Around the block
The Feb. 24 trade deadline is just a week away, and right now the situation is like a line from a John Lennon song: "Everybody's talking ... and no one says a word." Teams such as the T'wolves, Heat, Knicks and Sixers are all said to be interested in acquiring that missing piece that can push them to the next level. Other clubs such as the Hawks, Raptors and Warriors are looking to add young players or draft picks to build for the future. But if there are any blockbusters brewing, the GMs involved aren't leaking details -- at least not yet.
Antoine Walker, Latrell Sprewell, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Gary Payton, Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Michael Redd are just some of the bigger names who could find themselves in new uniforms by the end of next week. But while there might (or might not) be a major trade, there almost certainly will be a deal or two involving lesser-known players. "I think there will be some movement," says one Western Conference GM who asked to remain anonymous. "There are a few teams out there making a lot of calls. They want to get something done." Here's a quick look at six teams most likely to make a splash:
Now ex-coach Flip Saunders might have taken the fall, but T'wolves boss Kevin McHale and his staff are fully aware this team needs on-court changes as well. The obvious choice to go would be Sprewell, who set a negative tone in training camp by complaining about his contract and threatening not to play as hard. In the last year of his contract, Sprewell could be attractive bait for a team seeking to rent a decent veteran scorer/defender for half a season. The Heat (Eddie Jones) and Sixers (Glenn Robinson) have been mentioned as possible trade partners for Spree.
If the right deal doesn't develop for Sprewell, the T'wolves could move Sam Cassell, Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi or Troy Hudson. One trade rumor making the rounds Tuesday had the T'wolves sending Szczerbiak, Sprewell and Ervin Johnson to the Blazers for Abdur-Rahim, Darius Miles and Ruben Patterson. However, Miles is a base-year compensation player and this trade, as proposed, doesn't appear to work under league rules. At any rate, Minnesota needs to do something to shake up the chemistry if it wants to get back in the title chase this season.
They've already traded Vince Carter, and the rebuilding could just be getting started. With a locker room full of disgruntled players (Rafer Alston, Eric Williams, Rose), first-year GM Rob Babcock has to be working the phones furiously. The Raptors clearly don't need to get back big name stars to make a deal work; the Carter trade with the Nets hinged on two future first-round draft picks. That means they might trade Marshall for more picks or simply to subtract Rose or one of their other disgruntled players.