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Christmas Eve for NBA Trades

For the small percentage of internet junkies who love to follow the actions of NBA front offices, tonight is Christmas Eve, and we're waiting for Santa to bring us Trades and Transactions that will provide the meat of our debates for months of years to come.  On December 15th, free agents signed this summer are eligible to be traded, flooding the trade market with pieces that could help make trades work financially.  Moreover, since season is about 30% completed, many teams can make a better determination on their direction for the rest of the year.

For the Timberwolves, David Kahn has three additional names that could be traded:  Darko, Ridnour, and Tolliver.

Darko, in my opinion, has no chance of being traded.  Not only has he succeeded here, and is a great compliment to this team, but his value would be reduced on another team, who would be concerned if the move would put a damper on Milicic's new attitude.

However Ken Berger of CBS blogged today that Ridnour and Tolliver could be available.

* Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves: At $12 million over the next three years, Ridnour won’t break the bank and his play-making abilities could be appealing to a team looking for point-guard depth. The Knicks, underwhelmed by Toney Douglas as Raymond Felton’s backup, are interested. 

* Anthony Tolliver, Timberwolves: Minnesota already has been fielding a lot of calls because they have draft picks, cap space, and young assets. Though injured at the moment, Tolliver is big and cheap and could be part of a bigger deal. 

Personally, I think Ridnour and Tolliver are unlikely to be traded, but the possibility exists if its the right deal.  David Kahn signed Ridnour as a longterm solution, investing a surprising four years into a back-up player without size or real upside.  Personally, I am not a fan of that contract, especially for a young team like ours.  However, Ridnour's skill-set looks like a better fit than Sessions, and I believe Kahn will hold onto him unless a better option comes along.  Ditto for Tolliver, who has been a great role-player for the Timberwolves, particularly at that salary.

However, while the Timberwolves will probably keep their players, we may see them involved in a trade with other teams who tomorrow will have the pieces they need to complete trades.  Carmelo Anthony looks like an obvious choice.

Although Carmelo says a trade is not imminent, its hard to think that's true.  Although the Nets say an Anthony deal is still possible, their supposed offer (Favors + two 1sts) is so much better than anything the Knicks would offer, it sounds like Melo has refused to sign an extension with anyone but NY.  ESPN has said as much, and while the Knicks could wait until next year and pluck Anthony in free agency for cap space, they will probably pay something now.  A deal now gets Melo locked up for several years (better than LeBron's promises this time last season), and since the Knicks are 16-9, having won their last 8, Anthony could help them immediately as they press for the play-offs.  If Melo is saying that he'll only extend with NYK, the DEN front office needs to get the best deal they can, rather than risk losing him for nothing, so DEN, NYK, and Anthony all have incentive to get a deal done.

Things look like they are falling in place for the Knicks, and the Wolves could serve as a good team to help make a deal happen.  Since it's Christmas Eve, maybe its OK to show a vision of a sugarplum that is dancing in my head.

DEN OUT: Melo + Chris Anderson
DEN IN: Gallinari + UTA 1st + Curry + $7 mil in cap savings + $3 mil in cash

NYK OUT: Gallinari + Randolph + Azubuike + Curry + cash
NYK IN: Melo + Chris Anderson + Telfair

MIN OUT: $2.6 mil Cap Space + UTA 1st + Telfair
MIN IN: Randolph + Azubuike + $3 mil cash

Denver may appear to be getting a light deal here, but consider it from their side.  First, if they don't trade Carmelo before the mid-February trade deadline, Cinderella's value turns to zero.  Second, there have been several indications that, like nearly every other team, they are unwilling to pay far into the lux for a non-contender.  I'm sure they'd love to get out from under the lux altogether, but if Melo is forcing a deal only to the Knicks, they simply don't have the leverage to get there.  By adding cap space now instead of taking straight expirings, they get over half-way there, and save an additional $14 mil, + $3 in cash from the Knicks.  In addition, they move Chris Anderson's contract, add a 1st and a promising young player in Gallinari.

New York gets to add a superstar now, to help with the stretch run.  We've discussed their incentive for making a move as soon as possible.

Minnesota maximizes the value of their assets by sending them to the teams that can use them most.  By increasing the size of the deal and including cap space, they help the Knicks create more payroll savings from the Nuggets.  Next, the New York Times says that Knicks have made inquiries into a "low-cost back-up point guard" to preserve Felton, and they also want him to be an "expiring to preserve next year's cap space."  Telfair fits that definition, and they don't even need to include Bill Walker in this deal, and we'd take the badly-injured Azubuike.  Finally, we have all heard the reports that the Knicks are dangling Randolph for a 1st.  They may prefer the MEM 1st, but the Walker/Azu swap and the cap space should make the UTA pick fair value.

Finally, let me point out that if Berger is correct, the deal works just as well if we replace Telfair with Ridnour, and the Knicks include Roger Mason for financial reasons .. another of the newly available free agents.  We'd need to make side deals to reduce our roster size, but with a team with few negative contracts, that should not be difficult.


OK, maybe I'm already dreaming, but now it's time for me to settle down for my long winter's nap.  But you can bet I'll be racing down the stairs tomorrow morning to see if there what Santa Kahn may have brought.  Merry Trade-Eligibility Day to all, and to all a good night.