Uncontested Shots: The Latest on NBA Trade Rumors, Kobe Bryant, and More
With a little over a week left until the NBA's trade deadline, I figured there was no better time to bring back my Uncontested Shots column.
If you're not familiar, Uncontested Shots is a random mix of NBA tidbits sprinkled with my opinions that I started about two years ago. Usually it's to shoot down trade rumors that will never happen because they make no sense but also to bring light to things that deserve it.
So without further ado, here are this week's Uncontested Shots:
Amar'e Really On The Move?
This is the million dollar question. ESPN's Ric Bucher insists that Stoudemire is atop any list of star players who could get moved before the deadline.
While it makes sense that the Suns would like to see what they can get for Stoudemire there are two different camps when it comes to prospective trading partners.
The first camp consists of teams that want Stoudemire if he's willing to opt out of his deal and become a free agent next summer and the other are teams that only want him if he doesn't opt out and exercises his option for next season.
The reason there are teams that would like to trade for him but hope he opts out is because they want to have cap space this summer but would like to have his services for the remainder of this season for a potential playoff run.
The reason there are teams that only want him if he agrees to exercise his option is because teams don't want to pay the steep asking price that the Suns might require and have nothing to show for it if Stoudemire walks in free agency.
The general consensus is that Stoudemire thinks he's deserving of a max contract. Teams might be leery of granting him his wish due to his injury history and his reputation for not giving his all on defense.
The perfect trading partner for Stoudemire might be the Miami Heat since they're in a good position whether Stoudemire stays or goes. If he opts out then the team still has a ton of cap space. If he decides to exercise his option the Heat's hopes of landing LeBron James or Chris Bosh might be dashed but at least they wouldn't have the uncertainty of whether or not they could land a big fish in free agency.
Just having Stoudemire commit to next season might make Dwyane Wade feel better about re-signing immediately.
But if the Heat don't make a trade before next week they run the risk of missing the playoffs and souring their future prospects in Wade's eyes. The Miami weather can only go so far with Wade. What he really wants is to know that he's committing the prime of his career to a team that has the ability to compete for a championship year in and year out.
If the Heat miss the playoffs and his hometown Bulls come calling for his services he might just jump. The uncertainty of the Heat's future is tied not only to whether or not they can lure free agents but also on whether or not the young players currently on their roster can ever become a legitimate championship supporting cast.
Don't forget that while Wade was in the same draft class as LeBron and Bosh they are not the same age. Wade is 28 while LeBron is 25 and Bosh turns 26 next month. He can't afford to be as patient with his next contract.
Yahoo!' s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Heat have been relentless in their pursuit of Stoudemire but that "league sources" are uncertain the Heat can make the best offer.
That all depends on what the Suns are looking for. History says the Suns probably want a good mix of expiring contracts, young players, and draft pick(s).
I doubt the Suns could get a better young player in a trade for Stoudemire than Michael Beasley.
The Sixers are rumored to be offering Andre Igoudala. That makes sense for the Sixers since they won't have cap space this summer anyway. So if Stoudemire exercises his option at least they'd have him for another season.
If he opted out then at least they got out of the remaining four years of Igoudala's contract and would have cap space in the summer of 2011 when the contracts of Stoudemire, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Kapono, and Willie Green expire.
Anybody who has read my columns over the past three years knows how I feel about guys like Igoudala. While I'm a fan of his I've never been a fan of teams giving franchise player money to non-superstar small forwards or shooting guards since they are the most abundant.
Igoudala is not a superstar.
If the Sixers could get out of his contract then there would be light at the end of the tunnel as far as rebuilding the team is concerned. If they can't then they're stuck being an under-.500 team until 2013 while they continue paying Igoudala and Elton Brand more than $30 million combined per season.
To Play or Not to Play?
Considering that the Lakers won both games they played without him why is there the rush to return to the court and play a game against a team that played last night—despite the fact that the Jazz have won nine games in a row?
If Kobe were to make his return on Tuesday then he would have gone 11 days between games.
But by playing against Utah and in the All-Star Game, in addition to all of his off-court commitments in Dallas this weekend, there's a chance that he can set himself back even further.
This might be another case of the stubborn superstar trying to prove that his Lakers are still a much better team with him in the wake of impressive victories against the Blazers and Spurs without him.
While the Washington Wizards are in the midst of an ownership change you have to wonder what in the world general manager Ernie Grunfeld is thinking.
One day it's being reported that Grunfeld is trying to move Antawn Jamison and then the next day it's being reported that he wants to keep Jamison but trade Caron Butler.
The funniest thing being reported is that Portland Trail Blazers' GM Kevin Pritchard inquired about the availability of Brendan Haywood and Grunfeld told him he wanted Nicholas Batum and Rudy Fernandez in return.
Forget that Haywood's contract expires at the end of the season. The guy has averaged 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds for his career. Does he really think anyone will give him anything remotely close to that type of package?
ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan thinks that as the deadline looms and the Blazers get more desperate they might be willing to move Haywood for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw. I agree with him there.
The Blazers are not going to finish high enough in the standings to get homecourt advantage in any of their playoff series. So if you're going to trade for an impending free agent like Haywood at least give up two guys in Outlaw and Blake who are also free agents at season's end and probably won't be re-signed by the Blazers anyway—at least not both of them.
Cavs Appear to Be Standing Pat
All indications are that the Cleveland Cavaliers are happy with the team they have and probably won't be making a trade before the deadline.
Can you blame them?
They've won 12 games in a row and are owners of the league's best record. In addition to having two fewer losses than the second-place Lakers they own the tiebreaker between the two teams by virtue of having won both meetings.
All of this in spite of the fact that they've been playing without their top two point guards.
Mo Williams, Delonte West, and Leon Powe are all expected to rejoin the team soon after the All-Star Break.
The Cavs have to be the favorites to win the NBA title as of right now. If you're a Lakers fan the only thing that has to give you hope is the coaching match-up between the two teams. Mike Brown is an outstanding defensive coach but too often his team relies on LeBron to make something happen at the end of close games.
You can't even say that the Lakers have that big of an edge in experience since LeBron, Shaq, Anderson Varejao, Powe, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas have all played in the NBA Finals.
While Vegas still has the Lakers as favorites I can't say that that's the case.
But that's not such a bad thing if you're a Lakers fan. You'd much rather the Lakers feel like underdogs in a Finals match-up with something to prove than play like they played in their two games against the Cavs this season.
Don't forget that the Lakers were picked by almost every so-called expert to beat the Celtics in 2008. It wasn't until the Celtics were told they weren't expected to win that they played with a purpose.
Andrew Ungvari is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report as well as co-lead blogger for the basketball website, SirCharlesInCharge.com .
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