With the NBA lockout pushing back the trade deadline to March 15 and the playoffs beginning just six weeks later, some team executives are wondering whether it’s even worth it to make a trade this season. And several officials have called this the quietest trade deadline in years.
“I’d be surprised if we see a lot of deals,” one Western Conference executive said. “In a short season, you can survive another 30 games and start talking trade to teams during the draft lottery.”
Said an East exec: “A playoff or playoff-hopeful team might do something to get them over the hump. But even if you have a problem guy, you don’t have to wait that long for the season to be over. It’s always hard to predict.”
The Orlando Magic’s potential trade of Dwight Howard is just one of five scenarios to watch leading up to the deadline.
Howard: The Orlando center hasn’t dropped his request to be dealt, but the Magic have spent more time discussing potential trades to bring in some help than deals to send him elsewhere. Howard can become a free agent after the season, and the uncertainty surrounding his future has stalled other potential trades.
“Dwight is holding up the league trade-wise right now,” one general manager said. “Everyone has crazy ideas here and there. But teams are reluctant to make a trade until something happens there.”
Los Angeles Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol: The Lakers will likely only move Bynum in a deal for Howard, sources said. The Houston Rockets still have interest in Gasol – who they nearly acquired in the offseason – but will likely have to recruit a third team that can send a point guard to the Lakers. The Rockets have shown no inclination to move their own point guard, Kyle Lowry.
The Lakers also could target the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Ramon Sessions, Utah Jazz’s Devin Harris or Portland Trail Blazers’ Raymond Felton in potential smaller deals. The Minnesota Timberwolves have shopped forward Michael Beasley to the Lakers, among other teams.
Boston Celtics’ Big Four: The Celtics won’t trade Rajon Rondo unless they receive a superstar in return. Trading Paul Pierce also appears unlikely. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are in the last year of their deals, which could free up salary-cap room in the summer. But Boston could also decide to deal either for a draft pick or quality young player.
Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash: Nash will only be moved by the deadline if he asks to be traded, a source said. The All-Star, however, doesn’t appear interested in making that request. Nash is in the last year of his contract and could walk at the end of the season.
Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis: The Warriors’ preference is to include Ellis in a package for Howard. Ellis also has become more expendable because of the development of rookie Klay Thompson.
Other players to watch: Beasley; Felton; Sessions; Harris; Warriors center Andris Biedrins; Blazers guard Jamal Crawford; Charlotte Bobcats forward Boris Diaw; New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman; Rockets guard Courtney Lee; Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion; Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon; Milwaukee Bucks forward Stephen Jackson; Sacramento Kings forward J.J. Hickson; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith.
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