Tag:Houston Rockets
Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 9:20 pm
 

Rockets C Yao Ming will attempt comeback

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming discusses the progress of his rehabilitation from a foot injury and his desire to come back to the court. Posted byyao-mingBen Golliver.

Back in December, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming suffered a stress fracture of his ankle that required season-ending surgery and threatened to end his career.

On Thursday, Yao met with media members to provide an update on his progress and to make it clear he is working towards a comeback to the court. NBA.com has video of his comments.

"I've been doing well," Yao told reporters. "Once in awhile, seeing the doctors, checking to see how things are going. I'm happy about the progress and [I'm going to] try to make it back. They said I probably need another 10 weeks before I can start running on the court. That's as far as I know."

Later, he added, "I still have very limited workouts. I cannot walk with my full weight." 

Yao, a free agent this summer, said he was unable to give a firm estimate on when he might return to the court and hadn't yet thought about his future, which may or may not come with the Rockets. "Right now it's more focused on my injury. About the future, it all depends on this foot." He did say that he enjoys playing in Houston. "I like it here. I'm used to playing here. I'm really, really comfortable."

He also said it was too early to tell whether he would be the same player he has been in the past. "The foot will tell me how much I can get back," Yao said. Asked whether he would be disappointed if wasn't able to play again, Yao said: "That's a sad question, first of all. If there's a possibility that I'm not going to come back to play, I'm going to tell myself I already did everything I can."

Asked when a decision about his future might come, Yao said, "After the lockout, I guess." He then caught himself and laughed, "We're not allowed to talk about this."

As Yao was only able to appear in five games this season, the Rockets have made due with a small frontline that includes Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and Jordan Hill. Houston also traded for project center Hasheem Thabeet at the deadline, but Rockets coach Rick Adelman has expressed concern about Thabeet's role going forward given his lack of experience. Meanwhile, the 33-33 Rockets are in the basement of the Southwest Division and on pace to miss the playoffs for the second straight season.

In other words, the Rockets still badly need a center. However, they need one now and may not be able to wait indefinitely to check on Yao's progress. Persistent injuries have kept Yao from the court for major portions of four of the last five seasons and it may be time for the Rockets to go a different direction. Yao was rumored to be on the block prior to the trade deadline, as his massive $17.7 million expiring contract could have allowed a rebuilding team to shed long-term salary committments. 

The Rockets didn't move him, however, so his future, and his future in Houston, remains up in the air.
Posted on: March 4, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 5:03 pm
 

The race for 8 in the West

Posted by Matt Moore

First-round fodder. Opening round patsies. Target practice. These are the kinds of terms used for the low playoff seeds each year. The NBA, more than any other sport, crowns a legitimate champion each year, in large part due to the difficulty of lesser teams to overcome better teams in a seven-game series. As a result, when you have eight teams from each conference to make the playoffs, you're going to have a whole lot of beatdowns. And we'll certainly see the same this year, with the conferences more top-heavy than ever.  So in reality, the 6-7-8 seeds are largely irrelevant in the discussion of basketball that "matters."

But at the same time, making the playoffs is at once a huge reward for some teams and a dangerous development for others. In the realest sense, making the playoffs is a good thing. To put it simply, it means more money. More money for management, more money for ownership, more money for players. It gives the fans the experience of games that "matter" and pride in being in that tier of players. Often times, it's necessary to satisfy a fanbase's need for a team to legitimize itself, to throw the fans a bone. And at the end of the day, it means winning, and that's what sports is about.

But there's a downside. Making the playoffs can create a false sense of progress, convincing teams who are in need of a revamp that they are headed in the right direction. It becomes a crutch financially, forcing teams to make desperation moves to make the playoffs only to be swept out, which gets to be a huge detriment in fans' attitude after a few years, even worse than not making the playoffs.

In the West this year, we have a nice combination of both sides of the coin, and the answers to whether the playoffs are a good or bad thing is unclear. But there's a fascinating group vying for those final seeds as we head down the stretch, like lambs vying for the slaughter.

THE NEAR-LOCKS

Denver Nuggets

Outlook: 37-26.  The Nuggets lost Melo, and have now won three straight. They are sharing the ball, playing with emotion, fighting in tough games, making the plays they need to in order to win, and invigorating the fanbase. But they have yet to face an elite team.  In the next month, they have Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, and Atlanta. So there's going to be some discovery in terms of who the Nuggets are. They're riding a huge wave of emotion following the trade, but there's a question if that's going to hold. They do have a four game advantage over the ninth seeded Suns, but that's not a monstrous gap. With Memphis improving and Portland having acquired an All-Star, the Nuggets could find themselves in a dogfight very quickly if things change. But with Ty Lawson emerging with Aaron Afflalo, Nene holding down the middle and George Karl coaching his rear off, you have to like Denver's chances to at least make the playoffs.

Best-case scenario: They make the playoffs as the fifth seed following a huge fall by the Hornets, and wind up pushing Oklahoma City around due to their relative inexperience. A great playoff run sets them up for the future as a core that plays together, even without a star.

Worst-case scenario: The emotion runs out, the injuries pile up, and the team winds up in the lottery where they only have about seven tradeable assets, extra picks and cap flexibility. So pretty much, Denver's okay no matter what.

Portland TrailBlazers

Outlook: 34-27.  The Blazers just added a former All-Star in Gerald Wallace to make a push for the playoffs. They sloughed off very little salary, so they must make the playoffs. It's imperative for Paul Allen all the way down to the fans. They have to make the playoffs, make some money, and give the fans some hope in a season that's seen massive injuries. Again. They Blazers were at a position to either bail on the current core and rebuild or make a big push for the future. They chose to try and win now.


Ten of the next fourteen games for the Blazers are against current playoff teams. The going gets tough from here on out and the Blazers will be fighting tooth and nail to hang on to their spot.

Best-case scenario: A sixth seed appearance versus the Lakers, leading to a seven-game push to make a statement against the rivals. Blazers fans will tell you that they have a chance against the Mavericks. Blazer fans, as much I love them, are wrong. The Mavs are too good, too deep, and can match up too well with the Blazers.  Besides, wouldn't pushing the Lakers be more satisfying for Blazers fans?

Worst-case scenario: Not making the playoffs is a disaster to the degree that it's nearly inconceivable. If it were to happen, it would be simply horrific for the franchise at all levels. A more likely worst-case scenario is winding up in the 8th spot and getting swept by the Spurs. A first-round sweep would be severely disappointing for how emotional this season has been for the Blazers, especially after bringing in Wallace.

Memphis Grizzlies


Outlook: 34-28. Not a lock, by any means, but Memphis is making a strong push. They're on a roll, offensively and defensively, and this is without Rudy Gay. They've added Shane Battier and Leon Powe since the deadline, giving them much improved depth, and having Jason Williams as an actual viable back-up PG helps tremendously. The Grizzlies finally have a bench, O.J. Mayo actually looks better after his suspension, the team is playing together, and everything looks right for them to make a push. But of the next 14 games for Memphis to finish March, 12 are against current playoff opponents and one is against Utah, the 10th seed. These aren't weak playoff teams, either, with the Hornets, Spurs, Heat, Magic, Celtics, Mavericks, and Bulls among them. If Memphis makes it out of April in the same position they're in now, they'll be a lock. If not, they could plummet.

Best-case scenario: A first-round matchup against the Lakers in a 2 vs. 7 seed battle, with the Lakers still in cruise control, as the Grizzlies manage to win one in L.A. and one in Memphis to force a six-game series. That's a huge step for the franchise rebuilding from the Pau trade. Bringing the Lakers in for the playoff games is great for revenue, but terrible for home support as half the crowd would be bandwagon Lakers fans. Any other matchup simply wouldn't draw as well for the team, which says a lot about the fanbase itself.

Worst-case scenario: Missing the playoffs isn't a huge deal versus getting swept. Even without their 2011 first-rounder, the Grizzlies have a solid core for the future and some options for what they want to do. But making the first round of the playoffs as an eight seed, drawing San Antonio, and getting swept in a poor draw matchup to keep revenue low and the franchise without a playoff win? That's the worst of all worlds.

THE LONGER SHOTS

Phoenix Suns


Outlook: How are they still here? They lost Jason Richardson, gained Vince Carter, have very little to rely on and are still hanging around at 31-28, just a game and a half back of the Grizzlies. Phoenix just doesn't know when to quit and with this group of veterans, they could be dangerous down the stretch. If you want to bet against Steve Nash, you go right ahead. I'll be over here. The Suns' schedule isn't tremendously difficult to go from here on out, but with their style, that's not necessarily a good thing. The Suns are 7-8 against "average" teams in the league, so there's no way of knowing how they'll do night to night.

Best-case scenario: Missing the playoffs. Missing the playoffs might prompt a full blow-up from management which would benefit the Suns long-term and push them away from NBA purgatory, constantly floating around the eighth seed. A full revamp with Alvin Gentry at the helm may lead to some progress and some moevement towards another shot at contention down the line. But given Robert Sarver's history, he wants that playoff dough.

Worst-case scenario: Making the eighth seed and getting blown out of the water by the Spurs. After the cathartic release for the fans last year in beating the Spurs, losing to San Antonio again would crush them. So there's that. A four game sweep by any of the top seeds would be extremely likely and extremely disappointing.

Utah Jazz


Outlook: 32-30. Watch out for flying wheels. The Jazz can't contend with the juggernauts, and are even bleeding against mediocre teams. The Jazz knew they'd be rebuilding after Deron Williams, but their playoff odds are spiraling out. The future's bright, but things don't look great for the Jazz making the playoffs at this point. The good news is the Jazz have a weaker schedule than most of their competitors.

Best-case scenario: A solid run as the team starts to gel, makes the playoffs and manages to avoid playing the Lakers. Even getting swept by San Antonio would be preferable to losing to L.A. at this point. Making the playoffs puts faith back in the franchise and gets the team more money.

Worst-case scenario: Missing the playoffs after the promise of this season would be devastating. Getting blasted out of the first round by L.A. would be similarly upsetting, even though the revenue would be nice. But missing the playoffs seems like a very real possibility at this point.

Honorable Mention: The Rockets could make a run. They've started defending better and moving Aaron Brooks has helped them in serious ways.  But they're four games back, and that's a steep hill to climb for a team without a true star, with a defense that's still sub-par. They have to be considered the longest shot, and not just for current position.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Report: Jared Jeffries to sign with Knicks

Posted by Royce Young

In the massive Carmelo Anthony trade, the Knicks opened up a roster spot. They look to fill it Friday morning with Jared Jeffries who is expected to be bought out by the Rockets, tweets Alan Hahn of Newsday.

Jeffries of course was a member of the Knicks last season before being sent with Jordan Hill to Houston for Tracy McGrady.

Obviously the Rockets are looking to save some cash and don't have a ton of reason to keep Jeffries as he's sort of buried behind Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson.

The Knicks are looking for a little more help inside and on the wing, so Jeffries will definitely help them there. He's an underrated defender and uses his length really well. He's not an impressive scorer, but he's tough and gritty. Most years, Jeffries is near the top in the league in charges drawn.

Where exactly he fits into the rotation is yet to be seen. He can play small forward or power forward, but will likely be used backing up Carmelo Anthony, as well as playing some interior minutes behind Amar'e Stoudemire.

What Jeffries gives the Knicks is depth, something they're lacking after sending 45 players to the Nuggets to get Melo. Jeffries isn't the big man to solve all of the Knicks interior defensive and rebounding issues, but he's certainly someone that will help.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Trade Deadline: Suns look to future with Brooks

Posted by Royce Young

Any other deadline day, Aaron Brooks going to Phoenix would feel like really big news. But in week where roughly 10 percent of the league was traded, included something like eight All-Stars, it sort of got overlooked.

The Rockets have been talking about moving Brooks for some time as he's kind of soured in Houston. They're fine with handing the team to Kyle Lowry and heck, maybe even Dragic now who is a pretty good point guard. They also get a nice first-round pick from Phoenix, which is always an added bonus.

Houston was itching to make some kind of deal the entire deadline. For whatever reason, Daryl Morey wanted to move some pieces around. The Rockets kept trying to say they weren't moving Brooks, but the closer things got, the more obvious it was getting. Houston wasn't committing to him long-term, he was souring in his role with the team and wasn't getting along with Rick Adelman.

Strike one, two and three.

The Suns on the other hand, get last season's Most Improved winner and a decent heir to Steve Nash's throne. Of course Brooks is a restricted free agent so something will have to be settled there, but Phoenix likely didn't make this deal just to let Brooks walk. At some point they will need a new point guard and Brooks looks to be their man.


Again, the key is figuring out how Brooks fits in long-term. If Phoenix isn't willing to pay him, then all they ended up with was two months of backup duty and a small improvement over Dragic at that position.

So it's clear the the Suns will do everything necessary to keep him. He should fit well into the up-and-down system Alvin Gentry runs and as a scoring point guard, will likely enjoy his role. He's got to get back to the player he was in 2009-10 though. He has to find the confidence and playmaking ability that won him the Most Improved trophy.

The Rockets didn't get any worse with the trade, but definitely didn't improve. The pick is the nice part for them. Phoenix on the other hand may have gotten a steal, but that's only if they can find the old Aaron Brooks.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Trade Tracker: Grizzlies trade Thabeet to Rockets

An updating list of trades at the NBA Trade Deadline. Posted by EOB staff. 

The Memphis Grizzlies trade Hasheem Thabeet and a first round pick to the Houston Rockets for Shane Battier

Memphis receives: Shane Battier and Ish Smith
Houston receives: Hasheem Thabeet and a first round pick


Analysis: Hasheem Thabeet, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, has so far been a bust. He's a huge, young and raw player that needs hours and hours of player development work. Trading for him and his fairly large (for a rookie scale contract) salary is a bit of a gamble, but the Rockets need to address the middle given the uncertain future of center Yao Ming. Shane Battier has long been regarded as one of the league's best defenders but his contract is expiring this season and would be a solid, veteran asset for a title contender next season. The Rockets add to their stockpile of picks and give up Ish Smith, a seldom-used guard averaging 2.6 points and 2.3 assists in 11.8 minutes off the bench. The Grizzlies do this to cut bait on Thabeet and avoid paying the rest of his contract, turning instead to the futures of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Report: Celtics discussing deal to land Battier

Posted by Royce Young

According to ESPN.com, the Celtics and Rockets are discussing a deal to send Shane Battier to Boston. Not only is Battier a productive veteran with applicable tools, but he's got that always attractive expiring contract as well ($7.4 million).

This one seems unlikely and I'm only passing it on because it's out there. And because it also illustrates how hard Boston is working to find another perimeter player. With Marquis Daniels out for at least a few more weeks because of a bruised spinal cord and the unpredictable health of Delonte West, the Celtics are certainly buyers right now.

The problem for the Celtics is though that they don't really have lucrative trade pieces to interest Houston that much. I doubt Semih Erden and Avery Bradley really strike Daryl Morey's fancy all that much. And again, because of the contract situation with Battier, he's all the more attractive. Meaning other teams can call the Rockets and offer something much better than the Celtics.

The Celtics have also reportedly inquired about Cleveland's Anthony Parker, which would be a deal that's a lot more probable than landing a valued piece like Battier.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:03 am
 

NBA Trade Deadline: Ten Most Wanted

With the NBA trade deadline approaching, we take a look at the league's ten most wanted players for acquisition before Thursday afternoon.
Posted by Matt Moore

The NBA trade deadline is just three days away (Thursday, February 24th at 3 p.m. EST). The Melo trade has held up a lot of movement but there's a lot of talk bubbling beneath it. With it expected to be resolved in the next 24 to 48 hours (like we've said about ten times, but bear with us), it's going to be a fast and furious final trade season under the current CBA agreement.  Many are predicting a toned down deadline due to the CBA, but there are enough buyers (Houston, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey) and enough sellers (Portland, Indiana, Charlotte) to make for some interesting developments as we head down the stretch. But who are the players that everyone's clamoring for? And why are they worth that much?

Saddle up, partner. Here's the true grit behind our NBA Trade Deadline 10 Most Wanted. 

1. Carmelo Anthony: Melo, naturally, is the most wanted. It's not just the vast history of all this nonsense; it's how it's come down to the wire. Two teams, both of which will be located in New York in 2012, with rich, eccentric owners, throwing out asset after asset to try and acquire the All-Star. Anthony's worth it. Even with his defensive issues and relative inefficiency compared to his fellow elite players, Anthony can score anytime, anywhere, anyway. He's a clutch performer who can take over a ballgame and having a 1-2 punch between him and either Amar'e Stoudemire or Brook Lopez would significantly boost the Knicks' or Nets' hopes for the future. His agents have kept the pressure on since July, and Denver has been slowly losing their resolve to keep him. The odds are heavily favored that Anthony will be moved sometime this week and it will kick off a series of deals with the other front offices around the league. And then the New York/New Jersey circus will really kick off. 

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports Monday that that the Nets may actually be trying to get two of the assets the Nuggets would get in a deal with the Knicks for two first rounders. If that works out, the Knicks and Nets will combine to give Denver two starters and three picks. It's not the loaded deal the Nets were offering for Anthony, but it's still an insane wagon-full of assets. If they wind up with Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and three first-round picks in exchange for just Melo and Billups, they've still lost because they lost an All-Star. But they also will have successfully set the team up to immediately turn around and compete right off the bat. They'll still be able to move J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and have Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo to build around along with Nene. This is the dream scenario for the Nugget if they have to trade with New York. 

2. Andre Iguodala: Iggy has been on the market for literally years. He's the consummate supporting player, able to pass, rebound, and score. He's never played alongside a top-flight point guard (sorry Philly fans, Jrue Holiday's not there yet), and has had to play the part of the primary offensive option, which he's ill-suited for. The Sixers have recently made quite a bit of noise about him not going anywhere, which frankly, baffles us. They have Evan Turner who has shown significant signs of progress as the season has progressed, and his value on the market trumps his value to the team as it tries to build a new core. But he has $44 million left on his contract, which is a big price tag to swallow for a guy who should probably be no more than third option on offense. That's not a knock on Iguodala, as we've come to understand the things he does defensively and in support for the system are nearly invaluable, and that's before we factor in his locker room leadership. If a team decides it wants to make a big move and has young assets to spend, Iguodala is a prime target for a late push.

The real answer to whether Iguodala will be moved is whether Rod Thorn and coach Doug Collins think that he's able to co-exist with Evan Turner, and if they think Iguodala can continue to be the face of the franchise with so much young talent around him. Jrue Holiday, Turner, an improved season from Thaddeus Young, and even with Elton Brand performing better than expected. At the same time, the Sixers are right in the playoff hunt, in an underwhelming middle of the Eastern Conference, and a great shot at making a run this season. However, the Sixers would be foolish to commit to Iguodala, turning down a good offer for him just to make the playoffs and get run out of the building in the first round. Part of putting your team in a position to win championships isn't just figuring out what will work, but what won't. Iguodala will continue to elicit calls right up until the deadline, big contract or no.

3. Andre Miller:  Old man game in the house!  Miller is an aging, veteran point guard who has proven he can still drop 40 every once in a while. You know exactly what you're getting with Miller. He is a consistent, reliable scorer who lacks upside and athleticism, but always manages to find a way to get it done. He's a relative steal at $3.6 million (prorated) for this season and $7.8 million non-guaranteed for next season. That means two different types of teams can vie for him: those seeking a veteran point guard upgrade to push them over the top, and those looking to dump salary next year while giving their team a reliable fill in for the remainder of the year. The Blazers have been so-so on Miller since he arrived as a free agent in 2009, clashing with Nate McMillan. But those problems were resolved quickly and he's grown to be a strong force in the locker room, the steady hand on a ship filled to the brim with the injured. Yet, he's 34 and the Blazers look to go younger. Miller has repeatedly been listed as a target in a potential Devin Harris trade, among others.  The Blazers may look to keep him order to push for the playoff income, especially given his ability to connect with LaMarcus Aldridge, but if Rich Cho elects for a full-scale revamp for the long-term, Miller will be one of the first assets put on the block, and one of the first to attract multiple offers. 

Miller's attitude may be a huge factor. He doesn't want to leave the Blazers, but is also tired of being discussed under trade talk. Moving to a rebuilding project, however, would be extremely difficult for him at this point in his career and could create an ugly situation with any team that trades for him who isn't on the up and up. On the flip side, he's a perfect option for a contending team looking to acquire a capable back-up point guard to get them over the top. While there's been little noise about this, Orlando would be one team you'd think might be giving Portland a call to inquire about Miller, should the Nets not immediately move Harris for Miller in the next few days, either through Denver or independently.

4. Marcus Camby: Speaking of the Blazers, they've got another aged, talented, productive player starting for them, and he too could be on the move. Camby has a little less than $17 million (prorated) left on his contract. He's a versatile, talented defensive center who can impact a game at both ends, is reliable and capable. He's a seasoned veteran who does his job, has an expiring contract after 2012, and can push a contender over the top. The only problem? He doesn't want to leave. Sources have said he would "contemplate retirement" if he was traded to a rebuilding situation, and his agent has talked strongly about how much he wants to stay in Portland, where he's moved his family. We've seen this before, as older players really love the atmosphere and lifestyle of raising their families in Portland, on a team with a loving fanbase that always tries to contend. Still, Camby can't control what happens, and if presented with an opportunity to win a ring, he would likely welcome the opportunity wholeheartedly. 

The same problem exists for Rich Cho with Camby as it does with Miller. They're both huge reasons why the Blazers are still in the playoff hunt and moving them would almost certainly result in a drop to the lottery. The Blazers are likely aiming to get a deal that frees them up long-term while still taking on players of a solid caliber. They know it will be difficult to improve with a trade for Camby, but they may be able to move his conract while still adding talent to keep them in the same place. Houston has been mentioned by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger as a possible destination for Camby.

5. O.J. Mayo:  Talk about a bad year. In Summer League, the Grizzlies pressed O.J. Mayo to play point guard, resulting in some terrible, turnover-filled performances after which he was yanked following a handful of performances. He was cut from Team USA despite their need for perimeter shooting. In preseason, Lionel Hollins questioned him publicly. He started the year in a shooting slump, so significant that Hollins decided to move him to the bench, in order to improve their bench scoring, the first time Mayo has come off the bench in organized ball in his life, mostly likely. His name started to appear in trade rumors. He watched as Mike Conley got a $40 million extension, with Lionel Hollins backing him for two years despite his struggles, while Mayo was yanked to the bench at the first sign of a slump. He got into a fight with Tony Allen on a team flight over a gambling dispute and got his lights knocked out. And then he got busted for a performance-enhancing drug, earning him a ten-game suspension. 

So why then is Mayo then such a popular trade prospect? Because he's very good. In his first two years in the league he was a high-level perimeter threat, able to score both in spot-up situations and off the dribble. He has a ways to go on defense, particularly against larger two guards where he's almost always undersized, but he shows great quickness and anticipation. He's still on his rookie contract and will be an RFA under the newly modified CBA next summer, meaning he's not a risk to depart a team that acquires him. And he's one of the few players who is truly capable of dropping 30 on a given night when he's hot. He's everything you want in a trade prospect. Unwanted by his team, available for affordable extension, talented, still with upside, and with low trade value due to off-the-court issues and team decisions which don't signify long-term problems. The Grizzlies have consistently said publicly that they plan to re-sign Mayo and not trade him. But there have been suggestions across the league that teams have inquired about him and received positive feedback that he can be had for the right price, though that's expected to possibly be too high. Mayo is teetering on the very edge of a move. If a GM gets itchy to acquire a player of that ilk, he's likely to go. 

6. Aaron Brooks: Seems like only yesterday he was carving up the Lakers in the 2009 playoffs, prompting L.A. fans abroad to ask "Who IS this guy?!" Now he's an upcoming free agent without an extension, disgruntled and unhappy as the Rockets have done what they usually do. Get the most out of a player's ability without ever over-committing to a contract they would regret later. They did the same thing with Carl Landry, eventually signing him on the cheap, then trading him to Sacramento for Kevin Martin. Now they face a similar situation with Brooks, only he represents an expiring contract, increasing his trade value. 

Brooks' value on the open market isn't sky high. He's an undersized point guard who's not particularly efficient. He doesn't have insane athleticism, nor does he possession tremendous vision .He's just a good, solid, young point guard who can be had for a reasonable price. And even with the depth of the point guard position, those are still valuable. Brooks has incredible speed and is a tremendous finisher at the basket. He's had some trouble with Adelman but this season has been the first where he's struggled with team issues. What's more, the Rockets won't horde him, trying to get the most value out of him. Instead, he can be had in a combination package with some of the rest of the Rockets' young talent. But Brooks can be used as the centerpiece in the deal. A team looking for a backup point guard to provide scoring will likely look to Brooks first when they go to market. 

7. Andrei Kirilenko: It's baffling that in the midst of what seems more and more like a disastrous season for the Utah Jazz, Andrei Kirilenko's name hasn't started foaming from sources' mouths like the sources have Russian Freak Wing Rabies. Kirilenko is 29 with several good years still left in him, averages 13, 6, and 3, with 1 steal and 1 block in 32 minutes per game. But biggest of all? He has a $17.8 million expiring contract. Close to $18 million coming off the books. There's been a lot of talk that expiring contracts won't hold as much value this year with the CBA coming up, which doesn't make a lot of sense. For starters, the new CBA likely won't affect luxury tax payments for this season. Next, even if the cap is decreased significantly, and even if it is made into a hard cap, space under that cap will still be valuable. Especially for teams looking to park contracts like Kirilenko's to get rid of their players and change things up. Kirilenko isn't the star the Jazz hoped he would be when they signed him to his last contract. But he's still a tall, strong, veteran player who can contribute to a contending team, or help a rebuilding franchise transition. Kirilenko will likely start popping up in rumors as the deadline draws nearer. 

The problem is that even by paying for a rental with Kirilenko, you don't know what you're going to get. His time with Utah has been described with significant high points and low points. He's been a big reason for the Jazz' continued success, but has also never taken the next step that management thought he would when the signed him to the extension. Teams trading for him have little way to tell how he would react in another locker room, and that's a big gamble for the remainder of his $17.8 million contract. 


8. Devin Harris: Harris was thought to be the building block of the Nets' rebuilding project when they traded Jason Kidd for him. But he's only been above average, never great, especially after that first season. When the Nets were in the lead for the John Wall sweepstakes last year, which of course they lost, there was rampant talk that the Nets would trade Harris once assured of the No.1 pick. We never got to find out the answer to that as the Nets wound up with Derrick Favors, instead. Harris isn't as young as some folks think, turning 28 three days after the deadline. But he's in his prime, and still able to run an offense, has little injury history, good explosiveness, nice scoring ability and good vision. Which is why he's been a part of the Nets' talks for Melo since the beginning, and why should a deal fall through for Anthony, he's likely on his way out anyway. 

Harris has suffered with poor teammates but the thoughts from several front office officials is that he could produce were he on a contending team. It's difficult to go from a playoff team like Dallas to a rebuilding project, especially when his second season in New Jersey was historically bad. Throw in the weight of trade rumors hovering overhead and there's enough to cloud the issue of Harris' performance. But the Nets will have to capitalize while that value is still in effect or they'll wind up with nothing for him. Portland has expressed interest several times, including the aforementioned deal for Andre Miller, and Dallas has shown similar interest. 

9. Stephen Jackson / Gerald Wallace: One of them will probably go. Not both, most likely, but one. The Bobcats need to cut salary. They're looking at an uphill climb to the playoffs, and even then the odds of any progress there are nonexistent. They need to get rid of some of the older players on large, sizeable contracts, and these two represent their biggest sale items for such a move. Jackson has been involved in more talks. He's a veteran scorer who can drop 30 regularly, has played on a championship team (Spurs 2003), has led the most unlikely upset in NBA playoff history with the Warriors, and is respected across the league as a fierce competitor and locker-room leader. 

Sure, he's a little nuts, but who isn't? Jackson's off the court issues have vanished with age, and now his biggest liability is his contract. Golden State surrendered a massive extension to him that leaves over $20 million still left on his contract over the next two and a half years, all guaranteed. Jackson will be 35 when his contract expires. That's a pretty old player with a less-than-elite ceiling to be paying over $10 million to. But considering the possibility of CBA rollbacks on current contracts, and the chance for Jackson to contribute to a winner, he's likely going to be high on the list. The Mavericks have been most prominently discussed as a viable buyer, with Caron Butler's expiring as bait.

Wallace on the other hand was an All-Star last season, is only 28, and is a high-price addition. He's got $21 million left on his deal over three-years, and a player option for the third year. But Wallace could contribute immediately to a contender. He's a wing that can rebound, provide assists and scoring, and is an elite defender. He's reliable and has no discernibly blatant weaknesses in his game, despite a low ceiling for performance. Wallace isn't going to drop 40 on you, but he is going to stuff the stat sheet every night. Jackson has received more attention, but it's Wallace who may wind up getting stronger offers he can't refuse as the deadline nears.

10. Ramon Sessions: Sessions was drafted in the second round, spent time in the D-League, then showed up with the Bucks and  immediately showed promise. But he was then buried by Scott Skiles, and wound up signing an offer sheet with Minnesota, who of course, mishandled him, then traded him to Cleveland. Sessions has played for most of the season as the starting point guard for the team who lost the most consecutive games in history (with Mo Williams missing significant time due to injury). So why are so many teams interested in him?

Because he's talented, consistent, and efficient. Sessions has a strong ability to attack the basket, good handle, and is cheap. He's got just $10 million left on his deal over three years with a player option in the third year. He has a 19 PER and has proven to be coachable, talented, and has considerable growth potential. He's simply been passed from one bad team to the next. On a good team he could wind up as a serious addition off the bench. Which is why the Knicks and Hawks have both made inquiries about him. Sessions is the kind of player who deserves a fresh start. Maybe he'll get one to get off this disaster of a Cavs team. Either way, expect a lot of talk about him before Thursday afternoon.

(All salary info courtesy of ShamSports .)

Posted on: February 16, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 5:33 pm
 

Jamison drawing interest, Cavs hold exception

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers could be active trade deadline players. Posted by Ben Golliver. antawn-jamison

In his trade deadline roundup this morning, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger noted that the Cleveland Cavaliers could be an active player, with forward Antawn Jamison drawing interest from the New Orleans Hornets.
Hornets GM Dell Demps is said to be seeking a big man who can give New Orleans a little more post presence on the offensive end, and executives are openly wondering if Demps will be so bold as to chase Cleveland's Antawn Jamison. Despite financial struggles that have resulted in the team being taken over by NBA ownership, the Hornets have cornered the market in the area of taking on future money for short-term improvements (i.e. Trevor Ariza and Jarrett Jack). Execs expect them to make another such move, but getting Jamison from Cleveland -- either via a trade or an unlikely buyout -- likely would yield a flood of complaints from many of the 29 teams that essentially own the Hornets. Jamison is owed $15.1 million next season, an obligation that would seem to be pushing whatever boundaries are inherent in the league's cooperative stewardship of the franchise.
The Cavs would have to be incentivized to part with Jamison, who isn't said to be pushing an exit strategy and whose leadership will be needed to guide the Cavs through the rest of this trying season. The Hornets have the ability to seek more modest improvements, given their multiple trade exceptions and the $4.6 million they have to spend up to the luxury-tax threshold.
Yahoo! Sports also notes New Orleans' interest in Jamison. 
New Orleans has a strong interest in Cleveland Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison, but no team seems willing to trade for the two years, and $28 million left on his contract. Cleveland has shown no desire to negotiate a buyout on Jamison’s contract, and sources said Jamison isn’t going to pressure the issue.
It's more than reasonable for Cleveland to want to be rid of Jamison. He was last year's band-aid, a deadline move to push the Cavaliers over the top in the arms race for Eastern Conference supremacy. In the past year, Cleveland's roster and outlook have flipped 180 degrees, as forward LeBron James skipped town, the team has suffered through an NBA-record losing streak and now must understake a full-scale rebuild.

Getting off of Jamison's contract - $13.4 million this year, $15.1 million next year - would be ideal for Cleveland, but it's not their only potential option. As Berger notes, they have an excellent trade deadline chip in the form of the trade exception created by James' move to Miami.
The Cavs are aggressively testing the waters to see what kind of assets they can expect to accumulate by volunteering to use their $14.6 million trade exception from LeBron's departure as a parking lot for other teams' unwanted contracts. Cleveland is seeking to use that cap space to acquire draft picks and young players -- a sound strategy, especially considering that the Cavs can use all the room without putting themselves in luxury-tax jeopardy.
One possible scenario for using the trade exception would be to accept salary from a team that's currently a luxury tax payer but is close enough to the tax line to get under. Two teams in that situation are the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets. The great thing about using an exception at the deadline is that the Cavs would only have to pay the remaining money on any contract they trade for while the team trading the contract gets to enjoy having the player's full cap number come off their books. Often, teams trading a player in such a scenario are able to cover the remaining salary owed to that player in the form of a cash payment, leaving the team holding the trade exception free of financial commitment. Clearly, using exceptions at the deadline is by far the best time to use them from a financial standpoint.

Even if the Cavs are unable to hit a home run and escape Jamison's contract, they can still hit a solid double to the wall if they are able turn that trade exception into a first round pick or even multiple second round picks. Any additional asset is helpful during a rebuild. Unfortunately for Cleveland, both Portland and Houston are run by new-school GMs that value their draft picks and will likely try to drive a hard bargain. In this case, though, the potential financial benefits should be fairly powerful, and it's fair to say that the Cavs would be letting a golden opportunity pass by if they can't find a way to use their exception.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com