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thebac
02-13-2004, 04:48 PM
Trade talk will dominate All-Star Weekend

The NBA doesn't have winter meetings like baseball, where owners and GMs can get together and talk trade. But the NBA All-Star Game is as close as it gets. With just about everyone in the league flying into Los Angeles today, here's the latest scuttle from around the league . . .

Juwan Howard
Forward
Orlando Magic
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
54 15.8 6.8 2.0 .447 .796




Will Juwan Howard finally end up in Miami? The Magic, now clearly desperate, have reportedly inquired about Brian Grant's availability. It would take half of the Magic's roster to land Grant, but considering that the only guys on the roster who the Magic want to keep are Tracy McGrady and Drew Gooden -- why not?

The Wizards are in the hunt for a team willing to take on the last year of Christian Laettner's deal. The team could get around $10 million under the cap next season if it can find a taker for Laettner. What's their best shot? The Raptors are trying to add another big man to shore up their front line and have shown interest in Laettner. The Raptors have several expiring contracts (Michael Curry, Morris Peterson, Michael Bradley) that they're willing to dump in an effort to secure a playoff spot this season. Laettner is in the mix along with Portland's Dale Davis.

That's not the only deal the Wizards are working on. The team is also reportedly pursuing a deal that would ship Brevin Knight to the Clips for Keyon Dooling and Melvin Ely. However, if the Wizards can move Laettner, they probably won't make the trade for Ely, who would eat into their salary-cap room next season.
Doug Christie
Shooting Guard
Sacramento Kings
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
50 8.7 3.7 3.9 .469 .853




The Kings' Doug Christie is now on the block, but will anyone want to pick up the last two years and $16 million left on his contract? Christie was once the defensive heart of the Kings, but his production has really slipped this season.

Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor said he thinks the team will make a trade by the deadline? With whom? Right now the Jazz are more than seven million under the cap, which means they can absorb one big salary. The talk since December has the Jazz swapping Keon Clark for Tom Gugliotta and at least one first-round pick from the Suns. While both players are in the last year of their contracts, swapping Gugliotta's $11.7 million salary for Clark's $5 million puts the Suns under the luxury-tax threshold for the year. Given the salary, luxury-tax savings and rebates from the league, that could be worth up to $15 million in long-term savings to Phoenix. That's probably worth the pick.
Jahidi White
Center
Phoenix Suns
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
49 4.4 4.4 0.1 .519 .510




The Suns are also trying to dump center Jahidi White and, according to one league source, are using Casey Jacobsen as the bait. White has one more year at $6.1 million left on his deal.

In addition to the never-ending Marcus Fizer sweepstakes, the Bulls are looking to find a new home for Jerome Williams. Despite his energy on the court and his popularity with fans, Williams' relationship with some of his teammates has been rocky in Chicago. He's been especially down on Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler because of constant mental lapses. It's gotten to the point that coaches had to ask him to quit pulling aside players who blow plays in practice.

The Pistons are still talking to teams about a way to trade either Corliss Williamson or Chucky Atkins in an effort to get their contracts off the books. With two first-round picks at his disposal that the Pistons don't really need, you've got to believe Joe D will make something happen.

For those of you always wondering why there are so many trade rumors and so few trades, I give you Danny Ainge. "There's lot of conversations going on. I'm hopeful, but it's got to be the right deal. I listened to over 500 deals since I took the job and I've made two. It's got to be a good deal." Since when, Danny?

Break in action doesn't concern Nets

Will the New Jersey Nets ever lose again?

"The one thing we can learn from the All-Star break is what we went through last year. We have to understand we can't just come out and go through the motions," said Jason Kidd in the New York Post "We understand we have to come out with the same energy and intensity we had before the break."

As it stands, the Nets have won 10 games in a row, five of them on the road, and all of them by 10 or more points. So does it even matter that only two of them have come against teams with winning records, or that last year they hit the All-Star break on a winning surge only to see it disappear after?

"I don't think it's going to affect this team. We have enough responsible guys who'll do the right thing over the break," said shooting guard Kerry Kittles as he praised coach Lawrence Frank. "He does a good job of getting into guys and letting them know when they're slipping and when they're being a little lackadaisical. He holds everyone accountable."

And how could the All Star break be a distraction when this team has already endured the sale of the franchise with possible move to New York, a head coaching change, the buyout of Dikembe Mutombo, physical setback to Alonzo Mourning and fiasco that has been Eddie Griffin's career?


New coach Lawrence Frank has kept the Nets focused despite a host of possible distractions.
"A lot happened," new coach Lawrence Frank said. "To our players' credit, they've been able to deal with the distractions and play at the high level that they have."

But last year, they had won six of seven games headed into the break and had a 34-15 record. Then, their first game back, they lost to the Magic and then Grizzlies the very next day. The following week, they lost to the Sixers and Wizards. The week after that, to finish the month of February, they lost to the Magic, again, and the Cavaliers.

They started March off with four straight losses to go 4-10 right after the All-Star break.

This year, they've won 10 in a row and stand at 31-20.

The difference, though, is that they return to play Wednesday against the lowly Hawks, who are 18-35. They've also got five of their next seven games at home. Many questioned the timing of Byron Scott's firing, but the wisdom is becoming very evident. The Nets had just lost five games in a row before the firing, four of them coming on the road and four of them against teams with winning records, including the league-leading Pacers, Mavs and defending champion Spurs.

Next on the schedule was the struggling Celtics, then the even more struggling Sixers. Then the Magic, the team with the worst record in the entire league.

The Nets didn't need a new coach so much as they need a new start and this was it.

They beat the Celtics by 19 as Paul Pierce shot 3-for-15 and 0-for-7 from 3-point range. They beat the Sixers by 18 as an injured Allen Iverson could only watch. They beat the Magic by 10 as Tracy McGrady shot 6-for-20 after playing 44 minutes the night before on the road and the win streak was on.

Their tough games were supposed to be against the Hornets and the Pistons, but New Orleans was without its best player in Baron Davis and Detroit is currently mired in its own five-game losing streak, the Nets handing them loss No. 4 in New Jersey.

Their other four wins of the streak have come against teams with a combined record of 77-137.

Even though the All-Star break is coming while the team is red hot, this has undeniably been great timing.

Now, more than anything else, the Nets have a new sense of purpose and new sense of themselves.

"We can't be satisfied," said Frank in the Bergen County Record despite the tumult that has surrounded this first half of the season. "It's tough because the No. 1 thing about our team is we care about each other. Losing teammates like Dikembe, losing Alonzo, losing Eddie Griffin - those are hard situations to deal with, and our guys have done a good job of dealing with it and moving forward as best we can."

At least for now, they are no longer the New Jersey Nets who lost two NBA Finals in a row led by a disgruntled point guard who just got his coach fired after the team lost its two starting centers. They are now the New Jersey Nets who have won two Eastern Conference titles in a row led by the best point guard in the league who just loves his new record-breaking coach and is joined by all-star power forward Kenyon Martin in the lineup.

"I'm very much an optimist," Frank summed it all up.

Rumor Central

WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Brian Grant
Heat

Magic

Feb. 13 - Orlando reportedly has inquired again about Grant's availability and might be willing to package half its roster -- including Juwan Howard -- to get him. The only guys the Magic are dead set on keeping are Tracy McGrady and Drew Gooden.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Gordan Giricek
Magic

Bulls
Jazz

Feb. 13 - Magic GM John Gabriel told Florida Today that Giricek, not Juwan Howard, is drawing the most interest as the trade deadline nears. The Bulls and Magic reportedly are discussing a deal to send Giricek and point guard Tyronn Lue to Chicago for Marcus Fizer. Florida Today also reports that Utah could be offering point guard Carlos Arroyo or center Jarron Collins in exchange for Giricek.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Marcus Fizer
Bulls

Magic
Clippers
Pistons

Feb. 13 - Floriday Today reports the Magic and Bulls could be close to a deal sending Fizer to Orlando in exchange for point guard Tyronn Lue and shooting guard Gordan Giricek.
Fizer, in the last year of his contract, also is rumored to be under consideration by the Pistons and Clippers. In addition to the proposed deal with L.A. for Melvin Ely and Keyon Dooling, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram indicates the Bulls are trying to send Fizer to Detroit for either forward Corliss Williamson or guard Chucky Atkins.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Aaron McKie
76ers

Bulls

Feb. 13 - The Sixers have been looking to unload McKie's contract, among others, as they look to rebuild, and they reportedly have discussed a deal with Chicago involving Jerome Williams. McKie leads the league in 3-point percentage and would provide the Bulls with perimeter shooting, defense and veteran leadership.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jerome Williams
Bulls

76ers

Feb. 13 - The Bulls and 76ers have discussed a trade involving Williams and Aaron McKie. Despite the energy Williams brings to the court and his popularity with fans, the Bulls don't like his rocky relations with some of his teammates, especially young big men Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler.
The Sixers have been looking to unload McKie's contract, among others, as they look to rebuild. McKie leads the league in 3-point percentage and would provide the Bulls with perimeter shooting, defense and veteran leadership.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Doug Christie
Kings

?

Feb. 13 - The Kings reportedly are looking to unload the remaining two years and $16 million on Christie's contract, not to mention his subpar play, but it's not clear who might be willing to take both off their hands.
"I talked with Rick (Adelman, head coach) and Geoff (Petrie, GM) and they told me they were going on with what we have," Christie said. "You hear stuff all the time, it's part of the profession. Around the trade deadline, any little thing and people react."



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Christian Laettner
Wizards

Raptors

Feb. 13 - Toronto is looking for a big man to shore up the front line, and the Wizards are looking for someone to take on the last year of Laettner's deal. Unloading him would put Washington around $10 million below the cap next season. The Raptors have several expiring contracts (Michael Curry, Morris Peterson, Michael Bradley) that they're willing to dump in an effort to secure a playoff spot this season. Laettner is in the mix along with Portland's Dale Davis.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Dale Davis
Blazers

Raptors
Mavs

Feb. 13 - The Raptors and Mavericks have shown the most interest in Davis, and if the Blazers can get back a contract that expires after next season and a prospect, they'll pull the trigger. Toronto has plenty of expiring contracts, but they're also discussing Christian Laettner.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Keon Clark
Jazz

Suns

Feb. 13 - Phoenix could look to further improve its financial situation for next season by sending Tom Gugliotta and his $11.7 million contract, along with a draft pick, to Utah for Clark ($5 million). The deal works for the Jazz, because they are more than $7 million under the cap. It works for the Suns because, given the salary savings, luxury tax savings and rebates from the league for being under the cap, it could be worth up to $15 million in long term savings.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Jahidi White
Suns

?

Feb. 13 - The Suns are trying to dump White and, according to one league source, are using Casey Jacobsen as the bait. The 6-foot-9 White, averaging just 14.5 minutes, 4.5 points and 4.6 rebounds, has one more year at $6.1 million left on his deal.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Allen Iverson
76ers

?

Feb. 12 - While it's unlikely Philadelphia would ever deal AI, he's fair game for the rumor mill now that GM Billy King has said no one is untouchable. "Everybody at some point in their career has to be available," King told the Delaware News Journal. "Obviously, it would take a high-quality player to move someone like Allen. But I've got to do what's best for the franchise."


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Nick Van Exel
Warriors

Grizzlies

Feb. 12 - Van Exel told the Contra Costa Times he doesn't want to be traded and he doesn't plan to opt out of his deal after the season. "I want to be here," Van Exel told the paper. "I never said I wanted to be traded. This is where I want to finish my contract."
The Warriors are thought to be looking to package Van Exel with Erick Dampier in order to clear cap space, but they are finding few partners who can send back the kind of expiring contracts Golden State is seeking. Memphis is one possibility, but it's looking more likely Van Exel will be staying put.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Erick Dampier
Warriors

Grizzlies
Celtics

Feb. 12 - Golden State continues to dangle Dampier as incentive for someone to take Nick Van Exel off their hands, and while there is interest in the big man, there isn't much in the package with the point guard. Boston is trying to package the expiring contracts of Chris Mills ($6 million) and Chris Mihm ($2.8 million), but they don't want to take Van Exel. The Grizzlies have been after Dampier since the offseason.


WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Melvin Ely
Clippers

Wizards
Bulls
Feb. 12 - The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports the Wizards want to acquire Ely in exchange for guard Brevin Knight, with Keyon Dooling leaving the Clippers for Washington in the package. Ely currently is mired on L.A.'s bench behind Elton Brand, Chris Wilcox, Chris Kaman and Peja Drobjnak.
Previously, the Chicago Tribune reported the Bulls might be interested in an Ely-for-Marcus Fizer swap. Fizer is in the last year of his contract, which would allow the Clippers to get further under the cap this summer to make a run at Kobe Bryant.



WHO INTERESTED THE SKINNY

Eddy Curry
Bulls

Mavs
Sonics
Blazers

Feb. 12 - Bulls GM John Paxson has decided he's not ready to give up on Curry or fellow first-round pick Tyson Chandler, saying earlier this week, "Eddy and Tyson aren't going anywhere. We've invested two years in them, and we have them for as long as we want them, so it makes no sense [to trade them]. It would have to be an unbelievable deal for us to even think about it."

Peep Show

Los Angeles Lakers: If the Lakers lose Phil Jackson, they're losing more than a coach if you ask this guy. "The NBA is like a feudal system, all these lords and their fiefdoms," said agent Leonard Armato in the Los Angeles Times. "Getting everyone to work together for the common good is like a crusade. Phil is the best of the best at these crusades." And one of Jackson's former players agrees. "I think it is so funny when people say that Jackson wins because of luck, that he wins only because he has all the great players," Steve Kerr said. "That's so wrong. This team had the pieces before he got there, and never did anything."

Detroit Pistons: Chauncey Billups doesn't feel like much of an all-star these days and he's glad, at least, about that. "I am happy to have this break," Billups said in the Detroit News. "We can sit back, rest our bodies, look at ourselves and say, 'Hey, we aren't playing the way we should be playing.' "We've seen how good we can be and we've seen how bad we can be. Now we need to sit back, look in the mirror and say, 'I need to do this differently, I need to do this better or that better.' We need to come back ready to gear up and go. This losing, it ain't fun, man. We know we are better than this." His coach agreed. "He's got to play better. Maybe he'll make the bonus ball and that'll get him going," said Larry Brown. "He's got to play better and he's got to run the team better and he's capable of doing all those things. We need him. We need somebody to step up and be a leader."

Seattle SuperSonics: Vladimir Radmanovic wants the dang ball. Or he wants to play for a team that gives him the dang ball. "I just want to make sure everyone gets the best chance possible for what they want, both the Sonics and for me," Radmanovic said to the Seattle Post Intelligencer as his minutes have been gradually cut. "If the best thing for both is for me to be traded, I want whatever will help. If they think I can help here, I want to help every game and not every 10th game . . . Nobody gave me an explanation of why I was going to the bench. The only explanation was that, 'We want to play big basketball.' I don't know if this specific staff likes me or if I'm just a guy they're trying to make fit. It was the worst thing that could have happened at that time."

Chicago Bulls: After being placed on the injured reserve list for the second time this season, Scottie Pippen has taken to doing his best Arnold impression. "I'm still trying to grease the machine and see if it can make another turn," he said to the Chicago Tribune. "I'm playing. I'll be back after the break."

Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce doesn't pretend to understand what Vin Baker is going through or the franchise's intention to terminate his contract with $36 million still due for violating his rehab program and being unable to perform. "I hate to see something like this happen," Pierce said in the Boston Herald. "Vin is a great guy. Everyone loves being around him. I can't even think about everything he's going through, because I don't understand it. I've just tried to be a guy who is positive with him all of the time. He's been criticized enough by fans and the media. All we can do is be as positive as possible with him."

Toronto Raptors: At least one Eastern Conference head coach thinks his side has a chance of winning an NBA title. "My personal belief is maybe top to bottom the West is a little bit deeper (but) the elite teams in both the East and the West are capable of winning the NBA championship," head coach Kevin O'Neill said in the Toronto Star. "That's my feeling. Let's face it, to win the NBA championship, you only have to win one series against the West, you don't have to play three series."