The NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline is less than a month away and the hot stove is warming up. Here’s some of the latest buzz from around the league.
Quite the Love story
The Skinny: In the aftermath of David Blatt’s firing, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst threw out the nugget that Cleveland Cavaliers players were speculating that Kevin Love had been traded. Following up on this, the Miami Herald’s Ethan J. Skolnick appeared on the radio and said the Cavaliers “seriously weighed offers” for Love last season, a report that has been vehemently denied by Cleveland GM David Griffin.
Analysis: There’s a lot of meat on this bone, but what’s important to know is that Skolnick, while with the Miami Herald now, covered the Cavaliers for most of last season for Bleacher Report, so he isn’t coming out of left field when he mentioned the Cavs fielding offers on Love. To that effect, Griffin had to deny any trade discussions around Love.
“You’d have to go a long way to convince me that we’re a better team winning in the Finals without a player like Kevin on our team,” Griffin said in a radio interview. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.”
Still, it’s quite clear that Love has been almost nothing like the player who dominated while with the Minnesota Timberwolves in his short time in Cleveland, and given the large contract he just signed this summer, his tepid productivity can’t be sitting well with Cavaliers management.
On the other hand, this is only the first season of a five-year deal he signed, and the flashes he’s shown here and there still proves that he’s as talented a player as anyone, so a team with championship aspirations like the Cavs should be reticent to moving him.
Bottom line, there’s a good chance Griffin and the Cavaliers have been doing their due diligence, trying to see what the market is like for Love, but likely aren’t going to pull the trigger unless the return is something truly astonishing.
The Skinny: According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders four big names are considered untouchable at the deadline: DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, Houston Rockets centre Dwight Howard and Atlanta Hawks star Al Horford.
Analysis: Cousins just dropped 56 in a game so despite some of his temperament issues it makes sense that the Kings would want to keep him around. Anthony’s locked into a long-term deal that makes putting a deal together for him very difficult in the first place, particularly because he’s turning 32 later this year. The real head scratchers to this list are Howard and Horford.
Howard can opt out of his deal at the end of this season so for all intents and purposes he’s an expiring contract. Maybe it’s because Houston’s having trouble finding a trade partner for a 30-year-old centre with declining skills and a history of injury problems, but they shouldn’t just give up and concede to re-sign him or just simply lose him, that would be a huge waste.
As for Horford, the very cost-efficient extension he signed back in 2010 is coming to an end and he will likely command a max deal in free agency this summer. Do the Hawks want to pay that? It certainly looks that way since the idea of trading Horford was “laughable,” according to Kyler’s story.
Locking up Horford, a player who played a key part into turning the Hawks’ fortunes around, is a good organizational move, but to come out and say he’s untouchable seems bad for business. Atlanta should at least look at some offers, otherwise there’s a chance they’ll just be stuck as good team that isn’t good enough until they inevitably become bad again.