As the NBA trade deadline draws closer and teams start to figure out where they stand in the league’s landscape, the rumor mill is starting to pick up steam. Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Pau Gasol are just a few of the big names we’ve heard may be available via trade.
But those are small potatoes compared to the stories circulating about the Sacramento Kings’ potential sale and the Dallas Mavericks' possible shopping spree.
With so much information—and misinformation—floating around these days, it’s tough to determine which reports are most strongly rooted in fact.
Here are a trio of stories that are going to move from "could happen" to "done deal" before long.
Kings on the Move
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Sacramento mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson is pulling out all of the stops to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle. But for all of his efforts to wrangle a local buyer and secure funding for a new arena, the writing certainly appears to be on the wall for the Kings.
Amick ends his report by pointing out that despite the slowing momentum in the last couple of days, all of the strongest signs still point to an imminent move.
David Aldridge of NBA.com has echoed those sentiments, reporting that the Kings have a clear path to Seattle.
There is never any joy in writing about a team that's about to break a city's heart by leaving. It was awful to watch Clay Bennett play the people of Seattle when he clearly was going to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City in 2008. But the truth is the truth, and unless there's some kind of amazing change of heart or desire, the Kings are leaving Sacramento for Seattle. It's just a matter of when the announcement comes.
There are a number of reasons that this report—and others like it that point to an imminent sale and move—is highly realistic.
First, there are roughly 10 years of recent data to prove that the Kings’ current owners, the Maloof family, aren’t interested in keeping the team in Sacramento without a new arena. And even when a deal seemed to be in place to construct a new building in April of 2012, the Maloofs backed out. Johnson said then, “They don’t want to do the deal, which essentially means they don’t want to be in Sacramento.” (via the Sacramento Bee)
There was palpable optimism less than a year ago, as you'll see in the video below. But that's long gone now.
Well, Chris Hansen and his financial backers in Seattle have a very different attitude. They want nothing more than to have an NBA team and a new arena in Washington. The Maloofs can’t compete with that, and frankly, don’t deserve the chance to do so.
You can tick off the myriad other reasons why a move to Seattle makes so much sense: David Stern owes the city a favor after he allowed Clay Bennett to uproot the beloved Sonics, the population has deeper pockets and the market has proven its ability to support multiple sports franchises.
But in the end, this report is realistic because the only viable argument against moving the Kings is purely sentimental. Weighed against dollars and good sense, sentiment doesn’t stand a chance.
The Bank of Cuban Is Open
When an outspoken billionaire owner announces he’s ready to open his wallet to improve a floundering team, it’s easy to chalk it up to a desire to generate good PR or appease fans.
But when said outspoken billionaire owner is Mark Cuban, you know he’s serious.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, Cuban recently said, “We’re letting everyone know that the ‘Bank of Cuban’ is open. If it’s the right deal, we don’t mind taking back money.”
In the context of Cuban’s declaration that there was a “100 percent chance” that the Mavericks would be active participants in the trade market, this latest report certainly makes it sound as though the Mavs are ready to make some serious moves.
Aside from Cuban’s penchant for bold action, the Mavs’ underlying financials make a flurry of deals eminently feasible. Dallas has approximately $68 million tied up in current contracts, but if the Mavericks decline a few player options and let other contracts expire, they’ll be able to trim payroll by nearly $40 million before the start of next season.
In other words, they’ve got money to burn.
Whether the Mavericks take on big money this year to make a push toward a playoff berth (unlikely), or absorb high-dollar players to start building a core for Dirk Nowitzki’s last go ‘round next season, you can bet Cuban will back up his big talk with action.
1,001 Rudy Gay Rumors
If your favorite team hasn’t somehow been linked to a Rudy Gay trade rumor over the past few weeks, just wait five minutes; one’s sure to come up.
According to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Washington Wizards recently offered Bradley Beal as part of a package to land the Memphis Grizzlies' swingman.
Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld has also mentioned that Beal’s name came up in trade discussions, along with the Orlando Magic’s J.J. Redick.
And where there aren’t specific trade rumors, there’s rampant speculation, fueled by a number of the NBA’s big-name writers (including Grantland’s Zach Lowe and Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski) reporting that the Grizzlies are at least open to shopping Gay.
When there’s this much smoke, there’s fire.
Clearly, the Grizzlies are one of the league’s best teams, as their 24-12 record can attest. But they’re also deeply flawed. Perimeter shooting and quality backcourt reserves are key areas of need that Gay doesn’t fill.
So while the 26-year-old wing is an immensely talented slasher and defender, his combination of size and athleticism can’t help Memphis improve its 23rd-ranked true shooting percentage.
Nor can his 31 percent stroke from long range help the Grizzlies bump up their average of five made threes per game, which is the second-fewest in the league.
And then there’s the money.
Gay is due to make upwards of $37 million over the next two years, a figure that will push the small-market Grizzlies into luxury tax territory they’d very much like to avoid.
Because of on-court needs and pocketbook wants, the Grizzlies are eventually going to trade Rudy Gay. They wouldn’t risk putting his name out there if they weren’t eventually going to pull the trigger. Maybe the reports are a little premature, but sooner or later, Gay’s going to be headed out of Memphis.