Monday, February 16, 2009
Latest trade buzz: One day to go
By Marc Stein ESPN.com
A handful of teams are still interested in acquiring center Brad Miller from the Kings.
Editor's note: After this column on the latest trade chatter was posted, ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan reported that the Kings agreed to deal Brad Miller and John Salmons to the Bulls for Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons. For the full story, click here.
We know of three trade scenarios involving Brad Miller. They surfaced this week with the Kings' pushing hard to move the veteran center before Thursday's deadline.
The Kings, sources say, were rejected by New York when they offered Miller and Kenny Thomas -- two contracts that end just in time for the summer of 2010 free-agent pursuit of LeBron James -- for Stephon Marbury's $20.8 million expiring contract. All signs point to Marbury's remaining on the Knicks' roster through the deadline, after which he'll have just more than a week to negotiate his release if he hopes to be eligible for the playoffs with any other team.
The Kings and Knicks continue to discuss an alternative package for Miller, which would feature the $7.6 million expiring contract of New York's Malik Rose. Sacramento, though, also is seeking Nate Robinson in that scenario, which isn't going to happen because the Knicks -- fond as team president Donnie Walsh is of Miller dating to their Indiana days -- are too high on Robinson.
The Kings likewise have talked with Chicago about a still-developing swap that would net Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden's $7.2 million expiring contract for Miller and swingman John Salmons.
Salmons is the Sacramento player generating the most interest.
The Mavericks and Kings have been exchanging proposals involving the 29-year-old for some time. Portland and Oklahoma City also are frequently linked with Salmons.
San Antonio, meanwhile, is in the hunt as well, pursuing Salmons -- with an offer of Bruce Bowen and Ime Udoka -- as a far more affordable trade target for its perimeter rotation than Vince Carter. New Jersey's Carter has tempted the small-market Spurs for days but can be absorbed by them only in a hugely expensive and complicated deal.
The Mavericks have been offering Jerry Stackhouse's virtual expiring contract ($7 million this season, only $2 million guaranteed next season) and Brandon Bass ($826,000) to the Kings since this past summer, when Sacramento was shopping Ron Artest. The biggest obstacle for Dallas on a Salmons deal has been the Kings' insistence that the Mavericks -- lacking draft picks to sweeten the deal -- also take back guard Beno Udrih, who has four years and nearly $27 million remaining on his contract after this season.
There is another complication for interested parties: Sources revealed Tuesday that Salmons has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract that would require the team that acquires him to pay him a bonus of nearly $2 million and add that figure to its payroll. Salmons otherwise would rank as one of the league's better bargains, earning just $5.1 million this season while averaging 18.3 points and shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.8 percent on 3-pointers.
The Wizards, sources said, quickly rebuffed Cleveland's offer of Wally Szczerbiak's $13.8 million expiring contract for former All-Star forward Antawn Jamison.
One source with knowledge of the Wizards' thinking said Tuesday that team president Ernie Grunfeld is determined to continue resisting interest in Jamison and Caron Butler because the club has renewed hope that injured starters Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood will play in a small handful of games before the season ends, affording the Wiz an opportunity to evaluate the full team they hoped to field this season.
With Arenas and Haywood both having missed the entire season so far, Washington has cratered to a nightmare record of 12-42.
The Cavs, meanwhile, are expected to shift their focus from Jamison to making a final pitch (or three) for Clippers center Marcus Camby, after being convinced in this week's talks that the Wizards are not interested in parting with the 32-year-old in spite of their luxury-tax concerns.
The Clippers have been saying for weeks that Camby and rookie guard Eric Gordon are their only untouchables in trade talks, but history says Clippers owner Donald Sterling is bound to be tempted by the opportunity to remove Camby's $9.7 million from next season's payroll if presented with Szczerbiak's contract on deadline day ... unless L.A. can move Chris Kaman's longer contract first.
"The Cavs are definitely being super aggressive," one Eastern Conference executive said. "They see this economic frenzy out there with so many teams trying to get off money and lower their payrolls like New Orleans did [by trading Tyson Chandler] and they want to capitalize. If they can spend now to help them keep LeBron later, they're going to do it."
The Bulls have been shopping Larry Hughes and Gooden for months, but multiple executives suggested Tuesday night that Kirk Hinrich suddenly was closer to relocation than any other Bull entering the final day and a half of trading.
Minnesota, according to NBA front-office sources, has strong interest in Hinrich and is pursuing the 28-year-old to address a void at lead guard that hasn't been filled by Randy Foye (whose success this season came after a shift to shooting guard) or the undependable Sebastian Telfair.
The Wolves also have two expiring contracts of their own (Jason Collins and Rashad McCants) that they're prepared to shed.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.