Lakers fire first big shot; will other contenders follow?
Posted: Friday February 1, 2008 7:06PM; Updated: Friday February 1, 2008 7:17PM
The dominoes are falling as teams make moves to fortify themselves for the second half of the season.
Earlier this week, Chris Webber (Warriors), Damon Stoudamire (Spurs) and Earl Boykins (Bobcats) agreed to sign with new teams. While those three free agents aren't likely to make a big difference, they won't just be glorified towel wavers either.
Webber could come in handy for the Warriors when the game slows down and they need a big man in the half court. Stoudamire gives the Spurs a much-needed steady backup point guard, especially with Tony Parker hobbled with a heel injury. (Plus, his signing keeps him away from the rival Suns). Boykins should help solidify a shaky Bobcats backcourt, bolstering their efforts to make the playoffs in the mushy East.
Those moves, however proved to be mere appetizers for this week's main course. The Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies on Friday, a trade that I analyzed here. It's a big move for the Lakers that comes three weeks before the trade deadline.
Speaking of the Feb. 21 deadline, it's a hot topic in the latest mailbag:
Is there any truth to those rumors about a three-way trade involving the Nets, Mavs and Blazers? Dallas would get Kidd, New Jersey would get Jerry Stackhouse, Jarrett Jack, Travis Outlaw and Channing Frye (as well as draft picks), and Portland would get Devin Harris and Brandon Bass. What do you think?
I've heard various forms of this deal for days now (e.g., with Sergio Rodriguez as one possibility, instead of Outlaw), and I can't help but be skeptical. It smells like something floated by the Nets to drive up Kidd's price. When I asked one Western Conference general manager about it, he just laughed. He said he seriously doubted that the Blazers would do anything to disrupt their chemistry right now. Jack and Outlaw have been huge off the bench for Portland. Meanwhile, Steve Blake has been effective as a high-assist, low-turnover starting point guard. Harris is a rising star, but he also has a five-year, $43 contract extension that will kick in next season. Maybe Portland does something like this after the season, but not right now.
If New Jersey trades Kidd to the Western Conference, does he start for the West in the All-Star Game? Does he make the team at all? What are the rules in this scenario?
Good question. According to an NBA spokesman, "A decision would have to be made." Apparently there is no precedent. Last year Allen Iverson got to keep his vote totals after he was traded from the Sixers to the Nuggets. But his trade came before the fan balloting had been completed. In this case, the West squad already would have been announced. My guess is that Kidd would either be added to the West as a 13th player, or perhaps allowed to suit up for the East as a "grandfather" exception.
Is there any chance the Pacers will trade Jermaine O'Neal? I think it's time for him to go.
The Pacers won't say it publicly, but it's widely believed that Indiana would trade him in a heartbeat for the right package. The problem is that O'Neal is out indefinitely with a knee injury. It is highly doubtful any team would trade for a player whose availability for the rest of the season is uncertain. Plus, O'Neal's contract status (he can opt out of the final two years of his deal after the season) and history of injuries will give any team pause before pulling the trigger on him.
The Celtics could really use a backup point guard to go with Rajon Rondo. I would love to see them get Sam Cassell, a guy who knows how to run a team and has two championship rings. I've heard they passed on Stoudamire because they really want Sam I Am. Is there any chance of this happening?
The Clippers are going nowhere this season, and it is likely they would give up Cassell for the right price. And, like you say, his savvy playmaking and big-shot ability would be huge for Boston. Kevin Garnett is also said to be pushing for Cassell, his former teammate in Minnesota. The problem is that the Celtics don't appear to have any pieces the Clippers would want in a trade. Boston might have to hope Cassell gets waived, but that seems unlikely given L.A. owner Donald Sterling's reputation. One Eastern Conference executive told me recently that he doubted Sterling would buy out Cassell's contract.
What are the chances that C-Webb will bring to the Bay Area the "curse" that followed his career? Would he end up as the scapegoat if GSW didn't qualify for the playoffs?
I don't know if it's a curse, but Webber certainly has had his share of misfortune in his career (the timeout in the '93 NCAA title game, the feud with Don Nelson during his rookie year, the pot bust, the knee injury, the lying to a grand jury). Still, I don't see him getting blamed if this latest move doesn't pan out. If the Warriors don't make the playoffs, it will be because Baron Davis gets injured again or they completely stop playing defense. It won't be because Webber disrupts their chemistry.
How can you list Tim Duncan as a center on your midseason All-NBA first team? If he doesn't get on the All-Star ballot as a center, he shouldn't get the nod above Amaré Stoudemire. You should have to drop one of your other forwards.
I actually thought about that when I was making my picks. It does seem unfair that Duncan would get to have it both ways. But in this case, I was looking at strictly the All-NBA team, which allows voters some leeway in designating a player's position.
What's up with Steve Nash lovefest STILL? You have him ahead of Chris Paul on both your MVP ballot and your first-team All-NBA squad. What gives? Chris has had a better year and has a team with less talent playing better basketball. Time to start looking at the facts instead of blindly following.
It was basically a toss-up. You can't go wrong with either guy. Both guys have been phenomenal in leading their respective teams to the top. But Nash does lead the league in assists, and he's been doing it for a lot longer than CP3. When in doubt between two roughly equal players, doesn't it make sense to go with the guy who is more established?
Doesn't Chris Paul remind you of Kevin Johnson? Even his current Hornets seem to have some similarities with the old Suns.
He reminds me more of Isiah Thomas. Paul just has that same body type, and like Zeke back in the day, he is a maestro on the dribble and at jetting into the paint. It's easy to forget how great Thomas was in his heyday. Maybe it's because of all his problems as an executive. As for KJ, believe it or not, he is reportedly considering making a run for mayor of Sacramento.