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.

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Five blockbuster deals that should happen (but probably won’t)

The trade deadline is just a week away, so I thought it would be fun to play puppet master and propose a few blockbuster trades that should happen, but probably won’t. Let’s start with the least likely and work our way to the most credible. (Honestly, I had this idea before I hit the ESPN NBA page this morning and saw Chad Ford’s similar piece. Don’t worry, we don’t suggest any of the same trades.) Click on the link to see each trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

1. Amare Stoudemire for David Lee
To make the salaries work, the Knicks would also include Jared Jeffries and Chris Duhon in the deal.
Why the Knicks should do it: Stoudemire had his best years under Mike D’Antoni and would welcome a reunion. He’s also a big name that would encourage another superstar to join the franchise this summer, and he’s more likely to re-sign with the Knicks because New York is the media capital of the world. They’d also benefit from clearing Jeffries’ salary from the books, leaving around $13 million in cap space to sign a big name (assuming Stoudemire does NOT opt out of the final year of his deal).
Why the Suns should do it: David Lee is a great fit for the Suns’ up-tempo system and he’s almost as good as Stoudemire (PER: 22.1 vs. Amare’s 20.2) at about 60% of the cost. Phoenix would pay a little more this season and have to take on Jeffries’ contract, but they’d have a young All-Star caliber power forward to build around. If they stand pat and Amare opts out, they stand to lose him with nothing to show for it, as they only would have around $4 million in cap space if Amare bolts.
Why it won’t happen: Phoenix won’t want to take on Jeffries’ contract for next season without a commitment from Lee to re-sign for a reasonable salary. He was asking for $10 million per season last summer, but his price is probably going up after making a push for the All-Star Game in 2010.

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Caron Butler to Texas?

NBA.com’s David Aldridge does not like to write trade columns, but fans love them, so he relented. Here are a few of the more interesting tidbits:

…by this time next week, it’s almost a certainty that Caron Butler will be gone from Washington, and highly likely that Tyrus Thomas will no longer be a Bull. By the 18th, Indiana’s Troy Murphy and Philly’s Andre Iguodala are certain to have new addresses as well, though those teams may well go right up until the 3 p.m. deadline to max out their suitors’ offers.

Not a bad start. Aldridge predicts at least two stars (Butler, Iguodala) and two starter-quality players (Murphy, Thomas) will be on the move. Here’s what he says about Butler:

The Wizards’ desire to move Butler has only increased in recent days, since they found out they will indeed get some cap relief from the NBA this season after losing Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton to suspension for the rest of the season. Washington’s cap number will be reduced almost $4 million, according to sources — pro-rated amounts of the remainder of Arenas’s $16.1 million and Crittenton’s $1.47 million salaries — taking its cap number to a little more than $74 million. The cap threshhold is $69.9 million, meaning Washington could avoid paying tax if it can pare another $4 to $5 million in salaries off its books.

That means Butler, though I suspect the Wizards will ask inquiring teams to remove Mike James and/or DeShawn Stevenson from their payroll as well.

Butler winding up somewhere in Texas is most likely, with Washington probably deciding between Dallas’ and Houston’s competing offers before next week’s All-Star Game. The Wizards are determined to get a young player back, though, and the Mavericks’ only non-geezer is rookie guard Rod Beaubois — while Houston has a young guard like Kyle Lowry and an expiring big man contract in forward Luis Scola to pair with McGrady’s $22 million expiring deal.

With the way Antawn Jamison has been playing (22-10-2 in February), some consider him to be the Wizards’ most valuable trade asset. But at 33 years old and with a tough contract to swallow (two more years at the tune of $28.4 million), I believe Caron Butler is the better acquisition. Butler is four years younger and has just one year remaining ($10.6 million). Butler has had his ups and downs this season, but he’s a swingman in his prime and he proved he still has it in a brilliant 31-point, nine-rebound effort against the Magic the other night.

From a pure personnel standpoint, the acquisition of Butler makes more sense for the Mavericks, who would like to upgrade from Josh Howard. A small-ball lineup of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki would be pretty scary.

The Rockets already have Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier at small forward, so Houston’s interest seems to be more of the “buy low” variety, and that’s not a bad way to go about things. Daryl Morey has T-Mac’s $22 million expiring deal and several young assets — Lowry, Carl Landry and Chase Budinger — to dangle.


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Should the Cavs acquire Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy?

ESPN’s Chad Ford breaks down the 25 impact players most likely to be traded before the NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline. [Insider subscription required.]

1. Antawn Jamison, F, Wizards
Jamison is at the top of this list for three reasons. First, the Wizards are a mess and seem to be moving rapidly toward a fire sale. Second, Jamison is in the latter stages of his career. Neither he nor the Wizards want him stuck on a terrible team. Third, a number of contenders want him, namely the Cavs. That’s the perfect recipe for a big deadline trade.

2. Troy Murphy, F, Pacers
The Pacers look as though they’re moving toward a youth movement as they continue to build around Danny Granger. With a number of contending teams interested in Murphy, the Pacers seem to be in the right place to make a deal. While Murphy may be overpaid, there are few bigs in the league that can rebound and spread the floor the way he can. With just one more year left on his contract, Murphy could be the missing piece for a team trying to compete for a title.

The Cavs seem to have the most interest, though several other teams have also told me they’ll make a run at him. At the very least, the Pacers should be able to deal Murphy for expiring contracts and one asset (either a draft pick or a young prospect).

3. Tayshaun Prince, F, Pistons
Joe Dumars didn’t expect the Pistons to be championship contenders this season. But he also didn’t anticipate the team losing 13 games in a row. The fact that the Pistons drafted three small forwards in last year’s draft and that two of them — Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye — look very promising is all you need to know. The word on the street is that the Pistons are in very active trade discussions on Prince.

While the team would prefer to move Richard Hamilton, I don’t think they’re going to be able to find a home for him given his enormous contract. If the Pistons can swap Prince for some help in the paint, they’ve got to do it. The combination of Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown just isn’t getting it done.

It makes sense that Jamison is more likely on his way out of Washington than his teammate, Caron Butler. Butler is younger (29) and has a better contract, and the Wizards could actually build around him for 3-4 years if they chose to do so.

It looks like Ford believes that there’s a good chance that the Cavs will end up with either Jamison or Murphy. Both are power forwards who can spread the court with good outside shooting.

Here is what John Hollinger had to say about Jamison’s defense:

If Jamison has a weakness, it’s his defense, and the absence of Brendan Haywood last year magnified that problem. He’s a disinterested help defender who rarely blocks shots or takes charges, and quicker forwards beat him off the dribble easily because his lateral movement isn’t great. He does a decent job on the boards and doesn’t foul, but he needs to be paired with a big, tough center to hide his shortcomings.

And here are his thoughts about Murphy on that end of the floor:

While he’s a tremendous rebounder with a strong frame and a knack for positioning, his lack of foot speed hurts him at the defensive end, too. He struggles to contest shots or defend long post players and is particularly bad at moving laterally to defend pick-and-rolls.

To sum up, Murphy is a better three-point shooter (40% to 35%), but Jamison is probably better able to match up with Rashard Lewis, who gave the Cavs fits in last year’s playoffs. Murphy has one more season at the tune of $12.0 million, while Jamison has two more years and $28.4 remaining on his contract. Murphy (29) is four years younger than Jamison (33).

Acquiring Murphy would allow for more flexibility in a year or two, but with LeBron’s future up in the air, Danny Ferry should make a move for the player he thinks is most able to help the Cavs win a championship now. Maybe it’s Murphy, maybe it’s Jamison. They both bring different things to the table.

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