The NBA is currently in a moratorium period on new business, but if you've been paying attention, there has been no delaying of player movement whatsoever across the Association.
Starting with the Brooklyn Nets' acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and continuing with the New York Knicks landing Andrea Bargnani, there have already been two major deals that have gone down this offseason. Or, rather, will go down once the NBA lifts the moratorium on July 10. Until then, we're in a constant state of sly smirks whenever anyone is asked about deals that everyone already knows are done.
Most of that will be rumblings on free agency. The Dwight Howard saga again lingers for the second straight summer, but at least this time we should get an answer within the next week. Along with Howard, the fates of Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala and a host of others are yet to be determined. Each will have their meetings, speak with perspective suitors and assess where they would most like to spend their next half-decade.
Elsewhere, though, other players might not have such a say in where they play next season. The trade market seems just as hot as the free-agent one at this juncture, with a flurry of possible trades coming over the wire. Some involve potential free agents as sign-and-trade options, while other squads are merely trying to get out from under an albatross contract (see: Bargnani, Andrea).
With that in mind, let's take a look around the league at all the latest trade buzz.
Warriors Looking to Move David Lee?
After such a tantalizing run through the postseason, it's easy to forget a time where the Golden State Warriors were seemingly left for dead after David Lee's injury. When the franchise forward went down with his hip flexor tear in Game 1 of the Warriors' series against the Denver Nuggets, it was assumed they'd be easily ousted.
Hindsight obviously tells us that wasn't the case. The Warriors may have been going up a stream with a downward current, but they had plenty of paddles in reserve to continue their run.
Particularly, coach Mark Jackson found plenty of success playing Harrison Barnes as something of a small-ball 4. The Warriors used a lineup with Jarrett Jack along with the starting five with Barnes at the 4, having success against both the Spurs and the Nuggets running that set. That lineup outscored opponents by an average of 8.7 points per 100 possessions, which would have ranked among the best in the league during the regular season.
It's unclear whether Barnes could handle a power forward role over the course of 82 games, but it was at least an intriguing development that could help the Warriors next season.
That said, if the team has its way, Barnes might be playing the 4 a whole lot next season. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Warriors have had exploratory talks, looking to move the final three years of Lee's contract:
Lee, 30, is a popular and well-respected player within the Golden State franchise but his contract is considerable, and moving him for a star – or a player on a shorter deal – makes financial sense.
The 30-year-old forward has three years and $44 million remaining on his deal. He averaged 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds this past season, his third with the Warriors. While those counting stats put Lee in a stratosphere that would indicate he's deserving of a $15 million a year salary—at least in today's NBA terms—there has been mitigating evidence for years that shows the stretch 4 isn't as effective as those indicate.
Golden State's offense was far worse with Lee on the bench than on the floor during the regular season, but most other areas either improved or had little change. The Warriors' rebounding rate actually went up, and they allowed right about two points fewer per 100 possessions with Lee on the bench.
That isn't a fluke, either. The Warriors were a better rebounding team and defensive team with Lee sitting in each of his three seasons with the club. While Lee has never been known for his defensive prowess, his rebounding numbers are often touted by his biggest proponents as a player.
Regardless, the Warriors still like having Lee. They just don't like him at this price. Should they find a suitor willing to take his price tag on while giving them either a ton of cap flexibility or a comparable player, Golden State probably wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger. It will just be interesting to see whether a team is willing to make that move.
Sign-and-Trade the Only Option for J.J. Redick and Bucks?
At the February trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks made a move that they thought would solidify their backcourt and guarantee a playoff berth. They traded forward Tobias Harris along with guards Doron Lamb and Beno Udrih to the Orlando Magic for J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith.
Milwaukee would make the postseason, eventually getting swept by the Miami Heat in Round 1. But the acquisition of Redick made little impact. The 29-year-old guard struggled to find his way with the Bucks, seeing his scoring average drop to 12.3 points a night while he shot only 31.8 percent beyond the three-point arc.
Meanwhile, Harris busted out as a possible two-way menace in Orlando. The 20-year-old Harris scored 17.3 points and averaged 8.3 rebounds per game in 27 appearances with the Magic after the deal. He went from being an afterthought in the Bucks' rotation to a burgeoning young talent and possible cornerstone with Orlando.
The deal, even after Milwaukee made the playoffs, already looked bad. Now it's starting to look like a disaster. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, there have been no discussions about Redick returning to Milwaukee next season, with only sign-and-trade possibilities being discussed between the two sides:
Sign-and-trade scenarios are emerging for Milwaukee and J.J. Redick, but no talks on a return to the Bucks, league sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013
Should Harris' late-season run be an indicator of future production, this deal might border on a fireable offense for general manager John Hammond. Harris is a scoring wing who can defend both forward spots thanks to his length. You know, he's almost the exact best-case scenario for what Milwaukee thinks it drafted in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek mystery man whom the Bucks selected with the No. 15 pick last Thursday.
Seeing Redick walk for whatever they could get in a sign-and-trade would be an unmitigated disaster.
Well, unless the Clippers are willing to gift Milwaukee with a reprieve. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Los Angeles and Milwaukee have discussed a deal that would send Redick to the Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe:
Rumblings that Clippers and Bucks are discussing deal involving JJ Redick and Eric Bledsoe.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2013
Should that happen, Hammond would owe the Clippers a massive bouquet. Bledsoe is an NBA starter in waiting, a guy who could have a Harris-style breakout if traded to a team willing to give him the necessary minutes. And with the future of Brandon Jennings also in the air, landing Bledsoe would get Milwaukee out of two untenable situations with one fell swoop.
It seems like an unlikely pairing, but let's just say we can never rule anything out with the Clippers.
Confident That They'll Land D12, Rockets Make Asik, Lin Available?
The Houston Rockets have made no bones about the fact that Dwight Howard is their top priority this season. They essentially gave away talent—Thomas Robinson, Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks have all departed one way or another already—to have enough cap space to offer a max contract. They were also on a charter flight to Los Angeles to meet with Howard at 9:01 p.m. PDT Sunday night, the first possible second team brass could contact him.
By all accounts, the meeting went well. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets came flanked with perspective teammates James Harden and Chandler Parsons, general manager Daryl Morey and Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. Wojnarowski described Houston as a "frontrunner" to land the polarizing center.
All good things all the time it seems in Houston. So good, in fact, are the Rockets' chances of landing Howard that they are reportedly brimming with confidence.
"They already have him, if you talk to them," a league source told CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
What's more, it seems Morey is already working on a post-Howard-signing contingency plan. Most notably, that plan involves the jettisoning of two notable names acquired just last summer. According to Berger, the Rockets have made Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik available in deals:
Emboldened by their pursuit of free agent Dwight Howard, the Rockets have called several teams and made Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin available in potential trades, league sources told CBSSports.com.
In all likelihood, any deal involving either player—especially Asik—is contingent on Houston getting a commitment from Howard. Lin and Asik have a combined salary cap hit of about $16.7 million for next season, the second of their three-year deals with the Rockets. A common misconception about the two deals is that they carry "balloon" payments of over $15 million for next season.
Lin seems like the more expendable of the two, regardless of the Howard saga. Though a popular player around the world, the 24-year-old guard was about replacement-level during his first full season as an NBA starter. Lin was even somewhat supplanted by Patrick Beverley in the first round of the playoffs, only partially due to injury.
Either way, Houston remains this summer's most interesting team to watch. Big things are happening this summer in Texas, but the scope of those dealings rely on one seven-foot mitigating factor.
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