If you haven’t been paying attention, no one ever shops anybody. It’s just that other teams call and you have to listen in the interest of improving your club.
Kind of makes you wonder how talks get initiated if no GM ever says, “Yeah, we called them up, asked for Kevin Garnett, and offered them Eric.”
Not that the Celtics were shopping KG, either, but Danny Ainge had to listen in the interests of his club, too.
In fact, it looked like they would have made the swap in a New York minute if Garnett – who has a rare no-trade clause – didn’t blow it up, vowing to go out in Celtics green, hinting that it might not be too long, seeming to signal he will retire if they trade him.
So that’s over … or not.
As if. This was only the midseason trade deadline, essentially a dress rehearsal for the real deal after the season.
Comer that Bledsoe is, insiders have long assumed the Clippers will cash him in a trade rather than signing him long-term and driving owner Donald Sterling into the luxury tax for the first time. If it’s a new day in Clipperdom, that’s a precedent you can expect to hold.
So you can expect the Clippers to pursue KG again this summer, with pleas ringing out from, uh, pals in the area. Like Chris Paul, whose point guard duties include rarely seen input into personnel decisions.
Add the hard-nosed, defense-galvanizing KG to the Clippers, and the Lakers would be playing for second place in the Pacific Division for the immediate future.
If this was a trade-deadline fizzle, with teams lining up to swindle the Hawks out of Josh Smith – who’s still in Atlanta – then most of them are.
Hawks GM Danny Ferry correctly decided that the best time to move J-Smoove would be before the draft. Rather than peddle him in a fire sale, the Hawks have a perfectly viable Plan B – letting him leave as a free agent, which gives them two maximum slots to pursue Dwight Howard.
The Hawks have been dumping salary for two years. If landing Howard, an Atlanta native, is their preferred option, they will have to wait until spring to see if the Lakers, who have no intention whatsoever of moving him now, feel the same way then.
With Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak reminding everyone of the overriding principle – ”It’s hard to get talent in this league,” he said – it would take a lot to get the Lakers to move Howard, the only player they have averaging double figures who won’t be at least 33 by the start of next season.
On the other hand, Howard’s play has been a major disappointment, with frequent tangles with teammates even more worrisome than his ability to execute basics such as pick-and-rolls (low), free-throw shooting (50 percent or worse in 39 of 52 games) and his performance in general (seven-year low in scoring, eight-year low in rebounding).
Intangibly, he has been just as bad, refusing to even hint he might want to stay until noting last week that he and Kobe Bryant “have years” to learn to play together.
Howard has always been a major effort guy whose awesome physical ability made up for being high-maintenance – or beyond maintenance. When healthy, he has no athletic peer among centers.
Coming off back surgery, with a sore right shoulder, Howard now has at least one peer — JaVale McGee – who went on a shot-blocking rampage in the third quarter that made Howard look like Aaron Gray.
So, there will be a lot of things to watch the rest of the way, and the road to the NBA Finals is just one of them.
On to the rankings.