RUMOR HAS IT...
In this week's section geared exclusively towards the latest rumors floating around the NBA …
Deadline Nears: The NBA's trade deadline is only a couple of weeks away. Teams have until 3:00pm Eastern on February 19th to remake their rosters for the playoff run, shed unwanted contracts and/or change their salary cap/luxury tax positions.
The following is a brief summary of where each team stands heading to the third Thursday in February, alphabetized by city:
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are said to be relatively quiet. The team's goal is to hold onto the fourth seed for home court advantage in the first round.
The player they've been missing just returned to their lineup - Al Horford, who was out with a bone bruise.
Atlanta is in a good cap position for this summer and next, although that could change if they give hefty contracts with free agents-to-be Mike Bibby and Marvin Williams (restricted). The Hawks also have the rights to Josh Childress, which they'd have to waive if they want to go the cap space direction.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics realize they need depth at center and point guard. The problem is they have very little to offer in trade. With P.J. Brown retiring, the options aren't yet clear.
Boston may end up waiting past the deadline to see if any quality players are bought out (like Oklahoma City's Joe Smith and/or New York's Stephon Marbury). The team has 15 players under contract but Sam Cassell hasn't played all year and would the guy the team sacrifices to make a roster spot. He could end up staying aboard as an assistant coach - if it comes to that.
The Celtics can get under the cap for the summer of 2010 but it would likely cost them Ray Allen and/or Paul Pierce.
Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats are looking to get healthy. D.J. Augustin is nearing a return while Gerald Wallace is still out for a stretch, recovering from the partially collapsed lung and broken rib(s).
Before Augustin got hurt, Raymond Felton was very available. His steady play since may help extend his stay through the end of the season, when he'll become a restricted free agent.
The Bobcats would love to move Nazr Mohammed, but his contract runs two more years (although he has an early termination option on the last one). Also available are Adam Morrison and Sean May.
Charlotte is in position to be a cap team in 2010.
Chicago Bulls: There have been plenty of rumors suggesting that Kirk Hinrich or Andres Nocioni can be had but the player the Bulls are actively shopping is Larry Hughes. If they can dump Hughes for a last year contract, Chicago would have flexibility this summer.
The choices probably include re-signing Ben Gordon and/or Drew Gooden, or going shopping for a free agent. If the Bulls can't trade Hughes or get a similar contract in return (like Brad Miller), they'll still be in position to spend come 2010.
A number of teams have interest in Gooden and his expiring contract.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The tricky part for the Cavaliers is that the team is playing a very high level, has great chemistry and is getting solid enough play out of Wally Szczerbiak. While Wally's $13.8 million expiring contract is extremely attractive to teams looking to shed salary, Cleveland just doesn't have a lot of incentive to make a move.
Additionally, the Cavaliers are saving cap space in 2010 so that they can lure another superstar to join LeBron James - who they obviously hope to extend or re-sign.
Dallas Mavericks: The Josh Howard rumors have swirled most of the season but if Dallas continues to play well (as they have recently), Howard probably sticks around.
He's a still a talented, young player and with his final contract year in 2010 a team option - Howard is an extremely desirable piece to a number of teams. At this point the Mavericks are talking - but not selling.
The player they are shopping more aggressively is Jerry Stackhouse who has a $2 million buy-out in his contract for next season.
Spending in 2010 is a serious consideration for Dallas who technically have just Jason Terry and Matt Carroll officially locked in with guaranteed money in 2010. Dirk Nowitzki has an early termination clause, Erick Dampier has to meet incentives to lock in his money, Howard is the team option and the rest are either offer the books, restricted free agents or team options.
Denver Nuggets: It took everything the Nuggets could do to get under the luxury tax threshold. They've made their deals and have climbed from the eighth seed (at the end of last season) to third.
Unless they make another deal or somehow get Kenyon Martin to opt out of his final year at $16.5 million (good luck), Denver will not have cap money in 2010.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons appear to be running in place after the Allen Iverson/Chauncey Billups trade. They could look to deal but probably won't other than a small salary cap move to trim off some $700-800k to get under the tax threshold.
If they decide to shake things out, both Rasheed Wallace and Iverson have big dollar expiring contracts. Tayshaun Prince isn't cheap but is well regarded around the league. Kwame Brown has fallen out of the rotation and has a player option for next season Detroit might like to find their way out of.
While it's almost a lock the Pistons make a move, it's probably going to be something minor like Alex Acker for draft considerations.
Depending on what they do with Iverson and Wallace, Detroit stands to have significant cap room in both the summers of 2009 and 2010.
Golden State: The Warriors are said to have buyer's remorse on Corey Maggette. While the team is 18 games below .500, they've improved since the return of Monta Ellis. Marcus Williams is also on the block.
Barring a trade to open up room, the Warriors don't look like a cap space team until 2011.
Houston Rockets: While their have been rumors to the contrary, the Rockets aren't actively shopping Tracy McGrady. It would take a tremendous offer for the team to change course.
The bigger concern is what happens to Ron Artest this summer when he's an unrestricted free agent. Houston has the potential to add a major piece to join Yao Ming in 2010 although he too has an early termination clause that summer.
Indiana Pacers: Please take Jamaal Tinsley off our hands? Good luck on that front. The Pacers would love to make a trade. They're 11 games under .500 yet only 3 1/2 back behind the injured Milwaukee Bucks.
Indiana has a few assets to make a deal including Jarrett Jack, Rasho Nesterovic (expiring contract) and Marquis Daniels whose salary next season is a team option.
There hasn't been too much buzz in the media surrounding the Pacers but if motivated, they could be a player before the end of the month. As it stands, they don't appear to be a cap team for either 2009 or 2010.
Los Angeles Clippers: While they're a popular team to fantasy GM these days, their actual General Manager Mike Dunleavy has insisted from the start that he's not trading any of his key pieces (Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, etc). He's still talking about having the best front court in the league once healthy.
With a core of Zach, Baron, Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, DeAndre Jordan and Mike Taylor, the Clippers will have cap room in 2010 to add a big name (or retain Camby).
Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers were extremely unlikely to make a midseason deal before Andrew Bynum got hurt, primarily because their salary is already in the $100 million range next year (including tax). They intend to re-sign Trevor Ariza and are open to the idea of retaining Lamar Odom, although budget concerns are tantamount.
Now that Bynum is out, the chances that they swap out Odom's expiring contract are near zero. While it may be sexy to talk about bringing back Shaquille O'Neal (or less sexy, Brad Miller), both have hefty price tags next year that are non-starters.
Even if LA wanted to pursue ex-Laker Kwame Brown (for perhaps Chris Mihm and DJ Mbenga), his $4 million player option for next year is money slotted for Ariza. Sure, Vladimir Radmanovic can be had and to a lesser extent, Luke Walton - but their contracts run past 2010.
LA isn't likely to be a cap team until at least 2011 although the hope is to lock Kobe Bryant down to a new contract this summer should he opt out (as expected). If Kobe shocks the world and bolts, LA could position themselves in 2010 although would appear to be a long shot.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies have shopped Mike Conley, would be happy if someone took on Marko Jaric's deal (they won't) and could be pressed into moving Hakim Warrick if made the right offer.
The Grizzlies are one of the primary cap teams this summer and/or the next. Don't think for a second that the Darius Miles move was completely innocent. Yes, they like his talent . . . more so they made sure the attractive Portland Trail Blazers lost a significant chunk of cap space.
Miami HEAT: The goal for the HEAT is the fourth seed in the East. Any moves they make will be to aid that pursuit. In other words, they're not going to take a step back to make a trade for the future.
Shawn Marion is available but Miami can afford to wait for the best offer - or even keep him. They could certainly use some size and/or a point guard.
Also available are Mark Blount and Marcus Banks. The HEAT would be more motivated to make any deal that takes either ex-Celtic of their roster.
While the HEAT may have some cap space this summer (assuming they waive the rights to Marion), they don't have that much. Without a trade, they may only have in the neighborhood of $6 million which is why they might consider a Marion for Brad Miller option that could set them up for free agency in 2010.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks' playoff hopes just took a dual hit with Michael Redd out for the season and Andrew Bogut down for about two months. Despite playing relatively well for Coach Scott Skiles, most of the roster is available. Unless Redd and/or Richard Jefferson opt out in 2010, Milwaukee won't have cap til 2011 - thus part of the motivation to deal. Update: See Orlando.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Rashad McCants isn't likely to return and is available. The team denies that Mike Miller can be had. Considering how well they've played since the New Year, the Wolves may keep the roster together and wait until 2010 (when they'll have plenty of cap space).
New Jersey Nets: The big name is Vince Carter but the Nets appear inclined to keep him for now. Bobby Simmons has a 2010-friendly salary and doesn't do enough for the team to justify his eight-figures. New Jersey has a few one or two-year players like Stromile Swift, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager and Jarvis Hays that don't necessarily need to be Nets long-term. Also, the Nets would like to dump Sean Williams.
The team is excited by the play of Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Carter is filling a valuable role with a good attitude. In the meantime, the Nets can afford to be patient as they're already well-positioned to spend in 2010.
New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets don't have much in the way of trade assets and are thought to be quiet this deadline. Unless both Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler opt out, New Orleans won't have cap room until 2011.
New York Knicks: There's obviously the Stephon Marbury issue but it's most likely his buy-out comes after the March deadline - which would keep Stephon off of a playoff team once cut. David Lee is said to be off the market (for now). Whatever difficult free agency decisions the Knicks have to make (Lee and Nate Robinson) will likely wait until the summer.
The one team that might be interested in Marbury via trade is the Sacramento Kings who could dump Kenny Thomas in addition to Brad Miller to New York. The Knicks also have Malik Rose to toss into a deal if they need to add another expiring contract.
Saving for cap space in 2010 is priority number one.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder have the cap space in 2009 and/or 2010. Despite the 11-38 record, they've actually played relatively well recently. Other than their kids (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green) and new acquisition Nenad Krstic, the team will discuss making a deal.
Orlando Magic: Can Brian Cook's two-year deal (second is player option) attract a replacement for the injured Jameer Nelson? Obviously the Magic aren't going to lure an All-Star in return but how about veterans like Tyronn Lue or Chucky Atkins? It might take a Keith Bogans or J.J. Redick to get a deal done.
Orlando will have to decide on Hedo Turkoglu either this summer (he's expected to opt out) or the next. If they keep him, they definitely won't have cap space in 2010 - as it is, they may not have enough space to mention even if they let him walk.
Update: That was quick, the Magic and Bucks just swapped Bogans for Lue.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Miller is too important to move despite his ending contract. Rumors that the team is looking to get out of the big deal they signed Elton Brand to are premature. Now that they're hovering near .500, the Sixers probably hold firm.
They'll have to decide on Miller this summer but since they're out of the cap picture in 2010 - there's a decent chance they look to re-sign him.
Update: It looks like Elton's shoulder will keep him out the rest of the season. The Sixers may be more potent offensively with him down, so this probably doesn't signficantly change any deadline plans.
Phoenix Suns: Sources say the Suns are toying with the idea of blowing it all up, but are more likely to retool over the summer. Amar'e Stoudemire is likely to opt out in 2010. Both Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal will be free agents. Suffice it to say, Phoenix will have a lot of spending power under the cap in 2010 to either add a star to play with Amar'e - or to bring in a new pair should he leave. That is . . . if they don't throw in the towel and trade Amar'e before it comes to head.
Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers still have solid cap room this summer. Neither Steve Blake nor Travis Outlaw have guaranteed contract which would could open up major space should Portland go in that direction.
In the meantime they'll continue to shop Raef LaFrentz who is in the least year of his deal (that is mostly covered by insurance). Portland has many attractive, young players to deal but there is probably a better chance than not the team holds firm.
At 30-18, they may already have a team capable of doing damage in the playoffs. There's no rush to deal, especially because they can spend if necessary this summer.
Both Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge are restricted free agents in 2010 which is where any cap room the Blazers might have is expected to go.
Sacramento Kings: Other than Kevin Martin and probably Jason Thompson, they're all available. The Kings may be more likely than most to make a deal.
Sacramento will have cap room in 2010 and if they make the right deals, might be able to get under in 2009.
San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs would like to add another big man but don't really have any trade bait other than the two-year deal of Kurt Thomas - who might be more important to keep for the playoff run.
Manu Ginobili's contract expires after next season. The Spurs should have the cap space in 2010 to both re-sign him and add another high-level player.
Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh isn't available this season. Neither is Andrea Bargnani. Depending who you ask, Jermaine O'Neal either is or is not being shopped. The safe money is that he is available for an expiring contract.
While the team may get calls for Anthony parker, the Raptors don't have much else in the way of trade bait. Earlier in the year they almost traded Joey Graham to the Golden State Warriors for Marco Belinelli but Coach Don Nelson decided he wanted to keep the Italian kid.
Chris Bosh is expected to opt out and in 2010 and considering the team's fortunes this year, it may be a difficult sell. That's why it may make sense to cash out O'Neal now for a last year and shop in 2009 for a high-level Bosh sidekick. Otherwise it's wait for 2010, at which point the Raptors would have a mountain of cap space and a number of options in free agency.
Utah Jazz: The Jazz aren't expected to make a trade this deadline. They just want to field a contingent with the players they already have. Three opt-out possibilities (Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Kyle Korver) will shape the summers of 2009 and 2010 for the Jazz. Expect Paul Millsap to get a hefty raise as a restricted free agent.
It's too early to guess if Utah will have cap space in 2009, 2010 - or not for many years.
Washington Wizards: Despite the disaster of a season, word is Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler are not available. This year is a wash, they'll just have to wait for the next and pray for health.
Cap space doesn't become an option for the Wizards until 2011.
To Summarize: The following lists which teams might have cap in 2009, 2010 and beyond - and the players that could significantly impact those figures.
Cap Space in 2009 - Atlanta (depending on Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress), Detroit (Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace), Memphis, Miami (Shawn Marion), Oklahoma City, Portland , Utah (Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap)
Cap Space in 2010 - Atlanta (Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Josh Childress, Joe Johnson, any 2009 spending), Boston (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce), Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas (Dirk Nowitzki, Erick Dampier, Josh Howard), Detroit (Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, 2009 spending), Houston (Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Rafer Alston), Los Angeles Clippers (Marcus Camby), Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar), Memphis (2009 spending), Miami (Shawn Marion, 2009 spending), Milwaukee (Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, Luke Ridnour), Minnesota, New Jersey, New York (David Lee, Nate Robinson), New Orleans (Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler), Oklahoma City (2009 spending), Orlando (Hedo Turkoglu), Phoenix (Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire), Portland (Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, spending in 2009), Sacramento, San Antonio (Manu Ginobili), Toronto (Chris Bosh), Utah Jazz (Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, 2009 spending)
Post 2011 Teams - Denver, Golden State, Indiana, Philadelphia, Washington
Obviously everything is subject to change via trade at the deadline or in June around the NBA Draft . . .