NBA Trade Rumors: 8 Players Destined to Have New Homes by the Deadline
The NBA trade deadline is still a little over a month away but that doesn't mean the rumor mills aren't churning like we're into the final 24 hours. Plenty of names have been bandied about when it comes to trade rumors, both big (Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol) and smaller (Ramon Sessions).
There has been no shortage of intrigue on this topic ever since the lockout ended and the sweepstakes began with the Chris Paul trade. That level stands to be ratcheted up in a big way over the next month. So with that, let's look at some potential movers between now and March 15th.
Stephen Jackson, Milwaukee
Jackson, a noted hothead who is now on his seventh team in a 14-year career, has already been suspended, fined and benched in barely a month as a Buck. He's bounced back from a recent, five-game hiatus (imposed by coach Scott Skiles) during which he played a grand total of nine-and-a-half minutes to average 15.5 points in his last two games while playing roughly 30 minutes per night.
Jackson is a proven scorer (16.2 PPG for his career) and leader who's been a majorly important cog on a couple of playoff teams (Golden State, San Antonio) while also being a textbook knucklehead for a couple of teams going nowhere (Charlotte, the post-brawl Indiana Pacers). The Bucks, who skew young and are looking to make a playoff push after taking a step back last season, would be best served in trading Jackson, who could very well help a postseason lock like the Clippers or maybe even the Mavs.
The latest rumor, from ESPN's Ric Bucher in late January:
If they [Nets] want to improve their chances, my understanding is that Stephen Jackson & Dwight Howard have talked several times about playing together. And would love to do so with the Nets with Deron Williams at the point guard setting them up. If the Nets want to improve their chances of getting Dwight Howard, making a deal for Stephen Jackson as well should be on their menu.
O.J. Mayo, Memphis
Mayo, the former high school prodigy and one-year wonder at USC has seemingly been on the block for over a year after being taken third overall in the 2008 draft. The Grizzlies even had him traded to the Pacers at last season's deadline, but the deal fell through because the Pacers didn't get the paperwork into the league office in time.
Then, in December, Memphis had their backup 2-guard traded to Indiana again, only to see that deal die due to an injury to another Grizzlies tweener, Xavier Henry (Henry has since been dealt to New Orleans). There have been other rumblings about Mayo (New Jersey, Cleveland) but the Grizzlies have had a lot of success over the past year-and-a-half with Mayo coming off the bench to lead their second unit, averaging 12.3 PPG and not complaining at all about his role.
Memphis seems likely to keep him, but the fact that he's already been traded twice only to be brought back and that his name is usually near the top of every trade rumor list indicates he can't be discounted as a possibility to be moved.
Latest rumor: Memphis Commercial-Appeal reports that Mayo is off the block as of January 26.
Ramon Sessions, Cleveland
Sessions, who parlayed an impressive first couple of seasons with Milwaukee into a nice contract and a subsequent lousy season with the Timberwolves, is now in his second year as a Cav and looks a lot more like then player he was in those two years with the Bucks.
He put up 13.3 points and 5.2 assists per game last season and this year, while his scoring is slightly down thanks to taking a backseat to No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving, he is still a more than serviceable point guard, dishing out 5.2 assists while playing fewer minutes. On Wednesday night, with Irving sidelined, Sessions started, played 39 minutes, scored 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting and had 13 dimes in a win over the Clippers.
This guy would be a huge boon to a point guard starved team (the Lakers, Utah), makes reasonable money (just over $4 million this year) and wouldn't be too terribly missed by the Cavs, who are still at least a couple years away from possibly contending.
Rumor: The News-Herald reported on February 4 that the Cavs want a first-round pick for Sessions, who has been connected to the Lakers and Knicks.
Michael Beasley, Minnesota
Beasley is a borderline elite scorer but he's also a ball stopper and somewhat of a headcase, both of which make his eventual exodus from the exhumed Timberwolves franchise feel rather inevitable.
New coach Rick Adelman is well known for coaching a motion-oriented offense predicated on a lot of ball movement, qualities that don't exactly fit Beasley's repertoire. Beasley, averaging a career-low 13.7 PPG, has come off the bench in Minnesota's past eight games after missing 11 games with a sprained foot.
His minutes have fluctuated over that stretch from a low of 16 on Feb. 3, to 32 on Jan. 30. Add to that the glut of players on the Wolves' roster with similar games and size, including superstar Kevin Love and rookie/No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, combined with his impending status as a free agent after next season, and Beasley, himself a former No. 2 overall pick, is a virtual goner from Minnesota.
Some news: Beasley says, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he will not sign an extension with the Wolves prior to becoming a restricted free agent.
Devin Harris, Utah
Harris, the centerpiece of last season's Deron Williams trade from the Jazz's standpoint, has been pretty lousy this year, to the point that Utah has discussed moving the seventh-year, former No. 5 overall pick, according to ESPN.
Harris, who averaged over 15 points and a career high 7.6 assists per game last year, has seen his numbers drop this year, scoring only nine points and dishing just 4.4 dimes per night while essentially splitting time with veteran journeyman Earl Watson at the point.
In his last five games, Harris has totaled just 29 points and 14 assists while playing at least 21 minutes in each contest. Utah is surprisingly decent this season after last year's organization-wide meltdown, currently tied with Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and just a half game behind the Lakers for the No. 7 seed. If Harris doesn't pick up his game soon and the Jazz want to make some noise come playoff time, they may have to move him.
Pau Gasol, Lakers
Gasol, the No. 2 man in La La land, has seen his name swirling around the rumor mill for quite some time now (here's a recent one from Eric Pincus of Hoops World) with the Lakers in the midst of a down year and even Kobe Bryant going on record as saying something's going to happen to the roster.
If it's not one thing, it's another for Gasol this season in terms of trade conjecture (the most recent rumor, this week's laughable missive that he'd be headed to Boston in exchange for Rajon Rondo, should tell you all you need to know about the credibility of some of this nonsense). But still, with the Lakers floundering by their lofty standards and so many needs dotting their misshapen roster, a deal involving Gasol makes a lot of sense.
Gasol has struggled this season without his running mate Lamar Odom to the tune of a 16.4 PPG average, the lowest of his career by a pretty good margin. And given the youth and good standing health of oft-injured center Andrew Bynum, LA wisely would rather deal the big man with more miles on the odometer if they are at all able. Gasol could well be on the move. In fact, he seems to be the most realistic ongoing trade rumor out there.
JaVale McGee, Washington
What in tarnation are the Wizards going to do with this guy? On the one hand, they have a young, freakishly talented big man who can rebound, block shots, completely control the paint and at times, score at will.
On the other, they have a contestant for Knucklehead of the Year, a spaceshot who has no qualms about tossing himself alley-oops off the glass and displays little to no court awareness. McGee is just 24 and he plays for a terrible team that seems to have no guidance anywhere from the top down.
His averages (10.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks) should all improve with hard work and good coaching given his talent. But is he capable of harnessing it? The jury is still out on that one. Given his status as a restricted free agent this summer, the Wizards had better figure it out soon, or he could well be on the move.
According to The Washington Post, McGee will not get an extension prior to becoming a RFA.
Dwight Howard, Orlando
So here it is, the piece de resistance of all the NBA trade rumors. Howard and his potential whereabouts either this season or next have been speculated upon pretty much every day multiple times, since what feels like the beginning of time. He wants to leave Orlando, he might want to stay there. He wants to play in LA, he doesn't. He wants to go to Brooklyn with Deron Williams, neither of them want to be there. He has a list of teams he wants to go too. And so on.
It's exhausting at this point. But what is very clear is that with the deadline looming, we may finally be able to get some closure on this exhaustive topic. As recently as yesterday, a story ran in USA Today quoting Magic owner Rich DeVos wanting Howard to stay in the Magic Kingdom.
Orlando certainly can pay him more than any other team on his next contract (a move GM Otis Smith may just be crazy enough to attempt). But it says here that Howard has to move, the Magic need to get what they can for him and get on with their life as a franchise. It took a while for them to survive the exodus of Shaquille O'Neal to LA all those years ago, but they did. And Howard is not the player now that Shaq was then (although in Howard's defense, he's still learning, growing and improving).
The best fit for him seems to be Dallas or Chicago, but neither of those destinations will work via trade. They will have to wait for the offseason and free agency. So if it's going to be a trade deadline move, look for the the Lakers and Nets, always the front-runners, to win the sweepstakes. And then we can all get on with our lives.