In this week's installment of his Weekend Dime, ESPN.com's Marc Stein names his picks for the NBA's first-half awards. LeBron James and Chris Paul highlight the list as the East and West MVPs, respectively, while Jeremy Lin makes an appearance as the league's Most Improved Player.
After making his choices for the pre-All-Star awards, Stein also shares a few notes on the trade market, so let's round up the highlights:
- Chris Kaman is a "near lock" to be dealt by March 15th. This isn't good news for the Heat, who were hoping to pursue Kaman if the Hornets bought out his contract after the trade deadline, but it's not a surprise — Kaman has some value and it sounds like there are teams with interest.
- Chris Andersen has received increased minutes lately with Nene Hilario and Timofey Mozgov out of action, but the Nuggets are open to dealing the Birdman. Any potential trade partner would have to take on the two years and $9MM+ that will still remain on Andersen's contract after this season.
- Brandon Jennings' comments last week about eventually exploring his free agent options haven't altered the Bucks' perception of him as a franchise cornerstone. According to Stein, Jennings' comments "struck many observers as an ill-conceived frustration rant" after the Bucks guard wasn't named to the Eastern All-Stars.
- While J.R. Smith will receive the full amount the Knicks have left on their mini mid-level exception (approximately $2.38MM), his 2011/12 NBA earnings will only work out to about $1.92MM due to the lockout pro-ration.