LeBron James may have reserved SportsCenter's NBA coverage for the next three months, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other moves still to be made in the offseason.
The Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets are still keeping the rumor mill busy as July heats up. With that in mind, let’s dig into the latest rumblings surrounding the three franchises.
Washington Pursuing DeJuan Blair
Marc Stein of ESPN filled fans in on the latest regarding Washington’s pursuit of DeJuan Blair:
Wiz have strong DeJuan Blair interest and, according to ESPN sources, in talks to see if sign-&-trade possible before Mavs must renounce him— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 14, 2014
How far will Washington advance this year?
Blair posted nightly averages of 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds last year for the Dallas Mavericks behind 53.4 percent shooting from the field. The Wizards have Marcin Gortat and Nene down low, but they could really use some more depth. Nene missed some time due to injury last year, and Gortat is 30 years old, so Blair would be a solid pickup.
Washington lost Trevor Ariza but added tested veteran Paul Pierce and have a realistic chance to compete in a wide open Eastern Conference. Grabbing another big man with playoff experience would certainly help the Wizards’ case.
The Heat obviously lost James, the Bulls are relying on Derrick Rose’s tenuous knees and the Pacers fell apart late last season. Who’s to say Washington can’t make the Finals with Blair in tow?
Milwaukee to Trade Ersan Ilyasova?
Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times noted that the Bucks may be making a trade sooner rather than later:
Bucks are still shopping Ilyasova and, as an NBA official added "shopping him hard."— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) July 14, 2014
Ersan Ilyasova will make $7.9 million in each of the next two years, and Milwaukee may want to clear up some more space under the cap, especially since he saw dips in his production last year. He did average 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a night but struggled from behind the three-point line (28.2 percent).
Ilyasova also dealt with nagging injuries and discussed some of his frustrations during the regular season, via Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders:
When you go through a season like this and your name comes up [in rumors] it is a little frustrating. But I still feel myself as part of this franchise. I’m hopeful we can find the right pieces for the team so we can play much better because we really need it. I want to be part of a playoff team and that’s what I’m looking forward to, [the franchise] building a better team – a playoff team.
It’s disappointing when you go through a season like this. Especially after last year when we made the playoffs and played against last year’s champions (Miami).
Sounds like it might be mutually beneficial if Milwaukee finds a way to move the forward.
What’s Next for Houston?
ESPN’s Stein had some enticing rumors for Houston Rockets fans:
ESPN sources say Rockets promised Bosh they would match on Parsons if he committed and believed they were on brink of commitment from Bosh— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 14, 2014
So look for Rockets to re-enter trade game for longtime Houston target Rajon Rondo as well as try to work their way into mix for Kevin Love— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 14, 2014
At times this offseason, the Rockets have been connected with James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, so landing none of the big fish is certainly disappointing. Throw in the fact that they would have matched Dallas’ offer sheet for Chandler Parsons, and it is difficult to deal with from a Houston fan’s perspective.
Sure, the Rockets added Ariza, but they are clearly looking for more.
Adding a point guard like Rajon Rondo would be huge late in games (Houston had turnover problems against Portland in the playoffs), or grabbing Kevin Love would give Howard some help on the boards and stretch opposing defenses when they doubled the center in the paint.
Even in a West that includes the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and the talented Oklahoma City Thunder, among others, it is difficult to imagine a Rockets team with Harden, Howard, Ariza and either Rondo or Love losing early in the playoffs.
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