02-16-2009, 12:27 PM
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NBA.com: The Trademill: Something in the air as deadline moves closer
The Trademill: Something in the air as deadline moves closer
By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Posted Feb 16 2009 10:36AM
PHOENIX -- When the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat swapped former All-Stars on Thursday, the trade may have been the proverbial tip of the iceberg as the NBA season steams toward the Feb. 19 trade deadline.
The underlying feeling here in Phoenix over the course of All-Star 2009 is that something titanic will happen in the next three days. From teams looking to tweak their rosters to teams looking to shed disgruntled players and salary, the next 72 hours should be hard on the league's general managers and their cell phone batteries.
Speculation surrounding the status of Suns All-Star power forward Amar'e Stoudemire has dominated conversation here this weekend. Stoudemire has made it clear that he wants out of Phoenix and has expressed a desire to re-unite with Mike D'Antoni in New York.
On Friday, Stoudemire did nothing to squelch the talk of his displeasure with the way the Suns' season has transpired. "I'm trying to figure out what the focus is. I'm not quite sure," Stoudemire said. "The franchise is trying to go for a championship, but it doesn't seem that way anymore. I don't know what to expect from the front office.
"I'm not sure if they are going for a championship or freeing up money."
If the Suns decide to trade Stoudemire, cap space may be the reason. The Suns want a combination of expiring contracts, young, inexpensive players and draft picks.
Yet, with the Suns already replacing head coach Terry Porter with assistant Alvin Gentry on Monday, will Phoenix still be willing to make another seismic move by shipping Stoudemire out of town? That's just one of the intriguing questions with the trade deadline approaching ...
• One NBA front office executive said that three teams are looking to shed salaries -- New Jersey, Milwaukee and Sacramento. That may be why another big name floating about in trade rumors has been Vince Carter. The Nets swingman has two years at $33 million (and a third-year team option at $18) remaining on his contract. Dallas and San Antonio have been mentioned as destinations. If either team was to take on Carter, it would be a move for now and not the future; they would essentially be out of the mix when the Summer of 2010 arrives.
Still, Nets president Rod Thorn told the Newark Star-Ledger that "there's nothing going on with Vince Carter."
• But what about former Nets player Richard Jefferson, who was traded in June to the Milwaukee Bucks? The Bucks are in a precarious position of having two restricted free agents in Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions, both of whom have made significant contributions to the Bucks' recent resurgence. If the Bucks want to retain both players and stay under the luxury tax next season, they may need to deal Jefferson, who has $29 million coming to him in the next two seasons.
• One destination for Jefferson could be Cleveland, a team that could offer the expiring contract of Wally Szczerbiak in return. Jefferson, who has stumbled in Scott Skiles' drive-and-kick offense, could thrive as a slasher in the Cavs' motion offense and is an upgrade over Szczerbiak on defense.
• Portland, which has Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract to offer and would be willing to take on more payroll, could also be another destination for Jefferson.
• Reports also have the L.A. Clippers willing to deal for financial relief. One report had the Cavaliers interested in Clippers center Marcus Camby. Like Jefferson, Camby was traded in the offseason.
• It's been reported at various points this season that every player on the Kings' roster has been available. The most attractive is probably Brad Miller, a post who can pass and whose deal expires after next season. The Sacramento Bee reported that the Kings were offering Miller and Kenny Thomas for Marion before the Raptors swooped in.
• Another Kings player drawing interest from other teams is John Salmons who is inexpensive ($5 million average over the next two seasons) and good (he's averaging a career-high 18.7 points per game).
• Another team facing a luxury tax crunch is the Washington Wizards. With Gilbert Arenas signing a six-year, $111-million deal this offseason and Antawn Jamison signed through 2012, the Wizards reportedly have been getting calls about Caron Butler, who has a rather affordable $20.2 million left on his contract for the next two years.
• Then again, as the trade deadline approaches, there are wild card teams that enter the mix. One could be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have a logjam in the frontcourt. Chris Wilcox has expressed his desire to be traded and the Cavs and Celtics would love to add Joe Smith's veteran presence into their playoff-bound teams.
• The Thunder also have five future No. 1 picks to play with and are reportedly willing to take on more salary. They have only $39 million in salary committed to 10 players next season.