The NBA trade deadline will be here Thursday morning, so expect trade talks to intensify over the next 72 hours as NBA teams look to make moves that could solidify their spots as contenders, or to improve their long-term prospects if rebuilding.
A lot of the same names are being circulated, but now is the time when those deals could potentially occur, which makes it well worth rounding up how things have developed over the last week.
L.A. Clippers "Listening" to Trade Offers
Chris Paul said over the All-Star weekend when interviewed on ESPN that he was content with the L.A. Clippers' roster and feels they can contend without making any major moves. Dan Woike of The Orange County Register reports that VP of basketball operations Gary Sacks said "If there's something out there that makes us better, we'll do it." Such seems to be the M.O. of many teams approaching this year's deadline.
The Clippers have been linked to a couple of deals involving back up point guard Eric Bledsoe. The Boston Celtics had been mentioned with Kevin Garnett as the main trade chip, and chatter surrounding that possibility is ongoing despite reports that initial rumors were unfounded.
Further reports have surfaced regarding Eric Bledsoe being sent to the Utah Jazz in exchange for power forward Paul Millsap. The deal makes a lot of sense for both teams, since Millsap's contract expires at season's end and the Jazz are desperately in need of a starting point guard (Jamaal Tinsley has been manning the position with Mo Williams out), and the Clips could use the frontcourt help that Millsap would provide.
Bledsoe is not the only Clipper being mentioned in speculation. Sean Deveney of Sporting News wrote of a potential deal which would have sent DeAndre Jordan to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but fell apart when Varejao was diagnosed with the blood clot that is holding him out the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
Jordan has feuded with Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro over playing time, but his value should be high around the league as a young shot blocker who can finish well around the basket and provide a lot of help to a team.
The Latest on Josh Smith
Josh Smith has been the linked to a number of NBA teams, and I wrote last week that his contract demands may end up being a sticking point in teams dealing for Smith:
Smith's unique skill set and defensive talents enable him to impact a game in a variety of ways, and it's easy to see why teams want to add him. The real issue, though, will be whether he'll remain on their roster after this season.
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweeted that there had been no talks between Smith and the Hawks regarding a contract.
With about one-third the NBA teams inquiring about Smith, where will he go?
The Hawks are in a funky kind of rebuild: they have the talent to remain competitive, but clearly lack the parts necessary to contend. The uncertainty regarding Smith's future contract demands, though, puts the Hawks in a sticky situation.
GM Danny Ferry could attempt to re-sign Smith and build around he and Al Horford, but if it hasn't worked the last few seasons, what guarantee does Ferry have that a contending team could be built around them?
What is Marcin Gortat's Market Value After Recent Struggles?
Earlier this season, I speculated on possibilities of Marcin Gortat being dealt back to Orlando, to Dallas and to the Boston Celtics. But now it seems interest in the Polish center has declined considerably around the league according to speculation from ESPN's Joe Kaiser (subscription required).
Gortat's play has been falling off badly and he's owed $7.7 million next season, which may make him a tough sell for a Phoenix team looking to make any trade that can improve the team. Gortat established his ceiling value while playing with two-time MVP Steve Nash, but he hasn't been producing at the same level this season without him.
Brandon Jennings Refutes Having "Irreconcilable Differences" with Bucks Management
In last week's trade rumor round up there had been reports of a Brandon Jennings to Dallas possibility. Jennings was said to have "irreconcilable differences" with Milwaukee, but Jennings told ESPN's Chris Broussard that such wasn't true at all.
"That is not true," Jennings told ESPN in a text message, "Just because I got a new agent doesn't mean anything...they're just reaching for a story since I changed my agent."
When Jennings was asked about his future, he said it was something he would discuss with his agent this offseason, only adding that the Bucks are eighth in the east and right now he's "looking forward to helping them get to the playoffs."
Andrea Bargnani May Not be Dealt
Andrea Bargnani was linked to the Chicago Bulls in a deal that would have essentially be a swap for Carlos Boozer (with Nate Robinson of the Bulls and John Lucas III of the Raptors being involved). That trade, which the Bulls were reported to have "left on the table," still hasn't occurred.
Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reported that a deal is far more likely to occur over the summer. Bargnani has been a disappointment since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2006 NBA draft, which by many accounts was the worst draft in the last decade. Bargnani makes $11.25 million, and his PER of 12.27 in no way substantiates such a bloated contract.
Carlos Boozer had turned up his play, but the Bulls may feel that the 27-year-old Bargnani would be a better fit alongside Derrick Rose for the next few seasons as Boozer exits the tail end of his prime.
Dwight Howard for Rajon Rondo Swap Was Pure Speculation
A report had surfaced that the L.A. Lakers may deal Dwight Howard for Rajon Rondo, but Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchak squashed those rumors, telling ESPN's Chris Broussard that he and Celtics GM Danny Ainge hadn't talked "in weeks." Kupchak reiterated that he already had made it clear Howard would not be traded and said "that hasn't changed."
The Lakers are currently 10th in the Western Conference and are four games below .500. Howard could potentially leave them high and dry as a free agent, but Kupchak's initiative to retain Howard seems to indicate that he believes the Lakers can retain his services past this season.
Due to that assumption, it seems reasonable to believe Kupchak that they'll hold onto the three-time Defensive Player of the Year past this Thursday's trade deadline. A trade which brought in a point guard of Rajon Rondo's talent may have been tempting, but the long-term potential of keeping a franchise center is difficult to relinquish.
Ben Gordon for Kris Humphries?
ESPN's Chris Broussard reported last week that there had been talks of a trade involving the Charlotte Bobcats' Ben Gordon and Brooklyn Nets' Kris Humphries. Both players are underachieving for their current squads, but they hold reasonable value in the right situation, and both teams feel the trade could benefit their clubs right now.
Humphries has averaged just six points and six rebounds per game, and he's a costly redundancy because they can get that from Reggie Evans, plus some.
The Bobcats also pursued Humphries in free agency last summer and offered him a three-year $28 million contract. Their lack of commitment to Gordon is due to the fact that Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson all have better long-term potential, while Gordon's potential as a player not only is maximized but not all that high to begin with.
Orlando Magic May Re-Sign J.J. Redick
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported that J.J. Redick said the Magic are "open" to the possibility of re-signing him this summer if no favorable deal is worked out before the Feb. 21 deadline. He's currently on a $6.75 million contract, but it's unclear what he may command on the open market, as I wrote for Presto In the Paint last week:
Redick posts a Player Efficiency Rating of 16.83. That ranks Redick seventh among NBA shooting guards, trailing only Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili, O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter...
As for determining his ultimate market value—it's difficult. As the PER rankings illustrate, a number of players are paid significantly more to play at a lower level, while the Dallas Mavericks have snagged two bargain players that rank ahead of Redick.
This isn't to suggest that Redick should be paid on the level of max players Wade, Harden, Bryant (beyond max), or even a big contract like Manu Ginobili ($14 million this season and an expiring contract, too).
But it seems very reasonable that Redick is in for a modest increase in income. Truly, if he were to receive a contract that accurately matched his talents as a player, something in the neighborhood of $7 to $9 million sounds about right.
Milwaukee, Indiana, Chicago, Minnesota and Utah had all expressed interest in Redick, and the Magic are said to be seeking talent on a rookie contract, expiring deals and draft picks for him.
If they can't get what they want, though, it appears Redick could stay in Orlando, which is what he wants to do anyway.
Golden State Warriors "Half-Interested" in Eric Gordon
While with the L.A. Clippers, Gordon looked as though he was on his way to being a perennial All-Star, posting 22.3 points per game on 45 percent shooting in 10-11, but his potential has been inhibited by the ongoing injuries and the Golden State Warriors are among the many teams that see that as always being the case.
Marcus Thompson reported via Sulia that the Warriors like Eric Gordon a lot, but have concerns about his injury history and massive contract. With Klay Thompson playing so well and their chemistry being so good, what would be their motivation to shake things up to obtain Gordon, who has battled ongoing knee injuries for the last two seasons?
Marcus Thompson said there are no talks between the Warriors and Hornets regarding Gordon, and it doesn't seem that Gordon's value could be all that high anyway with the 2-guard only having appeared in 27 games since the end of the 2010-11 season.