Beady Eyes On the Horizon

The trade deadline is fast approaching. I know, breaking news.

Anyway, there are a lot of rumors that are buzzing, but I’m not an ESPN Insider so I don’t know them all. However, from what I can gather a lot of rumors are circulating about contending teams making deals (duh) and big contracts being moved from mediocre teams (bigger duh). 99% of these rumors will come nowhere near fruition, however it wouldn’t be fun to only discuss 1% of the rumors.

There is something to be said for standing pat at the trade deadline. That organization (assuming they are contenders) believes that any move would not be significant enough to put them over the edge or that they are already good enough to make a serious run at a championship.

But what’s the glory in conservatism? Making bold moves is what makes the headlines in newspapers and websites, not nearly pulling the trigger on a move that could define an organization for years to come. Steadfast patience to your team doesn’t lead PTI the next day or have Skip Bayless pound the table with a fury matched by few.

They aren’t always as pretty as you hoped they would be, but that’s the chance you take if a championship is the ultimate goal. You make the deal that brings in a Shaquille O’Neal to the Suns, or a Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons, or Pau Gasol to the Lakers (not really a tough decision).

Still, fortune is rumored to favor the bold, so while Steve Kerr was made to be the scapegoat for the owner’s thinning willingness to exceed the salary cap, that particular Suns lineup had not proven that it could win everything in a very tough west with no identifiable defense (although a lot of people thought they still could). A move needed to be made, perhaps not that move but a move was needed.

The Gasol move to the Lakers might have been the biggest landslide of a trade in the last decade. Still, that move put the Lakers over the top and instant favorites in the Western Conference (as it turns out, they made the next two Finals and are looking to make it back a third time).

Which brings us to now, the present, the nowadays. With the sweepstakes disguised as free agency looming in the fast approaching summer, teams are looking to dump salary or take on an expiring contract that otherwise wouldn’t make sense.

The teams are the usual suspects, the Cavaliers being one team that is in almost every trade tumor involving seemingly any player. The players are those with expiring contracts or playing on a dysfunctional team (the Wizards come to mind), or Andre Iguodala.

The Wizards have all but made it known that the team is going to be disassembled, it is just a matter of when and to where the players go. Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler are the obvious players who are going to be moved (they wish someone would take Arenas). It seems to me that almost any team would accept these players who are extremely talented, and while Butler had his run ins with the law in his early years, they are both solid locker room guys.

Jamison has been rumored to be going numerous places, but I live in northeast Ohio so I hear about the Cavaliers rumors. He has been rumored to be heading to the Cavs for several seasons now, supposedly being the missing big man with range who can defend either forward position (exactly what they needed against the Magic last season). However, if it hasn’t happened by now then I doubt anything will happen in the near future.

The Warriors are rumored to be trying to unload Monta Ellis since they feel that he will hinder the development of Stephen Curry. The alleged destination is Boston for veteran guard Ray Allen. Immediately upon hearing this I became very defensive. I always get like that when I hear that some team thinks it would be a good decision to unload the sharpshooting guard from Connecticut. I just really like Allen.

Despite my overdeveloped sense of affection for Jesus Shuttlesworth, the Celtics seem determined to rid themselves of his expiring contract for hopefully younger guards. They tried to do so in the offseason when the word leaked that a deal for Allen and Rajon Rondo to the Pistons for Stuckey, Hamilton, and Prince fell through. I don’t know if that would have improved the Celtics but the message was out there that Allen was available.

The Celtics are in desperate need of another guard who can handle the ball. When Rondo is out of the game the Celtics is a far worse team with either Allen (Ray or Tony) or House or Daniels (who has been good, not great as a backup) running the offense. Ellis would certainly give them another option to run the offense, but if he wouldn’t work with Curry because he needed to be the point guard too often, then he certainly wouldn’t work with Rondo.

Andre Iguodala has been the subject of recent trade rumors. What exactly has spurred this recent move to attempt to move Iguodala is still a bit of a mystery, but it is commonly believed that Elton Brand’s increased role in the offense and the move to bring in Iverson has upset Iguodala. He has seen a reduced role in the offense, his shots per game dropping each of the last three months.

But where would he go? Houston has been the common destination, swapping with beleaguered star Tracy McGrady who has effectively been a no show this season. What a pairing, McGrady and Iverson, just imagine the backcourt. Anyway, I have to believe that the move would certainly improve Houston, who is in contention despite having no stars on the team (is Brooks there yet? I love Battier but he is not a star).

The Cavaliers are another one of the teams who have been in the rumor mill for Iguodala. Iguodala is a slashing guard/forward who plays excellent defense and can hit the occasional outside shot. Would that fit in with the Cavs, who are based on the principles of defense? Probably, but it is the contract that is the sticking point. The Cavaliers are not looking to add more money at this point that won’t be expiring in the coming offseason.

Amar’e Stoudemire is once again in trade rumors, as he has been for the better part of his career. Many teams will be drawn in with his raw skill and offensive ability as well as his expiring contract, but others will avoid him for his lack of defensive intentions and their inability to sign him beyond this season.

But the thing (I know, real technical) with Amar’e boils down to the trite chicken or the egg question. Is Amar’e a production of the Suns’ scorching paced offense or could his numbers still exist in a vacuum in the typical half court offense? It was a similar question posed about Steve Nash, but since Chris Duhon isn’t producing MVP worthy stats, or all-star stats, or stats at all, I think that debate can be put to rest. Just as I think that Amar’e does more for the offense than the offense does for Amar’e. His athleticism and ability to run the floor is the perfect fit for the system, but he can still post 20 a night given the right circumstances on a different team.

I don’t know what to make of the trade deadline approaching. If anything, I just want deals to be done so this speculation can stop and the impact can be felt.

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