On The Clock: With roughly 30 hours remaining until the 3:00 pm EST NBA’s trade deadline, a lot of last minute chatter is leaking out as teams try and consummate deals before the mid-day cut off tomorrow. While there is a lot of talk taking place, the general sense around the league is that this may again be a very anti-climactic trade deadline with very few major players moved. With that in mind lets dig into what we know today.
Rajon Rondo: The Boston Celtics are on the receiving end of a lot of calls from teams trying to pry Rondo out of Boston. The problem is not whether Boston would do a Rondo deal; most teams believe Boston would. The problem is that Rondo can become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2015, which has many teams on the phone with Boston wanting assurances that Rondo would agree to a contract extension or a new deal with the acquiring team and Rondo’s camp is unwilling to entertain that. The asking price for Rondo is said to be two unprotected first round draft picks and some combination of ending contracts and rookie scale players. There are a few teams that have their nose in this discussion including the New York Knicks, the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings, although it seems unlikely that they could extract Rondo from Boston. The Celtics are talking on a number of fronts and would love to part ways with Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, so there is more than Rondo on the table for Boston.
Pau Gasol: There continues to be a belief that the LA Lakers are going to pull the trigger on a Gasol trade and that the long dormant deal with the Phoenix Suns that would send one of the lower of the four draft picks the Suns hold and injured big man Emeka Okafor to LA will be the deal that gets done. The Lakers continue to ponder if that’s the best move for them or if hanging on to Gasol into the summer for a possible sign-and-trade deal might return more long-term value than a late first round pick that consumes cap space. The Lakers continue to work other angles which include a possible deal with the Brooklyn Nets that would offload big man Jordan Hill to the Nets in exchange for a draft pick and a Disabled Player Exception. It seems that one is directly connected to the other, meaning if the Lakers move Gasol, moving Hill to get under the luxury tax line seems likely. The problem for the Lakers is that Phoenix is talking to other teams about their package with Okafor so if the Lakers wait to the wire they may find their deal for Gasol gone as Phoenix seems intent on using their chips before the clock strikes 3:00pm.
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Kenneth Faried: The talk of Faried being available is a little over blown according to sources near the situation in Denver. More teams seem to be calling, but Denver is being somewhat calculated. There is a sense that Faried is not nearly as valuable to the Nuggets under Brian Shaw as he was under George Karl and that with the expected price tag of $10 million a season in his next deal on the horizon this summer, the Nuggets are at least listening to offers. Sources continue to say that the odds of a Faried deal are low, but that Nuggets GM Tim Connelly has to listen and consider offers if only to better understand Faried’s market value for contract talks this summer. The Nuggets are still trying to find a home for disgruntled guard Andre Miller. As one league insider put it, the way this thing has played out with Miller and head coach Brian Shaw, it’s going to be tough to make a deal as teams trying to win are unwilling to take on Miller and the young teams that might want a leader do not view this situation as positive. The Nuggets are active, but other than Miller it seems unlikely that Denver is doing much more than that unless someone blows them away with an offer.
Kings Getting Close: The Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets continued talks yesterday on a deal that would send volume scorer Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn in exchange for forward Reggie Evans and guard Jason Terry. The deal seems like its gaining enough traction to be close and given that both sides have been talking for a few days about it, unless something better surfaces this one might get done. The Kings have been trying to offload Thornton and guard Jimmer Fredette and are working angles on both players. The Kings seem like they have a deal for one very close, the question is can they move the other? There were also reports yesterday that the Kings would entertain offers on guard Isaiah Thomas, although sources say the asking price on Thomas is an unprotected first round draft pick this year and those are becoming hard to come by. Factor in that Thomas had an MRI that revealed ligament damage in his wrist yesterday, it’s unclear how much a team would really give for Thomas. The Kings really want to add some veteran influence to their roster and continue to be one of the teams trying to swing for the fences on a major deal.
Ben Gordon: The Charlotte Bobcats have been sniffing around for a trade for several weeks. Word is the ending contract of Ben Gordon can be had for a combination of smaller assets that could bolster the Bobcat’s run into the playoffs. It’s unclear who has real interest in Gordon, however, it’s been said if the Suns strike out on Gasol with the Lakers they may take on Gordon with their Emeka Okafor offer that includes a first round pick. Sources close to the situation say that Charlotte would rather have a roster player in the deal, so it remains to be seen how this one will play out, but Charlotte is very much in the mix as the deadline approaches.
Orlando Magic: If you call the Orlando Magic will answer, but getting them into a serious discussion on a deal has proven to be fruitless. A number of teams have made passes at the Magic regarding Arron Afflalo, but the Magic have turned those conversations away. Glen “Big Baby” Davis is a name the Magic are trying to find a deal for, but even with Davis there isn’t a lot of effort being put forth. The Magic could be a team that’s involved in a deal or they very well could sit this one out. The magic have not shut down trade talks, but it does not seem today that they are nearly as interested in making a deal this year as they were last year.
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Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves are said to be open for business and that anyone on the roster outside of Kevin Love could be had. So, phone lines are now open. The Wolves are one of the teams trying to make a splash move for a serious player and virtually anyone could be had to make a big deal happen. There has been talk that the Wolves have entertained a Chase Budinger and J.J. Barea deal with the Memphis Grizzlies that would send Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince to the Wolves, so there is that to ponder. There have been a number of suitors that have made passes at the Wolves regarding Kevin Love, but all have been turned away. The Wolves are trying to make something happen and that generally means a deal, if a team is seriously motivated and seems like the Wolves are.
Basketball Insiders will keep you up to date on all of the trade deadline chatter with the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline Diary. That will drop later today and will feature all of the news, notes, rumors and tweets about the trades team are talking about.
Look for it to drop around 12:00pm EST.
Home Court Matters: Not everyone in the NBA is focused on the NBA trade deadline, in fact the Indiana Pacers and Miami HEAT are focused on getting through the final 30 something games of the regular season without injury.
It seems inevitable that the Pacers and HEAT are almost destined to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, the big question is who will get home court?
Heat All-Star Chris Bosh says his team doesn’t talk about securing the top spot in the East, but understands that comes from playing well.
“We don’t talk about it all,” Bosh told Basketball Insiders. “We’re too busy thinking about tomorrow or today or the team in front of us. We know what happens if we continue to take care of business and try our best to put a string of wins together and win as many games as possible. If we do that we look at the standings at the end of the day, we’ll see how we fair out. “
The HEAT have been in preservation mode for most of the season trying to keep guys as fresh as possible and keep them healthy after three straight Finals runs. As a result the HEAT have not been as sharp, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting out there and competing hard every night and really start to turn the corner defensively,” Bosh said. “I think our offense is going to take care of itself; we can even take another step as far as that’s concerned. The way we move the ball I think that’ll be fine when it’s time. We just need to improve defensively. Our rebounding can get better. Not so much the margin or our total rebounds, but our rebounding percentage can get better. We need to start putting things together as we get closer to the postseason. “
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The Pacers on the other hand know that they have a lot more to accomplish and that Miami won’t be the only team they have to face in the postseason. Pacers All-Star Paul George knows all too well that it’s going to be a tough journey to even get to face Miami, let alone compete for a championship.
“We are after the title,” George said. “We understand it’s not going to be easy that’s not one team that we’re going to have to face to win it all. It’s always tough matchup against them, we just got one goal and we want to win it all.”
George and his Pacer teammates know they need to be the top team in the East to have the best chance at advancing.
“It’s real important,” George said. “That’s always in the back of our mind and the reason why we want to be number one in the East. We don’t think it’s going to be easy because we’re number one, but we just like our chances playing on our floor. We have been one of the best teams in this league defending our home court.”
The Pacers have been exceptionally sharp and focused all season, in part because of how the roster has grown together, but also in part because everyone on the team understands what’s at stake.
“We came into the year with everybody knowing what their role is and what their agenda is,” George said. “Another year of us being together and having that experience of playing a tough team like Miami last year. We grew and we had a message for everybody to get better in the summer and I thought a lot of guys did.”
The Pacers are currently 41-12 on the season and hold a 2 ½ game lead over the 38-14 Miami HEAT. The Pacers are currently 26-3 at home, while the HEAT hold a 20-4 home record.
The Pacers have 29 games remaining on their schedule which includes 12 home games and 17 road games. The Pacers will also see 20 Eastern Conference teams in that span and will face 11 teams with a record above .500.
The HEAT has 30 games remaining on their schedule which includes 17 home games and 13 road games. The HEAT will face 20 Eastern Conference teams in that span which includes 12 teams with a record above .500.
The NBA regular season ends on April 16, with the 2014 NBA Playoffs set to begin on April 19.
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