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OutletPass
02-07-2003, 02:48 PM
The All-Star Game has become the NBA's defacto meeting ground to discuss trades leading up to the Feb. 20 deadline. GMs huddle together over dinner, coffee, and, in Jerry Krause's case, in low-lit back alleys, trying to put together a deal. Last season, Krause and Donnie Walsh started discussing the eventual Jalen Rose for Ron Artest and Brad Miller swap at the All-Star Game. Two years ago it was Larry Brown hooking up with Pete Babcock to pull off the Dikembe Mutombo-Theo Ratliff swap.

This year?

Here's the latest from Atlanta.

Suddenly, Hawks talk is grounded

The trade talk surrounding the Hawks has cooled in recent days. The Spurs aren't going to make a trade for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and the Sonics are stuck in a holding pattern.

Seattle is interested in adding Rahim but is worried about the luxury tax ramifications. If the Sonics added Rahim, then re-sign Payton to a three-year deal for roughly $10 million a season, they'd be well above the luxury-tax threshold. It won't get any better in 2004, when Desmond Mason is up for his contract extension. If the Sonics believe a combination of Payton, Mason, Rashard Lewis, Abdur-Rahim and their gaggle of 7-foot stiffs are enough to compete with the Lakers, Mavs and Kings, they should pull the trigger. If it isn't, what's the point in spending that kind of money?

One question everyone is asking? Why aren't the Lakers getting involved in the Rahim sweepstakes? A combination of Robert Horry, Tracy Murray and Samaki Walker (contracts all expiring this summer) would be enough to get the deal done. Rahim is the elusive, versatile, young third option the Lakers have been searching for. While Rahim looks like he'll never be a go-to guy, he's the perfect complement to Shaq and Kobe.

The Sixers are facing similar money issues. Larry Brown would love to get his hands on Theo Ratliff, but Sixers owner Ed Snider is asking tough questions. Will the addition of Ratliff, who has a history of injuries, be enough to propel the Sixers into the Finals? The answer is probably no. While the Sixers do need a shot blocker and a rebounder, that's only one of their problems. They still lack any consistent perimeter game, and the chemistry between the core is already shaky. As much as Larry Brown wants to tinker, if he can't convince Snider & Co. that a move will seriously improve the Sixers' chances, they're better off keeping Derrick Coleman, letting his contract expire this summer and getting under the luxury-tax threshold next summer.

While Jason Terry is getting some initial interest, the Hawks won't move him unless someone takes on another big salary (read: Alan Henderson's), as well. Considering Terry will be looking for a big contract this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent, teams are loathe to put that much money into a Terry-Henderson combination.


Teams want to try on the Glove

Of all of the All-Star participants, expect Sonics guard Gary Payton to get the most attention from GMs looking for the final piece of the puzzle.

Teams will be looking for a couple of things from Payton while he's here. First, there's been talk Payton, at age 34, is finally showing signs of slowing down. After getting off to a torrid start this season, Payton hit a little lull in January. He's picked up his game again recently, but teams are always trying to get a handle on how much a guy has left in his tank. Two, everyone wants to know where he'd be willing to play next season. No one wants to give up the goods for a rental.

Here's what one Eastern Conference executive told me from the lobby of the Marriott in Atlanta. "I think he's available if you're willing to pay out the nose for him. The ongoing feud he's had with Howard Schultz has hurt his standing more than he realizes. Schultz was the guy who put the brakes on [Sonics vice president] Wally Walker from trading him last season. The big question on everyone's mind is, what does he want to do next season? At his price tag there has to be some sort of guarantee that he's going to re-sign."

Payton told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last night that he's expecting to be wooed by some teams and players here in Atlanta. Expect a pretty intense feeling-out process from several teams in the hunt for that missing piece. But the question remains, would Payton agree to re-sign with any team that isn't the Sonics?

"Whatever happens is fine," Payton told the Seattle Times. "If something jumps off and it's a good team that I want to go to, then we'll think about it. It's not totally my decision, but I don't think a team will trade for me (if) I'm not going to be there (after the season)."

Miller not Jazzed to be a Clipper

Still trying to figure out what's wrong with Clippers point guard Andre Miller? I bumped into a source close to Miller just outside the Champs sports bar here in Atlanta last night, and he shed some light on the situation.

Apparently Miller is despondent with the situation in L.A. "He didn't believe any place could be as messed up as Cleveland was," the source said. "But he was wrong. No one is on the same page there, and he feels like there isn't anything he can do about it. Everyone has their own agendas. There's a lot of talent there, but everyone's going in different directions."

The source also said that the style of ball the Clippers play hasn't really meshed with Miller. He's especially suffered since Lamar Odom returned and took over some of the ball handling duties. So what are the chances that Miller re-signs with the Clippers this summer?
"Zero," the source said. "He knows they won't match a big offer, and he's pretty sure that at least Utah will come in with something big this summer. He'd love to play with Jerry Sloan. He isn't a real vocal leader. He thinks having a real disciplined coach and system will be perfect for what he brings to the floor. I'd be shocked if he isn't a member of the Jazz next season."

Clips GM Elgin Baylor, in an interview with the O.C. Register last night, seemed to echo those words.

"Miller has not played as well as he is capable of playing, and I'm not sure why. It could be that he's getting adjusted to the system. It could be that he has things on his mind. I know that he was concerned about his step-dad (who died Jan. 17). But he's a better player than what he's shown, and I'm sure that eventually he'll come around."

Speaking of the Clippers, don't expect Elton Brand to be a big player in the free agent market this summer. Brand's camp, led by agent David Falk, is concerned the Clippers do intend to give Brand a big offer. The problem is, Falk feels they won't give any money to anyone else. The last thing Brand wants is to be stuck in a long-term deal with a team with no hope of competing for a championship.

Falk is going to insist that owner Donald Sterling re-sign several other players first. If that doesn't happen, Brand won't risk signing an offer sheet from another team. If the Clippers' matched (like the Cavs did with Ricky Davis in Cleveland) he'd be stuck. Instead, expect Brand to sign the team's one-year tender (just like Michael Olowokandi did last summer) and become an unrestricted free agent in 2004.


Peep Show

Dallas Mavericks: Owner Mark Cuban is putting his boot down on all these trade rumors surrounding his team. Nick Van Exel is not being traded to the New York Knicks. Neither is Raef LaFrentz. In his words: "I wouldn't trade either of them for Kurt [Thomas] or [Latrell] Spree."

New Jersey Nets: The sun came up this morning, Kenyon Martin's knee is only sprained and the Nets still have a season to look forward to. After taking a magnetic resonance imaging exam Thursday morning on the knee he tweaked Wednesday night in the victory against the Sixers, Martin was told by doctors that nothing was broken or tore or worse, to which he responded to reporters: "I want to play every game this year," and, when asked when he'd return: "How long is the break?"

San Antonio Spurs: San Antonio may have won the battle last Thursday against the Denver Nuggets but, at the same time, lost the war. Starting guard Stephen Jackson left the game in the first quarter with a severely sprained right ankle before his backup, Manu Ginobili, injured the same body part 20 minutes later and was escorted from the floor. It was the same injury that sidelined him for 11 games already this season. "Losing Jack and Manu was the worst part of the night," coach Greg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News. "They're such a big part of what we do." The full extent of each player's injury is not yet known, but Jackson did have this to say: "I have no idea how it happened. But I've never had an ankle sprain this bad."

Seattle SuperSonics: First, (well, first this time, anyways) Gary Payton said he never wanted to talk to Sonic owner Howard Shultz again, or something to that effect, after what he believed was an in insult in negotiations to extend the all star's contract which expires this season. Then, Payton has his agent call Schultz's man, general manager Rick Sund, to set up a meeting. Sund refuses to deliver the message, saying Payton should Shultz himself. Needless to say, Payton hasn't as of yet, but did comment on being traded, instead: "Whatever happens is fine," Payton told the Seattle Times. "If something jumps off and it's a good team that I want to go to, then we'll think about it. It's not totally my decision, but I don't think a team will trade for me [if] I'm not going to be there [after the season]

Blonde Bomber
02-07-2003, 03:23 PM
Thanks for the info OutletPass...much appreciatedi/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif

I would love for the Mavs to somehow get into some of these fire sales that are going on around the league, but I know we just don't have the right pieces to give back in returni/expressions/face-icon-small-sad.gif

LRB
02-07-2003, 03:34 PM
Thanks for the article OP. Hopefully Cubes' statement will quelsh these stoopid NY trade rumors and we can leave off the trade threads for Thomas and Sprewell. If the Big Guy don't want them, it won't happen. It's just kind of nice that I dont' want them as well. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

centrlpark08
02-07-2003, 06:29 PM
Thanks OP, this is interesting as it gets closer and closer to the deadline. I would like to hear some big names going to and wearing a different uniforms.

jayC
02-07-2003, 10:18 PM
I would do anything to try to steal Rahim from La. They become scary with him. As far as the NY thing they think that everyone is coming to NY. I admit Thomas was intriguing. He didn't dismiss any trades all together though.

FlyinGK22
02-07-2003, 10:44 PM
<< Dallas Mavericks: Owner Mark Cuban is putting his boot down on all these trade rumors surrounding his team. Nick Van Exel is not being traded to the New York Knicks. Neither is Raef LaFrentz. In his words: &quot;I wouldn't trade either of them for Kurt [Thomas] or [Latrell] Spree.&quot; >>



I wouldnt either. Kurt isnt that good.