Kyrie Irving talks to Basketball Insiders on All-Star Weekend
Quiet Before the Storm?
We’re three days away from the NBA’s trade deadline and after things were quiet during All-Star Weekend, some new talks have surfaced today. Here’s a look at the latest from across the league.
Rondo Given a Price Tag
As much as the Boston Celtics have been publicly committing to Rajon Rondo and saying that they want him to be the face of their franchise long-term, apparently he does have a price tag. According to veteran NBA reporter Sam Smith and also confirmed by Grantland’s Zach Lowe, Rondo can be had for a package involving two unprotected first round picks.
It’s unlikely that any set of unprotected first round picks would get it done. At least one of them would have to be a high lottery pick, which are pretty hard to pry away from teams with how much talent there is in the 2014 NBA Draft pool. Asking for two is almost like saying he is just flat out unavailable, but we’ve seen teams move mountains in the past to acquire players of Rondo’s caliber. Rondo has one more year on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He’s easing his way into a featured role for the Celtics after suffering a torn ACL last season. He’s sat out two of their last five games, but in the three games he did play he averaged 13 points and nine assists. He looked like he was in pre-injury form against the Dallas Mavericks, playing 37 minutes and coming just two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
The Celtics have always been the kind of organization that keeps their cards close to the vest. It’s hard to tell if his strong play as of late encourages them to make a deal and sell high before they potentially run into any road blocks during contract negotiations this summer and they lose some leverage, or if it gives them the confidence to move forward with him as their primary option. Either way, we’ll know a little bit more about their line of thinking after Thursday afternoon.
Time to Decide on Andre Miller
The Denver Nuggets are desperate for help at the point guard position behind Ty Lawson, who has been dealing with some nagging injuries as of late, but they’re not going to get that help from the disgruntled Andre Miller. Miller, even at this late stage of his career, is one of the most reliable back up point guards in the league, but permanent damage has been done to his relationship with first-year head coach Brian Shaw. After reports surfaced this weekend that the Nuggets were open to bringing him back – he has been away from the team since the start of the New Year – they were followed with reports that Miller was not interested.
Nuggets first-year general manager Tim Connelly has a decision to make on his hands. He can either cash in on Miller’s value, which is high enough to at least bring back one quality asset since he’s still productive and only makes $5 million this year with next year’s $4.6 million only being partially guaranteed. Or, he can hold onto the Miller past the deadline and eventually force him to rejoin the team by threatening his salary with suspension and fines. In order to do that, though, Miller would have to have the option of rejoining the team and that doesn’t appear to be something that Shaw is willing to give, despite their lack of depth behind Lawson.
The cleanest way out of this is simply for the Nuggets to move him prior to the deadline. They may have to go to the D-League or the waiver wire to solve their backup point guard needs, though, because the teams that are trying to trade for Miller are those with the same weakness. If the Nuggets are going to answer that need by dealing Miller, it would likely require a third team. NBA.com’s Sam Smith proposed an interesting swap with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jarrett Jack, another one of their big offseason signings that hasn’t paid off, but Jack’s deal could be a little bit bigger than the Nuggets are willing to take on. His annual salary of $6.3 million is a little high for a backup point guard, and it runs through 206-17, although the final year only has a small guarantee. According to ESPN, the Brooklyn Nets are interested in Jack and are willing to give Jason Terry up for him. Terry would certainly be the kind of piece that would help change the culture in the Cavaliers’ locker room, but his production has taken a steep decline this season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors have also expressed interest in trading for Miller.
Knicks Looking at Jeff Teague
The New York Knicks have made pitches for the aforementioned Rondo, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and could seemingly be a fit for Miller as well, but right now the player that they have their eyes on, according to Marc Stein of ESPN, is Atlanta’s Jeff Teague.
Upgrading at point guard is the Knicks’ top priority. Teague signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Hawks this offseason and is averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 assists a game. Taking on his contract would put a dent in the Knicks’ cap space for 2015, where reportedly the team plans to make a big splash in free agency.
Teague hasn’t made the improvements the Hawks’ were hoping to see this year, but whether they’ve been disappointed enough to accept what the Knicks can offer is another story. They have little in terms of expiring contracts and lack draft assets completely. Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. are attractive options, but the Hawks would have to take back a bigger, unattractive contract in order to make it work under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Spurs Like Ilyasova, Young
Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico has linked the San Antonio Spurs to Ersan Ilyasova and Thaddeus Young. If either team becomes willing to take the expiring contracts of Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw for them, the Spurs would probably jump at the idea – even if it required them giving up their first round pick.
Nets, Lakers Discussing Hill Trade
Earlier this season, the Brooklyn Nets received a $5.25 disabled player exception from the league because of Brook Lopez’s injury. The exception expires on March 10.
The latest report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is that the Nets have talked with the L.A. Lakers about acquiring Jordan Hill in exchange for the disabled player exception. No word about how far along these talks are or if any deal is imminent.