View Full Version : Vecsey

02-20-2003, 12:36 AM
February 19, 2003 -- HOOP DU JOUR

OMINOUS trade clouds casing Latrell Sprewell are drifting back and forth as tomorrow's 3 p.m. deadline sadistically approaches.

According to sources, the 76ers have dropped their placid pursuit of the Knicks' most popular player, whom they were never sure they could acquire for Keith Van Horn.

Their decision to seek assistance elsewhere for Allen Iverson, I'm told, is based on a couple of indisputable factors: As much as Larry Brown values Sprewell, he can't see giving up his team's leading rebounder for a guy who only averages one fewer board (3.3) at small forward than A.I. and Eric Snow each do at the guard position. The problem with playing Sprewell at guard is it would further diminish Aaron McKie's minutes and effectiveness.

Don't get me wrong. If Pat Riley is able to weasel his way into the murky mix, there's still a real possibility Sprewell (currently earning $12.3 million with two guaranteed years to go) may become an ex-Knick and Van Horn ($12.07M, three left) could wind up in New York. Miami's warden, discloses a Heat hearing aide, is trying to tempt Philly with Brian Grant ($11.03M, four remaining) in a three-way transaction; Brown craves toughness (I'm not sure Grant qualifies), which is why they are committed to signing hombre George McCloud.

Why would the Heat want a duplicate of Eddie Jones or Caron Butler, depending on where Spree was deployed? Perhaps it would provide Riley with the flexibility, (sheer educated speculation on my part) to deal Jones to the Bulls for damaged Marcus Fizer ($2.94M, one left), Jamal Crawford ($2.03M, one left) and Eddie Robinson ($5.69M, three left), and renovate one-third of the roster on the run while getting distinctly younger.

Does Van Horn have the raw onions to perform at a high level on a nightly basis on New York's main stage and endure its severe media scrutiny? Not from what we've gathered during his tour in New Jersey.

Does Scott Layden think it's worth the risk to weed the crowd-pleasing, under-sized Sprewell from James Dolan's Garden and plant the 6-10 Van Horn at his natural frontcourt location? Your guess is as good as mine. Only Layden's priest (who, like many of us, prefers Grant over Van Horn) knows for sure.

The three above teams aren't the only ones exhibiting a big appetite to shake things up. Salary cap and luxury tax constraints notwithstanding, plenty of executives, some whose jobs are in jeopardy, are determined to make changes.

For example, sources from several sectors inform me that discussions were initiated yesterday involving five clubs - Orlando, Indiana, Golden State, Philly and the Knicks - and many of the usual suspects whose names have cropped up often.

The way I hear it, the Knicks would get Erick Dampier and Austin Croshere; the Pacers would get Charlie Ward, Brian Skinner and Mark Pope; the Magic would get Danny Fortson and Othella Harrington; the Sixers would get Adonal Foyle and Bob Sura; and the Warriors would get Andrew DeClercq, Darrell Armstrong, Travis Knight and Derrick Coleman.

For whatever it's worth (nobody's saying it's going to happen), everything works contractually. If you're judging equality (re-distribution of talent), at first glance, the Warriors seem to get the shaft.

A more insightful look may change your perspective. Why would the Warriors give up their three big men? Because the only one they truly treasure is Foyle and he'll always be a backup. Dampier is inordinately expendable and it's absolutely essential to move Fortson, arguably the strongest forward in captivity.

The Warriors are desperate to clear cap space - Fortson's owed $24M over next four years, Dampier $25M for three, Foyle $4.4M for one and Sura $6.5M for one. That's the only way they'll be able to re-sign Gilbert Arenas (above the $4.5M mid-level exception) and, maybe, have some spare paper to recruit a 7-foot free agent. FYI: The contracts of Coleman, Armstrong and DeClercq expire at season's end.