According to ESPN, Tyson Chandler will be back in Dallas next season. In a trade to cut Knicks salary and give the Mavericks a rim protector, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton are going to Dallas in exchange for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and the 34th and 52nd pick in this years draft.The Mavericks would finally get a real rim protector in Tyson Chandler who has a few years left of his prime left. Raymond Felton would step into a backup role for the Mavericks, with Devin Harris likely starting. The Knicks would acquire a new starting point guard in Jose Calderon, who isn’t exceptionally talented or athletic, but he can shoot and is a pass first point guard on a modest contract that expires in the summer of 2016. Shane Larkin is a young prospect the Knicks can develop over time and Wayne Ellington and Dalembert’s contracts both expire next summer, the same time as Bargnani and Stoudemire. Overall, the Knicks are shedding 3,056,33 million in salary, which is small but shedding Chandler’s salary and moving Felton who is coming off of his worst season in recent years is a promising start for the inevitable roster overhaul the Knicks will undergo. Next summer, Dalembert and Ellington’s salaries, which when combined accumulate to 6,638,622 million, will come off the books.
Another trade rumor we have to discuss is the Kings trading for Josh Smith. The Kings desperately need some sort of defensively motivated player in their front-court. They also need a power-forward to end the revolving door of options the Kings have used in the past few years. Josh Smith can satisfy both of those needs. Smith, despite coming off a terrible season in which he averaged 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds on 41% shooting, still has elite athleticism and the ability to stretch the floor and guard multiple positions. The Kings who don’t seem to mind acquiring inefficient scorers as made clear in their trade for Rudy Gay, would benefit greatly from adding Smith to their already young and talented core. The Pistons would shed Smith’s contract and clear some space on the floor for Monroe and Drummond. The experiment of teaming Smith with Drummond and Monroe clearly did not work last season, and Van Gundy is now faced with a major roster makeover to try and fix the mishaps committed by Joe Dumars. In return for Smith, the Pistons would most likely receive a combination of Jason Thompson, Jason Terry and maybe one other player. Van Gundy would most likely be looking for players whose contracts are expiring like Williams and Terry.
On the Carmelo Anthony front, we have word, from Chris Broussard that a possible sign and trade deal involving James Harden and Carmelo Anthony could form in an attempt on the Rockets part to bring over Carmelo and then LeBron. While Broussard’s report implies that after the trade for Anthony and Harden, Asik and Lin would be sent somewhere else in a separate deal, they could also be packaged with Harden and sent to New York in exchange for Carmelo and a smaller contract like J.R Smith who Phil Jackson reportedly isn’t fond of. Either way, it seems like Houston is being very aggressive in figuring out ways to bring both Carmelo and LeBron to Houston to team up with Dwight Howard. As well as Houston, Carmelo is going to visit Dallas and Chicago. Dallas is less likely to be able to sign Carmelo, considering Dirk is going to take up a lot of space with his extension as is Tyson Chandler if he comes to town in the trade that seems like a definite at this point. Chicago would have to amnesty Boozer and then trade Taj Gibson in order to sign Carmelo, or they could initiate a sign and trade with New York, where Carmelo would go to Chicago for Gibson, Boozer and the 19th or 16th pick in this years draft. At this point, Carmelo is best fit for Chicago. The Bulls have a healthy Derrick Rose coming back next season and now all they need is extra offense to help them get over the hump. Their suffocating defense has been their identity and their strong point but time and time again it’s been lack of offensive production that has failed them. Being arguably the best scorer in the league, Carmelo would solve their problem with ease and a trio of Rose, Anthony and Noah would immediately be the best in the East. The Bulls could help Carmelo improve defensively – an area he’s been criticized for slacking in throughout his career. Carmelo to Dallas seems unlikely not only because of financial restrictions but because teaming Anthony up with two other high usage isolation type offensive players, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis would only make it hard for them to gel. Defensively, the Mavericks could expect to be one of the worst in the league if they had all three of those guys on the same team. At this point its Chicago or Houston.
While the Cavaliers were blessed with their 3rd #1 pick in 4 years, the franchise remains split on who to select with the first pick. Dan Gilbert prefers Wiggins while the front-office believes Parker is better qualified to come in and impact the team immediately. There are also signs Parker would prefer to go #2 to Milwaukee as its close to his hometown of Chicago. While it seems far-fetched, there were reports that Parker tanked his workout with the Cavaliers because he’d prefer not to play there. He’s denied this, but he did say he thinks he’ll go #2 to the Bucks and looked awfully embarrassed after saying it, almost wishing he hadn’t opened his mouth. All of this drama over who to pick could be over for the Cavaliers if they decide to deal the pick. They certainly do not lack suitors if they do decide to part ways. The Magic have offered a package of the #4 and #12 picks and Arron Afflalo for the #1 pick. This would surely take the Cavaliers out of the running for Wiggins or Parker but they would have more variety as they’d have two lottery selections instead of one. They’d also get Afflalo, an above average perimeter defender and a player coming off of his best offensive season of his career where he averaged 18.2 points on 42.7% from deep and 45.9% from the field.
In addition to the Magic, the Celtics are also reportedly involved in the quest for the #1 pick. However the Celtics wouldn’t be offering real pieces but rather opportunity for the Cavaliers to free up enough space to sign both Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, although it seems unlikely.
The Jazz are also in the mix, having offered Derrick Favors, #5 and #23 and possibly Alec Burks for the #1 pick. This seems the most unlikely to go through considering Favors isn’t that much of an upgrade over Tristan Thompson and the #5 pick can bring the Cavaliers some high-level talent but the Cavaliers are unlikely to be interested in the 23rd pick at all.
There was a short-winded report of Kevin Love being offered for the #1 pick, but those talks fell through due to Love’s disinterest in signing long-term with Cleveland.
On the Kevin Love front, all talks seem to have died down. There have been several offers and deals proposed for Love’s services but Flip Saunders is playing the whole situation very carefully and rightfully so. Superstars have always had leverage over their teams when they want out and Saunders doesn’t want to end up like the Cavaliers, he’d rather be the 2011 Nuggets. While a trade is inevitable, if it doesn’t happen tomorrow night, it’ll happen before the February trade deadline as Saunders is determined to squeeze the most out of his unhappy superstar before he leaves. The Timberwolves’ most elaborate talks had been with Golden State in an offer that was originally supposed to be Klay Thompson, David Lee and a future 1st rounder for Kevin Martin and Kevin Love. There was also word that the Timberwolves wanted Harrison Barnes or Draymond Green as well. All talks are considered dead at this point because of Golden State’s firm stance on keeping Thompson in Golden State. Unless they do give up Thompson or the Timberwolves modify their request, Love won’t be in a Warriors uniform anytime soon.
As well as Golden State, the Celtics offered the Timberwolves a package of the #6 and #17 picks and Kelly Olynk or Jared Sullinger for Kevin Love. While this trade is rich in draft value, the player value the Wolves would be receiving is below par.
The Nuggets have probably offered the most intriguing package to the Timberwolves at this point – a deal which would send Kenneth Faried, Arron Afflalo (via trade with Orlando for #11 pick) and Wilson Chandler to Minnesota. This would give Flip all the player value he could possibly desire in return, but without a draft pick, the Wolves are unlikely to budge.
The Bulls who seem more focused on acquiring Carmelo Anthony, did offer Taj Gibson, Tony Snell and the 16th and 19th picks for Kevin Love. While the 16th and 19th picks provide the opportunity to steal some great talent late in the first round, they are worse than what they’d be offered from Boston and Utah. While Gibson could quickly become one of the better power forwards in the NBA, Snell provides little more than perimeter defense.
The Lakers are also looking to trade their #7 pick. With Kobe Bryant back and healthy and 2 years left (presumably) in the NBA, the Lakers are in full win-now mode, meaning they’ll do anything to surround Bryant with a championship caliber team. The #7 pick, while valuable, is unlikely to give the Lakers the type of NBA-readiness they desire and could receive from trading it for a veteran. One rumor that has arisen is a trade that would send the #7 pick and Steve Nash’s expiring contract to Philadelphia for Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young. While this sounds great for the Lakers who would secure the point guard position with the reigning rookie of the year, who’d still be on a rookie contract before Bryant would retire, meaning they’d get a high-caliber point guard with a veteran’s minimum type of contract giving them a lot of financial flexibility to still make moves for other positions. They’d also solidify the power forward position should Pau Gasol decide to leave this summer as he’s expected to do. The 76ers would find themselves in the possession of Steve Nash, who if sent to Philadelphia would be likely to retire and their third lottery pick for this year. The Sixers would then be looking at a ton of cap space, something to the tune of 19 million on the books and the #3, #7 and #10 picks coming in. It could happen, but it depends on Philly’s willingness to part with MCW for the allure and suspense of possibly grabbing something better with three lottery picks.
Keeping with the 76ers, they have a serious desire to acquire Andrew Wiggins. Unfortunately with the injury to Joel Embiid, it’s probably impossible for them to get their guy. That’s why they might have to add to the initial deal they had offered Cleveland which was the #3 pick and Thaddeus Young. If they really want Wiggins, they’d include the #10 pick but that might be too much just for Wiggins.
LeBron James has opted out of his contract, yet we’re still unsure if his fellow Big 3 teammates will follow his lead. Chris Bosh seems willing to, but if Dwyane Wade were to opt-out he’d likely be sacrificing a whole lot of money considering he’s nowhere near worth his current contract, which guarantees him 41.8 million over the next two years. With limited years left, it’s unlikely he’d be able to sign a contract for more years and more money overall to make up for it, for example if he signed a 5 year 55 million dollar deal, which assures him more money overall, just less per year. But like I said, it’s unlikely he’ll play for 5 more years as his knees seem two to three years away from giving out on him. If both opt-out we can expect cheaper multi-year contracts back with the Heat for all of them in an attempt to clear space and welcome some much needed help to surround them. If they don’t opt-out then the world is LeBron’s and he’ll look elsewhere for the team in the best position for a championship to sign him. With Carmelo also a free agent, it’s clear that both would like to play with each other, however, few teams, have the flexibility or the balls to clear their whole roster just for the chance to sign both superstars. If Chris Broussard’s report is any indication, it seems Houston is very adamant on trying to bring in LeBron and Carmelo, even willing to trade Harden to help move the process along. The Clippers are another team interested in LeBron but they’d have to trade Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan to say the least, effectively stripping them of a rim protector and their depth, which makes a move to Los Angeles less likely. The Hawks are looking for ways to clear enough space for him and Carmelo but would have to amnesty Horford, trade Korver and Louis Williams and not resign any of their free agents or guarantee any unguaranteed contracts. The Cavaliers would have to not bring back any free agents, leave Anderson Varejao’s contract unguaranteed and trade a combination of Thompson, Bennett and Jack.
The Heat in an attempt to lure LeBron back are trying to trade some package including the 26th pick and Norris Cole for Shabazz Napier. While Napier will quickly be better offensively, they’d be losing a lot defensively by parting ways with Cole who has become one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA.
With draft news, Dario Saric signed a two year deal with his club in Croatia, effectively decreasing his draft stock for teams who can’t afford to draft someone who can’t make an immediate impact. That leaves Saric going to either the Suns or the Nuggets as both teams, are playoff contenders when fully healthy (Nuggets).
The Joel Embiid drama continues and with his foot surgery taking him out for 4-6 months and his back problems lingering near by it’s unlikely he goes in the top 5. Not only is it his own risk but teams in the lottery don’t have the luxury of taking a risk on him. The Cavaliers need someone to impact now. The Bucks have Sanders and with new owners are eager to be good quickly. The 76ers might take Embiid as its rumored but something tells me they don’t want another Nerlens Noel type of season where he has to sit the whole year. Additionally, they wouldn’t be a good fit together on the frontline. The 76ers paint would be the most dangerous to enter in the whole league but offensively they’d clog the paint and get in each others way. They also wouldn’t be able to guard stretch 4’s. The Jazz have their front-court solidified for the future with Favors and Kanter. Which leaves the Celtics, who desperately need a rim protector, have just started their rebuilding process AND have an owner who has taken risks on prospects with health issues in the past, most notably Jared Sullinger (back) and Avery Bradley (ankle) both who have turned out great for the Celtics so far.