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Wizards, Nuggets pull deadline stunner

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The Nuggets sent Nene to Washington for JaVale McGee, among other pieces. (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

What a bold move from the Denver Nuggets: One of the great NBA stories of the last calendar year, a team that thrived without Carmelo Anthony, has traded its centerpiece player to the Washington Wizards in a three-team deal that netted them an expiring contract and the league’s most enigmatic young center in JaVale McGee. The Wizards will now take on the remaining four-plus seasons of the $65 million deal Nene signed with Denver just a few short months ago, and in order to make the salary cap math work, the Wizards sent Nick Young to the Clippers.

Let’s start in Los Angeles, because our stay will be brief: This is a very nice move for the Clippers. They get a true 6-foot-6 shooting guard who has often swung to small forward in smaller Washington lineups. Young is a catch-and-shoot gunner with shot-selection issues, but he’s also on a cheap expiring deal and thus presents little risk for the Clippers.

The Clippers have gone just 9-10 since Chauncey Billups suffered a season-ending Achilles tear, and they are so thin on the wing that they acquired Bobby Simmons, who was out of the NBA, and immediately inserted him into their rotation. Caron Butler had no other backup, and teams were attacking Mo Williams in the post when the Clippers played Williams alongside Chris Paul. Young is bigger than Randy Foye, the Clips other alternative at shooting guard, and he’s a better shooter than Foye from two-point and three-point range. The Wizards need shooting, because none of their front-court players can shoot from the perimeter; add one so-so shooting guard, and the spacing gets tight.


Young isn’t perfect, but he’ll get the ball only when Paul chooses to give it to him, and he’s not as bad a defender as his shoot-first, shoot-always reputation suggests. The move provides important depth for the Clippers at virtually no cost. The Clippers sent Brian Cook to the Wizards and used a trade exception acquired in the original Chris Paul deal to fit Young’s salary. Read More…

  • Published On 6:07pm, Mar 15, 2012
  • The Blazers tank, the Rockets go big, the Lakers say goodbye

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    The Trail Blazers sent Marcus Camby (pictured) to Houston after shipping swingman Gerald Wallace to the Nets. (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The Blazers have given up on the season, having now traded two starters in the span of a few hours for precisely zero players who will provide much help this season. In their latest move, Portland traded Marcus Camby to the Rockets for Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn and a future second-round pick.

    This is all fine, Portland jokes aside. Camby and his $11 million expiring deal weren’t part of the long-term plan — a plan that got a boost Thursday, when the Blazers acquired a 2012 first-round pick from the Nets that will be theirs unless it falls within the top three of the draft. With Portland clearly surrendering, it’s possible the Blazers will now have two 2012 lottery picks to add to a decent collection of assets going forward: a franchise big in LaMarcus Aldridge, two solid wings in Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum (a restricted free agent this summer), an intriguing young guard in Elliot Williams and near max-level cap space to use this summer or beyond.

    Thabeet and Flynn will be unrestricted free agents after this season, and so the most likely outcome is Portland dumping both after getting a free 20-game look at two unfortunate lottery busts. Perhaps one of them will show some spunk over those 20 games; the Blazers certainly have openings at center and point guard, where Raymond Felton remains, despite Portland’s best efforts to dump him after a miserable 40-plus games in the PDX.


    As for Houston, this is a sound move, if not the splashy one the Rockets have been dying to make for years. Thabeet and Flynn have very little value around the league at this point, and the Rockets have managed to turn them into a second legitimate center to use when Samuel Dalembert is on the bench. Read More…

  • Published On 3:42pm, Mar 15, 2012
  • Nets get Gerald Wallace, but future still rests on Deron Williams

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    Gerald Wallace, who was shipped to the Nets, is likely to exercise his $9.5 million player option for next season. (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

    After Dwight Howard ended the Nets’ dream of pairing him with Deron Williams next season, the Nets have apparently gone to Plan B: mortgaging the future, at least a bit, in an attempt to please Williams by constructing a mid-level playoff team next season and chasing a star free agent again in the summer of 2013.

    New Jersey will acquire Gerald Wallace from the Trail Blazers in exchange for Mehmet Okur’s expiring contract, Shawne Williams and New Jersey’s first-round pick in the loaded 2012 draft, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

    A key detail here: The Nets’ pick is only top-three protected, which means the Blazers receive the pick if it falls in the No. 4 slot or lower. The Nets currently have the sixth-worst record in the league, and it will be borderline impossible for them to finish below Washington, Charlotte or New Orleans in the standings; an upward push for the 8th seed would seem more likely now that Wallace is a Net. The protection allows the Nets to keep the pick if they exceed expectations in the lottery, but they will mostly likely send the Blazers a pick in the 5-10 range.

    That’s a solid return for a Portland team in free-fall this season, and it allows it to slot Nicolas Batum in as its present and future starting small forward. Batum has been starting as the team’s nominal shooting guard of late, and that has created a log jam, given the presence of Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford and explosive second-year player Elliot Williams.

    Wallace has a $9.5 million player option for next season, which he’s very likely to exercise; his deal expires after that.

    Exchanging Wallace for Williams saves the Blazers about $6.4 million in salary for next season, and if Jamal Crawford declines his player option, Portland could have enough cap space to re-sign Batum at market price and have between $15 and $20 million in cap space left over. That’s not a bad place to be, especially if a certain max-level free agent point guard becomes available. The Blazers will have that cap space, plus a franchise big man in LaMarcus Aldridge, two solid wings in Batum and Matthews, some decent young pieces and (assuming Portland and New Jersey both miss the playoffs) two 2012 lottery picks. Again: Not bad. Read More…

  • Published On 2:38pm, Mar 15, 2012
  • Pacers land guard Leandro Barbosa

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    The Pacers got a solid bench addition in combo guard Leandro Barbosa. (Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The Pacers entered deadline day with about $14.3 million in cap space, the most in the league, meaning they could absorb salary up to that amount without sending out any player salary in return. They have decided to use more than half of that to swallow up Leandro Barbosa’s $7.6 million expiring contract in exchange for a second-round draft pick in order to (in theory) prop up an offense that has ranked as average or worse in points per possession all season.

    The move likely takes them out of the running for Chris Kaman, who earns almost exactly $14 million this season and would thus require the Pacers to move out several medium-sized salaries in order to take on Kaman and remain under the cap.

    Barbosa, a combo guard who can still score in isolation and via the pick-and-roll, will display some occasionally nutty shot selection and joins a crowded guard/wing rotation that already includes Darren Collison, Paul George, George Hill, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones (who can and does swing to small forward) and (until recently) Lance Stephenson. The Pacers really don’t know what kind of offense they’ll get from any of these guys on a night-to-night basis, and Barbosa simply adds another “roll the dice” piece to Frank Vogel’s arsenal.


    Barbosa is fading with age; he has attempted 5.1 long two-point jumpers per 40 minutes this season, by far the highest number of his career, and he has hit a horrid 28 percent of those shots. He doesn’t get to the rim as often as he used to. He will take at least one maddening off-the-dribble jumper while nearly falling out of bounds every game. At 6-foot-3, he is probably a below-average defender at this point and can struggle against the bigger and physical shooting guards in the league. Read More…

  • Published On 12:13pm, Mar 15, 2012
  • Deadline Day: Latest trade rumors

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    Howard officially staying: Orlando center Dwight Howard has agreed to return to the Magic next season, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. After reversing course numerous times in recent days and refusing to sign the necessary paperwork on Wednesday afternoon, Howard signed a waiver on the early termination option of his contract Thursday afternoon, thereby guaranteeing he will return for the final year of his deal (worth $19.5 million). His agent, Dan Fegan, was initially believed to be required to sign a separate document, as well, but sources say the NBA agreed to execute the waiver without any involvement from the agent. Specifically, it was a verification from the agent that no side deals were agreed upon as part of the ETO agreement. (Sam Amick,

    Nets won’t deal Williams: The New Jersey Nets are telling teams that they absolutely, positively will not move Deron Williams before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline even if Dwight Howard goes through with his stated intention to lock himself into the 2012-13 season of his current contract with the Orlando Magic. Sources with knowledge of New Jersey’s thinking told on Thursday morning that the Nets’ position won’t change even if the Los Angeles Lakers offer them Pau Gasol in a package for Williams before the deadline. (Marc Stein,

    Spurs send Jefferson to GSW:

    Nene to Wizards in three-way deal:

    Camby headed for Houston: The Houston Rockets have acquired center Marcus Camby from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for center Hasheem Thabeet, guard Jonny Flynn and a 2012 second-round pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. (Marc Spears)

    Blazers send Wallace to Nets:

    Derek Fisher to Rockets:

    Sessions to Lakers:

    Read More…

  • Published On 10:58am, Mar 15, 2012
  • A few intriguing Dwight Howard trade scenarios

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    A Dwight Howard-Chris Bosh tandem in Miami is a longshot. (Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images)

    Before all of Wednesday’s craziness, with Dwight Howard reportedly willing to pick up his option for 2012-13 then not pick up his option for 2012-13, Chris Mannix, my colleague at, tweeted that some folks in the All-Star center’s camp indicated that he would have interest in signing long-term with the Heat or the Clippers.

    Howard is eligible for a starting salary of nearly $19 million next season on a new free-agent contract with a team other than the Magic, and neither the Clips nor the Heat will have anything like the kind of cap space necessary for that kind of deal. The Heat are totally capped out years into the future and will likely pay the luxury tax for at least the next four seasons. The Clippers can work their way to a middling bit of cap room if they use the amnesty provision on Mo Williams, but once you factor in charges for empty roster spots, you’re talking about $5 million to $6 million in cap room. Howard probably doesn’t want to go to the Clippers that badly.

    But in theory, it’s interesting to talk about whether the Clippers, Heat and a few other teams uninvolved in the Howard bidding should get themselves involved — assuming Howard’s flakiness and inability to commit on Wednesday didn’t deter teams from gambling on him. Howard is indisputably one of the league’s top-five players, its best big man and defender, and he just turned 26 a few months ago. He has already logged nearly 25,000 minutes between the playoffs and the regular-season, but there is not reason to expect any major drop-off in his level of play over the next half-dozen seasons. This is a transformational player, and transformational players are worth having out-of-the-box conversations about.

    To wit:


    It has been popular almost since “The Decision” to suggest that the Heat think about trading LeBron James to Orlando for Dwight Howard. James and Dwyane Wade have overlapping skill-sets, the theory goes, and the Heat would jump another level by trading one of them for a player that has no duplicate anywhere. The Heat don’t have a “true center,” and they compensate in part by over-rotating in order to protect the lane, a strategy that can leave perimeter shooters open — provided Miami’s opponent is smart, quick and savvy enough to thread swing passes through lanes the Heat close faster than anyone. LeBron has the salary necessary for an easy trade match, and the Magic could never do better than getting the very best basketball player in the world. Read More…

  • Published On 11:50pm, Mar 14, 2012
  • Warriors pay price to get Andrew Bogut

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    There has been a growing impatience among the Golden State fan base, grumbling that the Warriors’ new ownership lacks a grander vision, the guts to break up a failing team and the ability to put together a roster that might back up the boasts of coach Mark Jackson. That kind of skepticism comes with grand entrances and big promises, and it grows when you do things like use the amnesty provision on Charlie Bell’s $4 million expiring deal instead of Andris Biedrins’ $9 million annual sunk cost.

    But look carefully, and you can see something: Golden State was in on Tyson Chandler until the last moment. They amnestied Bell to chase DeAndre Jordan. When that failed, they used their cap space on Kwame Brown, a solid, if overrated, post defender. The message was clear: We know we need a stud, defense-first center to cover for Stephen Curry and David Lee, and we’re skeptical that Ekpe Udoh, a defense-first lottery pick with an outstanding plus/minus two years running, is going to develop into a 36-minutes-per-game, two-way player fast enough to achieve our goals.

    And so on Tuesday, the Warriors acted boldly in trading Udoh, Brown’s expiring deal and Monta Ellis, a beloved player in Golden State, to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut and the toxic contract of Stephen Jackson. The move creates major 2012-13 cap savings for the Bucks, who save nearly $10 million in 2012-13 salary and could get down to about $45 million on the books for next season, even without using the amnesty provision. It has the potential to help Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference playoff race (thus hurting the Knicks) and torpedo Golden State’s slim playoff chances, making it more likely that the Warriors keep the top-seven protected first-round pick they would otherwise owe Utah. The Warriors weren’t doing any damage in the playoffs this season, and any move that increases their chances of keeping that pick in a loaded draft is a smart one. Read More…

  • Published On 10:55am, Mar 14, 2012
  • March 14: Latest NBA trade buzz

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    With the March 15 trade deadline approaching, we’ll bring you the latest news and rumors of potential moves each day. Here’s what’s happening today …

    Marc Berman, New York Post: Carmelo Anthony’s discontent with the Knicks organization became so severe after Monday night’s loss to the Bulls, he told a confidant he preferred to be traded before Thursday’s trade deadline, The Post has learned. According to a person familiar with his thinking, Anthony’s disillusionment stems most from a belief coach Mike D’Antoni and interim GM Glen Grunwald do not trust him. He is surprised that after all the Knicks gave up to trade for him, he has not been asked for more input on personnel decisions, as Deron Williams has with the Nets. However, Tuesday night, a source said Anthony and D’Antoni spoke in an attempt to reconcile their differences and made headway. On Monday night, Anthony only wanted to remain a Knick if he had assurances D’Antoni wouldn’t be back next season. However, Anthony will not make a formal trade request.

    Associated Press: Carmelo Anthony says he doesn’t want to be traded, denying a report that he would welcome an exit from New York. Anthony also denies there is a rift with coach Mike D’Antoni. … Anthony calls the report “nonsense,” adding that he’s faced adversity throughout his career and “I’ve never ran from it and I’m not about to pick today to start running from it.”

    Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: At one point on Tuesday night, the NBA’s official online store was selling Dwight Howard t-shirts — with the New Jersey Nets. Astute shoppers quickly got a photo of the page out on Twitter but eventually the link to the shirts went dead.

    Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: [Neil] Olshey is making and taking phone calls from other general managers. But his mantra to Clippers fans is: “Your help is coming from the inside.” Translation: Don’t expect the Clippers to make a trade before the deadline. “[We] would love to add a piece right now [because] Chris Paul’s goal of coming here was to win a championship,” Olshey said Tuesday. “[But] unless the move you make today leads you in that direction — you can’t sacrifice the ability to build a championship-level organization by giving up your assets to go get a guy that’s going to make you incrementally better this year instead of looking to improve from within.”

    K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune: The Bulls and Lakers had exploratory trade talks centered on All-Star center Pau Gasol, league sources confirmed. However, multiple obstacles exist for any deal to occur before Thursday’s 2 p.m. deadline. … Sending Carlos Boozer and C.J. Watson to the Lakers would satisfy trade provisions under the collective bargaining agreement. However, the Lakers, who are seeking an upgrade at point guard, have zero interest in adding the remaining three years and $47.1 million remaining on Boozer’s contract. A habitual luxury tax team, they are wary of the more prohibitive penalties under the new collective bargaining agreement, which toughen in 2013-14. Thus, a third team would need to be engaged and sources said the Bulls have not found one. Read More…

  • Published On 8:20am, Mar 14, 2012
  • Dwight Howard saga reaches low point

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    Dwight Howard told Magic officials that he wants to finish the season with the team. (Damian Strohmeyer/SI)

    At least the trade deadline reached its nadir early, with 36 hours to go, because it won’t get much more ridiculous than this: Dwight Howard told reporters after Orlando’s stirring overtime win against Miami on Tuesday that he has informed Magic brass he’d prefer the team kindly keep him through this season and “roll the dice” on his own free agency. This is like playing Russian Roulette with a friend, only the friend loads the chamber, hands you the gun and ask you to play for his own entertainment. Click the trigger a few times, and maybe he’ll hang out with you again sometime.

    Here’s Howard:

    “I told them I want to finish this season out and give our team, give our fans some hope for the future. But I feel they have to roll the dice. It might be tough, but I feel we’ve got a great opportunity. But they’ve got to roll it.”

    Howard has asked the Magic to take on all the risk without promising any reward, and in doing so, he has opened himself to accusations that his real goal here is for New Jersey to sign him in free agency, without sacrificing assets (Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks, first-round picks galore–including this year’s lottery pick) via a deadline deal or taking on Hedo Turkoglu’s contract.

    Perhaps Howard’s motives aren’t so sinister. He spoke Tuesday about the possibility of winning a title this season, an outcome that would make it very difficult for him to leave as a free agent. As good as the Magic are, a strong third-place in the East and fresh off wins over the two teams above them, all the metrics we have suggest a championship is a very unlikely outcome. Head-to-head matchups in the playoffs introduce a bit of a wild card that doesn’t exist in the macro picture, something the Grizzlies and Hawks reminded us last season, the latter in defeating a Magic team that was probably superior. But it’s hard to imagine this Magic team beating Chicago and Miami four times in seven games, and then doing the same against the Western Conference champion.

    The Magic cannot pin their hopes as a franchise on such a low probability outcome, and Howard should know better than to ask at this stage.

    Earlier Tuesday, both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Ken Berger of reported that Howard wants to end up with New Jersey, and that the Nets’ dream scenario starts with signing Howard as a free agent. That dreamscape includes bringing back Deron Williams, re-signing Lopez, set to be a restricted free agent, and generally avoiding any deal with Orlando that might cost New Jersey any assets at all — or involve taking back  Turkoglu’s poison pill contract. As I outlined earlier, it would be impossible for New Jersey to sign Howard to a max-level contract, bring back Williams and retain matching rights on Lopez in restricted free agency. The Nets need to cut about $7 million from their 2012-13 salary bill to pull it off, and thus are engaging Charlotte in talks about swapping players with future guaranteed money (Jordan Farmar and others), along with a draft pick, for Boris Diaw’s expiring $9 million deal.

    And even if New Jersey gets only part of the way to that $7 million goal, Howard could also sign for less than the maximum for which he’s eligible. Both he and Williams would have to do exactly that in order to sign together in Dallas as free agents.

    Regardless, Howard’s comments Tuesday, at the very least, show a lack of empathy for his team. They will stain his legacy as one of the league’s greatest two-way stars and the centerpiece of a team that reached championship-level ability at its peak in 2008-09 and 2009-10. There is nothing wrong with Howard wanting to leave, as I have written many, many times. A team that drafts a star-level player essentially controls that player for at least a half-dozen seasons, often more; after putting in so much time, Howard and anyone else–LeBron James, Chris Bosh, whomever–is absolutely within his rights to chase money, titles, market exposure, or whatever else he might want. He’s within his rights to believe this Magic roster, situated in this Eastern Conference, is not good enough to win a title, though his affection for Glen Davis–and the long-term deal to which the Magic signed Davis–didn’t help in that regard.

    But to let a franchise twist like this for nearly a year is another thing. Howard, if you’ll recall, was either dishonest or wrong just 10 months ago when he incorrectly claimed the collective bargaining agreement did not allow him to sign an extension at that time with the Magic. He has since demanded a trade, convinced the Magic to grant him permission to talk with three teams–the Nets, Mavericks and Lakers–and now rescinded that trade demand as the trade deadline bears down upon a team on the verge of long-term irrelevancy. Enough is enough.

  • Published On 12:19am, Mar 14, 2012
  • Nets face financial obstacles to get Dwight Howard in free agency

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    According to a recent report, Dwight Howard is determined to join the Nets, if not via trade by Thursday, then as a free agent this summer. (Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

    With 48 hours to go before the trade deadline, the Dwight Howard saga has descended into madness. We officially reached rock bottom this morning, when’s Ric Bucher reported the Magic are prepared to offer Dwight Howard hiring and firing power over GM Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy, a nearly unfathomable bit of kowtowing, even if franchise players on Howard’s level might be rarer commodities than GMs and top-level head coaches.

    The Magic have denied the report, saying only the team’s ownership will decide such things. And meanwhile, one of the league’s half-dozen best head coaches game plans for the Heat tonight.

    And this afternoon comes word from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that Howard, regardless of the sweet nothings he may or may not be whispering to Magic CEO Alex Martins, has made up his mind and wants to bolt for New Jersey/Brooklyn as a free agent:

    Howard is privately telling people the acquisition of an All-Star player and more complementary players could sway him to stay, league sources told Y! Sports’ Marc Spears, but that scenario is far-fetched given the limited appeal of Orlando’s trade assets.


    Martins has improved the franchise’s relationship with Howard, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports. But as one source talking to Martins and Howard said: “That’s great, but [Dwight’s] still going to leave.”

    The Nets, per Wojnarowski, have a dream scenario, one I mentioned on Monday: Read More…

  • Published On 3:56pm, Mar 13, 2012