Scouring the (Trade) Rumor Mill
By Paul Benedict
Michael Redd has been the subject of much trade talk this week, but will likely remain in Milwaukee. While Anthony divulges into some trades he thinks should take place, I’m going to break down some rumors floating around out there since I know everyone is eagerly anticipating the trade deadline this Thursday.
A couple things to keep in mind during this gossip-heavy time of year:
1- Never believe anything anyone on Fox Sports Net tells you;
2- When a GM denies talk of trade discussion, it means absolutely ship. Not unless a player is knowingly on the block (like Donyell Marshall, Gary Payton) will a GM ever confirm any gossip–the last thing he wants is to be stuck with a player who’s got a puss on his face because he doesn’t feel wanted;
3- The biggest and best trades usually don’t leak out. When GMs are serious about hammering out a deal, the last thing they want is the media getting in the middle and goofing up details or making false presumptions. Happy players don’t like to hear their names involved in trades. How would you like being part of a playoff team in a great city and then having to clean out your locker, pack up your house and family, and book a flight to sunny Toronto? Me either.
4- Most trade rumors stem from people opening their mouths after a potential trade is dead. Think about it like this- -A dude and a chick are scandolously getting it on behind the scenes, and do not want any peers to know what’s going on because they don’t want to piss anyone off, not unless they’re really serious about each other. Eventually they both realize they can’t give each other exactly what they want, and all this messing around is getting them nowhere. So upon ending it, the chick (obviously) “lets it slip” as she tells a friend and before you know it, everyone around knows about what was going on. Trade talks are the same way–GMs are smart enough to know when they have to keep their mouths shut, and don’t seem to mind as much when they say a little too much as long as all discussion is over with. Anyways, let’s get to the rumors…
Rumor: The Bucks, fearing that Michael Redd will bolt at the end of the season, will trade their star before the deadline on Thursday.
Gossip: Milwaukee would love to resign the unrestricted Redd at the end of the season, but chances are, they are going to have to offer him a max deal this summer in order to keep him. Is Michael Redd worth a maximum contract? Well, look at it this way–Ray Allen has reportedly reduced his contract demands in Seattle for a deal below the max, and Michael Redd isn’t quite Ray Allen. But if the Bucks are willing to overpay, then I’d be hard-pressed to see them trading Redd before Thursday because they know that nobody else will offer the guy what they can (even if Redd is offered a max deal from another team, he still would make significantly more as a Buck). I think what we’re saying right now is Milwaukee (with all the reports of potential deals coming through) listening to offers for Michael Redd, and why not? If they aren’t sure that A- they absolutely want to offer him a max deal and B- that he positively wants to come back to Milwaukee, then there’s no harm in fielding offers.
What Will Happen: Redd won’t be packing his bags anytime soon, not until at least this summer. If Bucks GM Larry Harris receives an offer that he can’t refuse, which is a distinct possibility, then it makes sense for the team to accept and not sweat what Redd will do this summer. I think Cleveland has the most to offer (How about this deal: Drew Gooden, Luke Jackson, and Sasha Pavlovic for Redd, Erick Strickland (expiring contract), and Daniel Santiago (also expiring)?) and if Jim Paxson is willing to pony up some of his young talent, than the Bucks may come to an agreement. But unless something terrific comes along, don’t expect Harris to just give away Redd. The team can still work on a sign-and-trade this summer if they decide that either they don’t want to pay Redd or that he does not want to be there.
Rumor: Philadelphia will finally rid itself of that bum who goes by the name of Glenn Robinson.
Gossip: The latest has Big Dog headed to New Orleans in exchange for Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers. Mashburn has another year left on his deal ($10 mil) and the Sixers would only have to pay him 20% of what he is supposed to make next year; Rogers ($2.7 mil) is a free agent at the end of the season, but I’m not sure the Sixers have any use for him.
So while the Sixers still free up roughly the same amount of money as they would by letting Big Dog ($12 mi) do his barking from Jim O’Brien’s bench for the rest of the season, does this deal really gain the Sixers anything? Basically instead of freeing up $12 million this summer, they would gain $10.7 million in cap room, rent Rogers for the spring, and make Robinson happy (which should not be a priority for Billy King)–whoopty-freaking-do. Forget it–you can squash this rumor because it just doesn’t make enough sense.
One rumor mentioned earlier this season had Robinson going to Portland and I don’t see why that couldn’t work now. If Billy King were to send Big Dog and a decent young player like John Salmons to Portland for Damon Stoudamire (whose contract is roughly the same as Robinson’s and also up at the end of the season), then the Sixers still free up that money and get another scorer who could help them some down the stretch.
What Will Happen: I’d say 50/50 Robinson gets traded. I don’t see Billy King pulling the trigger on any offer unless it clearly benefits the Sixers. As a GM, you have to accomodate a team, not a single player. But at the same time, they know Big Dog is gone at the end of the season, so if they can find a little something, perhaps anything (as long as they’re not taking up any money), then it makes sense for King to just get rid of this bum now.
Rumor: Minnesota is looking to ship off Sam Cassell and/or Latrell Sprewell before Thursday’s deadline.
Gossip: Both of these guys have been the subject of trade rumors ever since they started bitching about their contracts during the pre- season, and as the ‘Wolves have seen their season head in an opposite direction from what they expected, much of the blame has been placed on Sammie and Spree, thus their “in-limbo” status with the team. There’s been whispers from Minnesota that Sprewell will, in all likelihood, remain in Minnesota until season’s end, when Kevin McHale can just rid himself of both his attitude and his contract. Cassell on the other hand, has one more year remaining on his deal, but now with rumors coming out that he may not return to the court for a long time due to injuries, it’s hard to fathom anytime willing to place an offer for a 35 year-old point guard who can’t last a whole season. I think Danny Ainge knows better than that, so you can take those Payton-for- Cassell rumors and shove ’em.
What Will Happen: I would be shocked if either one of these guys is traded, and it seems the only way it could possibly happen is if they are attached as part of a bigger deal involving Wally Szczerbiak. And since there doesn’t appear to be a huge market for Wally either, it looks like the ‘Wolves might be stuck with what they got this year.
Rumor: The Atlanta Hawks are openly looking to deal Antoine Walker.
Gossip: Walker has been outspoken in his desire to stick with the Hawks which most likely coincides with the team having an abundant of cap space to offer him, as well as a prominent role with the team–you can’t blame him. GM Billy Knight has a tough decision to make because he knows that it’s not going to be easy to attract top-tier talent to Atlanta unless he is willing to overpay big time, and Walker seems to be giving signs that he would work with the organiztion on setting up a fair deal. However, where does Walker fit in with the team? He’s better suited as a 3 than a 4, but in the East, he can get by as a 4. Problem is the Hawks already have Josh Smith, Josh Childress, and Al Harrington. Each of these guys can play either the 2 or the 3, and s0 management needs to decide if it can somehow play all 3 at the 2, 3, and 4 slot–if so, then they have little use for Walker. If the team knows Walker does not fit into their long-term plans, then it’s best for them to part ways now and get whatever they can in return– preferably a starting point guard or center. Rumors have surfaced that the Knicks, Celtics, and Sixers have all openly inquired about ‘Toine, but the only team that seems to have what the Hawks may want is Philly, who could give up Dalembert, Robinson, and Josh Davis. But does this deal really make sense for the Sixers? Walker is a guy who needs the ball in his hands to be effective, so how does he mesh with A.I?
What Will Happen: Out of all the big name guys being mentioned in trade rumors, Walker appears to be the most available one. Problem is– nobody is really willing to give up too much for a guy that would completely alter a team’s on-court chemistry and who they may or may not look to re-sign during the summer. If the right offer comes along, I think Billy Knight will take it–whether that right offer comes along is huge question mark.
Donyell Marshall is the best player that will almost certainly end up with another team.
Rumor: The Raptors will finally trade away Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose after much deliberation.
Gossip: These two guys have openly been seeking a trade since the Vince Carter days in Toronto, but GM Rob Babcock’s unwillingness to separate the two as part of a package has deadened any interest teams have in dealing with Toronto. With Rose locked up at a hefty price for another two years, teams aren’t willing to take on the lefty just to get their hands on Marshall. It appears now, however, that Babcock has loosened his grip on the Rose/Marshall package with Rose excelling as 6th man and appearing to fit into the team’s plans for the future. Marshall still is insisting on being traded away, going so far as to having his agent present potential deals to Babcock. With zero chance that he returns to the team next year and there not being a point in holding onto him because his contract frees up only a little cash at the end of the season, it makes no sense for Babcock not to get something in return for Marshall now. Rumors have been flying about a potential deal to Indiana for either Scot Pollard or Austin Croshere, but what about a trade to the Lakers if the Boozer deal falls through? By trading Donyell Marshall for Devean George and Brian Cook, the Raptors still free up some money and acquire a young big who fits the team’s fast-paced, perimeter-oriented approach? It may not be much, but at least it’s something.
What Will Happen: Okay, you’re probably annoyed by now, that I, like everyone else, seems to be under the thinking that there isn’t going to be much action this trade deadline–that’s partially true. I do believe that there is going to be a deal or two that goes under the radar and shocks people when the news break. And I also believe Donyell Marshall is as good as gone from Toronto. Too many teams want him, and Toronto needs to get something for him before he crosses the border this summer and lands with another team. Rob Babcock will pull the trigger, likely right before the deadline tomorrow, on the best deal available to him.
Rumor: The Memphis Grizzlies are quietly pondering whether or not to pull the trigger on the mega-deal that their fans have been patiently waiting for.
Gossip: Not much really, this is something I’m brewing up purely on my own because I know a lot of our readers our dying to know what Jerry West is up to. Let me be completely honest with you–I think West, Fratello, and Versace are content with the team right now and honestly like their chances to advance at least one round in the playoffs (and for that matter so do I–I could definitely see a Grizzlies 1st round upset over Phoenix or Seattle). And now with the injury bug biting the team pretty hard and the team in a struggle to make the playoffs as it is, it’s tough to see a deal taking place. There’s no question the Grizz have the parts to get something done, but Jerry West has been open in looking to acquire a star (preferably a big man) and teams just aren’t willing to give up a legitimate star right now unless they have a reason to. Nevertheless, I do believe it makes sense for West to start playing his cards, and with a number of big names available right now, it would not hurt to at least inquire about some of them. In order to acquire Michael Redd, a potential deal could have the Grizz also taking on Joe Smith while parting with both of their low- priced young guys, Earl Waton and Dahntay Jones, as well as James Posey. To get guys like Odom or Peja, West would likely have to anti up Gasol, especially considering neither the Celts nor Kings is in a situation where they have to get rid of either guy.
What Will Happen: If there’s any team that may have something up their sleeve, it has to be the Grizz. West knows better than to open his mouth about any trade discussions, so it’s possible he’s working on something as we speak–though I wouldn’t count on it. If West wants his next big move to involve bringing in a bonafied star, now probably isn’t the right time. Sure there’s Baron Davis, Michael Redd, Peja Stojakovic, Lamar Odom, Antoine Walker, and Carlos Boozer, but none of them really fits what the team needs and some are a far cry from being Jerry West “guys”, and when other players like Ray Allen, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Steve Francis, Paul Pierce, Larry Hughes, Eddy Curry, and Samuel Dalembert could be easily available and had this summer, West knows when and how to play his cards, and I think he’s going to remain patient.