View Full Version : Western Conference Trade Talk - ESPN Insider

01-09-2003, 01:37 AM
The Article:

"Monday, we broke down five teams in the East that are looking to wheel and deal before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. Now it's time to turn our gaze to the West, where the Warriors, Clippers, Grizzlies, Sonics and Blazers must make some crucial decisions about the future of their franchises.

Last season saw several blockbuster trades happen right before the trade deadline. Of course, the prevailing sentiment right now is that teams want to wait to get closer to the Feb. 20 trade deadline before making commitments. But expect to hear a lot of wild stuff over the next six weeks. Insider has been poking around the league for the past week, looking for where the trade action will be this winter. . .

Will the Warriors finally clean house?

It's tough to be a fan of Garry St. Jean and the Warriors after years of ineptitude, but last summer, the franchise finally got something right. Hiring new head coach Eric Musselman has almost single handily revitalized the franchise.

Without any major personnel additions, the Warriors are showing signs of life. Antawn Jamison is rebounding nicely from a woeful campaign last year. Erick Dampier finally is resembling the center the Warriors hoped he'd be when they traded for him six seasons ago. And Gilbert Arenas has developed into a potential star and, more importantly, into a pretty nice point guard.

Most of the credit has to go to Musselman, whose combination of unorthodox motivational techniques and tireless effort have inspired a team that was in desperate need of inspiration. The Warriors are no longer the Washington Generals. And, if you're a long suffering Warriors fan, right now that's enough.

But Musselman is capable of much more. He was a successful GM in the CBA and has a good feel for what it will take to take this team past respectability into contention. Will St. Jean listen? The Warriors, with their boat load of young talent, could be one of the most active teams at this year's trading deadline if Musselman gets his way. But St. Jean will have to eat a rather large slice of humble pie to make his coach happy.

The truth is no one on this team is safe. Jamison is a base-year player, making him almost impossible to move. And Musselman has no desire to move either of his big men, Dampier and Adonal Foyle. Together, they are one of the most lethal shot blocking duos in the league. That's tough to replace.

But after that, anyone is fair game, including the team's last two lottery picks, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Jason Richardson. The problem with Dunleavy is that his style of play doesn't fit the team, and as long as Jamison is around, he isn't going to see much time at his natural position, small forward.

Richardson is more complicated. The team still believes that he has wonderful upside, but the more he plays, the more the flaws in his game are exposed. Richardson spends way to much time trying to knock down jumpers on the perimeter. He rarely puts the ball on the floor and doesn't get to the free throw line like the team would like him too. He's a poor man's Vince Carter, but given the state of Carter and the Raptors right now, that's really not saying much.

And then there's Arenas. The team loves him but knows it may be difficult to re-sign him this summer. Arenas will be a restricted free agent, and because the Warriors are over the cap, they can only match an offer up to the mid-level exception. If he is offered more, and the Nuggets seem to be hot on his trail, the Warriors will lose him for nothing.

Of course, Danny Fortson can be had for a just about anything. Bobby Sura and Chris Mills have relatively cheap contracts if they need to be included for salary-cap reasons.

So what can the Warriors do? Priority No. 1 one is finding a home for Fortson. He's racking up DNP's with regularity now. For a guy who was ranked fourth in the NBA in rebounding, he's been very patient. He won't stay that way forever. If the Warriors can't get something done by February, he could start causing a ruckus. With five years remaining on his contract, that's the last thing the Warriors need. The Warriors will have to sweeten the pot to get a deal done for Fortson.

Where could he wind up? The Bulls might be willing to part with Jamal Crawford, Marcus Fizer and Eddie Robinson in return for Fortson and Dunleavy. The Sonics need low-post muscle and would consider swapping Calvin Booth straight up for Fortson. The Blazers have shown interest in Fortson as well, though with their recent hot streak, they may be loathe to add another combustible personality to the mix.

The Grizzlies could be another potential trading partner. Jerry West coveted Dunleavy during the draft and could be able to piece something together that would send Stromile Swift and Shane Battier to the Warriors in return for Dunleavy and Troy Murphy. Battier fits Musselman's frantic style, and Swift is the type of athletic low-post player the Warriors have been searching for.

Jerry's Big Deal

Jerry West promised us some big draft-night wheeling and dealing, but when the smoke cleared the Grizzlies had promising rookie Drew Gooden in the fold and a couple of international free agents few had heard of. The additions of Gooden and rookie Gordan Giricek have both proved to be savvy moves, but we expect more from Jerry.

Now that he and new coach Hubie Brown have had some time to evaluate the talent on this team, will the Grizzlies stumble out of hibernation and get more aggressive as the trade deadline hits? There's very little incentive for the Grizz to under-perform this season. The Pistons will get Memphis' first-round pick unless it happens to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Grizzlies do pick up Houston's first-round pick, but the way the Rockets are playing, that probably won't be in the lottery.

The Grizzlies are capped out for a couple more years, meaning if they want to make a major jump in the standings, they'll have to do it via trade. There are plenty of candidates.

Stromile Swift has been on the block since the moment West walked in the door. Despite all the nice stories you keep reading about Jason Williams being Hubie's right-hand man, the Grizzlies would move Williams in a heartbeat. Shane Battier is expendable. Lorenzen Wright is available if they can get another big man in return. And there's even suggestions around the league that Pau Gasol is available if someone is willing to take Williams with him in a package deal.

The most talked about potential deal of the summer, Swift for the Magic's Mike Miller, doesn't look like it's going to happen. With Grant Hill day-to-day for the rest of the season, the Magic feel that they can't afford to lose Miller. Swift for Mike Dunleavy makes more sense, but right now the Warriors would want more than just Swift.

The floodgates really open if West and Brown decide that Gooden, not Gasol, is their power forward of the future. Gasol is so coveted, one GM told Insider, that West likely would have his pick of any top young prospect in the NBA with the exception of Yao Ming and Amare Stoudemire. Why would the Grizzlies move him if he's so good?

The problem is the Grizzlies need help almost everywhere, but their two-most promising players happen to play the same position. Eventually, Gooden may be able to move to small forward (he's struggled there so far) or Gasol may be able to move to center (he'll need to add another 30 pounds). Is West that patient?

In six weeks we'll know the answer.

Will the Clips abandon ship?

How high were expectations for the Clippers this season?

GM Elgin Baylor had to address the media Monday to explain that coach Alvin Gentry's 12-22 record wasn't enough to get him fired. In any normal Clippers season, 12 victories by Jan. 1st would be considered a coup.

But this year is different. The Clippers have as much young talent as any team in the league. They have three all-star-caliber starters and three other players who have that potential. The Clippers came up just short in its bid for the playoffs last season and most experts felt that the addition of point guard Andre Miller would put them over the top.

The Clippers' poor play prompted Baylor to address the team Monday. He even went over some videotape with the players to point out what the team is doing wrong.

"We brought up certain issues, certain things, that we're not doing as a team," Baylor told the L.A. Daily News. "I think they're basic, fundamental things. There is nothing extraordinary that they have to do. They have to defend the pick-and-roll, block out, a lot of basic things."

Isn't that supposed to be Gentry's job? Baylor was quick to dispel rumors that the organization is considering firing Gentry and replacing him with assistant Dennis Johnson. However, he didn't let Gentry off the hook completely.

When asked if he was considering any coaching or personnel changes, Baylor responded, "At this point and time, no. We expect to get better."

"When you look at your rotation of eight and nine guys, and each game you have three or four guys out, of course it makes a difference," Baylor said. "But I just think we have enough depth to be able to cover for the injuries. That's why we have those players here. We're just not playing well. We're not playing good basketball."

While Clippers aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they will have to go 33-15 the rest of way to finish 45-37 and have a legitimate chance to make the postseason. As talented as this team is, that may be too much to ask.

All of this leaves Baylor in a very difficult position. Almost every key player on this team is hitting the free-agent market this summer. Owner Donald Sterling has never forked out the cash to re-sign a top player. Baylor was hoping that a stellar performance this season would convince Sterling it was time to pay up. Now that the Clipps are stumbling, does anyone honestly expect Sterling to start writing $80 million checks to guys like Michael Olowokandi and Miller?

If Baylor is lucky, Sterling will pay to keep one or two of these players around. The top candidate to get the cash is Elton Brand, the Clippers' steady center. Ironically, right behind him is the Clippers' most enigmatic player, Lamar Odom. Odom is a Sterling favorite. Baylor feels that he has more talent than anyone on the team. Off-the-court issues and injury problems have limited his effectiveness the past year, but now that Odom's back, it's clear who the floor leader of the team is. If Odom stays healthy and drug free, expect them to do what it takes to keep him around.

That leaves Miller, Olowokandi and forward Corey Maggette as the odd men out. In Olowokandi's case, his fate was probably sealed last summer when the two sides couldn't come to terms on a long-term deal. The Kandi man was furious with the Clippers' offers and has sworn that he won't be back. Olowkandi took the Clippers one year tender, meaning that he can't be traded this season. Unless the Clipps can work out a sign-and-trade this summer, he's gone.

Miller and Maggette will both be restricted free agents this summer, which makes things a little more interesting. Sterling won't have the money to give them the big contracts they'll likely command. The Clippers could try to orchestrate a sign-and-trade this summer, but it's risky. If Miller or Maggette get an offer sheet, they could bolt and leave the Clippers with nothing.

That scenario has led to speculation that Miller and Maggette may be available now. With the strong play of rookie Marko Jaric, Keyon Dooling and the ball handling skills of Odom, some in the organization feel that Miller is expendable. Maggette's game has also blossomed, but he's a man without a position as long as Odom's healthy. Quentin Richardson's name has also come up in recent trade speculation.

The question on everyone's mind is not whether Miller and Maggette are available, but will the Clippers actually pull the trigger? The organization has a reputation of dangling players, but never committing to anything.

If Baylor can get a promising young big man to replace Olowokandi, he'll more than likely pull the trigger. If he can't, this year's Clippers, like so many teams before them, will never be anything more than a big tease.

Sonics dilemma: Now or Later?

The Sonics are stuck in neutral. Whether they hit the gas or throw it in reverse is a question on just about everyone's mind these days.

The team was supposed to be in rebuilding mode this season, but strong play by Gary Payton, Rashard Lewis and third-year guard Desmond Mason has them winning games. Enough games, in fact, to qualify for the playoffs. But not enough to make them a serious threat to the top contenders in the West.

With Payton getting older, and several of their younger players maturing, Wally Walker and company have a difficult dilemma in front of them. The team is probably a power forward away from being a serious threat in the West. However, if they pull the trigger on a trade in February, the team will lose some much-needed cap flexibility this summer.

The dilemma, as does most things in Seattle, centers on the future of Payton. The Sonics decided to ignore Payton's requests for a contract extension this summer, and Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin, has promised that they'll pay. The team maintains that it wants Payton to retire as a Sonic, but owner Howard Schultz has been wooing free agent Jason Kidd for over a year.

If the Sonics are convinced that they can land Kidd, they'd be crazy to do anything now. If they're not (and they shouldn't be), it makes sense for them to start thinking about this year. The Lakers are vulnerable. The Kings and Mavs are great, but they aren't unbeatable. A tough low-post rebounder and defender would solve almost all of the team's problems. And the Sonics wouldn't have to give up much in return.

The Sonics have the silver bullet when it comes to trade talks. They have Kenny Anderson, a $9 million a year point guard, sitting on the bench. Anderson is in the last year of his contract, making his trade value as high as just about any all-star in the league.

Teams like the Heat, Pacers, Bucks, Raptors, T-Wolves, Warriors, Grizzlies and Wizards would bend over backwards to get their hands on him. Not only does Anderson have the ability to help a team in the playoff hunt right now, he almost guarantees that it'll be a player in the hot 2004 free-agent market.

Decent low-post veterans like Brian Grant, Lorenzen Wright, Kurt Thomas, Danny Fortson and Antonio Davis or young studs like Kwame Brown, Stromile Swift,and Tim Thomas are there for the taking. All Walker has to do is make up his mind.

Will Trader Bob strike again?

The Blazers are here on reputation alone.

Over the next six weeks you'll see the Blazers attached to almost every trade. Why? Paul Allen can afford to make stupid deals and Bob Whitsitt has a history of pulling the trigger before Allen comes to his senses.

But, finally, the team is living up to its potential. Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells have emerged as leaders. Players such as Derek Anderson, Dale Davis and Scottie Pippen have accepted their roles. Young players like Zach Randolph and Qyntel Woods are emerging. And even Damon Stoudamire has managed to keep his mouth relatively shut on the end of the bench.

Coach Maurice Cheeks said he no longer worries about doling out playing time, a task that had become a chore earlier in the season, when he found himself spending more time calculating who had played how many minutes than coaching the game.

"It's not about how hard it is to figure out," Cheeks told the Oregonian. "We have guys who can play, and even the guys who don't play can play. We have found a rhythm and we are sticking with that."

Why mess with a good thing? Because that's what Whitsitt does.

The Blazers certainly have an excess of talent to move. They'd love to be rid of Stoudamire once and for all. Stoudamire told N.Y. reporters on Sunday that he was still holding out for a trade.

"That would be great," Stoudamire told the N.Y. Post. "I would love to play here. New York has always been the Mecca of basketball to me, and if that would happen, I would look forward to that."

He's not the only weak link on the team. Jeff McInnis and Antonio Daniels have managed to underwhelm just about everyone. Dale Davis is more trouble than he's worth. And Ruben Patterson is about one more stupid move away from jail time.

Do any of those guys have enough juice to spur any type of major trade interest? Hardly. The guys everyone wants, Wallace, Randolph and Wells (he's a base-year player), aren't available. Given Stoudamire's huge contract, McInnis' major ego and Patterson's enormous rap sheet, the Blazers, for once, may just stay pat."

01-09-2003, 01:55 AM
What no mention of Raef???i/expressions/face-icon-small-disgusted.gif Just who are the morons writing this stuff. Don't they read this board???i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

OP: Thanks for breaking another great article for all of us lazy people to enjoy without having to search for it.

01-09-2003, 03:54 AM
Out of all the names mentioned, I would just be interested in Paul, Wright and Foyle.

01-09-2003, 09:24 AM
Gasol and Dunleavy would be very interesting prospects, along with Miller and Kandi.

As far as Dallas would be concerned, Dunleavy would probably be a better fit. But hard to see what they'd be able to offer for him.

If LaF plays poorly he has no trade value. If he continues to improve, they'll be tempted to keep him.

NVE has less value in GS, I'd think.

Beyond that tough to imagine who'd be of interest to the Warriors. Wish the Mavs had kept Wang, if for nothing else, his value in a trade. Mavs might have to go with a 3-team snag Dunleavy.

01-09-2003, 01:05 PM
LRB - They did mention Raef in another article, but that was just to shoot down that article from the NY papers regarding KT.

As to Dunleavy, I wouldn't mind having him here, he's improved a lot since the beginning of the season, but I don't know who we give up either. If "le Roi's" contract is for 2-3 years (still uncertain), Dunleavy becomes less of a fit.

Just heard an interview with Nellie earlier this morning...sounded VERY happy...and also mentioned that Askrabic is pretty much a done deal for the summer...with Sekularic being ready the summer after that. If he's being truthful and it all comes to pass, looks like we've got a Euro invasion coming on.

01-09-2003, 01:52 PM
I certainly don't mind any of the aforementioned Euros coming in....they are good players.

01-09-2003, 01:54 PM
<< Got Guru? >>

About one too many. ;-)

The Crippler
01-09-2003, 04:36 PM
give me maggette to play Sf here and we would be set for years.