Wednesday’s column mentioned a handful of players who need to be traded by the March 15 deadline. Apparently, NBA GMs are feeling the same way.
No less than three players mentioned – Michael Beasley, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson – saw their names dotting the interwebs as Wednesday became Thursday and February became March.
There is some significance to that calendar observation.
March 1 is the first day players signed to free agent contracts in the abbreviated offseason can be traded. So that means the Orlando Magic could use Baby Davis or Jason Richardson in a Dwight Howard deal if need be.
There also are rumors swirling this morning involving a pair of All-Star point guards, including a two-time former MVP who repeatedly has said he won’t ask for a trade. But let’s address the ones that appear to have more teeth.
Beasley has a role as bench scorer for the Minnesota Timberwolves. There have never been any questions about his ability to score the ball, but there are maturity issues. Plus, his minutes hinder the development of rookie Derrick Williams, who has been playing well of late.
Beasley makes $6.2 million this season and has an $8.2 million qualifying offer due this summer, when he can become a restricted free agent. Judging from the different destinations he may be headed, the Wolves are definitely trying to move him.
From Chris Broussard of ESPN.com: “The Minnesota Timberwolves offered to trade Michael Beasley to the Los Angeles Lakers for a first-round draft pick, but the Lakers turned them down, according to a league source. While Beasley, a talented and athletic small forward, would fill one of the Lakers’ greatest needs, the Lakers rejected the offer because they do not want to add to their luxury tax bill, according to the source. With one of the league’s highest payrolls at roughly $88 million – well above the luxury tax threshold of $70 million – the Lakers are due to pay $18 million in taxes this season. Since there is a dollar-for-dollar penalty for tax-paying teams, taking on Beasley’s $6.2 million deal would add another $6.2 million to their tax bill and cost the Lakers a pro-rated shortened-season total of $7.331 million.”
So Beasley apparently isn’t going to the Lakers, who certainly could use his scoring to fill their small forward vacuum. Another report said the Wolves and Lakers have talked about Beasley, but has other potential destinations for him.
From Sam Amico of FoxSportsOhio.com: “The Wolves have already spoken with New Jersey, Houston and the L.A. Lakers about Beasley. While both teams are said to still be open to a deal, it appears Beasley’s most likely landing spot, for the time being, is Boston. The Celtics visited Cleveland on Tuesday, and the majority of the talk centered around a deal that would send center Jermaine O’Neal to Minnesota for Beasley. O’Neal is solid, but often-injured, causing some to wonder why the Wolves would be interested in such a deal. However, the salaries match, and O’Neal’s $6.2 million comes off the books at season’s end. “Minnesota is dangling Beasley to see what else they can get, but I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the deal they eventually made by the (March 15) trading deadline,” one source said. “The Celtics, of course, would love it.”
(One would imagine there would have to be some kind of sweetener in there for the Wolves. A straight-up Beasley for O’Neal deal makes zero sense from Minnesota’s perspective. -CS)
The Celtics also may be trying to move All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who has three years and $36 million left on his contract and a visible chip on his shoulder.
More from Broussard: “The Celtics find Rondo’s personality to be too high-maintenance and his clashes with coach Doc Rivers remain an off-court distraction, sources told Broussard, and the front office is now actively pitching him to other teams. With the Celtics realizing they are no longer title contenders, they don’t believe his point guard prowess is worth the headaches Rondo brings, sources say. And they do not want to build around him.”
Rondo’s name came up in Chris-Paul-to-Boston rumors during training camp. The report also said that at the same time, the Celtics were talking to the Golden State Warriors about swapping Rondo for Stephen Curry.
However, the report also said it wasn’t clear whether Golden State is willing to move Curry (who makes $3.1 million) and offered no other players that would have to be included to bridge the gap in salaries. It’s hard to imagine the Celtics taking on more long-term deals.
Also, for someone to describe the Celtics as no longer title contenders is a bit glib. While they are doing more scratching and clawing than they have had to in years past, the mantra coming from Rivers and the disposition of their veterans shows that they have not thrown in the towel.
While Curry may not be dealt, backcourt mate Ellis appears to be trade bait for the Warriors, who reportedly are considering a run at Howard even though they are not on his list of desired destinations. However, the Magic want to acquire Ellis to play alongside Howard, who in the past has mentioned the combo guard as someone he would like as a teammate.
Yet more from Broussard: “The Orlando Magic have reached out to the Golden State Warriors about trading for Monta Ellis, according to league sources. No deal is imminent, but Orlando is trying to add Ellis to its roster in hopes of appeasing Dwight Howard. Rather than aggressively pursuing a trade of Howard before the March 15 deadline, the Magic are desperately seeking a move that will convince Howard he can stay in Orlando. … Golden State is willing to listen to the Magic about a potential trade for its shooting guard, but there is little on Orlando’s roster that appeals to the Warriors, according to sources.”
The Warriors are believed to want a big man in return for Ellis. That could be dicey, because a tried and true axiom is never trade big for small – which any partner would be doing in that deal.
One team apparently unwilling to go big for small is the New Jersey Nets, who remain the front-runner in the Howard hubbub and are avoiding distracting deals.
From the Twitter account of Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “Nets have no interest in trading Brook Lopez for a Monta Ellis package, league source tells Y!”
Jackson was not with the Milwaukee Bucks for their loss in Boston on Wednesday night due to a hamstring injury. He may also have a bruised ego, having gone from seeking a contract extension during training camp to a stretch in coach Scott Skiles’ doghouse.
If anything, the Bucks have shown that Jackson’s presence has no impact; they are almost equally mediocre with or without him and have capable small forwards in Mike Dunleavy and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. With another year at $10 million on Jackson’s deal, the Bucks may be best served by chalking up his acquisition as a mistake and flipping him before the deadline.
From Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Jackson has been unhappy with his reduced role and said recently he expected a change in the near future, hinting he could be traded before the March 15 deadline. “I’m hopeful we can turn the whole thing around and he can be part of that,” Skiles said. “We’ve had many conversations. I also read that he hadn’t been talked to and things like that. I’ll let other people judge that stuff.”
Finally, there was this tweet from Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “The word on the streets is that the Mavs may trade Lamar Odom to Phoenix for Steve Nash. That will get Odom closer to his home in LA.”
Over All-Star Weekend, Nash reiterated that he will not ask the Suns for a trade and has made a practice of venturing into free agency. The league assists leader clearly has game left and becomes a free agent this summer, when the Knicks and Mavs are expected to come calling. But not if Suns owner Robert Sarver has his say.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Sarver, though, is apparently determined to try to convince Nash to retire in the desert. The thinking there, sources say, is that the Suns believe they’d have a better core going forward with a re-upped Nash, center Marcin Gortat, cap space and a top pick in the well-regarded 2012 draft than with the sort of assets they could bring back now in a deadline deal for a 38-year-old point guard who, even as he continues to play at an All-Star level, is just a few months away from free agency. The risk there, of course, is that keeping Nash beyond the trade deadline exposes the Suns to the same risks Orlando faces if it hangs onto Howard, creating the very real possibility that Nash could leave Phoenix without compensation. In that scenario, though, it’s believed that Sarver would prefer to announce to the world afterward that the Suns tried everything they could to keep Nash but ultimately couldn’t stop him from signing elsewhere — and then start to try to rebuild with the resultant cap space — as opposed to settling for a so-so trade in the next two weeks. There are a couple voices out there on the NBA grapevine cautioning that the Suns are listening to Nash pitches more than they’re letting on, but the overwhelming majority of insiders surveyed by ESPN.com in recent days continue to insist that Nash is going nowhere.”