February 18, 2009

The deadline approaches

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

With the NBA trade deadline happening and the world in a financial mess, Thursday could be a very interesting day for basketball. A lot of teams will be interested in shedding players because of their contracts more so than their play on the court. With the salary cap looking like it will be decreasing next season, GMs and owners could be in quite the pickle since most players are locked into contracts that increase over every season.

Look at the deals that have already happened: Tyson Chandler to Oklahoma City and Sam Cassell to the Kings.

The New Orleans Hornets, an outside contender that could potentially make the NBA finals with a few lucky bounces, dealt away their best interior defender. And they didn’t even get that much in return — other than some financial relief. It’s not like Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox aren’t decent players, but they’re not the types that you want to have big roles on your team and now, because they’ve shipped off their lone seven-footer, the two incoming bigs will be put in that situation.

So what is this deal telling the fans of the people of New Orleans and fans of Hornets everywhere? That they’re giving up on this season – despite being arguably the sixth best team in the league – because they wanted a little room to breathe financially next year? I’m not sure about you, but I’d be more inclined to see a championship-calibre team instead of one that won’t get out of the second round.

Then there’s the case of Sam Cassell, who is well past his prime but is capable of playing a few minutes and brings some minor leadership qualities. He was dealt for a draft pick yesterday by Boston. Well, actually, that isn’t correct; he was dealt for a conditional second-round draft pick. Wait, there’s another key detail to that: The pick is for the 2015 draft. That’s right, Sam Cassell was dealt for a pick that’s six years down the road. Does anybody else remember how happy Celtics fans were to sign him last year around this time?

And now there’s the ever-flowing amount of rumours that anybody with an imagination and a medium can throw on the internet. Here’s a few that I’ve found floating around…

-Vince Carter to the Rockets? Well this particular iteration won’t go through because his cousin – also involved in the deal, Tracy McGrady – needs surgery and is done for the season. I don’t see why the Cavs aren’t pushing harder for VC, he would fit that team really well.

-Oh, that’s because the Cavaliers are after Antawn Jamison. Cleveland has that nice expiring contract of Wally Szczerbiak to deal and there’s no time better to do it than now. Jamison would have a lot of space to move around and slash with LeBron on the floor but the Wizards are talking like they want to keep ‘Tawn for next year when their team is (hopefully) healthy and have a good lottery pick to add.

-Now, in the latest saga of the Amare Stoudemire possible deals, he could be involved in a trade with Toronto that sends Chris Bosh packing. Let’s just stop that one right there. Both Toronto and Phoenix have made two key additions in the past week, so why would they blow up their teams before seeing what they really have? If the Raps had more time to evaluate how CB4 and the Shawn Marion play together or how Phoenix fares going back to their running style, then a deal might have some legs.

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