With NBA Summer League play winding down and every major free agent not named Brandon Jennings off the market, we're nearing the dreaded inertia period of the NBA offseason.
The Association's NBA Finals-NBA draft—free-agency combo meal makes for a whirlwind month-plus, but when the big names start flying off the market, suddenly hoops gets pushed off the national radar. Soon college football and NFL camps will get underway, followed by the stretch run of the baseball season and any number of random events along the way.
If the NBA's stranglehold on the nation's attention was a rope, we'd be sawing through the final strands with every passing hour.
Luckily, there is one hope for the diehards yearning to keep the conversation going through summer—trade rumors.
Often fabricated by a particular camp, be it player or team, the very potential for moves is sometimes more exciting than when they actually go down. As the trickle-down continues coming in this summer, there may be one or two trades.
Maybe they'll be big. Maybe they'll be small. But the great thing about the rumor mill is you have to parse through the minutiae to find the kernels of truth. After Dwight Howard's mid-August trade last summer to the Los Angeles Lakers, it's clear that you never quite know when things are headed to hell in a handbasket.
It's just likely in today's NBA that they are.
So with at least one near-Howard-level name possibly on the market this summer, let's take a look around the league at all the latest trade rumblings.
LaMarcus Aldridge's Camp, Blazers Meet to Talk Trade?
Lost in the midst of the Dwight Howard hoopla and the summer doldrums beginning is the fact LaMarcus Aldridge's name has quietly been shopped around all summer. The All-Star forward turned 28 Friday and has been the Blazers' franchise face through some rough periods, but he's also a player firmly in his prime who's never made it out of the first round of the playoffs.
Aldridge has never been one to make waves, but loyalty can only be stretched so far. With Portland looking more likely than not to be a lottery team again next season, it's a fair assumption that Aldridge sees his biological clock ticking and wants win while he can.
According to Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet, Aldridge hasn't formally requested a trade out of the greater Oregon area. That said, he's definitely amenable to one, and his representatives made it a point to meet up with Blazers general manager Neil Olshey while they were in Las Vegas for summer league basketball:
The camp for Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge arranged a meeting with general manger Neil Olshey in a Las Vegas hotel lobby on Sunday to suggest several trade scenarios, a league source informed CSNNW.com.
The Blazers, regardless of Aldridge's wishes, are in a position of power here. Aldridge is under contract through the 2014-15 season at an average of $15 million per season, which is a (relative) steal considering his status as one of the game's most underrated superstars. The Blazers aren't (and shouldn't be) in any hurry to move Aldridge, barring some team giving them a Deron Williams-like haul.
Haynes' report notes that Olshey has no interest in a deal where draft picks represent the Blazers' biggest haul. That makes sense considering any team that trades for Aldridge will probably be a contender, and thus giving Portland a mid-20s pick.
He's certainly not going to the 2013 version of New Jersey, that much we know for sure.
Nevertheless, this marriage looks like it will come to an end sooner rather than later. The Blazers' young core, led by Damian Lillard, is on a different career trajectory than Aldridge, who carries enough cache that they could get another building block for the future. Portland's offseason moves suggest it is looking to bolster its bench, but even competing for and landing a No. 8 seed won't be enough to satisfy Aldridge.
It's probably best for both sides for this marriage to end. When that happens, of course, is subject to the whims of Olshey and ownership.
Kendall Marshall for Sale...Will Anyone Take Him?
A year ago at this time, Kendall Marshall was the heir apparent to Steve Nash. A slick passer at North Carolina with off-the-charts basketball intelligence, Marshall was selected by the Suns with the 13th overall pick and was expected to excel in the team's uptempo system.
Well, at least that was the plan. Then Goran Dragic happened. Then Eric Bledsoe.
In the rosiest of pictures, Phoenix's moves since drafting Marshall place him third in the team's point guard pecking order. Dragic is an above-average starter at an inoffensive salary ($7.5 million for the next two seasons, with a player option for a third at the same rate), and Bledsoe was one of the market's most coveted young trade pieces this summer.
With Shannon Brown also expected to get playing time and the Suns taking Archie Goodwin in this June's draft, Phoenix will be spreading the rotation awfully thin if each player stays on the roster. As such, the team has begun shopping Marshall with an almost insulting level of vigor, per NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper: “They’re trying to attach him to pretty much any deal that comes up,” a league executive said. “If you want to talk about any of their players, they include him. He’s basically the price of admission to any trade right now.”
That's an awfully long way to fall over a 13-month trajectory, but Marshall's play last year didn't inspire much confidence. He spent much of his season in the D-League, playing in only 48 games for the senior club, averaging three points and three assists per contest.
Most notably, two of the major knocks on Marshall—his shooting woes and his lack of athleticism—played big factors in his ouster from the Suns rotation. Marshall, like many rookies do, struggled with pick-and-roll defense and sometimes cheated too far off his man, giving up open shots because he was unable to close out.
We didn't get all that much of a sample on Marshall running the first-team offense, but Phoenix was outscored by 13.2 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. His lack of lateral quickness prevented him from getting to the rim at times, and his slow shot release made him a difficult spot-up option when paired alongside Dragic.
Marshall isn't unsalvageable by any means, and he could develop into a solid rotation guard in a year or two. But don't expect teams to fall over themselves to take him back in a deal, either.
Kings Looking to Move Chuck Hayes' Deal?
By virtue of its changing ownership situation, Sacramento has been one of the more interesting teams to watch this summer. The organization's decision to allow Tyreke Evans to walk—even if it got Greivis Vasquez in return—was no small feat.
Vivek Ranadive's new key decision-makers, general manager Pete D'Alessandro and head coach Mike Malone being the most notable, have made a push to build around only the players they believe in from the previous regime. While the Kings likely would have brought Evans back at a more reasonable price—something like $8 million per season, if we're spitballing—the four-year, $44 million deal the Pelicans gave the young guard was just too much.
This team is going to be bad, well, stay bad until Ranadive's men have the time to set up a proper infrastructure. Considering what Kings fans went through over the past half-decade or so with the Maloofs, merely having a plan in place should be a step up.
With said stratagems come sacrifices. Or, if you want to be more accurate, the pawning off of unwanted items. Such if the case with veteran forward Chuck Hayes, whom the Kings have made "no secret" about their desire to move, per Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet.
A source close to the situation has said that Hayes would also welcome a change of scenery. The 30-year-old forward is eight years into his NBA career but has seen the second round of the postseason just once. As an undersized 4, Hayes' waning athleticism and dwindling playing time on a cellar dweller has to be weighing heavily as well, with these next two years on his contract possibly representing his last in the NBA.
The problem for Sacramento will be ridding itself of those two years, worth over $11 million, without giving up an asset in return. Hayes makes about the mid-level exception over the course of his contract. Outside of a few select cities, teams have become even more frugal about allotting their funds, and paying over $5 million per season for 15 minutes per game quickly reduces the number of suitors.
Hayes is a great locker room presence and a solid defender, but it's questionable whether the Kings can find a suitor this summer. Getting out from the deal next year when Hayes' contract is expiring is probably a more realistic goal.
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