Will New Jersey Nets swingman Vince Carter have a new home by Thursday's NBA trade deadline? Sources say the Nets have talked to multiple teams over the course of the past week about a possible Carter trade.
Currently the Blazers and Rockets are both haggling over what the Nets will get in return for Carter.
On Monday, sources said the Rockets had been pushing a trade that sends Tracy McGrady to the Nets for Carter and Trenton Hassell. However, on Tuesday, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said that McGrady wouldn't be dealt before the deadline.
"I don't think we're going to part ways with Tracy," Alexander said. "We acquired a great superstar and everybody wants us to trade the great superstar. You don't get superstars that often."
Later Tuesday, ESPN.com's Stephen A. Smith reported that McGrady told him that he would need microfracture surgery on his left knee and will not play again this season. The seven-time All-Star had an MRI last Wednesday because the knee has not responded well to rehabilitation since he had arthroscopic surgery on it in May.
However, McGrady's status doesn't rule out a Carter trade to the Rockets. The Nets have countered with a proposal that would send Carter and Josh Boone to the Rockets for a combination of Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Luther Head and Carl Landry.
The Nets' proposal is related to both talent and finances. The contracts of Artest and Head expire this summer, clearing around $8 million off the team's cap in the summer of 2009. Sources say the team is looking for immediate cap relief in any deal for Carter. However, management doesn't want to completely gut the team and believes that Battier and Landry could play important roles in the future.
At this point sources say that the ball is in the Rockets' court. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Rockets were still mulling over the Nets' proposal. Would they be willing to take on the remaining two years and $37 million left on Carter's contract while still paying an injured McGrady? They would also lose two valuable pieces in Battier and Landry. Is Carter good enough to make up for their losses?
Meanwhile the Blazers have moved into the fray with perhaps a more enticing offer. LaFrentz's $12.7 million comes off the books this summer and Outlaw is an upgrade to the Nets' situation at the 3. As for the Blazers, adding Carter gives them a veteran small forward who has more playoff experience than most of the players on Portland's roster.
The Blazers also have been shopping Channing Frye, who also could be included in a Blazers-Nets trade if New Jersey added on one or two spare parts from the trio of Stromile Swift (expiring $6.2 million contract), Sean Williams ($1.52M this season, $1.62M next season) and Hassell ($4.35 million player option for next season).
The Rockets and Blazers aren't the only team the Nets have spoken with concerning Carter. The Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers have all shown interest, though it sounds as if the Rockets deal has the highest probability of happening. The Rockets had been shopping McGrady hard over the past month to a number of teams but had struggled to find takers given his injury history and contract.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. ESPN Insider's Chris Sheridan contributed to this report.