Weekly Countdown: Summer shopping looms big over deadline
Almost half of the league's teams were involved in deadline trades over the past week. There appeared to be a number of explosions, but when the smoke cleared very little of importance had altered the championship race this season.
Of the debate between Stoudemire or Jamison, the former Wizard is the more reliable addition, based not only on his personality but also on Stoudemire's history of injuries. The Cavs know that Jamison will fit into their locker room, and that he'll space the floor for Shaq without demanding the ball, thus heightening O'Neal's value in the post. Jamison is 33, but he has only two full years remaining on his contract, and the Cavs have a good idea what they can expect from him over that time. Had they traded for Stoudemire, then they would have been under pressure to sign him through 2015-16, at which time he would be making huge money as a 33-year-old with a history of knee trouble and a game that relies on athleticism.
The Wizards had been discussing a package that would have sent Jamison and the expiring $6.5 million contract of
The stakes on a potential buyout of Ilgauskas went up when the Wizards subsequently dealt
This deal for Jamison has a strong chance of becoming this year's version of the move Detroit made at the 2004 deadline to acquire
This is why I was among those who doubted whether the Knicks could attract a single major star this summer. But the outlook is entirely more promising for them now. Thanks to the three-team deal that unloaded
The Knicks don't have their draft choice this year -- hooray for Utah, which owns the unprotected rights to New York's upcoming lottery pick -- and in order to escape their crucial $6.9 million commitment next year to Jeffries, the Knicks had to give up current rookie
The knee-jerk response would be to complain that the Knicks are "mortgaging their future." But this mortgage actually makes sense. The earlier mortgages -- which the Knicks finally paid off this week -- had been drowning underwater following years of overspending unwisely in a hopeless effort to win now.
Even if James appears more likely than ever to remain with Cleveland, the Knicks now have a chance to turn the misery of the last two years into an opportunity to recruit Wade and Bosh; or
As the Celtics learned in their attempt to find a younger star to replace
Here's the problem: Though Stoudemire says he may return to Phoenix on a $17.7 million option next season, it makes more sense for him to become a free agent this summer and negotiate a new contract under the more accommodating rules of the current bargaining agreement. If he doesn't become a free agent now, then he faces going into a 2011 lockout without a contract, followed by negotiations under the oppressive conditions of the new CBA. So he may very well depart this summer and leave Phoenix with nothing in return. The Suns have faced nothing but bad options.
Martin joined Jamison and
The Celtics settled on an apparently minor deal for
The Bulls and Wizards both created more cap space. Washington did everything it could hope to do short of moving the currently immoveable
The Bucks took on Salmons' two-year commitment in hope of pushing for the playoffs to give postseason experience to
As for the current races, Portland and Charlotte filled their frontcourt needs by dealing for
The rules prohibit those kinds of shenanigans, Karl. Before it could try to sign James, Atlanta would have to first renounce its rights to Johnson in order to clear space and be under the cap. In this particular case, Atlanta would be left with less than $10 million in space, which wouldn't be enough to deliver James anyway.
Bird rights enable a team to re-sign its own player regardless of cap space. The Hawks can use those rights to re-sign Johnson, but they don't have enough cap space to go after LeBron.
On the one side, Tellem argues, "The union has caved on pretty much every demand the league has made: a rookie wage scale, a maximum salary cap, a luxury tax, even an escrow fund. During that time, the league hasn't made a single sacrifice.'' On the other side, the owners complain that the very same bargaining agreement is delivering too much money to the players. Both sides are right. Both views are symptoms of a system that needs a revolutionary overhaul.
I find myself agreeing with Falk's call for owners and players to compromise in creating an entirely new system for sharing revenues. I don't yet know how to create that system. I do know the owners won't like Falk's definition of revenues, as laid out in his interview with
The NBA -- its owners and players -- needs to stop trying to repair an engine that no longer works. The sides need to work together with the understanding that everyone will make more money if they truly are partners. If the new system creates an authentic team, then the players will realize they can't afford to bring guns into the locker room and commit the other kinds of selfish, shortsighted mistakes that ultimately hurt their business.
Look at how the best NBA teams win championships.
Most franchises can't see through this kind of high-minded partnership because the coach and/or player isn't capable of pulling it off. Too often the players selfishly exploit the relationship, and/or the coach pretends to be the boss and wastes a lot of time trying in vain to maintain authority that doesn't really exist.
The same dynamic is at play between NBA owners and players. The owners appear to be striving harshly for control over the players, but it's a farce. They seek something they never can acquire. For their business to succeed, the owners and the players must respect each other. The only way to show that respect is with a dollar sign.
If the players continue to view themselves as employees, then they'll continue to shrug off the NBA's financial difficulties as a problem for the owners to solve. The truth is those problems won't be solved unless the owners and players behave like partners -- grown-ups -- in solving them together.
There is a way for the owners to embrace a partnership without surrendering control. Look at Popovich: He and Duncan both profit from their relationship, even as both understand that Duncan could be traded at any moment on Popovich's authority.
I am naive in laying it all out in these simple terms, but the troubles each side has helped create now present an opportunity to come up with an entirely new and ultimately more profitable way of doing business together. The system of salary cap, luxury tax and max contracts isn't cutting it anymore. A better system won't come about until they stand in each other's shoes and realize that each side can't afford to continue trying to exploit the other at the expense of their business, that there is no future in behaving like the two sides of the Congressional aisle in Washington.
Can they figure out how to behave in their own best interests? I wonder.
To answer your question, Jerry, the union isn't going to budge until the players believe the owners are treating them as partners. And that won't happen until owners are convinced the players are worthy of that partnership. Good luck.
The D-League teams would be murdered, Chris. Cinderella would never get out of the attic.
In normal times you may be right, Patrick. But my feeling is that James and other free agents this summer will be more interested in signing five- or six-year deals that will extend as long as possible into the next collective bargaining agreement. This will be the final summer before the new agreement reduces salaries and shortens contracts, and the current free agents will want to postpone those realities for as long as possible.
Orlando was quiet at the trade deadline, but that's no reason to forget about the team with the best chance of disrupting the anticipated NBA Finals of Cavaliers vs. Lakers.
The Magic won the East last year despite Nelson's midseason shoulder injury that sidelined him until the Finals. His scoring has dipped to 11.7 points this season as he fights through the latest injury. If he has a healthy two months and regains his ability to attack and thereby create for others, then he'll give the Magic a more aggressive look going into the playoffs. Don't forget that the Eastern coaches voted Nelson to the All-Star team one year ago based on a first-half performance of 16.9 points and 50.4 percent shooting.
Last year Orlando recovered from Nelson's absence by making a midseason deal for
"I let a few things bother me,'' Carter said of his concerns with trying to fit into Orlando's deep rotation. "When you have a lot of guys like this team does, that can become a problem.''
Carter was a team leader with the Nets last season, and he says he has tried to establish a similar role in Orlando -- not an easy thing when joining a reigning NBA finalist.
"I'm confident in being a leader,'' Carter said. "From Day One since I've been playing with
The less Carter thinks about his role and the more confidently he plays, the better Orlando's chances become of improving through him. If he's fully integrated, then Carter will provide another go-to scorer on the perimeter, which can be crucial in the playoffs.
"He's getting better every game, he's getting more comfortable with the offense and the chemistry of playing with us,''
"People say we're overrated,'' Lewis said. "There's always negative talk about the Orlando Magic. Even though we made the Finals, we still got a little bit of negative feedback, negative talk. It doesn't bother us at all -- if anything, the negative talk keeps us burning, and so all we have to do is go out there and show them.''
This is not such a bad thing to be: a deep, talented underdog with Finals experience.
"We're still learning to play with the new guys we have,'' Lewis said. "There's still some adjusting to do. But I think our depth is going to help us, especially when playoff time comes, because we have so many guys who can help us win games.''
"Now they've got a true scorer at power forward who can really put points on the board, who can go for 22 and 8 on a consistent basis. How do you take him away? He can shoot, give you range, spread your offense; he can still drive and finish in the paint, or you can post him up and play through him. He's not overly athletic and he's not a great out-of-position rebounder, but he'll rebound his position. He's a good teammate who will do whatever you want him to do, and he's a good passer who will understand he's the No. 3 or 4 option and that's what he needs to be to get a ring.
"Jamison is a tough matchup for [
"Even with all of that, I'm still going to like the Lakers. For me, it all comes down to
"Fisher, because of his age, is the Lakers' weakness. But the Cavs don't have someone to hurt the Lakers there.
"So I think the Lakers are not feeling bad about this Jamison deal. Cleveland is a more formidable opponent than it was before the trade, but the Lakers aren't saying to themselves, `We can't beat them.' "
Would his prediction change if Cleveland earns the home-court advantage?
"I would ... still pick the Lakers,'' the scout said. "But you heard how long I had to pause before deciding. It's going to be a hell of a series, that's for sure.''