View Full Version : High-priced superstars could be on the move

01-17-2008, 10:46 PM
By Chris Sheridan
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
If he hadn't vetoed every trade proposal that would have sent Luol Deng to the Lakers, he'd already be playing in Chicago -- and Scott Skiles would probably still have a job. But with the Lakers now sitting atop the Western Conference and Bryant saying they are a "championship caliber" team with a healthy Andrew Bynum, the landscape has changed considerably. Still, until Bryant says he no longer desires a trade -- and he has declined myriad opportunities to do so -- the issue will remain open.

Bryant's main leverage at this point, if he wants out, would be to tell the Lakers that if they don't trade him -- either by the deadline or before the start of next season -- he will opt out of his contract in the summer of 2009. He could then refuse to agree to any sign-and-trade deals, which would leave the Lakers getting nothing for him in return.

Shaquille O'Neal, Heat
Miami coach Pat Riley used the word "mandate" Tuesday when he said ownership wants him to get below the luxury tax threshold of $67.875 million, which would mean he needs to trim about $6 million off his payroll by Feb. 21.

Riley said he has no plans to trade O'Neal, who makes $20 million (this season and two more seasons). But he also threw the thought out there that a few teams might believe that Shaq is just the player to make them title contenders.

It is unclear whether O'Neal would welcome a trade, but keep in mind that he is going through a divorce and might embrace a move to a new city. With the Heat, losers of 11 straight, in last place in the East, we could envision O'Neal's being happier in Dallas (which could get him by using Keith Van Horn in a sign-and-trade) or East Rutherford, N.J., which is close to his Newark roots.

Jason Kidd, Nets
There is no question management was furious with him for his purported one-day strike last month when he skipped a game against New York with what he called a "migraine headache." But emotions have cooled down and the team has played better in the four weeks since.

Kidd still wants the Nets to give him a contract extension and bring in an athletic power forward. If neither happens by Feb. 21, we'll be awaiting his next tantrum.

An agent for one of Kidd's teammates believes the Nets would trade Kidd if they could get a point guard and a power forward back.

Pau Gasol, Grizzlies
When the Bulls wanted him last year, their refusal to include Luol Deng killed the deal. If that line of thinking has changed in Chicago, the Bulls can get him with some combination of Deng, Tyrus Thomas and/or Joakim Noah (and P.J. Brown in a sign-and-trade to make the salaries match). A source close to Gasol said the Cleveland Cavaliers were also trying to obtain him, but the Cavs' big man who interests them most, Anderson Varejao, cannot be traded until the summer. (NBA rules state a player cannot be traded for three months after he signs a contract, and Varejao was signed on Dec. 4, with the trade deadline looming on Feb. 21.)

Tracy McGrady, Rockets
Tough one to figure here. The Rockets' brain trust insists it wants to see how McGrady and Yao Ming perform together under Rick Adelman in the playoffs at least once before making any decision on whether to move T-Mac.

But folks on other teams insist the Rockets would move McGrady in a heartbeat to get out from under the $63 million he'll make over the next three seasons. Only time will tell.

Gilbert Arenas, Wizards
The Wizards have been playing well with Arenas on the sidelines recently, leading some to speculate that Washington might actually be better off without him. A Wizards source says that notion is absolute nonsense. The source said the team is hell-bent on locking him up long-term, after Arenas opts out of his contract and becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

A bigger issue for the Wizards will be convincing Antawn Jamison, also an upcoming unrestricted free agent, to re-sign with them for a starting salary that will be less than what he is making now ($16.3M).

Jermaine O'Neal, Pacers
Those close to the Pacers' big man, who apparently aggravated a knee injury Wednesday night, said he was emotionally drained at the end of the summer. After hearing his name bandied about in trade talks with the Lakers and Nets, O'Neal turned full circle at the start of this season and made up his mind to stay completely focused on the season ahead.

But Pacers president Larry Bird has been noncommittal as to whether he's still open to the idea of trading O'Neal, so stay tuned.

If the Pacers were open to giving the Grizzlies cap relief by taking on Brian Cardinal's contract (two more years and $13 million owed), they might make the best trading partner for Memphis in a Gasol-O'Neal deal.

Mike Bibby, Kings
If the Cavs want him, they're going to have to take back Kenny Thomas' contract as well -- something Cleveland insiders have said is a deal-breaker. But the Cavs and Kings have had at least three sets of trade discussions centered around Bibby in the past year, including three days of intense discussions immediately prior to last season's deadline.

Sacramento is in no hurry; the franchise's decision-makers want to see how the team performs over the next month now that everyone except Shareef Abdur-Rahim is finally healthy. As of now, odds are the Cavs end up with a different point guard by the time the deadline passes, anyone from Tyronn Lue to Marcus Banks to Earl Watson.

Ron Artest, Kings
He'd be wearing a Knicks uniform by now if Isiah Thomas had been willing to trade Nate Robinson and Renaldo Balkman (though you should not believe for a second Thomas' statement from last week that everyone on his team is untouchable).

Artest can opt out of his contract at the end of this season, and he has said he would sign with New York for the midlevel exception. But Artest will say anything, and he's also said he wants to stay in Sacto for the rest of his career.

Shawn Marion, Suns
With all the focus on a possible Kobe Bryant trade in October, it almost flew under the radar when Marion told the Suns he wanted out. But after Phoenix's talks with Utah -- in a potential deal of Marion for Andrei Kirilenko -- fizzled out, the Suns and Marion worked out some of their differences and are now peacefully co-existing.

The issue is all but certain to resurface over the summer. Marion is going to want a contract extension from any team that acquires him, and it's debatable whether he's worth the kind of money he's making ($16.4 million and $17.8 million this season and next).

Amare Stoudemire, Suns
The Suns were willing to move him over the summer when they thought they could get Garnett, and then his name pretty much dropped out of the rumor mill. But one source close to the team told ESPN.com that the Suns very quietly revisited the idea of moving Stoudemire early in December, which would lead one to believe they'll at least be open to fielding offers as the deadline nears.

Just a thought, but doesn't Stoudemire and Atlanta's No. 1 pick, which the Suns own from a prior trade, for Gasol and Hakim Warrick make some sense for both teams? If not that one, what about Stoudemire for Rasheed Wallace?

Richard Jefferson, Nets
There were serious three-team trade discussions among the Nets, Lakers and Bobcats last June that would have sent Lamar Odom to New Jersey, but the Bobcats pulled out because they liked the Richardson deal better.

Jefferson is now having the best season of his career, so his trade value has never been higher. With the Nets desperate for a power forward and more inclined to keep Kidd than trade him, it makes sense that Jefferson -- whose value has eclipsed that of Carter in the estimation of many teams -- would be the key piece in any Nets trade.

Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz
By all accounts, Jerry Sloan has followed through on his vow to go easier on Kirilenko this season, and things are now copacetic between the two.

Mehmet Okur was the player the Jazz were down on until he started returning to form a couple weeks ago. Okur is much more tradable than Kirilenko, with a salary of $8.5M this season and next and $9M in 2009-10.

Wally Szczerbiak, SuperSonics
He makes $12 million this season and $13 million next season, and he can still shoot it. If the Sonics could get him off their cap along with Earl Watson (two more years at $6.2M and $6.6M) in one fell swoop, they'd likely do it if they could get back expiring contracts and some kind of sweetener. Jason Williams, Dorell Wright and Ricky Davis for Wally and Watson is said to be in the works, by the way. And Miami could sweeten it with one or all of the three second-round picks it has in the upcoming draft (its own, Philadelphia's and Indiana's).

Samuel Dalembert, 76ers
All the speculation surrounding Philadelphia's next trade has centered around Andre Miller -- though we hear that Gordan Giricek will actually be the next player the Sixers move. But if Philadelphia is going to make a hard run at Elton Brand on the free-agent market this coming summer (assuming he opts out of his contract), the Sixers will need to clear Dalembert's $10.25 salary for next season off their books. Dalembert, though, also has a 7.5 percent trade kicker, which makes him very tough to move.

Theo Ratliff, Timberwolves
He makes the list not because of his talent, but because of his salary, $11.6 million, which comes off the books after this season.

Also, we expect him to take a buyout in late February and then sign with a team needing extra size -- perhaps Boston or Phoenix -- for the postseason.

Ben Wallace, Bulls
We could put anybody from the Bulls on this list, but Big Ben is the only one of them making beaucoup bucks. Also, his salary drops from $15.5M this year to $14.5M and then $14M over the next two seasons.

Again, just a thought: But wouldn't Wallace for Zach Randolph make sense for two teams that are more or less due to make another deal with each other?

01-17-2008, 11:12 PM

01-18-2008, 01:28 AM
If JO goes anywhere, it needs to be hear.

If Amare goes anywhere, and Kobe doesn't go to the Suns, the Suns are done.

01-18-2008, 06:31 AM
Amare for "The human technical" Sheed???

I would doubt the Suns sanity, if they do that.


01-18-2008, 12:45 PM
Harris and Bass (+ junk) for Kidd and KVH's contract for Shaq?


That would be interesting.

01-18-2008, 01:09 PM
Harris and Bass (+ junk) for Kidd and KVH's contract for Shaq?


That would be interesting.

If we added Shaq who's signed for $20 mil per next year and in '09, wouldn't that mean we wouldn't be able to afford to re-sign Diop who's a FA after the season? That would be really unfortunate if we lost Diop, not to mention if we lost Harris too while adding Kidd along with Shaq, we'd have a really old lineup.

01-18-2008, 01:21 PM
I've always been a fan of talented youth but when your superstar is in his prime you don't surround him with youth, you surround him with other players in their prime and just as hungry for a title. Kidd fits that bill. As for Shaq, who knows? I think he's broken down, but perhaps the thought of another championship might rejuvenate him... and as ludacris as us paying him that much seems to me it's Cubans money. I wouldn't blame him if he didn't want to risk it though.

And if we did get Shaq we might look to move Diop for something, maybe a real shooting guard. Who knows?

01-18-2008, 05:11 PM
(though you should not believe for a second Thomas' statement from last week that everyone on his team is untouchable).

Including team secretaries.