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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The quiet before the trade deadline

In his latest Trade Buzz, Chad Ford writes that things on the trade front have been a little quiet lately. Here’s why:

One factor appears to be the looming battle over the next collective bargaining agreement, with negotiations expected to start soon. In front offices around the league, the feeling is that owners will fight for major concessions from the players in the next CBA, perhaps even a hard salary cap. With the uncertainty over the new CBA and the economy, some GMs are taking a cautious tack.

In addition to cap considerations, there is another perennial issue: Teams ask for a lot in early trade talks and often don’t feel a sense of urgency until the final hours before the deadline. As one GM told me: “There aren’t many teams that are willing to give teams cap relief this year. And the teams that are willing to do so are asking for a lot in return. I’m not willing to give up an All-Star to save money. But that’s what they want.”

There are some very big names that are available (Amare Stoudemire, Antawn Jamison, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Ray Allen, Andre Iguodala and Devin Harris, just to name a few), and as non-playoff teams try to save money, it’s going to be interesting to see if cap space trumps talent over the next couple of weeks.

Take my overpaid star…please!

Memphis GM Gerald Wallace took a lot of heat for trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers. But if we’ve learned anything in the past few days, it’s that Wallace was simply a man ahead of his time.

On Tuesday, we learned that the Bucks agreed to trade Richard Jefferson to the Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Amir Johnson. (Fabricio Oberto was part of the original deal, but San Antonio sent him to Detroit for Johnson, who was then sent to Milwaukee.)

Regular readers know I’m a Bucks fan, and I spent the last couple of days grumbling on the Sports Bubbler message boards about how we didn’t get anything in return for Jefferson, who is still a pretty good player. When Wallace traded away Gasol, at least he got Javaris Crittenton (who was considered a prospect with upside at the time) and Pau’s brother, Marc, who turned out to be a productive center for the Grizzlies.

Then I wake up today to see that the Cavs and Suns have agreed to go through with that long-rumored trade that will send Shaq to Cleveland for salary cap relief. Who do the Suns get in return? A retiree (Ben Wallace), a bench player with a partially guaranteed contract (Sasha Pavlovic), some cash and a second round pick.

This is the going rate for a Third Team All-NBA center these days.

We knew that this summer had the potential to be a rough one for free agents, but it’s a little surprising to see that good players like O’Neal and Jefferson could be had for virtually nothing. Bucks owner Herb Kohl and Suns owner Robert Sarver realize that their clubs aren’t legitimate contenders, so they don’t see the point in paying the luxury tax just for the privilege of being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. What kind of an effect these moves have on season ticket purchases remains to be seen.

The bottom line is that if a team is willing to spend, there has never been a better time to acquire talent. You’re not going to get someone like Caron Butler, who plays for a (pretend) contender and has a reasonable contract, but you can get Jefferson, who is overpaid and is on a mediocre team that is up against the luxury tax. And the older the player, the more likely he’s available. Teams aren’t going to give up good players that are in their early- or mid-twenties because the plan is to rebuild before they’re over the hill.

So who might be on the move for a bag of peanuts and some salary cap flexibility? How about Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Vince Carter, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O’Neal, Michael Redd, Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton?

Truth be told, a team like the Suns isn’t going to give the youngish Stoudemire away for cap flexibility alone. But as the price of a star goes down, the price of superstar goes down as well.

It promises to be an interesting summer.

Report: Celtics offer Rondo, Ray Ray to Pistons

Some scoffed at the rumors that the Boston Celtics would consider trading Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, but apparently the C’s approached the Pistons with an offer that included both players.

I think it’s time to quit dismissing all those Rajon Rondo trade rumors. A source in Detroit says the Pistons were approached by a lower-level Celtics executive who offered Ray Allen and Rondo for Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey.

The Pistons, of course, said no to the deal — Rondo’s great, but he’s not worth the entire core of the Pistons. But that’s not the news. It’s becoming harder and harder for the Celtics to deny that they are looking to move Rondo. His name has come up in rumors with the Suns and Kings. I know Danny Ainge has brushed them off and says the Celtics probably will do nothing, but where there’s smoke …

The Pistons declined. Rondo is good, but he’s not worth the core of the Detroit roster. Rondo’s problems seem to revolve around one thing — his attitude. Still, I’m surprised that GM Danny Ainge would consider breaking up the core that won a championship two seasons ago. If not for Kevin Garnett’s knee injury, they would have had a good shot at repeating.

By the way, I love that there is a “lower-level” executive in the Celtics organization in charge of offering blockbuster trades to conference rivals.

Ray-Ray, Rondo on the block?

6/23 Update: The C’s have reportedly offered Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to the Detroit Pistons.

Yes, according to HoopsWorld.

Off the record, we have several sources telling us that Ray Allen is, indeed, on the block. It’s easy to make the leap, as the Celtics have managed to develop some nice young talent around their Big Three while also managing to win a championship. They might have even repeated had Kevin Garnett been healthy. It’s not a stretch to say the Celtics would part with Allen, who has an ending contract next season, if they could add another top young player to the mix.

On the record we have an added wrinkle – one that we thought to be highly unlikely until we found it reported with a quote attributed to Celtics GM Danny Ainge. It seems the Celtics are willing to package Rajon Rondo with Allen to make the right deal happen

“He’s stubborn,” Ainge told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen. “He doesn’t always take direction well. He’s very bright and knows what he needs to do to be successful. But sometimes he doesn’t understand what the team needs to be successful.”

Doc Rivers expressed similar sentiments, which he directed at Rondo himself earlier this season.

“Do you know your teammates hate playing with you? … The point guard has to be the guy that brings energy to the team. You can’t be the guy that sucks it away. Your moodiness is affecting us. Change it.”

At the same time, Rondo has guys like Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins saying he’s their leader and they believe in him. And while there is a great deal to be said for patience and seeing if Rondo will improve as much next season as he did in 2008-09, there is certainly a lot of negativity coming from the decision-makers – enough to fuel trade speculation.

Wow. That’s the first I’ve heard about any problems with Rondo’s attitude.

It’s shocking to me that Danny Ainge is thinking about breaking up the core that won a championship less than a year ago. It’s not like they had the same group this season and failed to advance. They missed the Conference Finals (and probably the Finals) because Kevin Garnett missed the playoffs with a knee injury. You’d think that Ainge would be focused on getting everyone healthy enough to make another run, not thinking about trading away two of his starters.

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