Raja Bell Trade Target Update

December, 3, 2009
12/03/09
3:43
PM ET
Stein By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
Archive
That was quick.

The results are already in on the wrist surgery we covered in a blog post early Thursday morning about Raja Bell and the inevitable interest contenders would have in trying to trade for him if he made it OK through the operation. The Warriors, playing host to Houston on Thursday night, announced after their shootaround that the procedure to repair ligament damage in Bell's left wrist was successful.

Successful enough to convince someone to trade for Bell between now and the Feb. 18 trading deadline?

That part is TBD.

The Warriors' news release projects Bell to be sidelined a minimum of three months, with an initial six-week period where the wrist is immobilized.

So why TBD? Reason being: It's a trickier-than-anticipated timetable that falls between the pre-surgery projections of A) 4-to-6 weeks in the best-case scenario and B) likely out for the season in the worst case.

Word is Bell has already attracted trade interest from a few contenders even though he just got to Golden State on Nov. 16 in the Stephen Jackson deal. The Spurs' desire to trade for Bell -- don't forget San Antonio had him in training camp once before or that he and Tim Duncan are old pals from the U.S. Virgin Islands -- has been confirmed. It's likewise reasonable to conclude that Cleveland, after longstanding talks with the Warriors in the Cavs' pursuit of Jackson, has registered interest in Bell as well.

Makes sense, too. What contender couldn’t use a wing defender of Bell’s stature who can also drain the weak-side 3 and who happens to be playing on an expiring contract valued at a reasonable $5.3 million?

However . . .

It remains to be seen whether a team is willing to trade for Bell between now and mid-February if he's unlikely to be back playing before March.

The Warriors will undoubtedly insist that they absolutely refuse to buy Bell out before March 1, meaning that interested suitors won't have the option of signing him as a late-season free agent and still have Bell eligible for the playoffs. If Golden State holds firm to that stance, then, trading for Bell before he's all the way back -- and with only about a month to get him ready for the postseason -- would be the only way to acquire him.

Yet Golden State faces some urgency of its own because it has so many injuries. The Dubs are still struggling to come up with eight healthy bodies every night, with Kelenna Azubuike (knee) and Brandan Wright (shoulder) lost for the season, Bell out long-term and Speedy Claxton (knee) and Devean George (knee) yet to play this season. The Warriors might be OK if Andris Biedrins (groin/back) and Ronny Turiaf (knee) make it back reasonably soon, but every rebound is a struggle with the injury list they've got, which is why Anthony Randolph is trying to play through an ankle sprain.

Quoting more from our first post:

The Dubs can package Bell with other players starting in mid-January, but they aren’t overflowing with unsavory contracts that they’re desperate to move now that Jackson is gone and with Monta Ellis looking increasingly inspired. Corey Maggette’s contract is the only one that really fits that description ... and no contender is taking on Maggette’s deal no matter how much they like Bell.

But Golden State also wouldn’t want to simply buy out a healed Bell and let him choose his contender – even if the trade deadline passes without the Dubs finding a deal – because its locker room badly needs an example-setting vet.

Bell quickly showed what kind of influence he can have in Oaktown by insisting to play in Boston on Nov. 18 because the Warriors had only eight other healthy players ... after it had already been decided that he’d be having the wrist surgery. The Warriors' collective team spirit has been much better since Jackson's departure and Bell's willingness to play that game is seen as one of the catalysts.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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