Here’s the problem with the Salmons deal…

As a long-time (and sometimes-proud) Bucks fan, my NBA objectivity goes out the window whenever my favorite team makes a big transaction. I start to look at it from the perspective of “my Bucks” and don’t really care what kind of an effect the move has on the other team.

But in this John Salmons-for-Elson/Thomas (or Warrick/Alexander) deal, the Bulls’ new-found financial freedom might come back to haunt the Bucks. Without Salmons’ salary ($5.8 million) on the books for next season, the Bulls would project to have more than $18 million in cap space heading into this summer’s free agency. That’s enough to sign LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh. Without this trade, the Bulls would have a tough time signing a “max” player.

So by taking on Salmons and his contract, the Bucks may have increased their chances of becoming first round fodder in the postseason, but they also increased the chances of a top 5 player joining their bitter rival. They already have LeBron in the division — now they may have to deal with D-Wade, too?

While I can understand the deal that includes Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson, I don’t get why the Bucks would include Warrick in the trade, seeing as how he has been a valuable rotation player — 10-4 in 21 minutes per game — throughout the season. In other words, I’m not sure how a Salmons-for-Warrick swap gets the Bucks that much closer to the postseason that it would justify the added expense next season and the increased likelihood that Dwyane Wade will land in Chicago.

After a shaky start — trading for Richard Jefferson, drafting Joe Alexander, trading away Mo Williams — GM John Hammond has had a nice year, unloading Jefferson’s huge contact, acquiring Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino, and most importantly, drafting Brandon Jennings. Unlike most teams, the Bucks are stockpiling cap space for the summer of 2011, when they currently project to have $25 million (or more) in cap space and only seven players under contract. He has the Bucks in position to bounce back over the next couple of seasons, but it won’t matter if Cleveland and Chicago are dominating the division.

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Rockets on the verge of landing Kevin Martin?

Multiple media outlets have reported that the Rockets and Kings have struck a deal that involves sharpshooting off guard Kevin Martin.

…the Kings and Rockets have agreed in principle to a deal that would send Kevin Martin and three other players to Houston in return for McGrady and forwards Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey.

But that might just be the start.

As the teams hammer out the details today, there are reports the Knicks are still involved, intent on landing McGrady and unloading Jared Jeffries.

If no deal with the Knicks is made, the Rockets and Kings are still expected to go through with the swap.

The Rockets couldn’t come to terms with the Knicks because they were reluctant to take on Jared Jeffries’ contract without owning the Knicks’ future first rounders. They’ve reportedly coveted Martin all along, so when he became available, they went out and struck a deal with the Kings.

If it stays simply a Sacramento-Houston deal, the Rockets will have essentially landed Martin at the cost of Carl Landry and the undead body of Tracy McGrady. While Houston fans will be sad to see Landry go, they’ll be getting a dynamic shooting guard and one of the best scorers in the game. Alongside Aaron Brooks, the Rockets will have one of the great young backcourts in the league.

And the amazing thing is that it doesn’t appear that the Rockets will take on any long-term contracts other than Martin’s.

As for the Kings, they wanted a big man for Martin and they got a pretty good one in Landry, who is averaging 16-6 with 55% shooting. I’m not sure how he fits in with Jason Thompson and Omri Casspi, but he’s probably better than Thompson and Casspi can play small forward, so there should be room for all three. If the Kings are able to move T-Mac to New York, they’ll likely have to take on Jared Jeffries’ contract — he’s owed $6.9 million for next season — and will probably get a draft pick as well.

If the Knicks can clear Jeffries from the payroll, they’ll have enough cap space to sign two big name free agents this summer.


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Miami hasn’t offered Beasley…yet

According to Chad Ford’s source in the Suns organization, the Heat aren’t serious in their bid for Amare Stoudemire.

Still, sources close to the negotiations say that, right now, Cleveland is the front-runner. Why? Because the Heat have yet to offer the Suns a deal that would beat the Cavs’ offer of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson. One source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN.com that the Heat have yet to offer Michael Beasley or either of their two first-round picks.

“I’m not sure Miami is willing to pay the price for Amare,” a Suns source told ESPN.com. “We have to get something for him. We’re not giving him away. If Miami gets serious, then I think they would get him. But right now, they are not showing they’re serious.”

Is there a possibility Stoudemire won’t be traded at all?

“It’s possible,” the Suns source said. “We haven’t been blown away with an offer yet.”

I’m sure the Heat would like to acquire Stoudemire without including Beasley, but with Stoudemire likely opting out of his deal this summer, there’s no upside for the Suns to just dump his contract. The Heat have two first round picks (their own and Toronto’s) — would the Suns would move Amare for two middling first rounders?

Another aspect of this Amare love triangle is Miami’s desire to sign LeBron James this offseason. If they let the Cavs acquire Amare, there’s a better chance that LeBron will stay in Cleveland long-term. In other words, if they miss out on Amare, they may very well miss out on LeBron as well.


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Nate Robinson headed to Boston?

Knicks beat writer Alan Hahn just tweeted that Nate Robinson has been traded to the Celtics, likely for Eddie House. Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski says that it’s not a done deal.

Robinson has been in and out of Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse all season, mainly because he doesn’t play point guard the way that D’Antoni wants him to. However, he has posted a career high in assist ratio (the percentage of a player’s possessions that end in an assist) with 21.3%, so he has improved in that area of the game. Conversely, his turnover ratio — 10.1% — is his highest since his rookie season, so that’s a problem.

The Celtics are just going to ask him to come off the bench and score, and he should be very productive in that role. His PER (17.95) is #11 amongst point guards and scoring has never been a problem. He is one of the league’s best athletes and should add significant punch to the Celtics’ rotation.


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Blazers trade for Marcus Camby



With centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla sidelined, the Trail Blazers have acquired Marcus Camby.

The Portland Trail Blazers have acquired the Clippers’ Marcus Camby, the center they’ve desperately needed since they lost both Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla to season-ending injuries.

In return, Los Angeles receives point guard Steve Blake and small forward Travis Outlaw.

Portland will also send $1.5 million to Los Angeles in the trade and is responsible for $2 million in incentives Camby will earn before season’s end, sources said Tuesday.

This is a fairly low-risk move for the Blazers, since Camby is in the last year of his contract. Blake and Outlaw are also in the final years of their respective deals, and there’s a good chance that neither player would be back next season, so why not make a move for one of the best defensive centers in the league?

At 35 years-old, Camby is averaging 8-12 with almost two blocks per game, so he should be able to shore up Portland’s interior defense and rebounding. His PER (18.54) is #13 amongst centers, though Camby has been playing mostly power forward this season.

For the Clippers, the prize of this trade is Outlaw, a 25-year-old swingman who averaged 13-4 the last two seasons. He will push Al Thornton for minutes at small forward. Thornton has had a disappointing year and has lost playing time to Rasual Butler, of all people. Outlaw was expendable in Portland due his expiring contract and the Blazers’ logjam at the wing.

With Blake out of the picture, Portland will rely on Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless at point guard. Both players have played pretty well this season, which prompted GM Kevin Pritchard to make this move. The Blazers are sitting in the #8 spot in the West, and Camby’s arrival should help the team’s chances of making some noise in the postseason.

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