It’s Black Friday in North America, and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has provided a shopping list for teams scouring the trade market for roster improvements. In the process of listing his 10 trade candidates, Berger provides a handful of interesting tidbits on those players, so we’ll round up several of the highlights below:
A rival GM described the Rockets‘ asking price in Omer Asik trade talks as “delusional,” according to Berger.
Rodney Stuckey is in the final year of his contract, but a source tells Berger that the Pistons “are not trading” the veteran guard.
Some rival executives find it hard to believe that the Cavs would give up so quickly on Dion Waiters, who is still just 21 years old.
While several executives named Ed Davis as a possible trade candidate, Berger believes the Grizzlies are more likely to explore dealing Zach Randolph. Berger adds that agent Rob Pelinka is “notorious for gaming the system in free agency,” so if Memphis does move Davis, it may be out of a fear that Pelinka has already lined up a team to sign him next summer.
The Pacers will aim to become the NBA’s first team to 10 wins this season tonight when they face the reeling Knicks in New York. As we look forward to that contest and a handful of others, let’s check in on the latest out of the Eastern Conference….
The Pistons laid the groundwork for this summer’s signing of Josh Smith by pursuing the forward back in 2008, when he hit restricted free agency with the Hawks, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit didn’t make an offer at the time, since Atlanta seemed poised to match any offer sheet, but the Pistons maintained their interest over the next several years.
Thaddeus Young knows he’ll be the subject of trade rumors this season, but the Sixers forward said all the right things to Lang Greene of HoopsWorld in discussing the possibility. “At the end of the day I realize the NBA is a business and things happen for different reasons,” Young said. “If it happens then so be it, but at the end of the day I love being in Philly. It’s like my second home. Right now I’m there.”
In spite of increasingly frequent “Fire Woodson!” chants at Madison Square Garden, Ian Begley of ESPN New York believes the Knicks‘ Mike Woodson deserves a chance to coach a healthy roster before any decisions are made.
Pacers consultant and former Knicks president Donnie Walsh says he was “surprised” by his old team’s decision to let GM Glen Grunwald go before the season, according to Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News.
During tonight’s game between the Knicks and Rockets, Kevin McHale opted to start Terrence Jones at power forward and made second-year man Greg Smith as the first big man to come off the bench. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle says that although you could read into Omer Asik‘s trade request as a reason for him not playing much, he underscores that it’s more about how McHale has been unhappy with Asik’s play as of late (Twitterlinks). While it’s anyone’s guess at this point, I don’t think it would be too far-fetched to argue that Houston would look to get a deal sooner rather than later in order to avoid the situation turning into a possible major distraction for the team.
Here’s more of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes from around the league:
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks that two trade calls the Rockets should make regarding Asik would be for the Pelicans’Ryan Anderson or Thaddeus Young of the 76ers (Twitter link).
ESPN’s Chris Broussard turned to four long-time executives – two from the Eastern Conference, two from the West – to weigh-in on Carmelo Anthony‘s current standing in the NBA (Insiders only).
The Sixers have come back to earth a little since their hot start, but their resumé still includes impressive wins over presumed title contenders like the Heat and Bulls. While I expect the club to finish in or near the Eastern Conference cellar, the team’s first week had observers wondering if GM Sam Hinkie needed to alter his approach one way or the other. Perhaps the team could build around its current nucleus, or maybe Hinkie needed to move a productive veteran or two to ensure that the better-than-anticipated performance didn’t continue.
ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard spoke to several East executives about the Sixers, and how those execs would handle the situation if they were running the show in Philadelphia. The answers, which touched on tanking and trade scenarios, were pretty interesting, so let’s round up a few of the more notable quotes….
A general manager on trade possibilities:
“What I would expect Sam Hinkie to do is to get on the phone and try to move his last good veteran pieces that are playing well. I’m sure [agent] David Falk is trying to get Evan Turner out of there. But I don’t know who takes him because Turner is in the last year of his contract, and Falk is trying to get a lot of money for him. And the problem is that a guy like Thaddeus Young is hard to move because of his contract. So I don’t know who would trade anything of value for him.”
A second executive on the odds of the Sixers continuing to stay above .500:
“I would be stunned if they can sustain this. Besides Michael Carter-Williams, Turner, [Spencer] Hawes and Thaddeus Young, they’ve got nobody. There is no way, if I were Hinkie, I would begin to think this is a nucleus I can build around. No way. Not right now. I thought before the season they were going to win less than 10 games. Their bench guys weren’t even that good in college.”
That same executive on tanking:
“Tanking is a hard thing to do. It’s easy to say you’re going to do it, but when you’re going through the dog days of January and you’re 5-30 and there are 4,000 people in the stands, it’s painful. The other thing is that while Andrew Wiggins is a good prospect, he’s not the next LeBron [James] — or even Kobe [Bryant] when he came out back in ’96. He’s not that. He’s a very good player, but it’s not like when Tim Duncan was coming out of college.”
A third executive on whether the Sixers should try building around their core:
“Would I start to think I’ve got a nucleus to build around if I were Hinkie? Hell no. There is no part of me that thinks they have something to build around. Come on, look at that roster. I’m not saying they’re horrible, but it’s just not realistic at all. They will probably try to trade Evan Turner, but that’s going to be tough. David Falk is going to ask for the world [in Turner's next contract]. He’s a tough agent. Everybody’s thinking that.”
Only three players who remained unsigned this month started more games for their team last year than the 32 that Jamaal Tinsley started for the Jazz, who finally re-signed him to a minimum-salary contract this week. The point guard still didn’t get anxious as he stayed at home without a contract this fall.
“Not at all,” Tinsley said to Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune. “I’ve been through way tougher things in my life than this. I’m blessed to get the opportunity to play basketball. I’d do this for free. I’ve been running up and down the court the last four (or) five months without a job. … So it wasn’t frustrating.”
Thaddeus Young hopes he remains with the Sixers, the only NBA team he’s ever played for, but he understands the team is in flux and could trade him or teammates Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes this season, as Tom Moore of The Intelligencer observes. “There definitely is some talk,” Young said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. If they see fit to trade one of us, two of us or all three of us, we have to pack up and go. It’s still a job. We have to remain calm and we can’t be mad.”
Whether or not Young stays, the Sixers roster will almost certainly change during the season, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. GM Sam Hinkie acknowledges that plenty of work remains to turn the team into an elite organization.
Kevin Pelton figures Andrew Bogut will be healthy for most of the three years of his extension, but he still thinks the Warriors absorb more financial risk than Bogut does, arguing in an Insider piece for ESPN.com that the team should have waited until he hit free agency to do a deal.
Pelton mentions the Mavericks as a potential suitor for Bogut had he become a free agent, and Warriors brass indeed perceived the Mavs as a threat, just as they saw the Bobcats as a rival for Stephen Curry, tweets Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group.
Zach Lowe’s latest piece for Grantland is a lengthy one, as he breaks down all 30 NBA teams by tiers heading into the 2013/14 season. Amidst his evaluations of each club, Lowe also includes several tidbits related to teams’ trade options and cap situations. The entire piece is worth checking out, if only to see where your favorite team lands, but we’ll round up a few of the more interesting notes right here:
While the Spurs didn’t shake up the roster much this offseason, they’re in good position to make an in-season trade if need be, says Lowe. San Antonio has a couple movable expiring contracts (Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner), as well as a number of prospects stashed overseas.
Lowe believes Zach Randolph will finish the year with the Grizzlies, but notes that Memphis’ front office is willing to make bold moves and probably recognizes that Randolph’s trade value will be highest this season.
The Rockets are a a “very strong bet” to make a trade or two during the season.
Both the Wizards and Pistons are among the candidates to make an in-season panic trade, due to increasing pressure to make the playoffs. However, Detroit may not have a ton of appealing trade bait unless the club is willing to dangle Greg Monroe, according to Lowe.
With Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay both potentially entering contract years, the Raptors could end up being deadline sellers if they get reasonable offers and aren’t in position to reach the postseason.
Although they have plenty of assets of value, the Cavaliers‘ trade options will be somewhat limited if they intend to keep their books clean in the hopes of landing LeBron James next summer.
Moving even one mid-tier salary during the season could create “serious cap flexibility” for the Kings.
Earlier today, we passed along a few quotes from Sam Hinkie, pulled from a conversation he had with Philadelphia Daily News scribe Bob Cooney. The Sixers GM, apparently making up for a few months of so-called "secrecy," also spoke to Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times, answering a few more questions about his team's offseason and plan for the future. Let's check out the highlights….
Hinkie tells Moore that he isn't looking to trade another veteran, such as Thaddeus Young, in order to clear even more cap space this year and next. "We have the most cap space (next summer) in the league right now," Hinkie said. "I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a need for a whole lot more. We have a lot to work with."
According to Hinkie, head coach Brett Brown has been in touch with each player on the Sixers' roster to discuss what's expected of them for the coming season.
The Sixers aren't targeting a specific position in free agency, but are still in contact with available players, says Hinkie: "We’re active out on the market, talking with lots of people. I’m focused on talent more so than (position)."
Hinkie is looking forward to seeing what Tony Wroten can do for the team, and is hopeful Philadelphia is a place where the young guard can "really improve."
A source tells Moore that the 76ers essentially have nothing invested in Royce White, since the Rockets included enough cash in that trade to cover his 2013/14 salary. Furkan Aldemir was Sixers' main target in the deal, and there's no indication yet that White is in the team's plans as more than a small expiring contract. Philadelphia has until late October to exercise or decline the forward's '14/15 team option.
The Atlantic Division saw plenty of player movement during this offseason, with teams either adding significant rotation players or dealing them away to create bigger roles for their younger ones. Let's take a look at a few players who could continue to elevate their standing next season:
After sitting out the 2011/12 season to recover from open heart surgery, Jeff Green returned to the Celtics last year as a productive contributor and arguably the team's most important reserve, appearing in 81 games (17 starts) and averaging 12.8 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 27.8 MPG while shooting a career best 46.7% from the field and 38.5% from three. Over the final three months of the season, the former Georgetown Hoya put on a tremendous display of efficient shooting, posting scoring averages of 15.3/17.6/17.1 and never averaging less than 48.8% overall and 41.4% from long distance per month. Green could very well be relied on in a primary scoring role next season following the departures of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry – three of Boston's top five scorers last year.
One of the biggest question marks for the Knicks heading into last season was how Iman Shumpertwould fare after returning from an ACL injury suffered during the 2011/12 playoffs. After sitting out the first 37 games, the sophomore swingman returned in mid-January, averaging 6.8 PPG and 1.0 SPG in 22.1 MPG the rest of the way. While those numbers may not stand out very much, Shumpert proved to be an intriguing young player within a playoff atmosphere, going for 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting in a closeout win against the Celtics and 6-for-10 (with an uncanny 5-for-6 performance from long distance) in a comeback attempt that fell short against the Pacers in Game 6 of the Conference semi-finals. Although his shooting numbers appeared to have wildly fluctuated at times during last season (26.4% from the field/ 27.2% from three in February followed by 47.9% from the field/49.9% from three in March), Shumpert has also garnered recognition as a strong defensive player, and there is some belief that his development is strongly tied to how far the Knicks can go this year.
With last year's team leading scorer Jrue Holiday now donning a Pelicans uniform and Jason Richardsonstill rehabbing from knee surgery, Evan Turner will most likely stand as the 76ers' most experienced guard in their backcourt to start the season. The fourth-year player was actually given an enormous amount of minutes last year and put up some of the best numbers of his career thus far – 13.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 36.5% from long range in 35.6 MPG. A few things to keep an eye out for in terms of Turner's offensive development are how much he can increase his scoring average by, how well he can improve from last season's 41.8% overall shooting average, and if he can get to the free throw line at a higher rate.
Another name to keep an eye out for in Philadelphia is Thaddeus Young, who finished the year as the team's second-leading scorer. The 6'8 forward posted 14.8 PPG on an efficient 53.1% from the field along with 7.5 RPG in 34.6 MPG. While 57.4% from the charity stripe leaves a lot left to be desired – especially considering he shot 77.1% in 2011/12 – Young showed a tremendous amount of promise overall as a scorer in March, going for 16.7 PPG on a 58.0% clip.
A very intriguing name to follow north of the border is second-year center Jonas Valanciunas, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Las Vegas Summer league. As a rookie, the 6'11 center delivered 8.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG for the Raptors last season. In what could reasonably have been a preview of what to continue to expect, Valanciunas averaged 11.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG, and 27.1 MPG in March, followed by 14.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.4 BPG, and 31.6 MPG in April. What's even more interesting are his field goal percentages and accuracy from the line over those final two months of the year (62.0%/82.0% and 55.8%/85.2% respectively). With that in mind, the 21-year-old big man figures to have the keys to the starting center position in Toronto.
Of the aforementioned players in the Atlantic Division, who stands to take their game to another level in 2013/14?
Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, like teammate LeBron James, can potentially opt out next summer and become a free agent, but told reporters on Thursday that there really isn't much to make of it right now and made it clear about where he stood: "Everyone knows where I want to be…That's what it's all about to me, is making sure we focus on this season, winning this championship…I want to be in Miami and I have nothing else to talk about. So there won't be (any) exciting news over here" (Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel). Wade also touches upon his health and is excited about the addition of center Greg Oden. Here's more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg rounds up a few predictions from the Celtics blogging community on how the 2013-14 season will play out, and the majority appears to imagine a finish anywhere in or between the ninth and twelfth seeds in the Eastern Conference.
With Kevin Love's uncertain health status for the rest of the season, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN says that the Timberwolves have made it a "pressing priority" to add another big man to their roster, and that there is a strong likelihood that Minnesota makes a move by the trade deadline. Also, Wolfson writes that the team has not been engaged by the Grizzlies in exploratory trade talks involving Rudy Gay. Here's more of tonight's miscellaneous notes from around the NBA:
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com wonders if it may be time for the 76ers to make a drastic move the way Brooklyn did in order to right their ship. Although firing Doug Collins may not be the answer, dealing Thaddeus Young might be a painful-but-necessary move worth considering.
Several months removed from telling the Hornets that he wanted to be in Phoenix, Eric Gordon is ready and willing to take on the leadership role expected from him in New Orleans (Steve Kyler of USA Today reports).
Ronald Murray has signed with Azovmash Mariupol of the Ukraine, according to Basket-Planet.com (credit goes to HoopsHype for the translation). The 6'3 guard's resume includes an eight-year stint in the NBA from 2002 to 2010, last playing for the Bulls and subsequently the Bobcats during the 2009-10 season.
Zach Lowe of Grantland explains why Scott Skiles was not the Bucks' main problem and looks into the bigger decisions ahead with regards to the futures of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Lowe mentions that if Ellis decides to opt-out this summer, Milwaukee could have max-level cap room to work with at that point.
Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside examines Demetris Nichols and Sean Evans, two former standouts from New York colleges who have started to make some waves in the D-League. Schlosser thinks that both have shown some characteristics of being possible contributors in the NBA.