Toronto sends Kapono to Philly

Wake up! There’s been a trade in the NBA!

The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers have completed the first trade of what is being widely forecast as an active month for NBA transactions by agreeing to swap sharpshooting guard Jason Kapono for rebounding specialist Reggie Evans.

The Sixers targeted Kapono — two-time winner of the NBA’s Long Distance Shootout at All-Star Weekend and a career 45.4 percent marksman from 3-point range — to address their well-chronicled lack of outside shooting since dealing Kyle Korver to Utah in December 2007.

The Raptors, meanwhile, potentially address two needs with the trade, adding Evans’ physicality to a roster short on that quality last season and creating a bit of extra salary-cap space for a crucial summer before Chris Bosh becomes an unrestricted free agent in July 2010.

Toronto will save about $1.2 million this season and $1.6 million next season due to the difference in the two players’ salaries. This will give the Raptors a little extra cap space to up the ante for a free agent or two over the next two summers.

Kapono is a career 45% three-point shooter and will bring a dimension to Philadelphia that was seriously lacking last season. Other than Donyell Marshall (who only played 7.6 minutes per game), the Sixers didn’t have a player shoot better than 35% from long range.

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

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.

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