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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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.

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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