If you think the transition is big with Amar’e, I can only imagine. It would be a journey having [Nash] leave.”

Which brings us to the next step in our journey, to the rest of the Post-Ups:

• With Jermaine O’Neal out several weeks with a sore left knee, you and I both know what name comes to mind as a free-agent replacement: Rasheed Wallace. While ‘Sheed’s agent, Bill Strickland, wouldn’t completely rule it out, it doesn’t sound like Wallace is even contemplating the possibility of coming out of retirement – for the Celtics or anybody else. “I have not talked to Danny [Ainge, the Celtics’ president] or Rasheed about that, but I think Rasheed is through,” Strickland said. Wallace, 36, isn’t believed to be working out on the court in any capacity in the event a team might be interested in his services. And while it’s hard to imagine Wallace coming back with the NBA’s tech-happy mandate to the referees, it’s more of a physical issue. As far back as when Wallace was still with the Pistons, he was known to sometimes leave his shoes on between games in order to keep playing. If he’d removed them, his ankles would’ve swelled up so badly that he wouldn’t have been able to get them back on.

• Leave it to the Zen Master to decode the mystery of Utah’s amazing string of double-digit road comebacks last week. Lakers coach Phil Jackson pointed out that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is perhaps the only NBA coach who elects to have his team play offense in front of his bench in the second half. Most coaches prefer to have their team in front of them on defense down the stretch of road games. Lo and behold, the Jazz reeled off double-digit road comebacks against Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte by pouring on the offense in the second half. Visiting coaches choose which basket to defend in which half. “You can generate a lot of points in front of your bench,” Jackson said. “Defensively, a lot of coaches like their team to be in front of the bench in the second half on the road, because you can call stuff and give eyes to the players with their back to the basket. They’re the only team in the NBA that does it the other way.”

Brandon Roy’s future with bone-on-bone in both knees bears watching, given that his game is based on getting to the basket and he’s only 26 – with a lot of mileage theoretically ahead of him. But Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and former consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers, said it depends on the extent of the damage and where it is. After his latest bout with knee swelling and pain last week, Roy learned that surgery was not an option because he has no meniscus left in either knee. DiNubile said Roy’s fate will be determined by whether he lacks cartilage, too. “It would be extremely unlikely at that age to have no meniscus and no cartilage,” DiNubile said. Whether the bone-on-bone condition is occurring in the actual knee joint (bad) or under the kneecap (still bad, but better) also is important. If the bone-on-bone situation is where the tibia meets the femur, “You’re kind of doomed,” DiNubile said. “That’s not compatible with up-and-down playing. If he were to have bone-on-bone in the main part of his knee, his career’s going to be limited one way or the other.” If the condition exists in the kneecap, DiNubile said athletes “can do surprisingly well.”

• As more than an innocent bystander in the Carmelo Anthony saga, Nuggets coach George Karl is more than doing his part by using his considerable powers of persuasion to try to keep Melo in Denver. But it’s impossible to evaluate Karl’s efforts on that front without noting his own pursuit of a contract extension. Two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com that the Nuggets view Karl as part of their future, regardless of whether Anthony stays. Whether Karl wants to remain in Denver if he winds up with a rebuilding team post-Anthony – that’s another matter. But despite Karl’s disenchantment with the ouster of his friends Mark Warkentien and Tim Grgurich, the lines of communication between Karl, GM Masai Ujiri, executive Josh Kroenke, and team president Paul Andrews are very much open. And weighing on the matter more than Anthony’s future is Karl’s health. Karl, 59, has several more hurdles to clear in his heroic efforts to beat throat and neck cancer, and wants to be sure he remains cancer-free before asking the Nuggets to commit to him beyond this season. Everyone in the NBA, including the Denver front office, is rooting for him.

Tayshaun Prince’s repeated blowups, with coach John Kuester giving as good as he’s getting, aren’t expected to play a major role in the Pistons’ decision on whether to trade the swingman and his $11.1 million expiring contract. A person with knowledge of Prince’s thinking told CBSSports.com that his frustration isn’t fully directed at Kuester; losing, after his time as a member of the formerly contending Pistons, is a bigger issue. But the biggest issue in the decision on whether to move him is the impending ownership change in Detroit. Trading an expiring deal, by definition, involves taking on future money – which is difficult, at best, to do when a new owner is entering the picture.

Kevin Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound game – an incredible performance and the first of its kind since Moses Malone in 1982 – was a quiet victory for Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis. Rambis had been trying to prove a point to Love by limiting his minutes: If you don’t play both ends of the floor, you’re not going to play. Rambis’ message finally got through, and the result was an example of what Love is capable of when he puts his mind to it. But this isn’t the end of the dysfunction in Minnesota, by any stretch. Just because Love performed in an historic way doesn’t mean he’s buying Rambis’ message long-term. And a person familiar with the Wolves’ locker room dynamics isn’t convinced it’s smooth sailing from here. “The team is a disaster,” the person said. Depending on who you ask, the issue is either lack of communication from Rambis, or an unwillingness to listen on the part of Love and others who are disenchanted with minutes. It’s going to take more time to sort it all out.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com