NOT THE BIGGEST NEWS….
But according to Chris Sheridan, the most likely news of the trade deadline will be that Will Bynum is traded. An explosive scorer with a small $3.25 million expiring deal, he can be an asset for any number of playoff bound teams so I have no problem giving Sheridan the benefit of the doubt. Of course, the devil in the details would be what the Pistons get back in a trade, but a trade sending Bynum out could only help Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
The Raptors will be among the more active teams in the rumor mill for the Andrea Bargnani situation alone, but also because GM Bryan Colangelo is fighting for his job and is seriously trying to win now. It’s unclear how much political capital he has, but Marc Stein’s report that the Raps were interested in Pau Gasol would fit in with the haymaker mentality over there right now. Before Stein’s report I mentioned how great it would be to plug Bargnani into Mike D’Antoni’s defenseless approach, and I would imagine that has to be the next shoe to drop if the rumor carries any weight.
Most importantly, this rumor hit before Pau got hurt, but any deal for the big man isn’t a short-term play. He has two more years and $20 million to go on his deal. It’s unclear what the Lakers would want back but with Jim Buss all but kicking Pau in the butt on his way out the door, I’m not going to summarily dismiss this rumor until it gets shot dead. I don’t think you bring that type of player and money on board when you want to develop Jonas Valanciunas, but again, Colangelo might not care about what happens two years from now. Owners should simply watch to see if this rumor can carry life on the other side of Pau’s injury.
COOL HAND LUKE
Mo Williams took to Twitter to express frustration with Bill Simmons discussing a potential trade sending Luke Ridnour to the Jazz, but in reality this has been reported by the local ESPN affiliate and Chris Sheridan as a possibility. Williams is recovering from his thumb injury and may think he’s coming along better than the Jazz think he is, but regardless of Williams’ feelings on the matter it makes sense that the Jazz are looking to bolster the position. Williams, making $8.5 million this season, will also be a free agent this summer, while Ridnour would be under contract next season for a more affordable $4.3 million. The Jazz could effectively give themselves leverage in negotiations with Williams, while looking to the draft for a ‘PG of the future,’ if they haven’t already decided that Williams is not in their long-term plans.
A move to Utah could be big for Ridnour, who has conveniently been ratcheting up the production in time to enhance his market value. Mired in a four-way timeshare at the guard slots in Minny, he could step into a starting job in Utah for a handful of weeks with the hopes that Williams’ return takes longer than expected. If you’re considering a stash of Williams, you may want to consider the idea that he could have competition, and Ridnour makes for a sneaky low-ball buy low target right now.
BUCKS IN FLUX
The Bucks are staring down a new ownership scenario and I don’t want to get Milwaukee fans in a tizzy but they are on the shortlist of teams that could face relocation. It’s early for that, but it’s out there. Luckily, GM John Hammond has been extended, but on the flip side they could be looking to get out from under big deals. Speaking of big deals, they are staring the Brandon Jennings situation in the face, as Jennings has retained agent Jeff Schwartz, a known proponent of moving his guys into bigger markets. Outside of Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson, there really aren’t any players that would be off limits and Jennings, Beno Udrih, Monta Ellis, and Samuel Dalembert have all had their names in the rumor mill. As mentioned, the Bucks have been linked to J.J. Redick, and the takeaway here is that owners will want to be ready to jump into whatever vacuum gets created. Udrih is a sneaky stash target right now if one or both starting guards get moved, and Dalembert owners will just want to see how things play out.
Eric Gordon is already grating on teammates and his knee/back issues can only be marketed if the parties involved are somehow aware that he is mailing it in, if indeed that is the case. That’s a hard line to tip-toe around and it’s more likely that he’s actually damaged goods. Still, reliable writer Sam Amick caught up with the situation the other day and reported that, while unlikely, the door is still cracked open for a trade and, if anything, it will be interesting to see if Gordon presses to get out of town. There’s so much working against a potential deal that owners can project Gordon using the status quo for now.
COVETING THE SHUMP
The Suns are throwing themselves at the Knicks it seems, going to games and scouting second-year guard Iman Shumpert recently. They’ve thrown Jared Dudley’s name into the mix along with a first round pick, but sources have told me that the rumor itself has cooled down over the past 24 hours. Surely Dudley can help the Knicks but so can Shumpert, and the Knicks (including Carmelo Anthony) don’t appear to be jumping out of their shoes to get older. Dudley probably has a better path to value in Phoenix, though that would assume that Lindsay Hunter and Co. decide that the trainwreck known as Michael Beasley isn’t the wagon they want to hitch up to anymore. The Suns are a barf-o-rama right now. Shumpert would become a must-own player in Phoenix based on his upside alone, so he will be a guy to stash if these rumors don’t go away. Right now, owners that decide to stash Shump do so at their own risk.
TURNING THE PAGE?
Evan Turner is a frustrating mess for Sixers fans, though his progress this season should be viewed as a win by most measures. Still, he can’t shake the inconsistency that has defined his career and the Sixers have put him out on the market, which I think is smart considering the word ‘potential’ can still be thrown around when talking about the former No. 2 pick. Already extended for next season, the Sixers will be looking at a question of extending him for the following year this summer. The team has some flexibility here, so they won’t bend over backwards to do a deal. Given the Sixers’ relative lack of depth and Turner’s sizable role, I’d be rooting for him to stick around if I owned him. Beyond that, there’s not enough information to assess any further fantasy impact.
ALL THAT JAZZ
It’s pretty clear that the Jazz want to trade some of their excess frontcourt talent, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they deal with the Al Jefferson situation. Jefferson’s name is bigger than his game now, and it was telling to me that Ric Bucher, whose reporting has slipped considerably over the past year, said that Jefferson was less likely than Paul Millsap to be traded. This is a case where I’d side with Bucher, though, as Jefferson is in the final year of his $15 million contract and he doesn’t play a lick of defense. Unless a team has a big expiring contract it will be difficult to find a match, when also considering that teams won’t want to part with anything of value unless they’re guaranteed to re-sign him.
The latter point is salient, because getting into the Jefferson business in the twilight of his career is probably a bad financial decision based on his market value. The far more compelling asset is Paul Millsap, and that would leave the Jazz with three bruisers in Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter, which isn’t ideal. I think the Jazz will work overtime to find a trade partner and end up giving Jefferson away at a big discount, or frustrate all of us by standing pat and dealing with the issue this summer. The easy analysis here is to stash Favors and I will probably make a decent effort to stash Kanter where I can in deeper leagues, too. It is also increasingly clear that the Jazz view Gordon Hayward as the future, and they’ve looked awful without him, and I’ll be scooping him up wherever he has been dropped unless we get unexpected bad news on his shoulder.
As for the Jefferson to San Antonio rumors, they have been shot down by the local paper but I think it’s a pretty good fit in the sense the Spurs need to make some waves with their aging roster. Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, and Stephen Jackson’s expiring deal are the cost, and I think the Spurs’ projection on what they think restricted free agent Splitter will cost this summer will be the tipping point here. Mills should be watched with one eye as a potential point guard solution in Utah if smoke thickens, while Jackson could complicate things for Hayward, but at this stage there’s nowhere near enough smoke to get me off my aforementioned position. The fact that the Jazz don’t need another big man could mean a third team gets involved, and with all the ‘what ifs’ this is just something for owners to monitor.
The Celtics are in the middle of the trade rumor storm, and their current winning streak has softened any talk of them throwing in the towel. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett rumors have died down for now, though Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass are legit trade candidates. The Grizzlies have expressed interest in Lee, and they have a $7.5 million trade exception to work with so there’s definitely smoke there. For what it’s worth, Zach Randolph rumors have died down. The Clippers were named in Pierce/Garnett rumors, with the prize being Eric Bledsoe, but now that those rumors are all-but dead look for Bledsoe’s name to start popping up elsewhere.
Masai Ujiri said he doesn’t want to trade Andre Miller and George Karl doesn’t believe the Nuggets will be dealing this year. The team is leaning toward keeping Timofey Mozgov, but Marc Stein believes that could be posturing. The Warriors are getting offers on Harrison Barnes but won’t move him barring a great deal according to beat writer Marcus Thompson, which smells a whole lot like a team leaking a report to drum up interest. I could be wrong, but that’s my gut talking, and the Warriors need an interior defender bad.
Stein believes that Danny Granger could conceivably be traded, though he points out that a Rockets team that was once interested is no longer so. The Wolves have a split opinion about Nikola Pekovic’s long-term status with the team, and it stands to reason that if they determine he is not then he would be a very nice trade chip. The Thunder have received numerous inquiries about Eric Maynor according to Marc Spears, and that also sounds like a report to drum up interest. He lost his rotation spot to Reggie Jackson at one point this season but was previously thought to be one of the league’s better backup signal callers.
The Suns have unsuccessfully shopped backup PG Sebastian Telfair, and while I can’t imagine dealing him when my backup is Kendall Marshall, that’s the type of player that is often dealt. DeMarcus Cousins is off limits in any deal, because the Maloofs are in stage 532 of reenacting the movie Major League and new potential owners in Seattle or Sacramento will want to make that type of call. One has to think that Tyreke Evans falls into the same category, and Aaron Brooks is probably the most likely name to get dealt. It's conceivable the Kings go under a no trade clause of their own this year.