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12-04-2003, 01:43 PM
Have the trade floodgates opened?

Chat with Chad Ford at 1 p.m. ET
NBA fans who crave huge multi-player trades and as much player movement as humanly possible may be in for an early Christmas treat this year.

The NBA trade floodgates normally don't open until February, just weeks before the trade deadline. This season, however, we've already seen two significant trades. Wednesday night I weighed in on whether the trade of Bonzi Wells was the first of several more moves for the Blazers.

After talking with several GMs around the league Wednesday night, perhaps a broader question is in order.

Are we in for a pre-Christmas trade blizzard?

GMs are claiming that there is an unusual amount of trade talk right now. While most of it hasn't turned serious, it appears things are about to change.

"The NBA is a little bit like a junior high school dance," one GM said. "It takes a while for someone to muster up the courage to be the first guy to ask a girl to dance. Same thing happens here. Nobody really wants to be the first guy to pull the trigger on a major trade. In some ways it means you're admitting defeat. However, once one guy does it, everyone else floods onto the dance floor behind him."

How's that for a weird analogy?

Another league executive put it more succinctly. "There's a lot of parity in the league this year, and everyone is looking for that little piece of the puzzle that gets them the advantage. Now that several teams have made big deals, a lot of teams are going to feel the need to respond."

By now you know the usual suspects on the trading block. Who will be the next team to pull the trigger on a trade?

Insider breaks it down.

New Jersey Nets

Trading Kenyon Martin might be the Nets' best option right now.

Why? Because the defending Eastern Conference champs are just 7-11. Without Alonzo Mourning or Dikembe Mutombo, the team is very vulnerable in the middle. With a looming sale, at some point the team is going to have to think about cutting some costs.

How? The only obvious answer is to move Kenyon Martin. Martin becomes a restricted free agent next summer, and it has become pretty clear the Nets aren't interested in throwing huge amounts of cash his way. Their payroll is already out of control as it is. Maybe it's time to see if the Nets can reunite Martin with Eddie Jordan. A trade of Martin and Kerry Kittles to Washington for Jerry Stackhouse, Kwame Brown and Brevin Knight seems to make sense for everyone. The trade gives the Nets good players and cap relief. After that, the Nets may have to hunker down and wait for Serbian center Nenad Kristic to wash ashore this summer.

Toronto Raptors

Why? The trade for Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall will address their scoring woes, but it left a gaping hole in the middle of their defense. For now, rookie Chris Bosh is manning the middle. But on most nights, that's not a favorable matchup for the Raptors.

How? The Raptors still have assets that could be moved. Several teams have shown interest in Morris Peterson and Michael Bradley, who both happen to be in the last year of their deals. A Peterson-for-Michael Doleac swap seems to make a lot of sense for both the Raptors and Knicks.

New York Knicks

Why? With the return of Antonio McDyess, the Knicks have some spare parts they could move. They have a shot at the playoffs right now, but with a little extra juice, they could be a contender.

How? The Knicks, for the first time in awhile, have some tradeable assets. Charlie Ward is playing well and is in the last year of his contract. Kurt Thomas is among the league leaders in rebounding, and plenty of teams have interest in Doleac, who just so happens to be in the last year of his deal, too. Could a combo of Ward and Doleac help the Knicks swing a deal for a younger player like Derek Anderson? With the Blazers looking for cap space, they'd seriously consider a deal like that.

Boston Celtics

Why? There's no one on the team right now supporting Paul Pierce on the offensive end. The loss of Antoine Walker has Pierce facing triple-teams on a nightly basis. New team president Danny Ainge knows his team lacks the talent to be competitive and is aggressively pursuing trades.

How? The Celtics were in the mix for both Donyell Marshall and Bonzi Wells but couldn't pull enough together to get a trade done. Their three most tradeable assets right now are Eric Williams, Chris Mills and Tony Battie. Williams and Mills are in the last year of their deals, making them attractive. Battie can play center and makes a reasonable amount of cash. Pool them together, and the Celtics have $16.4 million worth of tradeable salaries and around $11 million in cap relief for a team looking to save some money. If the Celtics were willing to throw in a No. 1 pick, wouldn't Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ricky Davis for Williams, Mills and Battie make some sense? The Celtics would get some serious offensive firepower, and the Cavs could get $15 million under the cap next year and subtract two players who don't seem to fit in Paul Silas' system.

Orlando Magic

Why? They're in the midst of a 17-game losing streak. Need we say more?

How? That's a tough one. The Magic don't want to trade Tracy McGrady, and they can't trade Grant Hill. That accounts for more than half their payroll. Their best chance at making something happen would be to package Juwan Howard (eligible to be traded Dec. 15) and Gordan Giricek for either a center or a point guard. Could that combo get them either Brent Barry or Jerome James from Seattle?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Why? LeBron James is already the best player on the team. But where's his help? Right now, Carlos Boozer is the only other Cav who really looks like a keeper. The Cavs have the second-worst record in the East, and coach Paul Silas is starting to lose his patience.

How? The one thing the Cavs do have is assets. Ricky Davis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Darius Miles and Chris Mihm are all attractive trade bait. I don't think they should trade all of them, but moving one or two for cap room isn't a bad idea.

A lot of teams appear to have interest in Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Seattle SuperSonics

Why? Opportunity. The Sonics are playing well, but once Ray Allen comes back, they'll have a logjam in the backcourt. They need help at the four and five and seem to have the assets to make a trade work.

How? With Ronald Murray looking like the point guard of the future, the should Sonics package Brent Barry with one of their overpaid big men and bring in a legit power forward to help out Vladimir Radmanovic. Two trades that still make sense? Barry for the Pacers' Al Harrington or a combo of Barry, Jerome James and Radmanovic for the Hawks' Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Indiana Pacers

Why? Despite its undeniable success, the team is going to need help in the backcourt if it plans to go deep in the playoffs. Once Jonathan Bender returns, the Pacers will have a serious frontcourt logjam.

How? In the past, Austin Croshere was the trade bait. However, Rick Carlisle likes him, and with Croshere's big contract, he's tough to trade, anyway. The Pacers love Al Harrington and claim they haven't given up on Jamaal Tinsley, but if they could package those guys and get a top-notch combo guard like Brent Barry or a point guard like Eric Snow, they'd have to consider it.

Atlanta Hawks

Why? Because they're going nowhere fast. With new ownership now in place, it's just a matter of time before Steve Belkin & Co. start cutting payroll and rebuilding the team.

How? There's a lot of interest in Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff. If the Hawks can get cap room, draft picks and young prospects in return, will they bite?

Around the League

-On Wednesday we touched on the impact of the Bonzi Wells trade with Portland. But how will it affect things in Memphis?
Bonzi Wells
Shooting Guard
Memphis Grizzlies

13 12.2 4.7 2.7 .389 .778

With the team playing well together, is Wells the type of "me-first" presence that will disrupt the great team chemistry the Grizzlies have?

Don't count on it. Both Jerry West and Hubie Brown talked to Wells before the trade and made it clear that they're willing to give him a clean slate, but they'll have zero tolerance for his stupidity on the court. League sources claim that the Grizzlies did a lot of homework on Wells before deciding to trade for him and came to this conclusion: He isn't as bad as everyone thinks he is.

I have a hard time believing that, considering Wells' problems go all the way back to high school. However, Wells promised the Grizzlies he'd leave his troubles behind in Portland's mosh pit. If that's true, then the Grizzlies pulled off a hell of a deal.

Wells has immense talent and will be a nice complement to Mike Miller. Wells excels slashing to the basket and posting up weaker defenders in the paint. Miller is more perimeter orientated and likes to handle the ball and stretch the defense.

The other major question for Memphis has to do with playing time. How does Brown plan to cram in enough minutes to keep Miller, Wells, James Posey and Shane Battier all happy? The answer is he can't. Right now Miller is averaging just a shade over 30 minutes a game and Posey and Battier are getting around 25. Person, who was the fourth option for Brown, plays just 17 mpg. Wells won't be happy with that number. If Brown pushes his minutes up to 25 to 30 a game, Posey and Battier will likely be the guys that suffer.

West told Insider earlier this summer that his game plan was to collect as much talent as he could. Having a lot of bodies makes it easier to facilitate 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 trades that bring back a star in return. With such a deep roster, it's probably only a matter of time before West thins it out by packaging two or three good players for another all-star to play alongside Pau Gasol.

While Brown has yet to comment on how the rotation will work, look for Posey and Miller to keep their starting jobs. Posey's the best defender of the group and they need him out there with Miller, who is a less than stellar defender. Putting Wells in the second group gives the team an explosive scorer off the bench, something it didn't really have before the trade.

-The swap of Wells for Wesley Person should put the Blazers under the cap next summer when Person's, Rasheed Wallace's and Jeff McInnis' contracts come off the books.
Assuming they don't re-sign any of those players, the Blazers are looking at a payroll of $40.8 million next season, not including their two first-round picks they'll own. That's a remarkable turnaround for a team that has a payroll of $81 million this year.

The big savings, however, will come in the summer of 2005. If the Blazers are patient and don't sign or trade for a player with a long-term contract, they could be around $20 million under the cap in the summer of 2005. Damon Stoudamire and Dale Davis come off the books in 2005, clearing away almost $20 million in salaries. While the Blazers will have to probably use a lot of that money to re-sign Zach Randolph that summer, they still should have enough left over to go after one major free agent.

-Celtics president Danny Ainge claims that Jim O'Brien will not be the next coach to be fired. Knicks president Scott Layden claims the same thing. So who will it be? The top two candidates are the Suns' Frank Johnson and the Nets' Byron Scott. Look for Johnson to get the axe first. The Suns have an assistant, Mike D'Antoni, whom they've been grooming to take over the head coaching position for a year. It appears that Johnson is on day-to-day life support at the moment. The Nets, on the other hand, let their star assistant, Eddie Jordan, slip away to the Wizards over the summer. With Doc Rivers and Doug Collins claiming they want to take the year off, there isn't a logical candidate out there to replace Scott. That may save his neck for the rest of the season.

-We all love Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Yao Ming and Peja Stojakovic. But is there a more complete international player right now than Andrei Kirilenko? After watching Kirilenko's 19-point, five-rebound, seven-assist, eight-steal and five-block performance versus the Rockets Wednesday night, I'm ready to start the campaign for Kirilenko on the all-star team.
Andrei Kirilenko
Power Forward
Utah Jazz

17 17.5 7.5 3.3 .507 .889

The Jazz are a surprising 10-7 and, if they keep up their winning ways (and they sure look like they will), they deserve a representative at the All-Star Game. While they are getting great play from Matt Harpring, Carlos Arroyo, Greg Ostertag and Raul Lopez, no one does more to make this team tick than Kirilenko.

Kirilenko's numbers over the last five games have been stunning. 18.2 ppg, 8 rpg, 5.2 apg, 4 bpg, 3.4 spg while shooting over 50 percent from the field and from the beyond the three point line.

The knock on Kirilenko before the season was that he was just a so-so perimeter shooter and would struggle defending bigger power forwards in the post. But he's improved on both aspects this season. He's done a decent job sinking his outside jumpers and is shooting 51 percent from the field. He's also playing great defense in the post, despite his skinny frame.

"He frustrates people because they underestimate his length," teammate Raja Bell told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I'm a wiry guy. I believe in wiry strength, and he's stronger than he looks. He gets up there, and that's all you have to do. You don't have to block it, you just have to change it, and he does that [to] just about every shot."

Paxson moving swiftly to fix Bulls
By Greg Anthony
ESPN Insider

I was speaking with John Paxson the other day, and it brought back a lot of memories from the first half of the last season of my playing career. I played in Chicago, and while my on-court experience was miserable, there were times where John and I would just talk basketball. We talked a lot about the keys to building a successful team while being fiscally responsible which is not easy and often will lead to a team's demise (as in the end of the Bulls' championship run).
John was doing television for the Bulls and being groomed to some day take over and restore the franchise to respectability, and right then, from some of our conversations, you knew he would be very good at running that organization. And based on the moves thus far, he has given no reason to doubt him.

John Paxson, left, has shown a willingness to make bold moves in Chicago.
He brought in Scottie Pippen, and while Pip is only a shadow of the player he was when last in Chicago, he is the one piece to remind the young Bulls of what they represent and where they want to go. Drafting Kirk Hinrich, while not a flashy pick, was a solid and safe one to get his feet wet.

Paxson also made the decision to relieve Bill Cartwright of his coaching duties and at the same time rid the franchise of the triangle offense, which has brought about the demise of a few coaches (Tim Floyd and Quinn Buckner, along with Cartwright). People will soon realize that the triangle is a superstar offense that puts role players in a position to be effective, but more importantly it creates just enough motion to allow great players freedom to dominate. The key to the triangle's success is the players -- Michael Jordan and Pippen, or Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant (and now Karl Malone and Gary Payton). Needless to say, the Bulls haven't had anyone like that in recent years.

So new coach Scott Skiles already has scrapped the triangle and gone with different sets that will allow a team without a superstar to be more effective. He also has placed more emphasis on the defensive end, which is where this team can make a dramatic improvement and right a ship that has been veering off course for the last five years.

Obviously the trade for Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams, and Chris Jefferies will immediately give Chicago more toughness and rebounding, as well as making other guys better because of the experience and commitment to the defensive end that the newcomers bring. Paxson's decision to move quickly with Skiles and the trade also bring about a sense of urgency for the young guns and gives him time to evaluate the long-term prospects of Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry to determine if they are the cornerstones to build around or if the franchise needs to go in another new direction.

Jamal Crawford
Point Guard
Chicago Bulls

15 15.5 2.9 5.3 .429 .879

Another byproduct of the trade is it gives the Bulls the ability to play Jamal Crawford at the two and see if he can prosper at that position. His abilities are a lot like those of Chauncey Billups, who spent several years trying to find both his identity and a coach who would let him play his game. Jamal is traveling the same path, not necessarily in terms of teams, but certainly in terms of coaches, with Skiles being his third in three years. But Jamal's ability to take his game to the next level may depend on his ability to play the shooting guard spot and improve his defensive intensity and court awareness.

This team still has a long way to go to become a legit playoff team, but there is reason for optimism, and Paxson deserves credit for at least getting this team headed in the right direction. Maybe there is another Jordan on the horizon to complete the transformation to title contender, but hey, let's let the Baby Bulls crawl before we expect them to walk (or run) and give the city of Chicago something to be proud of again.

Peep Show
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Thursday, December 4
Updated: December 4
10:42 AM ET

Dallas Mavericks: That three-game suspension for a flagrant foul may have seemed easy compared to what's up next for Danny Fortson with the Lakers and Shaquille O'Neal coming to town. "I guess I better be ready, right?" Fortson said in the Dallas Morning News. "It's not like I'm coming back in against some soft [guy]. I'm coming back against the biggest monster there is in the NBA, and I got to go out there and fight him. That's what I'm getting paid to do. I'm just looking forward to being part of the team again and not feeling like a prisoner." And it doesn't sound like that suspension changed anything, anyway. "The big guys, we're starting to take a lot of pride in [not letting] people come down there and push us around," Fortson said. "We all know that's not the way it's supposed to be. You're supposed to let them know it's not going to be an easy night."

Denver Nuggets: There is, at least, on problem with the Nuggets winning all of these games. "I want to get minutes," said Nikoloz Tskitishvili, the second-year forward who hasn't played in four consecutive contests, in the Rocky Mountain News. "It's frustrating. I'm in the best shape that I've ever been. But I'm not going to say anything because we're winning." And while he may have been the No. 5 pick in the draft last year, the Nuggets are all about winning these days. "It's not so much what he hasn't done as it is that Marcus (Camby), Chris Andersen, Francisco (Elson) and Nene are playing well," Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "He's got a lot of guys ahead of him right now. I need to find some time to play him so he can develop without compromising anything. We're kind of on a roll."

New Jersey Nets: Jason Kidd wants to make it very clear of what he feels about Wednesday night's refereeing crew. "Nothing surprises me with that crew," Kidd said sarcastically of the officiating team of Mike Callahan, Violet Palmer and Gary Zielinski in the Newark Star Ledger. "That crew was that crew. They were great. ... We have a game (tomorrow) night against Milwaukee ... and hopefully that (officiating) crew is better than tonight's crew. ... Unfortunately that crew missed a good game. It was a good game to that point. That won't get me a fine either. I haven't said anything. I haven't pointed anybody out. They did a great job." Kidd believed he was fouled on a potential game-winning bucket with seconds remaining in a game against the Grizzlies. When no whistle sounded, Kidd openly berated Callahan well into the tunnel following the final buzzer. The Nets have now lost four in a row and fallen to 7-11.

Seattle SuperSonics: Regardless of what Dr. Richard Ferkel says, Ray Allen, recovering from ankle surgery, has ears for one thing. "I am going down there to hear the doctor tell me that I am ready to get back on the court and start practicing again," Allen said in the Tacoma News Tribune. "Anything less than that, I will be disappointed." But because he doesn't know how many practices he can get in with the team on the verge of a road trip, Allen isn't sure when he can return to action. "I definitely want to go," Allen said. "But the decision isn't mine. I have to make a decision based on what is best for me in the long run. How much work can I get in here?"

Detroit Pistons:. Point guard Chucky Atkins can't wait to get back on the court following knee surgery in early November. "I feel good," he said in the Detroit Free Press. "They told me to rest, and I felt pretty good over the summer. After going hard in the preseason and practicing as much as we've been practicing and playing the games the way we've been playing and flying on the same day, it progressively got worse. Once we played Orlando, after the game I was in a lot of pain. It escalated from there. I played against Milwaukee and after the game it swelled up. It went down. I played against Boston and it swelled up on me. Coming into the New Jersey game my knee was so swollen and big I did three hours of treatment trying to get it down and get ready for the game. It didn't happen, and they decided to do an MRI." Atkins is scheduled to play this Saturday.

12-04-2003, 01:45 PM
Have I mentioned, I'd love to have Kirilenko on the Mavs? (Oops, I just did, yesterday i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif)

I have a hunch that ape won't like what Fortson had to say (although I doubt ape likes anything that comes out of Fortson's mouth).

12-04-2003, 03:18 PM
Eastern Conference
* Atlantic W L PCT GB Conf Div Home Road L 10 Streak
*Philadelphia 9 10 0.474 0.0 7-7 3-1 5-4 4-6 4-6 Lost 1
*New Jersey 7 11 0.389 1.5 4-5 3-0 2-6 5-5 4-6 Lost 4
*Boston 7 11 0.389 1.5 5-10 2-4 4-5 3-6 3-7 Lost 3
*New York 7 12 0.368 2.0 5-9 4-2 4-5 3-7 5-5 Lost 2
*Washington 6 11 0.353 2.0 4-6 0-3 3-4 3-7 3-7 Lost 3
*Miami 5 13 0.278 3.5 4-5 1-2 4-2 1-11 4-6 Lost 1
*Orlando 1 17 0.056 7.5 1-9 1-2 0-10 1-7 0-10 Lost 17
* Central W L PCT GB Conf Div Home Road L 10 Streak
*Indiana 15 4 0.789 0.0 10-2 4-1 7-2 8-2 8-2 Lost 1
*Detroit 14 6 0.700 1.5 11-3 3-2 7-2 7-4 8-2 Won 4
*New Orleans 13 6 0.684 2.0 10-5 3-3 7-2 6-4 7-3 Won 2
*Toronto 10 8 0.556 4.5 7-4 1-1 6-2 4-6 6-4 Won 2
*Milwaukee 9 9 0.500 5.5 8-4 4-3 5-3 4-6 5-5 Won 1
*Atlanta 6 13 0.316 9.0 4-9 3-6 3-6 3-7 3-7 Lost 2
*Chicago 5 12 0.294 9.0 5-3 3-1 2-6 3-6 2-8 Won 1
*Cleveland 4 15 0.211 11.0 3-7 0-4 4-3 0-12 2-8 Lost 8

man the East sucks!

12-04-2003, 04:04 PM
having Kirilenko on this team would be phenomenol