Nets appear to be closing in on Carmelo

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony (L) moves against the New York Knicks guard/forward Landry Fields during the first quarter at the Pepsi Center in Denver on November 16, 2010. UPI/Gary C. Caskey


As of late Sunday night, sources said, New Jersey was poised to receive [Carmelo] Anthony, [Chauncey] Billups and [Rip] Hamilton, with Denver landing two future first-round picks and six players. The Nuggets’ haul would feature Nets rookie Derrick Favors, former All-Star guard Devin Harris and Nets sharpshooter Anthony Morrow. In addition, the Nuggets would bring in the New Jersey threesome of Quinton Ross, Ben Uzoh and Stephen Graham included for salary-cap purposes.

Detroit, meanwhile, was to receive Nets big man Johan Petro and the expiring contract of Nets forward Troy Murphy, with the Pistons motivated to join in by the $17-plus million in long-term savings they’d earn by shedding Hamilton’s contract.

Denver threw a wrench into the works by choosing to play Anthony and Billups in Sunday night’s game against New Orleans. Generally, if a player is about to be traded, the team sits him down until the deal is consummated to avoid a deal-killing injury. The Nuggets’ move indicates that the trade is not as close to the finish line as some would like to believe.

If this deal does go through, it looks fairly equitable from all sides. The Nets get their man, and they also upgrade (in the short term) at point guard. Billups is getting on in years so one wonders if the inclusion of Harris was at the Nuggets’ request. Denver would get a young prospect at power forward (Favors) and a proven guard (Harris) whom they can plug in at the point or move to another team for another piece to the rebuilding puzzle. I suspect that Ty Lawson is the future at point guard in Denver, and Harris could potentially bring in more talent later. After what happened to the Raptors and Cavs this summer, getting Favors and Harris for Anthony and Billups isn’t a bad haul. I’m sure there will be a first round draft pick or two included as well.

If anyone is wondering why Carmelo has apparently become agreeable to signing an extension with the Nets, it’s probably due to the Knicks’ inability to offer the Nuggets something equitable. If Melo finishes the season as a Nugget, the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement could mean that Anthony would leave a lot of money on the table by passing on the Nuggets’ extension offer. In other words, he’d like to lock up his contract now, and since the Nets and Nuggets have worked out a deal in principle, Carmelo can start counting his money. Certainly the prospect of continuing his career with Billups in New Jersey/Brooklyn also has to help.

If this deal does go through as described, the Nets could have a starting lineup of Billups, Hamilton, Anthony, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. That might be enough to turn the Nets into a playoff team despite the 10-27 start. After all, they’re only five games out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.

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Why did the Rockets trade for Kevin Martin?

Richard Justice (of the Houston Chronicle) wrote an interesting piece about the Kevin Martin trade and the immediate aftermath. He discusses Martin’s tough start, how the Rockets almost traded for Amare Stoudemire and how Martin settled in in his 33-point performance against the Spurs.

According to Morey’s evaluations, Martin has been one of the NBA’s most efficient scorers in the last 30 years. He’s the only player who has shot 40 percent from the beyond 3-point line and averaged eight made free-throws a game in the course of an entire season. And he has done it in two of his six NBA seasons. confirms that Martin is the only player in league history to average better than 40% from 3PT and make at least eight free throws per game. And he did it twice.

Dirk Nowitzki shot 39.9% from long range and averaged 7.9 made free throws in 2004-05. Tracy McGrady (02-03), Corey Maggette (07-08) and Kevin Durant (current) all shot 38%+ from long range with at least 7.7 made free throws per game. That’s the closest anyone has come to matching Martin’s feat.

When you think about it, it’s pretty impressive. Not only is Martin an elite three-point shooter, he is also able to get to the line with regularity. No wonder Morey considers him one of the best scorers in the game.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Josh Howard done for the year with ACL tear

Per Mike Jones, via Twitter…

Josh Howard done for the season with torn ACL Flip says.

It looks like Howard has played his last game as a Wizard. Washington has a team option for another year ($11.8 million), but they’re not likely to exercise it. Without his salary on the books, the franchise can sign a max free agent this summer.

Why didn’t the Kings get more for Kevin Martin?

In his post-deadline PER diem column, John Hollinger discusses how the Rockets were able to end up with a ton of assets in the three-way trade with the Kings and the Knicks.

Consider the Kings, for instance. They had a coveted star in Kevin Martin, $13 million in expiring contracts belonging to Kenny Thomas, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong, Ime Udoka and Sean May, and $1.6 million in cap room to do an unbalanced trade. They should have been controlling the entire game on deadline day.

Unfortunately, they didn’t choose to play. Sacramento didn’t let teams know Martin was available, and in fact insisted he wasn’t available; unlike Phoenix with Stoudemire, the Kings have no idea if Houston’s offer was the best one they could have had. In fact, there’s considerable evidence they could have done much better — possibly by bypassing the Rockets entirely.

Consider, for starters, what would have been the perfect home for Martin: Boston. The Kings could have sent Martin and little-used Andres Nocioni to the Celtics for Ray Allen and a first-round pick, and cleared $18 million in cap room (the Celtics, given their current time horizon, would have blurted out yes to this offer in a nanosecond).

They then could have used Allen and Kenny Thomas in a deal with the Knicks and walked away with the exact same trove of assets that the Rockets did. If so, Sacramento wouldn’t have Landry, but look at what they’d have instead: Jordan Hill, New York’s 2012 first-rounder, Boston’s 2011 first-rounder, the right to swap picks with New York in 2011 (admittedly, an item of more value to Houston given the two clubs’ likely records next season), and the same cap room they cleared with the Martin trade.

The only reason they don’t have those assets, it would appear, is that they didn’t ask. While the Kings fiddled, Houston forced the action and squeezed all it could from New York. When the Knicks wouldn’t flinch, the Rockets scrambled to get alternate deals in place: first an all-smoke, no-fire rumor with Chicago, and then a late deal with Sacramento that both pried Martin free and thrust the Knicks into action.

That story echoes a fairly constant background noise that’s been heard about Sacramento in recent years. The Kings have a small front office and nearly everybody in it has been there forever; one gets the impression not that they’ve lost their basketball acumen, but that they aren’t putting in the legwork anymore.

That Martin/Nocioni-for-Allen swap and subsequent trade with the Knicks is an interesting angle on this year’s trade deadline. By not making it known that Martin was available, the Kings didn’t get everyone’s best offer. Conversely, the Suns did hear everyone’s best offer or Stoudemire, and chose not to pull the trigger.

Jazz ship Brewer to Memphis

One last deal of note…

Ronnie Brewer has been dealt by Utah to the Grizzlies in exchange for a protected future first-round pick, according to Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune, Woj and a bunch of others with Twitter accounts.

The deal makes sense: By trading Brewer, the Jazz ease their logjam — sorry, Kevin — of wing players, freeing minutes for Wesley Matthews, C.J. Miles and Kyle Korver. More significantly, the Jazz will ease their luxury-tax burden, with the Grizzlies having the cap space to absorb Brewer’s $2.7 million salary.

“We had three or four players that were competing for minutes and we were able to turn that into a future asset,” Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor told Siler.

Memphis needed a guard, and Brewer is a decent player, though his PER is down to 13.12 this season after a great sophomore (18.30) season and a solid third (16.19) year. (Remember, 15.00 is the league average.) The bottom line is that he’s playing the same minutes (31+) but his shot attempts dropped from 10.2 per game last season to 7.8 this season. That’s going to result in a drop in PER.

On his Twitter page, Adrian Wojnarowski speculated about what this means for Rudy Gay:

This means Memphis is unlikely to pay Rudy Gay this summer.

I wouldn’t go that far, but it does give Memphis a solid starter if Gay does bolt this summer.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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