NBA Rumors: Grizzlies’ quandary, Blazers want Hinrich, and more

Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard has been actively working the phones, as usual.

The Blazers have been making inquiries all over the first round. Their main target has been Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, a burly power forward who plays with a toughness the Blazers lack and coach Nate McMillan would appreciate.

However, Sunday night, there was talk Pritchard has even grander plans. With point guard Ricky Rubio possibly slipping out of the top four, the Blazers are talking to the Wizards about acquiring the No. 5 pick.

There’s no question Pritchard also is trying to figure out a way to get maximum cap room this summer to use for a free agent or in a trade. The Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu gets the most mention, but sources say Portland’s real target is Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich.

Portland drafted Jerryd Bayless last year, but he didn’t have a very good rookie season, and head coach Nate McMillan would like Pritchard to steer clear of drafting another rookie. Hinrich would be a great fit. He’s relatively cheap (three years, $26.5 million remaining), experienced, and is a good defender.

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29 teams, 36 potential trades for Amare Stoudemire

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 19, and the biggest name on the trading block is Amare Stoudemire. The Suns appear ready and willing to trade their former 1st Team All-NBA player (against my free, unsolicited advice), so I decided to play along and come up with a potential trade scenario (or two) for just about every team in the league. I’ll go through the league franchise-by-franchise and discuss the chances of each team actually making a play for the 26 year-old All-Star. Each blurb will also contain a link or two – if you click it you can see the trade in the ESPN Trade Machine. (I wore that thing out!)

For the record, I don’t really care where he lands — I’m just happy that the Suns didn’t announce a deal as I was writing this opus. Now that would have been a bummer.

Let’s roll…

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are pretty much set at every position except point guard. Mike Bibby’s contract is up this year, so that’s the only hole going into next season. That said, they’d be more likely to offer some combination of forwards than they would Joe Johnson. How about Al Horford (young star), Marvin Williams (young star) and Zaza Pachulia (cap relief)? I don’t think the Hawks would be willing to part with Joe Johnson or Josh Smith.

Boston Celtics
There’s no deal that would work unless the Suns truly covet Rajon Rondo. KG and Paul Pierce are untouchable. Rondo and Ray Allen for Amare and Alando Tucker would work, but since the trade offers no salary cap relief for the Suns, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Besides, if they trade away Ray Ray and Rondo, who’s going to play guard for the C’s?

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Blazers reportedly make strong pitch for Stoudemire

If this story is true, Amare Stoudemire could be heading to the Pacific Northwest before the Nov. 19 trade deadline.

The Portland Trail Blazers have made a strong play for Amare Stoudemire, discussing a package that includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless, and Raef LeFrentz’s $12.7 million expiring contract, a person with direct knowledge of the talks told Tuesday.

One factor complicating matters, according to a team executive who has spoken with the Suns, is an apparent difference of opinion between Kerr and managing partner Robert Sarver as far as what Phoenix hopes to get back in a Stoudemire trade. Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Leandro Barbosa are viewed as untouchable in any trade talks with the Suns. It is not known if any of those players is the source of disagreement between Kerr and Sarver.

I’m surprised that the Blazers are willing to give up Aldridge, but if that’s the case and Steve Kerr insists on trading Stoudemire, then he should jump on this deal. Aldridge is currently #13 amongst power forwards in PER (18.98), while Stoudemire is #11 (20.14). This tells me that Aldridge is every bit the stat guy that Amare is, and he’s probably a better defender too. The Suns would get a burgeoning All-Star talent, a young prospect in Bayless and salary cap relief in the form of Raef LaFrentz’s expiring contract.

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Blogging the Bloggers: Friday

YAHOO! SPORTS explains why the Blazers are threatening litigation against any team that attempts to sign Darius Miles.

THE HILL has quotes from President-elect Obama reiterating his desire to see a college football playoff. Four more years!

AWFUL ANNOUNCING says that Charles Barkley’s decision to take a leave of absence from TNT is the right thing to do.

– We thought Trevor Hoffman might sign with the Dodgers, but KNUCKLE CURVE informs us that he’s going to play for the Brew Crew next season.

– Terrell Owens now has his own blog over at YARDBARKER and is wondering what people would think if he had said the things about Cris Carter that Cris Carter said about him. Confused yet? I am.

A few interesting NBA pace and efficiency stats

Looking at John Hollinger’s team statistics, a few interesting things jump out:

1. No big surprises at the top of the pace list — that’s the number of positions a team plays on average per game. The Warriors, Knicks, Lakers and Nuggets are #1-#4. There are a couple of surprises at the bottom with the Hornets at #29 and Blazers at #30. Since New Orleans has the best point guard in the league, you’d think that they’d want to get out and push the ball and allow him to create. On the other hand, Portland’s youth might provide a conditioning advantage, but the Blazers have been content to slow things down. It’s funny to see the Suns at #11, but that just goes to show how differently they play with Shaq and without Mike D’Antoni.

2. The Cavs are tops in offensive efficiency (points scored / # of possessions). They were #18 last season, so this is a huge jump and explains why Cleveland is off to such a hot start. They are #2 in defensive efficiency, which is also a big jump from last year, when they finished #11 in that category. It would appear that the Mo Williams trade has helped offensively while not hurting the Cavs on the other end of the court. The bottom line is that Mike Brown is doing a nice job this year.

3. The worst defensive team in the league? The Wizards. The worst offensive team in the league? The Thunder.

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