Suns' Stoudemire could end upwith 76ers for Iguodala
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Perhaps the biggest question coming up to the Feb. 18 trading deadline is the fate of Amar’e Stoudemire and where he ends up. I’ve got at least one interesting possibility.
First, how much can you offer for a guy who still could opt out? Though Stoudemire could opt in as Carlos Boozer did this season for $17.68 million. It is considered unlikely given the expected new collective bargaining agreement after the summer of 2011 (hopefully), which should mean, at least, shorter contracts and perhaps reduced maximums. So most everyone figures to try to get in under the wire this summer.
Stoudemire sitting out in the fourth quarter last week as the Suns rallied to beat Dallas probably was a good hint his time is Phoenix is limited. He actually has mentioned interest in the Nets, so he’s not exactly worried about winning. They do have a lot of players, sort of. Yi Jianlian? Nah. The Suns don’t need more soft guys who don’t defend. Maybe Courtney Lee. Maybe Devin Harris to succeed Steve Nash, though the Suns like their Goran Dragic.
I can see something with the 76ers, as there’s widespread talk of moving former University of Arizona star Andre Iguodala, who could return to the desert, say, with someone like Samuel Dalembert, who’s long been available and would fit the Suns defensive needs. I guess Stoudemire could play center in the East. But with Elton Brand? I don’t know.
But here’s my shocker: Gilbert Arenas to the 76ers as well?
Call it a shot in the dark.
Here’s why: One of the hottest rumors floating around the NBA is former super agent David Falk could be in line to take a prominent role with the Wizards once the sale is completed from the Pollin family. Falk, who represented Michael Jordan and once was the game’s preeminent agent, has been looking for a way to increase his role in the NBA and long has talked about running a team. The joke long around the NBA was that Falk always believed he was running teams because he’d always propose trades to reshape teams with his players. It’s the natural extension he’s long been seeking, and he is a Washington fixture with his business there.
Falk doesn’t have many clients anymore, but still represents Brand. The talk is if Falk gets in, it’s to help remake the team, and taking on Brand would simplify the Arenas situation. Brand has played better of late, though the 76ers supposedly would love to move his deal. For the Wizards, they wouldn’t have to fight the union and the negative of going after the contract they gave out.
The 76ers could sell a remake of their franchise around Arenas running the pick and roll with Stoudemire and perhaps bring some excitement back to the team. And the Wizards could begin making changes with one of the game’s classiest guys in Brand and perhaps also pry a nice piece out of the 76ers, maybe point guard Jrue Holiday. Though I’m not sure coach Eddie Jordan would be so happy about seeing Gilbert again. I know, details, details. But the atmosphere and team morale in Philadelphia is spiraling out of control and a major shakeup is obvious.
The 76ers, Wizards and Suns seem like the franchises most ready for major overhauls, and maybe it begins that way.
Heat’s struggles could make Wade re-consider his future
-- Has the Heat blown its chance to re-sign Dwyane Wade? The conventional thinking long has been given South Florida’s climate, the lack of state taxes and Wade’s sporting dominance in the region, he was a lock to stay. But who knows now as the Heat has fallen to eighth in the Eastern Conference, percentage points behind the Bulls, and perhaps in danger of missing the playoffs.
In effect, the Heat may have wasted two years in the prime of Wade’s career with its effort to reach 2010 free agency without developing any talent of its own to support Wade. The No. 2 draft pick from 2008, Michael Beasley, still doesn’t finish games. And in emptying its roster, even if the Heat were to sign a major free agent, say Chris Bosh, they wouldn’t have a mid-level exception and likely would have to fill out its roster with minimum salaried players. Which hardly would make them favorites.
I’ve heard some talk about this, and it was pointed out most dramatically last week in an intriguing piece written by perspicacious Cavs writer Brian Windhorst in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Of course, there’s been talk the Heat is trying to land LeBron James to team with Wade. And Windhorst is close with James and has a book out about him. Still, Windhorst made some interesting points about how the Cavs have tried to improve to accommodate James compared with how the Heat seemingly has cut corners and truly hasn’t committed to Wade.
Last summer, Heat president Pat Riley said he couldn’t make any commitments to upgrade the roster if Wade didn’t commit to an extension. Wade said he couldn’t. The Cavs made trades to add Shaq for a playoff run aimed at Orlando and Boston and signed a Heat free agent, Jamario Moon. The Heat stayed basically the same and even cut staff salaries and did some layoffs. Of course, Miami can say it has the chance to attract a free agent and the Cavs cannot as they’ll be over the cap this summer. But the Cavs are expected to make a major move this month with Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ expiring deal, and lately have been trying to acquire players to then move on to Washington for Antawn Jamison. So the Cavs are going for the title and the Heat hopes to make the playoffs. Wade is 28, and many question the length of his career given how many injuries he has and how much physical abuse he takes, especially with few other options on his team. And here’s potentially two of his best years of his basketball life effectively gone to waste while peers like James, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony talk about championships. Will he forgive the Heat?
The Windhorst column effectively makes the point to James to stay where you are because even with Miami having an owner much wealthier than the Cavs owner, look how frugal the Heat is? But turn around and look at the Bulls. With Derrick Rose, now an All-Star, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich it’s questionable if either the Cavs or Heat now have a player—other than James and Wade, of course—who could start for the Bulls. And when the Bulls were winning championships, they did have the biggest payroll in the NBA. The Bulls see the Heat and Wade Saturday for the first time in Chicago, and perhaps Wade will take a good, hard look again at Chicago and the Bulls.
Lakers in need of help at the point
-- Kobe Bryant pulled that one out Sunday afternoon for the Lakers, but they are no sure championship favorite with a poor point guard situation. Rajon Rondo makes a lot of teams look bad. But he brutalized the Lakers and Jordan Farmar isn’t much help to Derek Fisher. Would they pay, in effect, $18 million for Kirk Hinrich, which has been one rumor? That’s what it would cost the Lakers for Hinrich’s contract with their luxury tax status. The Bulls aren’t shopping Hinrich around, but if they get to the trade deadline and haven’t moved a contract, they could be forced to make a deal. If you are Chicago, you absolutely cannot go into the summer without the cap space to offer at least one max deal. Thus far, all I’ve heard is the Lakers want to “get off” money and reduce their payroll. As for the Celtics, it’s all about KG. He’s still talking, but he no longer can back it up. He’s over 43,000 minutes in his career, about where the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were when their bodies gave way. Then you factor in Boston’s loss Sunday as well as losing to the young Hawks for the fourth straight time this season. Look, the deal was still well worth it. It got them a title. But it’s probably over now and they should deal Ray Allen’s expiring contract to begin retooling. Will they?
NBA news and notes
-- Derrick Rose is a lock to be among some two dozen players announced as part of the USA team roster on All-Star weekend. Rose also stands a good chance to be among the final 12 with some of the free agents, like Dwyane Wade, uncertain about participating. … Quietly finally beginning to establish himself as a high level center—though the Bulls know it the way he’s played against them—is the Bucks Andrew Bogut, who averaged 17.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in January. … How about Cavs coach Mike Brown ripping Derrick Rose’s selection to the All-Star team. Brown suggested players on teams with losing records shouldn’t be All-Stars, and Rose’s Bulls had the worst record and were below .500 when the coaches’ voting for reserves ended last week. Said Brown to the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “It is unfortunate (Mo Williams wasn’t selected). I'm a firm believer in record having something to do with it. There are talented guys in this business who can be put in situations to go do what they want… there's not as much pressure on guys to perform the right way and get numbers."
-- The Cavs are beginning to run away with the East with eight straight wins as James has moved into the favorite’s spot for league MVP. James has been superb in January, averaging more than 30 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He hit five of the Cavs 13 first half threes in Sunday’s blowout of the Clippers, whom the Bulls return home to face Tuesday. And that’s with Williams and Delonte West out injured. "I've played some great basketball in my career," James told Cleveland reporters. "I don't know if this is the best. I just kind of do it." Hey, if you can back it up you can talk it, and he is. … So is it fun and commendable enthusiasm or rubbing it in? In beating up hapless Minnesota last week, James was dancing with an usher at one point in the game and he, Shaq and Anthony Parker went to tickle Daniel Gibson when he was on the floor, seemingly hurt. Minnesota’s Al Jefferson said if his team played harder they’d be taken seriously, which is a good way to deal with it. … The Bulls had strong interest in the draft in Tyler Hansbrough, who went a few picks before to the Pacers. But he’s been out much of the season and now most of the last month with an ear infection. … Interesting observation from veteran South Florida Sun Sentinel Heat writer Ira Winderman, who noted with Kansas playing Kansas State Saturday neither Mario Chalmers (Kansas) nor Michael Beasley (Kansas State) sat courtside when the Heat lost to the Bucks. Both were inactive with injuries. You know Dwyane Wade’s got to be shaking his head. … This remains unclear, but Hawks coach Mike Woodson shaved his eyebrows. I know Josh Smith’s frustrates him, but that’s too much.
-- Thursday on TNT is the delicious rematch of the Wade and LeBron matchup in Miami last week when James and Wade put on a classic first half show, and then LeBron asked for Wade on defense to close the game as Wade missed six of his last seven. Great stuff. … I’m surprised the Trail Blazers didn’t make a trade Sunday. They should have after Andre Miller’s remarkable 52-point show in Saturday’s overtime win in Dallas. Miller, not a long distance shooter, hit one three, and Portland players joked afterward how he was the only player ever to score more than 50 without jumping. Miller scored 25 after the third quarter. But with Portland short on big men and with Brandon Roy coming back from a hamstring injury, there’s probably no better time to move Miller, who hasn’t worked well with Roy. … How about Vince Carter again sitting out the fourth quarter Sunday as the Magic beat the Pistons with J.J. Redick making fourth quarter plays for Carter? Carter was one of eight in 19 minutes and averaged 8.7 points on 28 percent shooting in January. But give Carter this: He’s been enthusiastic on the bench and celebrating the team winning and Stan Van Gundy getting the East All-Star coaching nod with Sunday’s win. George Karl will coach the West team. Carter is shooting 38 percent on the season. … Could the Spurs miss the playoffs? After still another home loss Sunday, the Spurs now go out on their eight-game rodeo road trip just two games out of ninth in the West despite having gone all in this season to go over the luxury tax by taking on the struggling Richard Jefferson, whom they are discovering cannot be Bruce Bowen with athleticism. … Dallas owner Mark Cuban was effusive to the Dallas Morning News in praising Josh Howard. Said Cuban: "Josh has worked so hard to be a good teammate and fit in that it's taken a little of the edge off of him. We've asked him to kind of change who he is a little bit, be – for lack of a better word – invisible. People were talking about him off the court. And he's done everything perfectly. He's been the ultimate professional and that sometimes takes an edge off of what happens on the court.” Translated that means they’re trying desperately to trade him and don’t believe what you see but what we say.
-- Good for Zach Randolph, one of seven first time All-Stars this season. Randolph’s 21 points and 11.6 rebounds has helped Memphis return to competitiveness, though he’s had similar averages before. But Randolph’s reputation has improved as well from troubled years in Portland. "What you hope is that people just get the chance to know you," Randolph told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Perception follows you. But that's changing in Memphis. This is big. It's a blessing. I've worked hard for this my whole career. But I've got to give thanks to coach (Lionel) Hollins, my teammates and to the organization. They've given me this opportunity." Look, all he really had to do was stop going to strip clubs when he asked the team for time off to go to a cousin’s funeral, like he did in Portland. No, the bar is not that high for acceptance. … Huge game against the Kings for Paul Millsap of 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists with Carlos Boozer out with a calf strain. Coach Jerry Sloan afterward said the Jazz have to get their backup power forward more time as he appears to be the future with the long contract. Would that lead the Jazz to dealing Boozer’s expiring contract for some assets before it’s too late? Most around the league think not, at least for now. … I still have fans asking me why the Bulls didn’t keep J.R. Smith, and as the Nuggets again considered suspending him last week for destructive behavior, I also can’t understand why the Bulls let him go. One local columnist called Smith “a loser” and wondered if the team ever would be lucky enough to have someone dumb enough to take him. … Jazz chief Greg Miller writes a blog and last week likened the Jazz to Toyota, one of the main car models for the family business and now in the midst of a big recall. Miller said the family has done well over the years and will stick with Toyota, and suggested Jazz fans should do the same with the Jazz. “It would be easy for me to get frustrated and angry with Toyota, especially considering the investment we have in those inventories, our facilities, and the potential adverse impact it may have on our employees,” Miller wrote. “But when I consider Toyota's track record, it is very clear to me that they are an organization that I want to be associated with for the long run. There is no doubt in my mind they will succeed. I hope Utah Jazz fans feel the same way about us.” No word on which Jazz players need to be replaced.
-- I liked the comment from Minnesota’s Damien Wilkins about his team: “I think we think we're the '92 Bulls. We don't get on the floor quick enough to warm up. We stay in the locker room and procrastinate. We joke around and play around too much at shootarounds." That’s what leads to a 10-38 record, but more interestingly, it’s another player who thinks the ’92 Bulls were the best. They didn’t have the record, but I’ve always favored the ’91 and ’92 Bulls as the most talented and best of the six championship teams. … Don Nelson and Larry Brown were the oldest combined coaches, both at 69, in an NBA game last week. Both asked for senior discounts at the concession stand. … Here’s what it is to be a Clipper. The Lakers were at the White House last Thursday to be greeted by President Obama and Kobe Bryant was invited back for a private session Friday. On Saturday, the Clippers got to visit the White House. The president was nowhere to be found.
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