Posted Dec 14 2010 9:39AM
They're making their lists and checking them twice, because that time of year is upon us once again. Trade evaluation time.
General managers don't wait until the February deadline to spring into action. They take stock of their teams and players about 20 games into the season. That's enough time to give them a fair idea of what they need and whether they can think about the playoffs, or begin to think longer term. And there are other matters to consider: contracts, free agency, salary cap clearance, disgruntled players. All will factor into a team's gameplan as the deadline approaches.
For a handful of players, however, moving to a new address will be difficult, if not near-improbable. No one is untradeable, but some are harder to swap than others. Making it more complicated is the upcoming labor negotiation; teams are more skittish than ever about adding payroll.
Here are the players who'll probably stay put, for a variety of reasons:
He's enjoying himself much better under Doug Collins than Eddie Jordan. But are 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds enough to justify a contract that runs two more years and pays $35 million? The Sixers aren't doing well enough in the standings to declare Brand a keeper. They'd love to unload him in the right deal; good luck finding a team that doesn't think Brand left his best years in L.A. with the Clippers.
The Sixers have given off signals that Iggy is one of the franchise's foundations and is worth keeping over Brand. That looks like a smoke signal. Truth is, Iggy's deal (three years, $44 million left) is clunkier. And the Sixers have young players at his position who are ready to step in. He'd be a nice fit in a lot of places. But he hasn't shown to be a game-changer who can elevate a bad team like Philly. Plus his contract, which runs well past the next collective bargaining agreement, is a killer to teams with an eye on the budget.
If newcomer Jerryd Bayless can demonstrate a pass-first mentality -- and that's a big if -- the Raptors would cut ties with Calderon in a heartbeat. They've had a love-hate relationship for years with Calderon, who has managed to outplay all threats to his job (the recently traded Jarrett Jack was the latest) but hasn't improved much. His remaining contract (two years, $20 million) might scare off teams in need, such as Miami.
He was a career 20-point scorer before being traded to Cleveland last season, and has since gone south, though not in the same way LeBron James did. No longer a premier player, Jamison is a supporting cast-guy making $14 million this year and $15 million next, the last of his deal. Asking him to fill the shoes left behind by LeBron in Cleveland is a reach, but he carries much more locker-room clout than LeBron, for whatever that's worth to the sinking Cavs. At 34, he stands a better chance of being a midseason pickup in 2011-12.
He has two years and $24 million left, a hefty tag for a shooter in fast decline. The Pistons hung onto him too long after winning it all in 2004, and now are paying the painful price for sentimentality. Hamilton won't fetch anything of value. Even more disturbing, he's unhappy, uncharacteristically getting booted (three times) from games and drawing techs. Ordinarily, some teams might bite and believe all Rip needs is a change of scenery, but not at these prices. The Pistons stand a far better chance of moving Tayshaun Prince, who's at the end of his deal.
He hasn't been a bad influence around John Wall, as some suspected he might. But he hasn't been the same player who once owned basketball in Washington, either. Arenas is shooting below 40 percent and eagerly, perhaps too eagerly, handed the keys over to the rookie. That's mighty thoughtful of Arenas, but it does nothing for his trade value, which was weak to begin with. Aside from Rashard Lewis, does anyone have a more poisonous contract than Arenas, still owed three more years and $60 million?
A few years ago, the Blazers gave max contracts to both, even though the team wasn't pressed to do anything right away, considering Roy and Aldridge weren't approaching free agency. By essentially bidding against themselves, the Blazers were backed into a financial corner. If Aldridge and Roy didn't develop into stars, the club was in trouble. And if one suffered a serious injury, look out. Well, Aldridge is giving 17 and 8 on the floor but isn't on an All-Star level and may never be. The bigger concern is Roy, who is (was?) a star but at 26, might have chronic knee issues. Do the Blazers, now laboring in the West, part ways with two players who were supposed to compliment Greg Oden? Good luck with that: They're both owed $50 million.
A 31-year-old who's chronically overweight, often injured and accused of giving half-effort doesn't make for an easy trade, especially when said player has a history of back trouble and is still owed $27 million. A once-fantastic career is being torched, and other teams won't give anything of value for him; they'll just toast marshmallows over his bonfire.
Is he on the way to tanking with his second straight team? Put it this way: Grant Hill, going on 50, is doing what Hedo was supposed to do, handle the ball and score in the open floor. We haven't seen that Hedo since the postseason two summers ago in Orlando, when he parlayed a fantastic performance into a big contract with the Raptors. The Suns are saying all the right things at the moment, but surely they expected Hedo to be more than the team's No. 6 scorer, No. 6 rebounder and No. 3 assist guy when they rescued him from Toronto. That, and his contract ($33 million left) won't endear him on the marketplace.
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