Marc Stein’s trade talk: Amare, Chandler, Caron and more

Marc Stein wrote a nice piece discussing some of the bigger NBA trade rumors out there right now.

1. Can we really expect an Amare Stoudemire trade in the next two weeks?

Sources say it’ll happen in-season only if the Suns can find a deal that delivers a mixture of top young talent and payroll relief. Which won’t be easy.

2. A deal for Toronto’s Jermaine O’Neal remains readily available to the Miami Heat. The Sacramento Kings likewise would still love to send Brad Miller to Miami for Shawn Marion as long as they don’t have to take back Marcus Banks, too.

3. I’ve heard multiple rumblings in the past month that Washington has made rugged forward Caron Butler available. But our research disputes that.

4. Portland is naturally making calls to see what it can fetch with its LaFrentz chip, but it appears that there’s a much better chance that Kings swingman John Salmons will wind up with the Blazers — who have inquired about Salmons — than that Chicago’s Luol Deng will.

5. San Antonio’s desire to acquire one more big man (preferably a floor-stretching big man) to counter the Lakers and Boston is no secret.

Random thoughts…

I still can’t believe that the Suns are actually considering trading a former 1st Team All-NBA player in the middle of his prime, but apparently they are…Jermaine O’Neal torched the Lakers two nights ago and looked great doing so. If he joined the Heat, that would become a very interesting team to watch. The key is his staying healthy, however…The Wizards would be nuts to trade Butler away. He’s their best player and the cheapest of their big three…I don’t think I’d go after Salmons if I’m the Blazers unless they’re planning to start him. He doesn’t play well off the bench and given the team’s glut of wings, I don’t know that he’d be the best option in the starting lineup…I’d love to see what Rasheed Wallace could do in a Spurs uniform, but San Antonio doesn’t have any expiring contracts and the numbers just don’t work.

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Are the Suns thinking about trading Amare?

ESPN’s Chad Ford said that they are in his chat yesterday.

Jason (Culver City CA) [via mobile]: What are the chances of Amare Stoudemire getting traded before the deadline?

Chad Ford: Last week I said 10 percent. But I think that was low. The more people I talk to in the league, the more I think it’s something in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 percent. Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver are taking a hard look at the team right now. If they decide to blow it up, Stoudemire will be the first to go.

Let’s see, you’re thinking about blowing the team up and your first move is to trade away your 26 year-old All-Pro forward/center? This is nonsensical. Why not trade away Shaq, who is 36 and due to make $20 million next season? Or Steve Nash, who is 34 and has just one more year on his contract?

Why would you trade away your best player, especially when he’s only 26?

I criticized Steve Kerr’s decision to break up that Suns team that was a couple of bench-clearing suspensions away from upending the eventual-champion Spurs in the 2007 playoffs. His first move as GM was to trade Rudy Fernandez to the Blazers for cash considerations. Then there was the Marion-Shaq trade, which forced Mike D’Antoni out, because he doesn’t know how to coach a slow-it-down team. Seemingly every move Kerr makes backfires.

The Suns are now 26-20, they’ve lost seven of their last 11 games and are hanging on to the #8 seed in the West. They are a shell of that exciting team that we saw in those playoffs two years ago and if Carlos Boozer can come back strong for the Jazz, Phoenix is in serious danger of missing the postseason altogether.

Now they’re thinking about trading away their best player, who is only 26 and entering the prime of his career.

That’s just great.

Marion trade rumors heating up

No pun intended. Seriously. That title just happened organically.

Anyway, the Heat are considering an offer that would send Shawn Marion to the Raptors for Jermaine O’Neal, or so says the Miami Herald.

The Heat considers center its No. 1 need and O’Neal as the best center available but remains concerned about his sore right knee (which has sidelined him 11 games this season) and the $23 million he’s due in 2009-10, the last year of his contract. It’s 50-50 whether Miami will accept Toronto’s offer of O’Neal for Marion and Marcus Banks, the official said. The O’Neal camp is optimistic it will happen.

Taking on O’Neal’s contract for the 2009-10 season is a bit of a departure for the Heat, who were thought to have been interested in signing Carlos Boozer this summer.

The Heat is receptive to trading Marion for a productive player whose contract runs through 2009-10 because: 1) Carlos Boozer, the top impending free agent, is no longer viewed as the ideal fit here, with Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley at power forward. 2) Even if Miami kept Marion and didn’t re-sign him, it would have less than $10 million in cap space this summer, not enough for Boozer anyway.

The plan remains big cap space in 2010, with Miami expected to pursue Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudamire to pair with Dwyane Wade, who can also be a free agent that summer.

Aside from the injury, O’Neal’s PER (16.27) indicates that he can still play. The question is the knee. If he’s almost back then this looks like a pretty good move for the Heat because it gives them a short-term option at center while still freeing up plenty of cap space in the summer of 2010 to re-sign Wade and pursue another big like Bosh or Stoudemire.

It’s interesting that Boozer is no longer considered a fit because he plays the same position as Beasley. I thought Beasley would end up as a small forward in the NBA, but the Heat view him as a power forward because he has a tough time defending opposing small forwards. This will be something for Bosh or Stoudemire to consider, whether or not they want to play center for the Heat.

On the flip side, Marion would give the Raptors an athletic forward. Right now, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono are splitting the wing duties, so Marion would serve as an upgrade. He can also play power forward. Interestingly, the Raptors are #18 in the league in total pace, so they are not pushing the ball as much as people might think. The addition of Marion would likely change that.

Assuming O’Neal’s knee is ready and he can help the Heat, this looks like one of those trades that is good for both teams.

The article mentions a few other teams that are interested in Marion. It’s a good read.

2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

While every year has its own host of surprises, there are always those stories that simply fit the trend. Sure, it can get repetitive, but if we don’t look back at history aren’t we only doomed to repeat it? Every year has its fair share of stories that fell into this category, and 2008 was no different.

Our list of things we already knew this year includes the BCS’ continued suckiness (Texas-Oklahoma), how teamwork wins championships (KG, Pierce and Ray-Ray), and the #1 rule for carrying a handgun into a nightclub – don’t use your sweatpants as a holster. (Come on, Plax. Really? Sweatpants?)

Don’t miss the other two parts of our 2008 Year-End Sports Review: “What We Learned” and “What We Think Might Happen.”

Brett Favre can’t make up his mind.

The biggest story of the summer was all the drama surrounding Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. This saga has been covered to death, but there’s one detail that never seemed to get that much play. At the start, it looked like the Packers were making a bad decision by moving on so quickly even when Favre decided he wanted to return. But when the news broke about Favre’s near-unretirement in March, the Packers stance became much more clear. They were ready to take him back after the owners’ meetings, but he called it off at the last minute. At that point, the Packer brass was understandably finished with Brett Favre, much to the chagrin of a good portion of the Packer faithful. – John Paulsen

The Chicago Cubs’ title drought is not a fans-only phenomenon.

The 2008 Cubs were easily the best team the franchise has assembled in decades, but they still couldn’t win a single game in the playoffs, and the reason is simple: the pressure finally got to them. Sure, they said the right things to the press about how they didn’t care about what had happened in the past, but don’t believe a word of it; there wasn’t a single person in that dugout that wasn’t fantasizing about being part of the team that finally, mercifully, ended the longest title drought in sports history. Once ESPN picked them to win it all, however, they were doomed. Ryan Dempster walked seven batters in Game 1, which matched his total for the month of September. The entire infield, including the sure-handed Derrek Lee, committed errors in Game 2. Alfonso Soriano went 1-14 with four strikeouts in the leadoff spot, while the team as a whole drew six walks and struck out 24 times. The team with so much balance in the regular season suddenly became the most one-dimensional team in baseball; take Game 1 from them, then sit back and watch them choke. And now that this group has lost six straight playoff games (the team has lost nine straight dating back to 2003), it isn’t about to get any easier. Get a helmet, Cubs fans. – David Medsker

If you’re going to wear sweatpants to a nightclub, leave the gun at home.

If winning a Super Bowl is the pinnacle of an NFL player’s career, than shooting yourself with your own gun in a nightclub has to be rock bottom. Case in point: Plaxico Antonio Burress. Just 10 months after helping the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg while at a nightclub. Apparently the (unregistered) gun was slipping down his leg and when he tried to grab it to keep it from falling, the lucky bastard wound up pulling the trigger and shooting himself. And that wasn’t the worst of it because as Plaxico found out, New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. He was arrested, but posted bail of $100,000 and is scheduled to return to court on March 31, 2009. If convicted of carrying a weapon without a license, he faces up to three and a half years in jail. He shouldn’t expect special treatment, either. The mayor of New York wants to be sure that Burress is prosecuted just like any other resident of NYC. The Giants, meanwhile, placed him on their reserve/non-football injury list and effectively ended his season. While “Plax” definitely deserves “Boner of the Week” consideration for his stupidity, what’s sad is that in the wake of Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor’s death, most NFL players feel the need to arm themselves when they go out. Maybe players can learn from not only Taylor’s death, but also Burress’s accident so further incidents can be avoided. – Anthony Stalter

Read the rest after the jump...

Suns’ makeover a work in progress

Steve Kerr took over as GM of the Suns in the summer of 2007 and his first move was to trade the rights to Rudy Fernandez to the Blazers for cash considerations. Obviously, with Fernandez on the short list of serious Rookie of the Year contenders, this was a bad, bad move. He came out of that draft with University of Wisconsin standout Alando Tucker, who has only played 48 total minutes in a season and change.

He then traded Kurt Thomas and two future first round picks to the Seattle Supersonics in a straight salary dump. The next move was his biggest — he traded Shawn Marion to the Heat for Shaquille O’Neal.

At the time, I thought it was a mistake to break up that Suns team that was a couple of bench-clearing infractions away from upending the Spurs in the 2007 playoffs. No matter how much of a distraction Shawn Marion was at the time — and as I remember, the Matrix was a pretty good citizen for most of 2007 — he was essential to the success of Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack.

Those Suns were fun to watch and, more importantly, they were damn good. They made the Western Conference Finals in 2006 and lost to the eventual champs in the aforementioned 2007 playoffs. Who’s to say that one more season wouldn’t have made the difference?

Steve Kerr, that’s who.

Kerr is well-liked and well-respected. I always enjoyed listening to his color commentary and found him to be quite knowledgeable. But in one and a half seasons running the Suns, I am not impressed with his skills as a GM. Sure, there’s a chance that Shaq finds the Fountain of Youth and, as Roland Lazenby of HoopsHype writes, this team will be suddenly able to put it all together in time for a serious playoff run, but right now they look like a mediocre team with a bunch of good players whose best years are far behind them.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this Suns team, still led by Mike D’Antoni, with Marion instead of O’Neal, and Rudy Fernandez filling the wing. Is that better or worse than what we’re watching now?

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