As hopes fade for a Latrell Sprewell blockbuster, and with a Gary Payton trade even less likely before the summer, we naturally turn to Dallas for fireworks before today's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Yet even the ever-reliable Mavs, good for blockbusters the past two Februarys, aren't a cinch to swing one now.
The Mavericks continue to talk with Miami about Brian Grant scenarios, but finances continue to threaten an exchange featuring Grant and Travis Best to Dallas for Nick Van Exel. Grant is a rebounder and a battler who could stand up to the brutes from Sacramento and the Lakers better than the Mavericks in place now. The problem: Grant also has four years left on his contract at a whopping $55 million. To take on that kind of financial commitment, while losing Van Exel in the process, the Mavericks would have to be sure Grant takes them to another level. And they're not.
Other chatter as of this morning:
After its talks with San Antonio broke off, New Orleans is discussing another exchange of players with last-year contracts, this time with Seattle. The proposal calls for the Hornets sending Elden Campbell to Seattle for Hornets-ex Kenny Anderson. The Hornets and Spurs previously worked on a swap featuring Campbell and Steve Smith, who's also in the final year of his contract, but New Orleans preferred the idea of retaining size over a swingman.
The Wizards, not surprisingly, rebuffed Scott Layden's fantasy proposal of Spree and Othella Harrington for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and Kwame Brown.
Andre Miller has one of the league's best agents, but persistent pressure from Lon Babby hasn't changed the Clippers' position. Much as Miller wants out, hard as Babby pushes for a trade, the Clips (surprise) don't want to deal with roster changes until the summer.
West swings risky trade from afar
Jerry West assured his colleagues from rival teams that he could swing a trade from Europe if he had to. West proved it Wednesday night, all the way from his curiously timed scouting tour of Yugoslavia, when he completed the shipment of Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek to Orlando for Mike Miller.
The new challenge, then, is convincing everyone that it was the right trade.
Trading Gooden after just 51 games is an unspoken admission from the legendary West that drafting him No. 4 overall last June was a mistake. As covered here last month, West made a very un-West-like decision in his first Grizzlies draft by going safe and taking Gooden -- coached by West's pal Roy Williams in college -- instead of making a more West-like bold grab of Amare Stoudemire or Nene Hilario.
Thing is, trading Gooden so soon puts West at risk for another mistake. Namely, parting with a developing big man without allotting sufficient time for his development. Or at least the presentation of a better deal.
Gooden was moved mainly because he plays the same position as Pau Gasol and couldn't make the transition to small forward. The Grizz, however, have a new positional logjam even without Gooden, because Miller is joining a swing rotation that already includes Shane Battier, Wesley Person and Michael Dickerson.
The Magic, by contrast, came away from the exchange about as healthy as they possibly could, given the possibility that Grant Hill might never play again. If not quite the bruising big man they need, the undersized Gooden will be given every chance to play power forward in Orlando and live up to his draft position. Gordan Giricek, meanwhile, is a promising shooter to help fill the Miller void, and the first-round pick the Magic sacrificed is actually Sacramento's pick, meaning that it will be a pick in the low 20s as opposed to a lottery selection.
The biggest drawback for the Magic is that Miller is Tracy McGrady's best friend, so there will be some hurt feelings to soothe before Orlando can mount its bid to snare No. 8 in the East without Hill.
Yet there's far more at stake here for West. The Logo inherited control of a franchise that had been mismanaged for years, with an unbelievably bloated payroll to handcuff any free-agency notions, and proceeds now with his own tale of draft woe to add to the Grizzlies' brief but painful history. Antonio Daniels ... Steve Francis ... Drew Gooden.
Don't forget, too, that Memphis' next lottery pick goes to Detroit in June unless it's the No. 1 overall pick thanks to a previous regime's blunder. In other words, the Pistons get any Memphis lottery pick that falls between Nos. 2 through 13 when the Ping Pong balls bounce in May.
So, yeah. For West's sake, Miller has to deliver.
A secret weapon from the Europe trip wouldn't hurt, either.