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Trade talks increase as NBA Draft approaches

Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Monta Ellis and Andre Iguodala have all been mentioned as possible candidates to be traded this week with the 2011 NBA Draft on Thursday, reports Sam Smith. Now that would be some draft day if those deals develop.
With rumors the Lakers were willing to move Pau Gasol came reports the Spurs would deal Tony Parker. Actually, this is little surprise, though many point to his alleged recent comments the Spurs’ window has closed.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

Sam Smith Mailbag

I don’t see the Bulls doing anything significant at this season’s NBA Draft Thursday, although it could be a day of trades that overwhelms a rather ordinary draft.

It’s difficult to sort reality from fantasy during trading times, because an offer by one team doesn’t mean another has the slightest interest.

Like the rumors about a Paul Gasol trade for the Timberwolves No. 2 pick and Kevin Love. I’m sure the Lakers would have proposed that, and just because Minnesota has made some questionable moves before, the presumption—apparently by the Lakers—was they’d do so again. You know, once stupid, always stupid. It’s true the Timberwolves would like to add a veteran, though in the end, I believe they end up taking Arizona forward Derrick Williams after the Cavs select Duke guard Kyrie Irving No. 1 overall. Irving apparently clinched the spot after Williams’ final workout with the Cavs was a huge bust.

Love at this time may actually be more valuable than Gasol, who as a half court center/forward doesn’t even fit the Timberwolves stated strategy since they have said with Ricky Rubio they have to be an uptempo, running team.

But the Timberwolves have been inviting offers for the No. 2 selection, though supposedly asking way too much.

Kia NBA Draft 2011 logo

With rumors the Lakers were willing to move Gasol, who was part of two championship teams, came reports the Spurs would deal Tony Parker. Actually, this is little surprise, though many point to his alleged recent comments the Spurs’ window has closed. With both the Lakers and Spurs eliminated early in the playoffs, both have realized they need to vastly improve their athleticism and add youth, though I’d question whether this is the draft to do it in.

There have been rumors that Andre Iguodala might be traded, and with so many rumors thus far, those usually come to fruition. I’m not sure it will be for Monta Ellis, as long speculated and rumored. And while new Warriors management continued to deny they’ll trade Ellis, he also seems certainly headed elsewhere given the Warriors have been linked to one of the top shooting guards in the draft with their No. 11 first round pick.

Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala. Now that would be some draft day if those deals develop.

To me, the team to watch is the Jazz, who basically traded one of the league’s best players, Deron Williams, without anyone ever knowing about it.

With two lottery picks, Nos. 4 and 12, I look for Utah to be active, especially because they are high on the player they received in the Williams deal, Derrick Favors, last year’s No. 3 pick.

Although they have been circumspect, I think the Jazz will feel the pressure—and need the ticket sales—to take local favorite Jimmer Fredette with the No. 12 pick.

Fredette should last until there as most of the teams interested in him, the Suns, Pacers and Knicks, come after that. But the rumors also are the Jazz want to add more pieces to begin to put together a nucleus to go forward. They are one of the more circumspect organizations, but also one of the sharpest.

I think the big ace they have going forward is Al Jefferson. They can get a big man to go with Favors, someone like Turkey’s Enes Kanter or Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas, though the latter cannot play in the NBA until next season because of his international contract.

If the Jazz make available both Jefferson and Paul Millsap, you’d figure the Warriors would have to get involved as they have been looking for size. Adding Ellis to that mix of young big men in Utah might be intriguing to move forward with for the Jazz. Though they’d better average 120 if they were to play a backcourt of Ellis and Fredette someday.

The Hawks have dangled Josh Smith on and off for the last two years, and you figure the time is now to finally make a move. It was amazing to hear the home fans in the playoffs boo every time Smith raised up to shoot a jump shot. That should send message enough to management. Like with the Spurs/Parker rumor, the talk has been the Hawks would like to get into the top 10 with Smith.

Similarly, the Rockets have been trying to trade into the top 10, as they always do. Usually, it’s difficult to do as teams rarely surrender lottery picks. But this draft isn’t regarded that highly. And there is that so called chemistry area in the lottery where the Wizards, Kings, Pistons, and Bucks would like to make moves to change chemistry issues. It’s no surprise underachieving teams have chemistry problems. But it also often persuades management to move around some deck chairs, as it were, to give things a different look. Sometimes it makes the other furniture more appealing.

Both the Wizards and Bobcats have two top 20 picks, which can be appealing to teams like, say, the Cavaliers or Jazz, who have two higher picks. Sometimes teams like that like to increase their assets by moving back in the draft. So you hear talk of the Cavs second pick at No. 4 and something going to Washington for Nos. 6 and 18, where the Cavs could add more assets.

And it’s not like a title figures to stop the Mavs. They’re perennially involved in trade talks. With Tyson Chandler becoming such a vital figure for them and a free agent, they’re rumored anxious to move Brendan Haywood for shorter contracts. Whatever deal is agreed upon in collective bargaining likely will have a phase in period before payrolls have to be limited. Haywood has a shocking five more years and Caron Butler also is a free agent with Chandler.

Obviously, Cleveland would love to move Baron Davis as they select Irving. Because even they understand that if Davis takes the game seriously he’ll dominate Irving in practices and make a mess of the coming season and perhaps Irving’s future. Since Davis has only two more years, maybe they’ll take Haywood.

There were rumors the Cavs would buy out Davis. But they are afraid Davis would sign with the Heat and help LeBron James get that title. The talk is the Cavs would do it if they were sure Davis would sign with the Lakers.

Meanwhile, the Magic remains anxious to accommodate Dwight Howard. Though Cleveland similarly was with LeBron James and didn’t help themselves bringing in older veterans like Antawn Jamison, who weren’t ultimately good enough. Still, the Magic feels it has to show Howard it is trying since it is not trading Howard.

The Bulls have a few of those expiring contacts after next season which could interest teams looking to move longer deals. Like for Ben Gordon, say. The complication is until they know the new labor rules, the Bulls are loath to take on long deals because they could potentially interfere with resigning Derrick Rose.

I think it’s an ironic joke, but there were suggestions of a Portland/Utah deal of Millsap for Wesley Matthews, who, of course, went to Portland Utah matched the Portland offer to Millsap. But with Brandon Roy’s future uncertain it seems certainly unlikely the Trailblazers would consider trading Matthews.

Still, it all should make for an interesting draft week even if we still can’t pronounce Valanciunas, Montiejunas and Biyombo.

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