The Rockets appeased the trade demands of Tracy McGrady, cutting him loose and getting a good deal of talent in return. The Bulls, Knicks and Clippers all cleared out a ton of room under the salary cap in preparation for next summer. The Celtics, Suns and Jazz all sat on their hands rather than trade their superstars.
A lot of teams made big moves, and a lot of teams spoke volumes by doing nothing at all. We're now geared up for a thrilling stretch run over the final two months of the NBA season — and not only that, but we're prepared for an unforgettable summer on the free-agent market as well. The deadline has come and gone and the stage is now set.
4:22 p.m.: It's been a quiet post-deadline period. Always depressing to watch a deadline go by. So much exciting drama today, but so many big names still untouched — Amare, Boozer, Bosh, Ray Allen, Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala. Back to the Christmas morning analogy — it's hard not to feel like the kid who just got a huge pile of loot under the tree, but still wishes he'd gotten one or two presents more. I guess I'm just a spoiled brat, but I can't help but feel a tiny bit down in the dumps.
3:57 p.m.: Was anyone else not aware that Theo Ratliff was still an active player in the National Basketball Association? Because apparently he is, and apparently he was just dealt from the Spurs to the Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte, which just sent Nazr Mohammed to Indy a little over an hour ago, has wasted no time finding an able-bodied big man to replace him. Ratliff brings with him both an expiring contract and an AARP card.
3:44 p.m.: It looks like the Boozer buzz has finally died down. According to Ross Siler, who covers the Jazz for the Salt Lake Tribune, the reports of the Heat working in Boozer were "greatly exaggerated, at least according to the Jazz." Fair enough. Every indication is that the Heat really wanted to get this done, but the Jazz weren't too keen on giving away their star big man. This one was probably destined to fail from the start.
3:34 p.m.: There is Jazz news to report, but it's not what you think. The latest deal is Ronnie Brewer to the Memphis Grizzlies for a draft pick — Brewer was averaging 9.5 points a game for Utah this season but struggling a little bit defensively.
This deal means two things. For Utah, it means they're already losing one key cog in their rotation, so they really, really, really need to get good value in return for Boozer now. Even if the two play different positions, it just hurts your depth way too much to lose both guys without getting a lot back.
As for the Grizzlies, it means that their odds of making a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Rudy Gay this summer just went way down. Brewer is slated to earn almost $4 million next season, and the Grizzlies would have little reason to keep both guys around. Gay has been an explosive scorer this season, but the Grizzlies may well choose to let him walk and build instead around Brewer, O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley. Gay might find himself a huge payday when he hits the open market this summer.
3:17 p.m.: Looks like the dust has finally settled on Amare, although the jury's still out on what will happen to Boozer today. Chad Ford is reporting that "a last-minute bid from an undisclosed team has fallen apart," and Amare will indeed be staying in Phoenix to finish out the season. He adds that Robert Sarver, Steve Kerr and the Suns' All-Star big man have scheduled a dinner for tonight to smooth things over. Looks like that one's all settled. Now, about that Boozer deal…
3:11 p.m.: How desperate, I wonder, will the Heat be to get a deal done for Carlos Boozer? All over the league, there are teams making moves to free up space for Dwyane Wade down the road. The Knicks, the Bulls, the Clippers — these are big teams in big markets. The Heat have to be feeling the pressure — if they want to keep Wade, they had better make a big gesture to prove they want him around. Trading for Boozer, a two-time All-Star, could be that gesture. Let's see if they get it done.
2:59 p.m.: We are literally seconds away from the 2010 trading deadline, but there are some big names suddenly rushing back into focus as teams scramble to get one final deal done at the last minute. There's conflict over what the real deal is with Amare Stoudemire, with some saying he's absolutely not moving and others arguing that there's still one team left making a concerted effort to land him. Meanwhile, the latest on Carlos Boozer is that the Heat trade is "not smoke," and that "both sides working hard right now." That may be true, but they're running out of time to get a deal done.
We'll have to wait this one out until well past 3 p.m. — the deadline is now, but these deals have a way of coming to light well after the clock strikes the final hour. We'll see what surfaces over the next couple hours — don't bet your house yet on Amare or Boozer playing tomorrow night for their current teams.
2:53 p.m.: Apparently the Knicks and Celtics have figured out a way to throw in another player and even out the math for Nate Robinson, but it won't be Rodriguez. League sources are telling SI.com that the Celtics will get Robinson and Knicks rookie Marcus Landry in exchange for House, Giddens and Bill Walker. Not a surprise, as Giddens and Walker both have expiring deals in Boston and neither has gotten much playing time. Both were expendable to Danny Ainge, and it looks like both are now headed out the door.
2:49 p.m.: The Pacers and Bobcats are close, but not done, on a deal that would ship both of their starting guards to Charlotte — two-guard Brandon Rush and part-time starting point guard T.J. Ford are rumored to be involved in a deal for Nazr Mohammed, D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson. Solid deal for the Bobcats, who would gain some backcourt depth and have Tyson Chandler waiting in the wings to take over at center for Mohammed. This would make them a stronger, deeper team come playoff time.
2:41 p.m.: Nineteen minutes to go. I guess this Amare Stoudemire thing really isn't happening. Following the NBA and wondering every February if Amare's getting traded is like rooting for the Cubs and praying for them to win the World Series every October. You know it's never going to happen, but you anxiously watch every year, thinking this could be the year the impossible happens and we all swallow our words.
Well, no impossible happening in Phoenix this year. I guess the Amare trade rumors really are dead. "Wait 'til next year," as they say.
2:30 p.m.: Half an hour to go, and there's not much new news to report. The Milwaukee Bucks appear to be the most active team in the league today — they already reeled in John Salmons earlier this morning, and now they've also sent Jodie Meeks and Francisco Elson to the Sixers for Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey, according to SI's Chris Mannix. Not really sure what purpose it serves, if any, to trade inexpensive bench scrubs for new inexpensive bench scrubs. But at least the Bucks are doing something at the deadline, proving they're not content to coast through the end of the season in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
2:10 p.m.: Here's an idea: Maybe the Knicks' acquisition of Sergio Rodriguez in the McGrady trade was the missing piece of their deal with the Celtics to ship Nate Robinson to Boston in the 11th hour. If you do the math, it actually makes quite a bit of sense that Rodriguez could be Boston-bound.
Because Robinson was given a massive raise by the Knicks upon extending his rookie-scale contract, upping his salary from just over $2 million last season to an even $4 million now, Robinson becomes what's known as a "base-year compensation" player. Simply put, it means that while his paychecks put $4 million in his pocket, his salary only counts for $2 million for trade purposes.
Eddie House, the main piece the Knicks stand to get back for Robinson today, makes $2.8 million this season. J.R. Giddens earns roughly $1 million. The salaries aren't even — the Celtics are getting back about $1.8 million in trade value more than they're getting, and with the C's over the cap, that won't fly.
It just so happens that Rodriguez makes right around $1.6 million. That makes the math just about perfect. And he's also a 23-year-old point guard who could team up with Robinson nicely to add backcourt depth to the Celtics' bench. If the C's get a chance to swap House and Giddens for Robinson and Rodriguez, they should absolutely do it. Even if they're asked to throw in a draft pick or two, it's worth it to bring in two talented guards that could help them for the stretch run.
1:58 p.m.: It wouldn't be at all surprising if all this chatter about Carlos Boozer to Miami turned out to be nothing. The Jazz are in the thick of a playoff race right now, playing better than just about anyone in the NBA, and they really can't justify trading Boozer without getting good value for him. Udonis Haslem and a draft pick, which doesn't look like a lottery pick with the Heat zeroed in on sixth place in the East? Not good enough. There's no way Kevin O'Connor sells Boozer for 60 cents on the dollar with the way the Jazz are playing right now. Even if he thinks Paul Millsap is a suitable replacement for Boozer in the starting five (which he probably is), the deal is still a horrible idea.
1:46 p.m.: This three-way deal is starting to become much, much clearer, thanks in large part to ESPN's Marc Stein: the Knicks get McGrady and the Kings' Sergio Rodriguez; the Rockets get Kevin Martin from the Kings and Jordan Hill/Jared Jeffries from New York; and the Kings get Houston's Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey and New York's Larry Hughes. Got all that? No?
It's a great trade for the Knicks, who finally get the huge expiring contract they need to clear up salary cap space for 2010 without having to sacrifice Danilo Gallinari. They're only forced to give up Hill, their No. 8 overall draft pick, who by almost all accounts is the lesser talent. Not a huge loss there, and certainly worth it for a chance at LeBron, Wade or Bosh this summer.
For the Rockets, they had to ditch T-Mac, who had been asking out for months. To lock up Martin, who should be their shooting guard of the future for a long time, is huge. Hill and Jeffries are just gravy.
For the Kings? It's tricky. It definitely looks like Geoff Petrie had become convinced that Martin and Tyreke Evans couldn't play together. So he ditches Martin and gets two power forwards — Landry and Dorsey — both of whom can play, but both are undersized. It really puts a big-time burden on Spencer Hawes to be a dominating force inside as the Kings' center.
Hawes, Landry, Omri Casspi, Evans and Beno Udrih. Not a bad starting five for the Kings going forward, but not a serious playoff threat, either.
1:26 p.m.: All right, it's looking pretty darn official: The two-team trade to ship Tracy McGrady from Houston to Sacramento is now a three-team deal, with T-Mac bound for the Knicks. And if you believe everything your "tweeps" tell you, McGrady is "giddy" about the prospect of two months in the Big Apple. Okay, T-Mac. Your funeral.
12:59 p.m.: One has to wonder what the future holds for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who ended up being the main piece shipped from Cleveland to Washington in the Cavaliers' deal for Antawn Jamison. Big Z is making just over $12 million this season, and that's money that the Wizards have no reason to shell out with no hope of making any noise in the playoff race. If the Wiz buy him out, there are a few teams that could really use his services.
Don't count out the Blazers to make a move toward signing Ilgauskas — they have already traded for Marcus Camby this week, but they're without both Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla for the entire season, so they could sure use a second center. The Nuggets have been looking for an extra big man, rumor has it, and the Mavericks might want one too, what with Erick Dampier out indefinitely with a dislocated finger.
And then, there's always the possibility that Z will just bounce right back to Cleveland. There's a 30-day waiting period for him to return to his previous team before after bought out, but as long as he's back for the playoffs, that shouldn't matter much.
12:48 p.m.: Big, big news might be in the works in Miami — there's talk of the Heat and Jazz working out a trade of Carlos Boozer before the deadline. This would be a huge boost to a Miami team that's just barely over .500 and could use one more piece — not only for the East playoffs, but also to convince Dwyane Wade to stick around past 2010. Stay tuned on this one.
12:35 p.m.: The big question you should all ask yourselves between now at 3 p.m., as the Knicks scramble to finally work out a deal for Tracy McGrady's massive expiring conract: Is anyone really going to take Jared Jeffries off their hands?
For all this buzz about T-Mac to the Knicks, the bottom line is that this deal isn't worth doing unless the Knicks can unload Jeffries and the $6.8 million he's owed next season. This isn't about getting McGrady and making one final push to make the playoffs — it's about clearing up cap space for LeBron and Bosh. The Knicks have less than three hours left to talk someone — anyone! — into taking Jeffries and shipping them expiring deals. It really won't be easy.
On the bright side, Jeffries isn't entirely undesirable — he is still a 28-year-old big man who's a very athletic defender on both the high and low post. On the right team, he could be tremendous asset. But man… what was Isiah Thomas thinking when he signed that gigantic contract?
Forget it. I didn't ask that. I've long given up on trying to understand the mind of Isiah Thomas. Lost cause.
12:23 p.m.: Doesn't sound like you can expect any of the 76ers rumors you've heard this month to come true. Forget about Amare Stoudemire, forget about Tracy McGrady, forget about Ray Allen. Forget about the Sixers making a blockbuster move to unload Andre Iguodala's contact. Ed Stefanski is telling the local media in Philly that his team should "pretty much stand pat."
Big surprise — the Sixers were never major players for any of the big names, and there's no way they could have gotten equal value for Iguodala. The Sixers are pretty much a mess right now — Jrue Holiday is a work in progress, Elton Brand has been a disappointment, Samuel Dalembert remains massively overpaid, and no one knows what in the world's going on with Allen Iverson. Hard to see this franchise turning things around in the next few years.
12:07 p.m.: ESPN's Ric Bucher is tweeting away, and he reports that the Bobcats are on the verge of acquiring Tyrus Thomas from Chicago for Acie Law, Flip Murray and a future draft pick. Great win-win deal — the Bobcats get a solid young big man, and the Bulls get cap space.
The Bobcats have been surviving this season with Boris Diaw as their power forward, and somehow they've stayed alive for the No. 8 seed in the East playoffs despite Diaw being atrocious defensively. Acquiring Thomas will give them one of the best defensive-minded young bigs in the game, which is exactly what they need alongside the explosive scoring of Gerald Wallace. As for the Bulls, that's another $6 million off the books for next season — hello, Chris Bosh. How good would Bosh look in Chicago next to Joakim Noah?
11:55 a.m.: Add the Pistons to the list of NBA teams likely staying put at the deadline. In other news, add me to the list of NBA analysts left completely and utterly baffled as to what Joe Dumars' long-term plan is for that franchise. Detroit pumped $95 million last summer into what basically amounts to two glorified bench players, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. They're clearly not winning anything with that roster — they're 19-34 and looking dead in the water in the playoff hunt, even in the Eastern Conference.
And yet sources are telling Chad Ford at ESPN that there's "less than a 10 percent chance" of Detroit making a deal today. But what can you expect? Ideally, they'd be able to get rid of Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince and rebuild around a younger nucleus, but who in the world wants to pick up those unwieldy contracts? Maybe the best deal of all for the Pistons would be acquiring a time machine. Then they could go back to June and keep their hands off of Villanueva and Gordon. No one can even compete for a title spending that much money on bench scorers. It just doesn't work.
11:43 a.m.: Nate Robinson to the Celtics is still "close," but it's still not a done deal. The latest rumor out there now is that "Eddie House and J.R. Giddens and possibly a draft pick" is the new asking price for the recent three-time slam dunk champion.
Makes sense — the Knicks would have little incentive to trade for House straight-up if it were just expiring deal for expiring deal. They've got to get something else too — Giddens and a late draft pick would be small pieces to make the trade worth their while, not mind-blowing but certainly better than nothing.
11:24 a.m.: Interesting that we've heard so little today about the San Antonio Spurs, who currently sit fifth in the Western Conference and might want to make a deal to shake things up before 3 p.m. There were rumblings earlier this week about the Spurs potentially dealing Richard Jefferson, who's having a disappointing season in San Antonio, but it doesn't look likely that that'll happen. His contract is huge and his stock is low.
But the Spurs could really use some kind of deal — their window is closing with Tim Duncan aging, and this team as currently constructed is not about to get out of the first round of the West playoffs. Jefferson hasn't been a good fit in that offense, and if the Spurs could unload that contract and acquire some smaller pieces — role players to fit around Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — they'd have to do it. I think we've learned by now that you can't tamper with that San Antonio big three. Jefferson isn't working for them.
11:13 a.m.: Anyone else notice that of the major contenders to win the NBA Finals this year, only one is content to stand pat and stick with their current roster? That would be the Lakers. The Bosh rumor is dead, and we've gotten absolutely no indication that L.A.'s looking to make a deal today. "Not us."
Fair enough. It makes for an intriguing contrast between the Lakers and, say, Cleveland — one team seemed desperate to make a deal all week (and may have made one that threatened the long-term stability of their franchise), while the Lakers were happy just to sit on their hands. Which team seems more confident about its title hopes?
10:58 a.m.: The deadline's a little over four hours away now, and it's time to check in on all the teams making a run at clearing up the cap space to sign LeBron James. The Bulls, for one, are making a big effort to clear out room, as it looks like their deal with the Bucks to ship John Salmons and his $6 million contract to Milwaukee is happening after all. Good deal for the Bucks, definitely — they don't get Murphy, but they have stumbled upon a big consolation prize of a 2011 expiring contract. As for the Bulls, this is where it gets really interesting.
In getting rid of Salmons' hefty deal, the Bulls have now trimmed down to a manageable $32 million in payroll for next season. If they can unload Kirk Hinrich in the next few hours as well, that's another $9 million gone. Maybe it's not altogether crazy that the Bulls could make room for multiple max deals under the cap this summer — do you believe that LeBron and Bosh are going to be a package deal for next year? If so, this could get really interesting for you.
And then there are the Clippers. Earlier this week, the lesser L.A. franchise shipped Marcus Camby to the Blazers, who were in desperate need of a big man after the injuries they've dealt with this season. They got back Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw — two expiring contracts. Now, by inserting themselves into the Cavs' deal for Antawn Jamison, the Clips have also unloaded Sebastian Telfair and Al Thornton, which means $16 million more is coming off the books for next year.
And here's the great irony of the situation: The Cavs agreed to this trade. Danny Ferry signed off on this deal because it netted him Antawn Jamison and gave him a chance to win a championship right now. But he also gave the Clippers a whole lot of salary cap space to work with, and it might ultimately be that space that produces a job opening for LeBron to come to L.A. next summer. You could almost say Ferry loaded the gun that shot him.
10:27 a.m.: Oh, the things you miss when you're asleep at three in the morning. While McGrady to the Kings is still happening, it looks as though Sacramento is not necessarily his final destination. (Funny how the local media in Sacramento aren't picking up on this one.) T-Mac being flipped to the Knicks before 3 p.m. is still a very real possibility, and one that isn't going to go away quietly.
Sources are telling ESPN.com that the Knicks tried to work out a simple two-team deal with Houston for McGrady up until late last night, but Daryl Morey's asking price was too high. Now that he's in Sacramento, it'll be interesting to see whether the Kings are open to dealing him — but keep in mind that even if they don't get a deal done, they have the option of buying McGrady out next month, at which point he could just sign with the Knicks anyway as a free agent. One way or another, T-Mac could easily be leaving Sacramento before the end of the season.
10:16 a.m.: Not much to report on the Pacers and their interest in dealing Troy Murphy. Murphy's been averaging a double-double (13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds) this season for an atrocious Indiana team — he's the kind of guy that can give you a year and a half of very productive basketball followed by an expiring contract in 2011. He makes a lot of sense for a team with a bunch of money coming off the books in the summer after next.
That description would fit the Milwaukee Bucks, who will shed over $25 million in payroll in 2011 between Michael Redd and Dan Gadzuric. And it also applies to the Knicks, who have basically no one left after next summer. The Milwaukee buzz has died down, and as for the Knickerbockers, well… more on that in a minute.
10:05 a.m.: I must say, it's more than a little surprising how we've heard so little buzz surrounding the Raptors and their expiring contract of Chris Bosh. Remember that "Bosh to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum" rumor that was floating around NBA circles about a month ago? It's surprising that nothing ever came of that — it made so much sense! The Lakers get another dynamic frontcourt scorer to pair with Pau Gasol (a big upgrade over Bynum, no offense to the future All-Star), and the Raptors ensure that they at least get something in return for Bosh before he skips town this summer.
It's funny. In the NBA, you almost never see the old "this guy's leaving as a free agent, we've gotta trade him now and get something back" storyline. Happens all the time in baseball — matter of fact, it's the reasoning behind the majority of the deals you see every year on July 31. It's different in the NBA, though, because with such smaller rosters and with the huge impact that one franchise player can have, star players develop closer bonds with their front offices. LeBron James doesn't ask to leave the Cavaliers — he asks them to work together with him to make the team better, so he won't have to leave. Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, they all do the same.
Bosh is an exception to that. There's little doubt at this point that come July, he's leaving for a bigger market and a bigger paycheck. And the Raptors, who look safe in their hunt for a third playoff berth in four years, have an obligation to field a winning basketball team. It's surprising that they're not putting more effort into getting equal value (or at least something vaguely resembling it) for Bosh.
9:53 a.m.: I suppose it's time to address that big giant elephant towering over the rest of the room. No, it does not look at this moment as though Ray Allen will be traded. The latest buzz from Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski over at Yahoo Sports is that "according to multiple team sources … while the Celtics have spent the past few weeks exploring their trade options with Allen, they don?t expect to move the veteran shooting guard."
Makes sense. I said this last night, and I'll say it again: The Celtics weren't looking to move Ray Allen just for the sake of moving him. They're still in the market for a championship this June (attention all fans of the Lakers, Cavs, Magic, Hawks, Jazz and Mavs: stop laughing already), and they weren't going to pull the trigger on an Allen trade without getting equal value back. Martin is history (see below), Monta Ellis isn't happening, and Rip Hamilton? Really? What's the point? No one wants to trade one old shooting guard for a worse old shooting guard.
No, keeping Allen makes the most sense. Unless Danny Ainge gets a phone call in the next five hours with an offer he can't refuse, count on the veteran shooting guard taking the floor tonight against the Lakers. They could sure use him.
9:41 a.m.: Aside from McGrady, the other big question of the day is what will happen with Amare Stoudemire, who obviously isn't going to the Cavs anymore with Antawn Jamison Cleveland-bound. The buzz around Amare appears to be dying down since last night, with Amare saying publicly "I think I'm pretty much safe" after a talk with owner Robert Sarver in Dallas.
It always amazes me how players are so aware of their own fates with respect to trade-deadline deals — in most other sports, you usually don't see too much communication between owners, GMs and the players themselves about trade talks. But in this case, it makes perfect sense. Because how many GMs in the past week do you think have called Steve Kerr and said, "All right, we'll take Amare off your hands now, but only if you talk to him and make sure he's opting out of his deal for next season?" Think about the Knicks, for example — they'd love to put together some kind of package built around Jared Jeffries and get back a $16 million expiring contract, but what if that contract isn't expiring anymore? You can forget about LeBron and Chris Bosh now.
On the flip side, there might be some other GMs that actually want Amare to stick around for the extra year. If they're not really involved in the 2010 max contract game, and they'd rather build a winning team for 2011, they could do a lot worse than Amare's automatic 20 points and nine boards a night.
Amare is one of those rare deadline guys who's both an expiring contract and an All-Star caliber player available for rent. You don't see too many of those players on the block every winter — after T-Mac and Amare, the only other one worth noting on this winter's market is Ray Allen.
More on that in a minute.
9:24 a.m.: You know you're a true NBA junkie when you equate waking up on trade deadline morning with waking up on Christmas morning. But it makes sense! In either case, you just never know what goodies will be waiting for you at sunrise. In this case, it's a blockbuster deal between the Rockets and Kings – it appears that Tracy McGrady is getting his wish and being dealt out of Houston after all, with the Rockets getting rising superstar Kevin Martin as part of a four-player package put together to even up the salary-cap math.
For the Rockets, the incentive to get this deal done is pretty clear — McGrady had been asking out for months, and to get back a 27-year-old guard with a beautiful outside shot is huge. For the Kings? This is interesting. There had long been speculation that Martin was on the way out, because Tyreke Evans is the new high-scoring guard in town, and there were questions about whether the two could play together in Sacramento. Geoff Petrie has made his choice, opting to keep the rookie guard that's lit the world on fire this season.
By dumping the contracts of Martin, Kenny Thomas, Hilton Armstrong and Sergio Rodriguez, the Kings dump $17 million in salaries off the books for next season, leaving them with only about $23 million left on the payroll. This leaves them with plenty of space under the salary cap to offer a big max contract to a free agent this summer. Only problem is… what kind of max free agent wants to play in Sacramento? You think LeBron James is gonna bite? Sorry. Think again.
9:08 a.m.: In the past few days, we've already watched blockbuster trades change the career paths of Josh Howard, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Numerous other deadline deals are rumored to be just about done. So at this point, what's left?
So many big names still on the block. So many expiring contracts waiting to get dumped. So many flat-out bad contracts that teams are desperate to move. So many teams looking for that one last piece that could put them over the top. So many GMs that could strike gold with the right trade — or could set their franchises back for years to come by taking on the wrong guy at the wrong time.
If you're an NBA fan, this is the most fun day of the year. And even if you're not, it's hard not to get caught up in the drama at least a little bit. So keep your eyes open and your browser right here — we'll be wheeling and dealing all day, right up to the NBA's 3 p.m. trading deadline. Don't miss a thing.