Jason Kidd a no-show at Nets game; trade winds swirl

The “pay me or trade” me waltz that New Jersey Nets President Rod Thorn and star point guard Jason Kidd have been performing for more than a year now may be reaching the grand finale. Kidd, who was reportedly unhappy about not receiving an extension to his current contract, called in sick yesterday complaining of a migraine headache. Kidd called coach Lawrence Frank in the afternoon yesterday with the supposed illness and proceeded to not show up for the Nets game last night against the rival New York Knicks (the Nets lost).

We’ve all called in sick at one time or another. And, migraine headaches sure do make a great excuse, along with other stalwarts like coming down with a severe cold, being arrested as a result of mistaken identity and of course being bitten by a venomous snake. So, without further insight, we’re not sure whether Kidd was just feeling blue because of all the snow and gloomy weather in the Northeast, or if this was some tactical move to get his triple-double producing game out of town. But, we would tend to side with the latter, as there is really no reason for a 13-year NBA veteran to randomly miss a game unless he’s trying to make a point.

Rumorville, of course, is in full effect, with talk that Kidd could end up anywhere from Cleveland to Dallas to Los Angeles with the Lakers. It’s a risky play though for any of those teams, specifically because the Nets will likely demand the world in a trade. Kidd is still incredibly productive putting up 14.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game for the Nets this season, but there are two huge negatives to consider in trading for the point guard: age and contract.

Kidd gets superstar money, at about $20 million per season – and he is on the books for this season and next. He is also 34-years old and injury and/or deteriorating skills could quickly change his status from stud point guard to salary cap liability. It will be interesting to see if other GMs around the league have the creativity to put together an appealing deal for the Nets and the guts to trade for a great, yet aging point guard.

Of the teams that are rumored though, it would probably make the most sense for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make a play for Kidd. Problem is, they may not have the pieces on their roster to make an enticing offer to the Nets and would probably need to get a third team involved. Those complicated deals take quite some time, so if Kidd is actually on the trading block yet again (which is still doubtful at this point) don’t expect a deal anytime soon.


On the block: Pau Gasol and Andre Miller

It’s the first week of December and the NBA trade deadline is still a distant two and a half months away. But the faint whispers of trade rumors are already starting to reverberate throughout the L, from the lips of fans and sportswriters to GMs and owners. Some of it is wishful thinking and some have a twinge of truth tied to them, but most are juicy and most certainly worth discussing on any self-respecting NBA-related blog.

Big time names like Jermaine O’Neal and Pau Gasol, or perhaps even Jason Kidd or Kobe Bryant could move addresses anytime between now and mid-February. So, we thought we’d take an early look at some trade scenarios that could, and should, play out of the next couple of months.

On the block: Pau Gasol

Why would the Grizzlies trade him?
Ever since Pau Gasol asked to be traded in January of this year his relationship with the Grizzlies organization has been on somewhat shaky ground. Gasol doesn’t seem to fit coach Marc Iavaroni’s up-and-down offensive system, which demands athletic big men that can finish. Gasol’s game is more suited for half-court offenses, where he can operate in the post with his back to the basket and also step out to the high-post for short jumpers and passes to cutting wing players. The Grizzlies are currently playing 6’8” Mike Miller way out of position and need to find an athletic power forward to take his place – allowing Miller to move down to shooting guard and promising youngster Rudy Gay to play small forward.

Which team should trade for him?
The Chicago Bulls seem like the most logical destination if Pau Gasol were to switch teams. Earlier this year, while Jerry West was still running things down in Memphis, Gasol was close to being traded to the Bulls for Loul Deng and Ben Gordon. Bull’s GM John Paxon at the time nixed the deal. It seems unlikely that Paxon will agree to deal the promising Deng anytime soon, but perhaps trading players like Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas to the Grizzlies for Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Hakim Warrick makes sense.

The Grizzlies are 6-9 so far this season and, as constituted, probably aren’t going anywhere in the loaded Western Conference anytime soon. Nocioni could slot into the power forward slot for the time being, while Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas could split time at Center, playing a really, really poor – almost impoverished – man’s version of Amare Stoudemire in Iavaroni’s own “7 seconds or less” offense.

On the Bulls end, Gasol would finally give them a legitimate back-to-the-basket presence, while Hinrich, Deng and Navarro could maintain a strong perimeter.

If not the Bulls, another trade that makes a whole lot of sense for both teams involved is a straight up swap of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. The salaries are an almost identical match and the trade seems to be perfect for both teams. In Odom, the Grizzlies get the mobile, ball-handling, jump-shooting power forward they so crave. He would fit seamlessly into Iavaroni’s system. The Lakers pick up a legitimate All-Star threat in the post, which would allow them to move Andrew Bynum back to the bench where the kid can continue to mature with the second squad. In fact, in certain situations, this would even allow the Lakers to run a true twin-towers defense, with both Gasol and Bynum on the floor at the same time. And, to top it all of, Gasol could be reunited with his brother Marc in La-la-land.

On the block: Andre Miller

Why would the 76ers trade him?
The better question is why wouldn’t they? The team is 5-11 to date and really hasn’t been very competitive. It doesn’t make sense for Philadelphia to try to make it work with a veteran point guard like Andre Miller this year, when they really should go young and set their sights on a 2008 NBA draft that could be absolutely loaded at the point. In the meantime, 3rd year pro Louis Williams is a more than adequate fill-in for a sub-500 squad that the 76ers clearly are. Miller is having one of his worst seasons in recent memory, particularly when it comes to distributing the rock, so it might be time to cut ties and let the youth movement get going in full-force in Philly.

Which team should trade for him?
There are quite a few teams around the NBA that are desperate for a point guard – from the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers to the Atlanta Hawks and beyond. In rumorville, the Miller to Heat trade discussions are getting the most play (though Sixers GM Billy King continues to flatly deny the rumors), but trades to the Cavs or Hawks also make a lot of sense.

While Atlanta continues to groom Acie Law, they would certainly have the bandwidth to take on the 2 years at $9.6 million per left on Andre Miller’s salary. To make the trade appealing to the 76ers, Atlanta could throw in young talent like Shelden Williams, who isn’t getting any run at all with the Hawks this year and showed promise last year, and sweet-shooting Salim Stoudemire, along with perhaps the expiring contract of Lorenzen Wright to match salaries and a future draft pick. The 76ers would get two solid young players and a 1st round pick, while Atlanta would get the point guard they’ve been seeking to slot in next to Joe Johnson.

Cleveland could also get into the Andre Miller sweepstakes, along with possibly the Mike Bibby sweepstakes or the Stephon Marbury sweepstakes. But, in Miller’s case, unlike the higher profile Bibby or Marbury, they would get a player who would be content to rack up the assists playing alongside LeBron James, only putting up the occasional mid-range jumper. Miller wouldn’t take any of the offensive focus away from LeBron, which Bibby and Marbury likely will. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they don’t really have the young talent, high draft picks or expiring contracts that the 76ers would likely desire. So, any trade involving the 76ers and Cavaliers would have to be a 3-team affair.

There you go, some food for thought on possible Andre Miller and Pau Gasol trade destinations, as we wait for the next big NBA deal. We’ll continue with this series of “on the block” posts throughout the season, leading up to the February trade deadline. So, stay tuned.


Old school baller of the week: Mark Aguirre

Name: Mark Aguirre
Position: Small Forward
Height/Weight: 6’6”/232 pounds
Teams: Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons

What made him so special?

Mark Aguirre took his college team, DePaul, to the Final Four during his freshman season. He won multiple college “player of the year” awards. He was the 1st overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft, going ahead of players like Isiah Thomas, Buck Williams, Tom Chambers, Danny Ainge and Larry Nance. He ranks as one of the top 50 scorers of all-time and holds a career scoring average of 20 points per game.

Despite all of that, Mark Aguirre remains relatively anonymous. When you think of the “bad boys” Detroit Pistons teams of the late 80s and early 90s you think of names like the aforementioned Thomas, and Dumars, Rodman and Laimbeer. Even on the Dallas Mavericks teams that Aguirre played on earlier in his career, the general notoriety went to players like Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper. Aguirre was throughout his career the silent assassin. For all his skills and accomplishments, Aguirre played out of the relative limelight. While revered by his teammates and feared by opposing defenders, Aguirre hardly got the fan recognition he deserved.

As friends Isiah Thomas, who Aguirre met when the two were teens growing up in Chicago, and Magic Johnson, who used to ball with both Aguirre and Thomas during summers in East Lansing, Michigan, went on to capture all the glory, Aguirre put up numbers good enough to be our second ever “Old School Baller of the Week”.

During his pro career Aguirre averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while shooting 48% from the floor and 74% from the free throw line. He also played on 3 All-Star teams.

Mark Aguirre’s game is most like…

Jerry Stackhouse. We’ll get to the statistical similarities in a second, but on a more general level Aguirre and Stackhouse’s careers followed similar paths. Both played for the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. Both were hired guns brought in to provide firepower off the bench for a team with championship aspirations – Aguirre on the Pistons and Stackhouse, of course, on the current Dallas Mavericks. They also had similar games, relying quite heavily on the pull-up mid-range jumper as their go-to move on offense. Though Aguirre was a little meaner and tougher, and played a bit more in the post.

Statistically, Stackhouse, to date, averages 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists over his 12 year career. Numbers that are pretty similar to the stats Aguirre put up during his 13 season run.

Outside of Stackhouse, Carmelo Anthony also comes to mind when comparing Aguirre’s game. But generally, Jerry Stackhouse is probably the closest replica of Mark Aguirre in today’s NBA.

Aguirre on Aguirre

"I put a lot of vicious poundings on opposing teams that I think opposing coaches didn’t like, because I would really try to take a guy’s heart. In taking a guy’s heart, you get real nasty in doing that. I got nasty every night and I don’t think that coaches really liked the fact that I got that nasty. My mode was not to just beat you but to destroy you.

If he played today.

Aguirre had a sweet mid-range stroke and he knew how to use screens to get open shots, but his quickness, or relative lack thereof, and stocky arms would probably be that much more noticeable in today’s NBA. Aguirre’s game was very much Earth-bound, and in today’s high-flying NBA he might not have been quite as successful and may have had a harder time getting his shot off against longer players at small forward like Tracey McGrady and Gerald Wallace. Still, given his offensive gifts, even in today’s NBA Aguirre would have been well ahead of average.