Butler-Howard swap in the works?

ESPN is reporting that there is new life to the Dallas/Washington trade that would be centered around Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Josh Howard.

Talks between the teams had stalled in the past week, partly because of Washington’s insistence that the Mavericks take guard DeShawn Stevenson in any Butler deal, but the potential for acquiring two front-line players — since Butler and Haywood would immediately become key rotation players for the Mavs — has renewed Dallas’ interest.

Sources told ESPN.com that the teams’ negotiations only turned more serious Friday on a deal that would send Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and some smaller cap-friendly contracts to Washington for Butler, Haywood and Stevenson.

Well, color me confused. Earlier, we discussed the possibility of the Wizards sending Butler and Antawn Jamison to the Celtics for Ray Allen and his expiring contract, and now this rumor resurfaces.

To me, if the Wizards are rebuilding, why trade Butler for Howard? He’s 29 — the same age as Butler — and hasn’t been the player this year as he has in years past. He has a team option for next season, so presumably they’d let him walk, because if you can’t build around Butler then you certainly can’t build around Howard.

The right way to start a rebuilding process is to get some good young talent or first round draft picks when trading away stars. Otherwise, it’s just a salary dump. This deal might be appealing to the Wizards because they can try to sell their season ticket holders on the fact that, talent-wise, the trade was pretty even. But really, they’re just treading water, if that.

Like I said, color me confused.


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Butler, Jamison for Ray-Ray?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports says that the Wizards and Celtics are discussing a blockbuster deal.

In a dramatic move that would resuscitate their fading championship hopes, the Boston Celtics are discussing a deal with the Washington Wizards for forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.

The proposed deal would send the expiring contracts of Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to the Wizards, a move that would signal the start of Washington’s rebuilding process.

The trade isn’t imminent, but talks have progressed and Celtics GM Danny Ainge has positioned his organization to make one of the boldest trade deadline moves in years. For the Celtics, ownership would have to agree to take on an additional $24 million in salary next season between Jamison and Butler. Jamison makes more than $15 million in 2011-12, but most owners are discounting those salaries because of an assumption that there will be a labor lockout and some, if not all, of that money will never be paid to the players.

For his part, Celtics GM Danny Ainge denies the rumors:

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Friday he has not discussed trades involving the Charlotte Bobcats or Washington Wizards.

“There is no truth to either one of those,” Ainge said. “I have had conversations with a lot of teams but those have never been discussed. There are a lot of things I would like to do but I don’t feel a need to do something. I am always looking to upgrade the team, if possible.”

Have you ever heard a GM confirm a trade rumor? They always deny, deny, deny. So there’s no telling if there’s any truth to it, though Wojnarowski is a respected NBA writer.

Obviously, this trade would be a coup for the Celtics in terms of talent. Ray Allen isn’t playing horribly (16-3-3, 45% shooting), but he’s shooting a career-low 34% from long range and is 34 years old. Caron Butler (29) and Antawn Jamison (33) are both younger, and are both All-Star caliber players. Wojnarowski mentioned that the contracts are a concern (especially Jamison’s), but if the two players gelled in the Celtics’ lineup, it would push the franchise back into serious title contention.

However, it would be difficult to get the C’s five best players on the court. Paul Pierce and Caron Butler can play on the wings, but for Jamison to play PF, that means Kevin Garnett would play center. Against certain teams (say, Atlanta), this wouldn’t be a problem, but KG would get beat up down low against Shaq and Dwight Howard. Offensively, this lineup would allow the C’s to spread the floor and post up Pierce, Jamison and Butler in favorable matchups.

For Washington, this trade would confirm what we all already know — the Wizards are rebuilding. If I were running things, I’d hold onto Butler (since his contract is affordable) or at least wait for someone to offer a good young piece. The deal, as outlined, is simply a salary dump. The Wizards would be giving Jamison and Butler away for cap flexibility. With this trade, the Wizards would have approximately $20 million in cap space this summer, and that assumes Gilbert Arenas is still on the payroll.


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Bucks interested in Troy Murphy

The Milwaukee Bucks are hovering around the #8 spot in the East and can probably make the postseason with their current roster. But according to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times, they’re eyeing Troy Murphy.

The Bucks and Pacers have bandied about several players in exchange for the 6-foot-11 Murphy, who is averaging 14 points and 9.9 rebounds this season. One of those players is Ersan Ilyasova.

The Pacers want Ilyasova, but the Bucks don’t want to give him up. Ilyasova is only 22, capable of playing both forward positions and has flashed signs of becoming a big-time scorer.

While he is averaging a modest 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds, Ilyasova has had five 20-plus games this season, including 25 against the New York and 24 against Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers.

He also had 20-point outing against Orlando and San Antonio, two of the best teams in the NBA.

The Bucks would be wise to hold onto Ilyasova, unless they can get more of an impact player than Murphy. The Bucks aren’t the Cavs; they’re not looking for one missing piece to the championship puzzle. They’re building for the future, and Ilyasova could be part of that future. He can play either forward position, can hit the three (36%), is a pretty good defender and rebounds almost as well as Murphy (rebound rate: 17.1 to 15.3). Plus, he’s only 22, so he has room to grow.

Milwaukee should be looking to upgrade at shooting guard and small forward. Caron Butler would be a good fit, but the Bucks don’t want to make the same mistake they did with Richard Jefferson. Unlike Jefferson, Butler’s contract isn’t a cap killer. Unfortunately, the Bucks don’t have the pieces to acquire Butler unless the Wizards are willing to give him up for expiring contracts and a mid-first round pick. I’m not even sure I’d include Ilyasova in a deal for Butler as I think he (Ilyasova) could be a starter on a good playoff team in a couple of years.

Knicks to acquire T-Mac?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports writes that the Knicks are discussing a deal that would bring Tracy McGrady to the Big Apple.

The centerpieces of the trade would include the Washington Wizards shipping forward Caron Butler and center Brendan Haywood to the Rockets. The Knicks would send Al Harrington to the Wizards. For the Wizards’ part, they would still need another player, as well as a draft pick and cash to make this a workable scenario, sources said.

Let’s look at this proposed trade from the perspective of all three teams.

The Houston Rockets would be the big winner because they’d get Caron Butler and possibly Brendan Haywood. Haywood’s deal is expiring while Butler has one more affordable year ($10.6 million) on his contract. They’d essentially get an All-Star caliber player and a good defensive center for the price of a player that they’ve banished from their team (McGrady).

The New York Knicks would acquire T-Mac, who is a mystery at this point in his career. Can he still play? No one really knows. Since his contract is worth $22 million, just giving up Al Harrington ($10.0 M) isn’t going to be enough. They have a number of players with expiring contracts that they could include (Larry Hughes, Darko Milicic, Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson), but they would really like to unload Jared Jeffries, who has another year remaining on his deal. John Hollinger puts the Knicks’ playoff chances at 0.5%, so they don’t have much to play for this season. They probably weren’t going to re-sign Harrington anyway, so with this trade, they’d roll the dice on T-Mac and see if he has anything left. If they like what they see, they’d try to re-sign him this summer. If they can include Jeffries in the deal, it would be pretty much a no-brainer for the Knicks, which makes me wonder what Washington is thinking.

Ah, the Wizards. They’d essentially be giving up Butler and Haywood for Al Harrington and whomever else the Knicks sent them. It’s possible that the Rockets could send over a young piece like Kyle Lowry. Something like that would have to be in the works because it makes no sense to trade Butler for Harrington. They’re the same age and Butler is simply the better player. Unless they’re looking to completely blow the team up, the Wizards should focus on getting a young piece for Jamison, who is 33 and has a bigger contract.


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Bulls beat writer shoots down Butler-for-Hinrich rumors

Mike McGraw of the DailyHerald.com doesn’t think the Bulls would trade Kirk Hinrich for Caron Butler.

The only benefit to the Bulls in this one is Hinrich’s deal runs two more years, while Butler is done after next season. Otherwise, it makes no sense for the Bulls and I’m reasonably certain it’s not happening.

Butler has played small forward his whole career, so plugging him in at two guard is a stretch. Then if the Bulls are intent on building a defensive base, which GM Gar Forman has promised several times, they wouldn’t trade one of their best defenders for someone from a team that has consistently refused to play defense over the years.

The biggest drawback is Butler makes about $1.5 million more than Hinrich next season and the Bulls can’t afford to squish their cap space next summer.

Butler is a prototypical small forward, so plugging him in at two guard is indeed a stretch. When I heard the rumors, I thought the Butler move would be a long-term replacement for John Salmons and (possibly) Tyrus Thomas. The Bulls don’t have a low post scorer, so their best bet is to go up-tempo and run Luol Deng at power forward.

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