Nets pulling brakes on Harris trade talk?

By Marc Stein

The NBA’s trade deadline is four Thursdays from today.

In other words: One month away.

And that calls for a few dribbles of trade chatter from various executives, coaches, scouts and league insiders as the trade buzzer draws closer:

The Nets’ willingness to move point guard Devin Harris has been a popular topic since our own Chad Ford included Harris – even with visions of Harris' 2008-09 breakout season still so fresh – on ESPN.com’s list of 25 prime trade candidates before the league’s Feb. 18 deadline.

Chad subsequently mentioned a possible Harris-for-Caron Butler scenario in a SportsNation chat earlier this week, which was followed by ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher reporting on the NBA Today podcast with Ryen Russillo that the Lakers have inquired about Harris because of concerns about their ability to contain quicker guards defensively.

One source close to the situation, however, cautioned Wednesday night that the Nets do prefer to keep Harris for the rest of this season – specifically through the draft lottery in May at a minimum – before dealing him.

The Nets still regard second-year center Brook Lopez as their only untouchable and are undeniably somewhat dismayed that Harris hasn’t been able to follow up last season’s All-Star appearance with a next-step season.

The Nets, though, also concede that it would be far easier to shop Harris if they know they’ve just won the right to draft Kentucky’s John Wall with the No. 1 overall pick. If they don’t win the Wall lottery, with no other impact point guards forecasted to be available in the draft or through free agency, dealing Harris based on what they’ve seen during this nightmare season might prove to be a hasty call.

The Sixers are only growing more determined to make a deal before the deadline. I’ve heard that in strong terms from three different sources this week already.

Which tells me we should expect to keep hearing more trade scenarios that include Andre Iguodala’s name.

Foiled in its longstanding attempts to move Samuel Dalembert and/or Elton Brand, Philly has apparently come to realize that its best shot at a shake-it-up move is convincing one of the risk-taking/big-spending teams out there – such Houston, Dallas and Cleveland – to absorb the four years and $56.3 million remaining on Iguodala’s contract after this season.

Not that I’d give the Sixers great hope of hooking Cleveland.

The Cavs are still chasing a big man that can stretch the floor with 3-point range and continue to hope they can get one by peddling Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ expiring contract.

Washington’s Antawn Jamison and Indiana’s Troy Murphy remain Cleveland’s top targets – with the further hope that Big Z will be released by his new team and thus eligible to be re-signed after a 30-day wait like Antonio McDyess in Detroit last season -- as opposed to pursuing the likes of Iguodala or Golden State’s highly available Corey Maggette.

Iguodala and Maggette have both been known to masquerade at the 4 spot in a small-ball setup but can’t really be classified as power forwards.

The Pistons are suddenly 5-1 since their 13-game losing streak, including Wednesday night’s home win over Boston, but don't expect them to abandon their efforts to find a big man who can score by offering up old reliables Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton. … Chicago has been quietly looking for a shooter but craves additional salary-cap space for its summer business more than it wants short-term help, so the Bulls keep trying to land an expiring contract in exchange for Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons. … If the Lakers do make a move before the deadline, they will try to do so by moving out Sasha Vujacic and his $5.5 million salary in 2010-11, although they surely know that Adam Morrison’s $5.3 million expiring contract is the one teams would take. Attempts to move Luke Walton (who has nearly $17 million over three years left on his contract after this season) have gone nowhere.