Latest trade-deadline rumors.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks continue to work the phones in a desperate attempt to put the team back into playoff contention. Losing has zero benefit for the Knicks this year. The Nuggets get their draft pick no matter where it falls.
I'm told there's almost no chance Carmelo Anthony gets traded. (I would write zero, but you should never say zero when your team is run by James Dolan.)
So the Knicks are out there seeing what sort of interest a combination of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Beno Udrih can muster.
The Knicks have focused in on upgrading at the point guard spot. Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Atlanta's Jeff Teague have been targets, according to Marc Stein.
Another name to keep in mind -- a long shot mind you -- is Houston's Jeremy Lin. The Knicks provided the backdrop for Lin's coming-out party before deciding not to match Houston's offer sheet for Lin two years ago.
The Rockets have been pretty steadfast that they don't want to trade Lin, despite the fact that he's lost his starting job to Patrick Beverley. They believe his scoring off the bench is important to their success.
If the Knicks are going to get any of those players -- especially Lowry or Lin -- Tim Hardaway Jr. is going to have to be part of the deal.
Trading Hardaway will be hard to swallow for Knicks fans. He and Shumpert are the only two young players on the roster with a really bright future. Trading for Lin or Teague also kills any cap space the Knicks will have in 2015, but given the pressure to win now, they might just make a deal like this anyway.
Golden State Warriors
Will the Warriors trade Harrison Barnes? Publicly they've been telling teams that they don't want to move him. But like the Knicks, the Warriors are another team that badly wants a playoff run and are trying to find ways to upgrade their roster. Stephen Curry isn't going anywhere. Neither is Andre Iguodala nor Andrew Bogut. Klay Thompson isn't untouchable, but the Warriors really love him. David Lee is available, but the market is pretty soft for him. So while the Warriors are telling everyone that Barnes is not available, they have been listening and even countering offers that have come from other teams, leading several GMs to believe he's available for the right price.
What's the price? A young player who can help contribute to the team right now -- especially someone who can give them some much-needed depth on their front line. They'd love to get their hands on Kevin Love. But the Wolves would want much more than Barnes. The Pistons' Greg Monroe, the Sixers' Thaddeus Young, the Cavs' Tristan Thompson, the Nuggets Kenneth Faried, the Bucks' John Henson and the Raptors' Amir Johnson all intrigue the Warriors. Whether any of those teams are willing to give up that much to acquire Barnes remains to be seen.
The Suns have some of the most coveted assets of any team: draft picks -- and lots of them. They have their own pick, the Pacers' selection, the Wolves' pick (if it falls between No. 14 and No. 30) and the Wizards' slot (if it falls between No. 13 and No. 30).
With a number of lottery teams looking to add another asset (the Bucks and Sixers in particular are in the hunt for more picks), it is possible the Suns can snag a veteran for their playoff push. Plus, they have a huge expiring contract (Emeka Okafor) to facilitate a deal. The Suns won't give these away; but if they believe they can acquire a player who could put them in a better playoff position this year, they'll do it.
The player to watch is the Cavs' Luol Deng. As I wrote on Tuesday, new interim GM David Griffin believes the Cavs might be better off dumping Deng now while they still can get something in return for him. If the Suns give up a couple of picks, will that be enough to encourage the Cavs to make a deal? Deng would be a great fit in Phoenix.
The Rockets continue to shop, yes shop, Omer Asik. They can say all they want about how much they value him, but they tried to move in December and are working to get him off their books for the next season. Asik is coveted by many teams, but his huge salary next year is scaring teams off.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans spent a lot of money this summer to put themselves into the playoff hunt. But with virtually no shot at making the playoffs this year (0.3 percent, according to the Hollinger Playoff Odds) and it looking like they won't be bad enough to be in the top five picks in the draft (the Pelicans must send their pick to the 76ers if it falls between No. 6 and No. 30), the Pelicans have explored shedding contracts.
Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans are both available, though I'm not sure if there's a huge market available for either player. Gordon has two more years at $30 million left on his deal. Evans has three years, $32 million left. The thinking is that the Pelicans can reduce payroll and perhaps get back in the running for that top-five pick if both players were off the roster.
That's obviously at odds with the Pelicans' decision this summer to go all in on the playoffs. But now that reality has set in, it's not too late to try to reverse course.