Let’s Make A Deal
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LAS VEGAS, Feb. 19, 2007 – As normal league business ground to a halt this weekend and the stars showed their stuff, it was business-as-usual for the league’s decision makers who are up against a tight deadline to work some magic of their own.

With the Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline looming, NBA general managers now have less than four days to find a willing partner with the assets necessary to shape their squads for the stretch run – whether to the playoffs or the lottery.

“Rod's trying everything he can to trade (Vince) Carter,” the New York Post quoted an unnamed team executive on the actions of Rod Thorn, New Jersey’s GM. “He’d rather trade Vince than Jason (Kidd). They still look at Kidd as the face of the franchise.”

Kidd’s name, however, has surfaced in media reports more than his teammate in recent days, as New Jersey looks like it’ll shake up its underachieving roster. Playing without Richard Jefferson, who is sidelined after undergoing ankle surgery, the Nets are four games below .500 and trail the Toronto Raptors for the lead in the Atlantic Division.

Many believe Kidd could be headed back to California and suit up with the Lakers before the door is closed on all trades for the 2006-07 season, which seems to be just fine by Kidd.

“With the history of the Lakers, you definitely can't be disappointed,” Kidd said of possibly being traded to the Lakers. “With the tradition they have as a franchise, you couldn't be disappointed.”

Kidd’s would-be superstar teammate, under such a theoretical scenario, sounds like he welcomes the idea as well.

“This team is young, and if you have the opportunity to bring a player like Jason Kidd in, that's something you definitely, definitely have to look at,” Kobe Bryant told the L.A. Daily News on Saturday. “I hear all the talks going on. I don't know the seriousness of it, or the possibility of it, but it's still exciting.”

Now, just because two of the principals endorse such a move doesn’t mean it will ever actually happen. In fact, as Thorn cautioned the New York Daily News, these things more often than not don’t pan out.

“Ninety-eight percent of it is rhetoric that never goes anywhere,” Thorn said of rumors materializing into actual deals.

Thorn didn’t deny having conversations about moving either of his star players, meaning, as in many similar cases, there’s at least a small flame where there's smoke.

Another Eastern Conference GM, Atlanta’s Billy Knight, wouldn’t comment on specific talks he’s engaged in, but did admit that his team is looking for ways to get better as well.

“We have to look at every way possible to improve our team, and we're doing that,” Knight told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We're certainly evaluating every avenue. We're actively involved in looking at things that can help us improve this team now and for the long term.”

It’s very possible that the trades teams like Atlanta are looking to make at the 11th hour might not include any superstar or All-Star caliber players. After all, one of those has already filed a change of address card this season.

On the other hand, there are some big names out there whose names have come up frequently in the recent past or are just a standard addition to any dialogue on player movement.

Memphis’ Spanish big man belongs in the former camp, but doesn’t sound as though he’s prepared to leave the Grizzlies.

“I wouldn't be surprised if nothing happens with me,” Gasol told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “If nothing happens I’ll stay motivated to finish out the rest of the year and finish on the highest note as possible. I'm going to keep competing.”

Gasol is dealing with the uncertainty for a first time, which is sure to make anybody feel a bit uneasy. For another talented, Western Conference frontcourt player, this is nothing new.

“It's part of the game,” Garnett said at Friday’s media availability session in Las Vegas. “I'm no stranger to the trade talk. I won't run from it. If Kevin McHale and Freddie (Hoiberg) feel that they need a change in the organization, then that's what it is.”

What it is is business and life in the NBA. Teams are continually tweaking their rosters in hopes of improvement. Sometimes, a major addition of shakeup is needed.

Those tweaks and shakes had better be done by Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. Otherwise, there’s always next year.


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