Buying or Selling the Latest NBA Rumors Around the Association
One of the more important dates of the season has passed.
On Dec. 15, nearly all free agents who were signed this offseason became available to trade. This is a big deal for a few teams, but it's probably most significant for the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets are still looking to find a trade partner in order to move disgruntled big man Omer Asik, and now the window is as open as it's ever going to be; nearly every player in the league is technically available now.
In this version of "buy or sell," we'll check in on Asik and the logistics of a potential deal. We'll also touch on another familiar name in NBA rumor mills in Zach Randolph, break down the benefits of a Pau Gasol trade for the Los Angeles Lakers and take a glance at a couple of guards who could be changing addresses soon.
Omer Asik Will Be Moved in a 3-Team Deal Before Dec. 19
The Rumor: According to a source close to Houston Chronicle writer Jonathan Feigen, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey set a Dec. 19 deadline to trade Asik because he has an "offer he is willing to take" that "very likely will be a pretty complicated, three-way deal."
The Verdict: Buy
Let's tackle this piece by piece.
Trading Asik by Dec. 19 makes sense, as that would be the last date that any player involved in the trade could be packaged by his new team in a subsequent deal before the league's Feb. 20 trade deadline passes. Morey loves flexibility, so I'll buy that.
A three-team deal seems likely as well. Aside from maybe the Boston Celtics, whom Marc Stein of ESPN.com says to keep a close eye on, not many teams will be willing to fork over a valuable player and a draft pick.
A team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who have come up in talks recently as well (per Stein), would not want to forfeit a draft pick during their rebuilding process. Getting another team involved to provide Houston with a pick would likely be necessary.
According to USA Today's Sam Amick, trade candidates like New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson or Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova are not likely to be dealt for Asik.
With a few straight-up options being nixed, the Rockets may need to get creative and bring in a third team to receive everything they want in return for Asik. We've gone back and forth on this all year, but a resolution to Asik's situation in Houston should come very, very soon.
The Memphis Grizzlies Are Not Trying to Trade Zach Randolph
The Rumor: HoopsWorld.com's Steve Kyler says that the Memphis Grizzlies are not trying to trade Zach Randolph.
The Verdict: Sell
This report paints a picture of the Grizzlies front office not panicking, but that's hard for me to believe at this point.
According to John Hollinger's playoff odds, Memphis currently has just a two-percent chance of even making the playoffs. And remember: Hollinger works in the Grizzlies front office.
While there is reason for optimism that Marc Gasol will right the ship once he returns to action, the Grizzlies could very will be on the outside of the playoff picture at the trade deadline. With Ed Davis headed for restricted free agency and Randolph's player option worth $16.9 million looming, trading Randolph could provide some serious financial flexibility going into the offseason.
The Grizzlies need to plan for the very real possibility that they'll miss the playoffs this season. Trading a declining player and asset like Randolph may be the worst-case scenario, but shopping him now makes as much sense as it ever has.
The Lakers Are Weighing a Pau Gasol Trade
The Rumor: According to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Lakers are weighing the idea of trading Pau Gasol.
The Verdict: Sell
There are a few reasons why Gasol is unlikely to be dealt.
The first is his contract. At $19.3 million, very few teams will be able to cobble together enough salary in order to trade for him. Even fewer teams will be able to give the Lakers only expiring contracts in return, which is important if the Lakers want to retain max cap space for next offseason.
While it would make sense to get something of value for Gasol if he's just going to be renounced after this season, the logistics of doing so are awfully difficult. Finding a team with enough movable, expiring salaries that also needs Gasol is going to be tough.
Perhaps more importantly, Gasol is uniquely conditioned to work well with Kobe Bryant. There's a history here, even if both players aren't what they used to be.
Gasol's bickering with Mike D'Antoni is nothing new, and it doesn't change his trade situation. There's a reason why Gasol's name comes up every year and nothing ever materializes. This could be a "boy who cried wolf" situation, but until more logical names than Carlos Boozer and Tyson Chandler surface, I'm selling.
Jordan Crawford Is Being Targeted by the Miami Heat
The Rumor: According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, a few GMs have identified Jordan Crawford as a player the Miami Heat will go after.
The Verdict: Buy
Crawford has been one of the biggest individual surprises this year. If I told you before the season that he'd be an Eastern Conference Player of the Week and the second-leading scorer on the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics, you'd probably think I was crazy.
It's not hard to see why Miami would be interested in Crawford. He can go get his own buckets first and foremost, which would be a nice addition to a second unit that sometimes struggles to create offense without LeBron James.
Crawford fits the salary profile as well. Miami would be wise not to jeopardize any flexibility by bringing in a player under contract for next year, as the future of the Big Three is still in question. Crawford's expiring deal worth $2.2 million should be fairly easy to acquire as well.
It all depends on what Miami would be willing to give up. Celtics GM Danny Ainge would almost certainly move Crawford for a future first-round pick in a heartbeat, but Miami might not be ready to do that. Outside of a pick, Miami has nothing of any real value to offer Boston.
I'll buy Miami's interest here, but with the way Crawford has been playing, Ainge can and likely will hold out for a first-round pick from some team desperate for scoring. I don't envision a trade happening anytime soon.
The Los Angeles Lakers Are Interested in Iman Shumpert
The Rumor: According to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert.
The Verdict: Buy
This one is pretty simple.
Kobe Bryant is back in action, but he can't move all that well yet. Asking him to guard some of the league's elite wing scorers is asking for trouble.
The desire to get a player like Shumpert is pretty clear. Shumpert can handle the ball a little bit and help the dodgy point-guard situation in Los Angeles right now, but he can also defend the other team's best perimeter scorer and give Bryant a break.
Adding a three-and-D guy works on the court, but Shumpert's deal also makes sense on the books. The Lakers are likely hesitant to add future salary, but getting a young player with potential due just $2.6 million next year would be worth every penny.
I'm selling hard on the rumor of the Lakers wanting to acquire Tyson Chandler, mainly because of his contract situation, but I'm buying on the smaller acquisition of Shumpert. He'd be a great fit next to Bryant and a valuable piece to rebuild around.