Okay, it might not be as electrifying as Olympic curling; however, the NBA trade deadline has been known, on occasion, to stimulate the NBA masses. It's the clash of trade checkers, fabricated rumors, management's leakings, players demanding trades, and fans looking for a little more (or any sort of) hope.
We've had a few teasers thus far. The Raptors unloaded Jalen Rose's contract (with a mid-to-late 1st-rounder) for a late-season rental/teacher (Antonio Davis) and their cap flexibility to come a year early. New York gained another piece to what appears to be an unworkable puzzle. Detroit sent away their human victory cigar and Arroyo's not-so-delicious contract for Kelvin Cato and a protected 1st. Orlando takes a chance on Darko and NBA fans finally get a chance to see the kid get some run.
Inevitably, more trades will come. Here's a look of what is (or is rumored to be) brewing:
Detroit needs a backup point guard. Why exactly did Dumars trade away Arroyo and Darko, without improving this year's team? Certainly, that's the question that Pistons fans are asking right now. Lindsey Hunter isn't exactly reliable considering that he is coming off of ankle surgery and is 63 years old. And Acker/Delfino/Prince should only be good for emergency minutes at the 1. Everybody has faith in Dumars; however, letting Atkins slip through the cracks, and then doing this deal raises eyebrows. If Detroit doesn't trade for a respectable back-up point (Knight/Mike James), fingers will be pointing at him if Billups tires/fades down the stretch. You can hardly blame Dumars if Bill Davidson is forcing his hand, though.
Atlanta is shopping Al Harrington. The latest rumour out of Atlanta is that Al Harrington has asked Billy Knight to trade him. A point guard and/or another big man is what Atlanta is targeting in return. With big men in high demand, that point guard might be the more realistic target (Duhon/Watson), which means that Marvin Williams and Josh Smith could be the starting alongside each other during Atlanta's run to the lottery.
Nobody wants Kenyon Martin. When the Knicks are leery about taking on your contract, you know your stock has fallen. KMart had offseason microfracture surgery and it appears like he'll be day-to-day for the rest of the season (when he'll have to be re-evaluated). Considering that KMart's frontcourt mate is Marcus Camby ? who?s one of the few players who has more injury concerns than Martin, you know that Denver is looking to add stability down low. They're also short a 2-guard (Bonzi Wells and Steve Francis could be targets). Besides KMart, Earl Watson and Nene are Denver's other trading pieces. Recent news suggests that Nene, who tore ligaments in his knee during the first game of the season, could resume practicing by April. We're awaiting Denver's next smokescreen.
Isiah is always in the trading mood. This just in... the entire New York roster (except Frye, and maybe Curry) is apparently on the trade block. This also in... nobody really wants anything on the Knicks' roster outside of Hardaway's expiring contract and the 3 rooks. There is Jamal Crawford too... which could perhaps be a part of a KMart or Francis-to-NY deal. Needless to say, if Isiah pulls the trigger on a deal this week, New York won't be cutting any salary.
Rebuilding and Steve Francis don't mix. Orlando's superstud and franchise player is 20-year-old Dwight Howard. They've acquired Darko as his future frontcourt mate, and they have 2nd-year standout Jameer Nelson to run the point. Add this year's top pick to the mix and you've got a healthy base to build on. Francis, with 3 years of contract left after this one and about 16 mill per, is feeling the squeeze and expects to be moved. Jamal Crawford is the rumor (as part of a 3-way deal).
Will the Raptors hang onto Mike James? Take away that horrid 1 and 15 start and the Raptors have actually put together a decent season. They're a game over .500 since then, and Mike James has been a big part of that. With the Raptors freeing up a load of capspace in the Rose trade, they won't be afraid to hang onto James. He should come relatively cheap in the offseason ($5 or $6 mill per), and he's gelling well with Chris Bosh. It will take a solid offer to pry him away... Eric Williams, on the other hand, can be had for an expiring contract.
Portland has a predicament at the 5. Despite Przybilla's insistence that money is not an issue, Portland needs to shed some salary in order to have a realistic shot at re-signing him. Ratliff and Ruben are obviously those big contracts that Portland would love to get out of. Although Miles' contract isn't spectacular, he's valuable to their team, and it will take a significant offer to get him. Also, with Przy's status next year up in the air, realize that Portland isn't too eager to deal Ratliff (by himself or in a combo package) if they don't get a center in return. Sorry Blazer fans, Ha just doesn't cut it as a starting center quite yet.
Trade Deadline Sleepers?
Carlos Arroyo - With Nelson out 3 weeks or more, and Francis on the trade block, there is definitely room for Arroyo to gain some value here. He's been off the fantasy radar since his early Utah days; but, he could get into a top-100 fantasy situation if the cards fall his way.
Joel Przybilla - Theo Ratliff rolled his ankle versus Toronto a few games before the All-Star break. He was projected to be out two weeks; so, Przy has an opportunity for solid minutes for another week or two. If Ratliff gets moved, Przy could turn into a stat-stuffing monster again.
Jamal Crawford - Crawford owners were dreading the day when Marbury returns to the lineup. With Marbury, Nate, Rose and QRich also competing for backcourt minutes, a trade out of New York would help him get more shots and gain a little consistency.
Marvin Williams/Josh Smith - If Al Harrington is traded and doesn't net them a solid frontcourt player in return, Marvin will likely slide into the starting SF spot, with Josh Smith playing the 4. More minutes plus solid games played in the h2h playoffs, gives these two guys a little more upside down the stretch.
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Craig Huffman is the Executive Editor for RotoFreak.com, one of the web's leading Fantasy Basketball sites.
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