NBA Rumors and Speculation: Latest Roundup from Around the Association
Some new suspects popped up in the NBA trade winds this week. Memphis is reportedly shopping high-flying small forward Rudy Gay; the Blazers are fielding offers for J.J. Hickson; and the Milwaukee Bucks may be seeking to shake things up in the wake of Scott Skiles' departure.
The usual suspects (Andrea Bargnani, Pau Gasol, J.J. Redick, Anderson Varejao, DeMarcus Cousins and the Utah bigs) can be found in my Trade Buzz article from Jan. 3, but this slideshow will focus on six guys who hadn't been mentioned in talks until the last few days.
Rudy Gay on the Block, for the Right Price
With a payroll of $74 million, the Memphis Grizzlies are in danger of having to pay the league's luxury tax, a dollar-per-dollar tax assessed for every dollar a team is over the NBA's salary cap.
Memphis isn't said to be completely opposed to paying the tax, but according to Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld, the Grizz would take a favorable deal for Rudy Gay to get out of having to do so.
Gay understands that the Grizzlies might be financially strapped into dealing him. He told Ingram, "It's the NBA...we'd love to see each other grow and try to win together, but it's not always our plan how it works out."
Gay further cited the great play of the Grizzlies and definitively stated that they are "one of the teams to beat," but interest in Gay's services is running high around the league.
The Grizzlies aren't saying much to confirm or deny the rumors surrounding Gay despite reports surfacing, and Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien declined comment when asked by Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal about the possibilities of a trade being consummated.
The Grizzlies were reported to have tendered an offer to the Timberwolves, but the details of it were unclear. Darren Wolfson of ESPN believed it to likely be an offer for Kevin Love, and it's easy to see why the Wolves would reject an offer for arguably the best power forward in the NBA.
The Phoenix Suns were also said to be in trade talks to acquire Gay, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and the talks were said to revolve around Jared Dudley and future first-round draft picks.
That's a far more plausible offer than the reported deal the Timberwolves shot down, but Wojnarowski notes that the Suns are equally as reluctant to pay the remainder of Gay's contract as the Grizzlies are.
Brooklyn Nets Interested in Ersan Ilyasova
Over the final two months of the 2011-12 season, Ersan Ilyasova posted 16.1 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game while playing over 30 minutes per night. His emergence made the No. 1 pick from his draft class, teammate Andrew Bogut, entirely expendable.
That allowed the Bucks to deal Bogut for Monta Ellis (more on him later in the slideshow) and promote Ilyasova as the Bucks' big man of the future.
Since that time, Ilyasova has experienced a mysterious decline in his play. He's playing just 23 minutes per game this year and shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor (comparatively, he was 49.2 percent last season).
Ilyasova had been beginning to show signs of improvement in early December, but he hasn't had 20-plus-point game since Dec. 30. He also scored just 17 points in the last two Bucks games combined (matchups against Detroit and Toronto, no less).
Gery Woelfel, a former beat writer for the Racine Journal-Times, told a local radio show (h/t NetsDaily.com) that the Brooklyn Nets had expressed interest in the Turkish big man. The Nets have some interesting pieces to offer Milwaukee, but the difficult part would be making the contracts align.
Ilyasova is making $7.9 million this season, and Nets prospects that might interest Bucks GM John Hammond—MarShon Brooks and rookie Tyshawn Taylor, for example—don't make enough money to make a straight-up trade for Ilyasova possible.
Ilyasova can't be traded until Jan. 15, but working a deal with the Nets may be difficult due to the salary issue. Moreover, the Bucks might prefer to hold on to him and hope things get better rather than trading while his value is at a low point.
Monta Ellis to Be Put on Trading Block?
Both the Bucks starting guards are on expiring contracts, and Marc Stein of ESPN reported that if the Bucks begin to fall out of playoff contention, they could consider dealing one or both of the guards to avoid them walking in free agency this summer.
Jennings is actually only a restricted free agent, and he's a younger and better option to stick around than Ellis. The former Golden State guard has indisputable talent, but he lacks a true position.
Jennings has proven himself to be a capable point guard, but Ellis, at 6'3", is undersized to cover a lot of 2-guards and doesn't have enough of a pass-first mentality to run the point.
Ellis is on an $11 million contract this year, and he could even choose to stick around as he has a player option next season for another $11 million.
Jennings only gets paid $3.1 million a year, so the Bucks would likely need a rather creative trade to get equal value for the lefty gunner.
There's only about a month before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, though. It's hard to imagine the 19-17 Bucks, who are currently seated No. 8 in the Eastern Conference, falling completely out of playoff contention in the upcoming weeks.
So, while the Bucks may put Ellis on the table, it's all just speculative right now on the curious prospect of them somehow falling out of the playoff picture.
Samuel Dalembert to Miami?
That's the point, you don't know who will be out there, which is why you may be better off waiting. Take the Bucks: There remains a chance that Samuel Dalembert remains in the deep freeze, isn't traded by the trading deadline, and winds up taking a buyout from Milwaukee. So would you rather settle on Chris Andersen now or wait on the possibility of Dalembert?
The Miami Heat rank No. 24 in the league in rebound rate (48.7 percent) and are the worst offensive rebounding team in the league (just 8.0 per game). Erik Spoelstra simply said to the Miami Herald, "It's got to stop."
Samuel Dalembert is a costly redundancy on the Milwaukee Bucks roster with Larry Sanders playing excellent basketball and Ekpe Udoh serving as a more-than-adequate backup. Dalembert is being paid $6.6 million and has played just 16 minutes a game over 18 contests.
Dalembert is not the same 26-year-old that averaged a double-double in Philly, but he's a serviceable big man that can crash the boards, and after Heat losses to Chicago and Indiana, it became apparent that they need someone to fill that role.
Chris Bosh had just one rebound in the Heat's 104-97 loss to the Utah Jazz on Jan. 15, and the Heat were out rebounded once again, 40-23.
Dalembert might not be a starting-caliber center, but when the Heat are getting slaughtered on the boards, having any able-bodied seven-footer is a favorable proposition.
Timofey Mozgov to Miami?
Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida reports that the Heat also may be interested in Timofey Mozgov of the Denver Nuggets. Mozgov has been buried on the Nuggets bench behind both Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee.
Mozgov makes only $2.8 million this season, so he's a reasonable option for the cap-strapped Heat.
Mozgov seemed reasonably pleased about the prospect, saying that he "heard Miami is trying to find a big guy," but added that he doesn't know and is taking a wait-and-see attitude towards the situation.
The big man still has a lot of potential, and if the Heat could find a favorable deal, he could even be a long-term answer at center since he is just 26 years old. George Karl even said that he "feels bad for Mozgov because he is good enough to be on an NBA court."
That's likely true, and we've seen what LeBron James' passing ability can do with NBA big men. Mozgov can finish around the hoop, and that's really all it takes to thrive with James dishing the rock.
Trail Blazers to Field Offers for J.J. Hickson?
J.J. Hickson is averaging 12 points and 11 rebounds per game this year and is just 24 years old, but he's also an expiring contract. Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey may seek to acquire something for Hickson rather than lose him as a free agent this summer.
The thing is, interest around the league in Hickson wasn't high prior to this season, and the Blazers may be able to just re-sign him this summer. That would make the entire proposition of trading the power forward a non-issue.
The issue is that Olshey wants to be a big player in the 2013 free-agent market, and there's no certainty that Hickson will be a part of their spending.
John Canzano of The Oregonian feels that makes trading him a no-brainer and that the Blazers should simply take whatever they can get for him.
With the Blazers currently sniffing the playoffs, though, would it make sense to sacrifice a possible Cinderella run to obtain a couple of second-round draft picks? That's all that league executives believe he is worth, according to Canzano.
Since when did double-double-producing power forwards come at just the cost of a couple potentially pointless second-round picks?