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Chron: Lots of trade talk, no movement

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Free Agent, Feb 16, 2003.

  1. Free Agent

    Free Agent Member

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    Lots of talk but no movement

    With trading deadline near, it's unlikely big names will be dealt

    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle


    Gary Payton. Latrell Sprewell. Alonzo Mourning. The names are great.

    Brian Grant. Nick Van Exel. Keith Van Horn. Derrick Coleman. Austin Croshere. The entire Atlanta Hawks roster. The list is long and impressive.

    Bug a NBA general manager's phone line and the talk is as interesting. The names as big as ever. But a day later, the "transactions" fine print still features only injured list changes and players signing 10-day contracts.

    The NBA trade deadline is Thursday and the usual suspects -- teams without financial concerns or convinced they are just one piece away (a group generally defined as any team owned by Mark Cuban) -- are working the phones as always. But there is more of a sense than ever that little will get done.

    Most predict a few deals by Thursday. But the chain reaction that usually follows appears to have been disconnected.

    "The luxury tax is a part of every conversation," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said. "That's why there's restricted trade talk. That's why there's not much buzz. I think there will be two or three trades, but nothing like it used to be."

    Though what the Rockets have done on the court is perhaps as unusual as any in the league this season, -- beating good teams like the Kings, Spurs, Lakers and Pacers, but losing to poor teams like the Hawks, Clippers, Cavaliers and Heat -- their approach and limitations heading toward the trade deadline are typical.

    The players drawing the most attention are the players who are still under rookie wage-scale deals. The Rockets could find offers for Eddie Griffin throughout the league. But the players most often offered are veterans with years left on expensive contracts.

    Even if the Rockets wanted to take on a Grant or Sprewell and could work a deal, they would have to package their high-dollar players with key rebuilding parts to make the money work. They also would have to destroy their plans and pin their hopes with veterans the wrong side of 30 who are not winning where they are.

    Like most teams, the Rockets also are viewing the coming luxury tax as a payroll line they will not cross. That is not much of a problem now. They are well over the cap but just below the predicted threshold to kick in the tax, about $50 to $54 million. Any trade made now would keep the money the same. But to keep a player heading to free agency, they would have to offer another large contract in the year Steve Francis' maximum extension begins.

    Even if the Rockets or another team could convince the Clippers to bother with all that nasty paperwork and part with one of their restricted free agents, they, like many teams, will not have the money necessary to keep their new addition. The teams that do have cap room coming are less inclined to make a deal because they want to save the spending money for next summer's deep free-agent class.

    The Rockets also could likely make a move for a player in the last year of his contract to create cap room. But while barely hanging on to a playoff spot, they likely will not want to tell their team or fans that they gave up a contributor for future cap room.

    "Usually when you trade, you have to give up something," Dawson said. "There's a lot of people that call for our young players. We're happy with our base. You never stop looking to improve your team, but we haven't had anything offered to us that we would do."

    Normally in trade talks, offers and numbers are exchanged, and the deal is molded around its principles for days, often weeks. The Rockets' trade of Kenny Thomas that brought James Posey had dozens of permutations before it was completed.

    When Dawson said nothing has been offered that he would take, he said that no deal is being shaped to fit.

    "There's been a lot of offers," he said, "but nothing we would do."

    There's a lot of that going around.

    "Nobody under the cap that wants to trade," Dawson said. "Most of the time, people that want to trade are wanting to trade a long-term contract for a short term to protect their cap. That's why not many trades are done.

    "There's a lot of people trying to make cap trades. It's getting to where cap room is almost as important as talent. Everybody is protecting it for summer. It's just hard. I think there will be people trying who think they are close and need a piece or two. It's just so hard to do."

    The Rockets also would like to keep a team together and let it finally mesh. Their entire starting frontcourt has changed this season, and they are forever in search of chemistry and continuity.

    "We're all young, but our players are very attractive to a lot of people in the league," Dawson said. "We still like our players. It's no secret we have a lot of players people covet. We love them, too. It mainly has to do with getting where we want to be and building the team we want."

    Many teams feel roughly the same way. That doesn't mean some deals won't get done.

    The most likely teams to make a move are the Knicks and Mavericks. Naturally, that has led many to believe that both teams will trade with each other. Both teams are hopelessly over the salary cap and luxury tax threshold. Neither really cares.

    The Knicks have been trying to deal Sprewell since he began preparing the season with a Gilligan imitation on his boat. That he has stuck around this long might indicate that he cannot be traded. The Mavericks could be moved to add a designated defender for Kobe Bryant; however, their first priority is rebounder/bruiser. They would offer Nick Van Exel to a team in need of a point guard.

    But the Knicks have been hesitant to talk to anyone about Kurt Thomas, their most productive frontcourt player. Othella Harrington is up for grabs. And the point guards can always be had.

    The Hawks not only are perhaps the league's biggest disappointment, they also have a trade-happy general manager and a variety of players and contracts to offer. Shareef Abdur-Rahim can do just about everything it seemed but win. His contract, however, is up after next season. Few teams that are a player away consider Glenn Robinson to be that player and Theo Ratliff's injury history makes him risky.

    Jason Terry is an attractive possibility. The Lakers showed interest, but their recent run has cooled them on the deal. The Lakers seem more inclined now to chase a frontcourt rebounder (and have even talked to Horace Grant about another comeback) and backcourt veteran (though not as veteran as Brian Shaw.)

    The 76ers, having consistently made trade deadline moves, will look for another. It has been weeks since the Kenny Thomas deal, and Larry Brown is becoming impatient again. Coleman can offer cap room next summer, but few teams have players that expensive to exchange that the Sixers would want. Van Horn is very available, and the Knicks might bring him back to the area, though his contract is also difficult to move.

    Payton could be the biggest name moved, if only because he is heading to free agency and still has not made his peace with Sonics' owner Howard Schultz. But the SuperSonics would be fried in Seattle if they trade the best player in franchise history for spare parts or mistake contracts.

    The Timberwolves and Pacers would love to get Payton. But it is hard to see how adding Marc Jackson or Austin Croshere to a nice nucleus with Desmond Mason and Rashard Lewis would bring back the glory days.

    Then there are the cap moves. For the right veteran, teams can have Mourning, Hakeem Olajuwon or Terrell Brandon to create cap space this summer or next after they retire.

    While trading for a guy so he can quit might not seem exciting, that might be the way things are headed.

    "There was a 99.9 percent chance that we were not going to do anything last year," said Cuban, who dealt Juwan Howard and Avery Johnson for Raef LaFrentz and Van Exel last season. "But when you get the last-minute phone call, that's the way things happen sometimes. If I say I'll buy that shirt from you and you say: `$50.' Then I'll offer you $6 And if you need the money bad enough, you'll take it."

    These days, a lot of teams need the money bad enough. Financial issues are not as fun leading to a trade deadline, but money motivates and could again.
     
  2. James23

    James23 Member

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    it's very hard to make deal now because teams only want to move guys that have big contracts that nobody wants. who want moT, sprewell, brand, fortson and others?
     
  3. vtkp99

    vtkp99 Contributing Member

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    Feb. 15, 2003, 10:25PM


    Rockets summary
    Playoff peril

    Rockets center Yao Ming never worried about hitting the rookie wall or having enough time to rest his weary legs. But the Rockets' recent play is another story.

    The Rockets have dropped four of their last five games, with defeats to Cleveland and Miami. And with the Los Angeles Lakers nipping at their tails for the final Western Conference's playoff spot, Yao knows there is reason for concern.

    "This is our (playoff) spot to keep, and if we lose it, then we've lost it ourselves," Yao said. "I'm not saying we don't want that spot. We're going to try our best to keep it. We've been stuck in the eighth spot and haven't (moved up), so of course I'm worried."

    The Lakers are one game behind the Rockets after losing to San Antonio on Friday. The teams meet Tuesday in Los Angeles.

    Mirror, mirror

    Basketball is so often labeled a team game, but the Rockets are getting personal. In their self-evaluations, that is.

    During the Rockets' lengthy postgame meeting Friday night, coach Rudy Tomjanovich asked his players to ponder what thoughts were going through their minds, and to evaluate them.

    For Moochie Norris, that meant beginning individual assessments of problems and potential fixes.

    "You have to, that's what Rudy wants to see," Norris said. "We may talk to one another individually, or do it as a team, but we have to do some soul-searching. Right now, all I can do is turn around and look in the mirror. I feel like I didn't do my job (Friday). I feel like I hurt them in the first half.

    "If everyone looks at themselves, then we can put it all together. It's easy to do that when you have yourself right, and you can bring it all together. We had in it certain situations."

    Tux and Tennies

    Rockets owner Leslie Alexander kicked off the team's annual Tux and Tennies Charity Gala Saturday night by talking about fixing up a downtown park.

    "Tonight we carry on a tradition we started seven years ago. Tonight we're raising money to refurbish Root Memorial Square Park," Alexander said. "It's not in the greatest shape right now, but you can be sure after the Rockets get through with it, it will be one of the best parks the city of Houston ever had."

    Alexander said he envisioned the park, across the street from the entrance to the new downtown arena, becoming a site of youth basketball and where Rockets players would frequently meet with Houston children.

    The top-selling item at the charity auction was a set of four Hakeem Olajuwon jerseys -- one University of Houston, two Rockets, one Raptors. Steve Francis bought them for $22,000.

    Vote for Butler?

    Amare Stoudemire was the only player to give Miami's Caron Butler the nod for Rookie of the Year during the All-Star festivities in Atlanta. But after Butler dropped 24 points on the Rockets, one shy of his career high, Yao Ming might join the club.

    "He played like an All-Star," Yao said of Butler, who started the Rookie Challenge in Atlanta and scored a team-high 23 points.

    Butler is averaging 14 points per game this season -- second-best among NBA rookies.

    -- JANNY HU

    Biggest names on the block?
    The biggest names on the bubble as the trade deadline nears:

    ·Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Jason Terry, Hawks: Abdur-Rahim might be difficult to move because of his contract. The Lakers were interested in Terry, but they've backed off.

    ·Gary Payton, Sonics: Seattle would want something good for him.

    ·Latrell Sprewell, Knicks: No takers, but Dallas might be interested.

    ·Keith Van Horn, 76ers: The Knicks might want the former Net, but big contract makes a deal tough.
     
  4. Free Agent

    Free Agent Member

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    Vtk,

    No offense but why did you put all those articles in the this trade thread?

    The all-star article should have been in it's own thread...it's a good read and deserves it's own topic.
     
  5. kidrock8

    kidrock8 Member

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    The few deals I think there will be, are the junk for junk deals.
     
  6. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    vtkp99,

    I went ahead and edited your post to remove the article about Houston wanting to host the All-Star Game since you posted it as a separate thread afterwards.
     

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