Trade rumors were flowing Thursday like water going over Niagara Falls as the day when the dam can burst — Dec. 15 — drew closer by the hour. (For those unfamiliar with NBA rules, the vast majority of players who signed contracts over the summer cannot be dealt until Dec. 15.)
Most years, Dec. 15 comes and goes with tons of trade speculation buildup and very, very little in terms of actual deals going down.
But this season, with 13 teams more or less out of the running in the East and 13 teams more or less competing for eight playoff spots in the West, things are different.
General managers Masai Ujiri of Toronto and Pete D’Allesandro of Sacramento have already shown they have a stockpile of dynamite that they are not afraid to use — and they still have plenty in reserve. The Knicks and Nets are both desperate for shakeups as they languish as the bottom of the Atlantic Division, and Omer Asik has switched agents in the hope that his long-standing trade request — first issued after Dwight Howard was signed — will be fulfilled by Houston GM Daryl Morey.
So let’s take a look at the rumors that are out there today involving Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry and see if they pass the smell test.
KYLE LOWRY TO THE KNICKS FOR (SOME COMBINATION OF) IMAN SHUMPERT, TIM HARDAWAY Jr., RAYMOND FELTON, METTA WORLD PEACE and a FUTURE No. 1 DRAFT PICK.
There have been various versions of this deal floated around by various news outlets (when can we begin calling them rumor outlets? Because the basketball journalism business has become so rumor-driven it is almost sickening).
Felton is out for 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury, and he has two years left on his contract for $3.8 million and $3.95 million (player option). Plus, he’s not that good — and Toronto just waived a point guard, D.J. Augustin, who is not that good. Also, Toronto acquired Greivis Vasquez from Sacramento in the Rudy Gay trade, and they’ll likely find a way to keep him if the price is not too high (Vasquez will be a restricted free agent in July). Ujiri already dealt for Felton once when he was with Denver and engineered the Carmelo Anthony trade, so the postulation here is that he is not all that enamored of Felton.
Shumpert is another story, because he showed in the playoffs against Indiana last season that he can be quite a talent, although he has stunk up the joint more times than not this season as his name has constantly come up in trade rumors. (Just speculating, but if you didn’t want to be traded, would you mail in it once or twice? It seems Shumpert may have been doing that twice in the past 2 weeks. First, he had a 23-minute outing at Portland in which he registered no stats other than 3 fouls, 2 turnovers and a steal, going 0-for-3 from the field. Then, outdoing himself, he went scoreless in 31 minutes in the Knicks’ 41-point loss to Boston, shooting 0-for-6 with no other stats aside from two rebounds, two fouls, a steal and a turnover.)
Why would Ujiri want a player like that, especially when he has DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and cap-clogger Landry Fiends all available at the 2-spot?
And then there is Metta, who is on a one-year $1.59 million contract (with a player option for $1.66 million in 2014-15).
It was curious that MWP registered a DNP-CD in the Knicks’ victory over the Bulls, but do the rebuilding Raptors need him? Only if they planned to move him in a subsequent deal when a contender might be willing to overpay for a better-than-average defender.
And then there is the future No. 1 draft pick.
Ujiri already fleeced the Knicks out of one of those in the Andrea Bargnani trade, and since the Knicks already owe picks in 2014 and 2016, they could not trade a future No. 1 unless it was pegged to 2018 or 2020. By then, the championship drought in New York will have reached 45 years. But that would not stop Ujiri from trying to go to the same well twice.
And besides, the Knicks need a big man, not another point guard. They already have Beno Udrih and Pablo Prigioni. What they don’t have is anyone to fill the void left by Tyson Chandler’s injury. And they ain’t getting Jonas Valanciunas.
I have to say I agree with Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun on this one.
Raptors are trying to smoke out more offers for Lowry. Hence putting this out there, but Knicks do have interest.
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) December 12, 2013
LOWRY TO THE BROOKLYN NETS, PRESUMABLY FOR BOJAN BOGDANOVIC
There are 29 NBA teams that would like to get their hands on Bogdanovic, who many feel is the top player in Europe right now. And it was either coincidental or interesting that Ujiri spent Thursday night in Turkey watching the Fenerbahce Ulker-Partizan Belgrade game, won 79-77 by the Serbian squad.
From the You Can’t Make This Stuff Up department, there were two players named Bogdanovic competing in this game, and the lesser-known of the two, Bogdan (of Partizan) had a better game than Bogan, who scored 14 points while coming off his worst game of the season Monday in a Turkish League game (hat tip to NetsDaily.com, which has the details).
The Nets have no desire whatsoever to part with the rights to Bogdanovic, who will be a huge part of their future now that they have surrendered three future first-round picks — plus the right to swap a fourth — for Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett (whose numbers are worse than those of teammate Mason Plumlee).
Also, the Nets happen to have a franchise cornerstone by the name of Deron Williams, who plays the same position as Lowry.
So do I see Lowry going to Brooklyn? Sorry for the cliché, but fuhgeddabouddit — unless Williams’ ankle gives out again and he goes down for the season.
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.