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[February 02, 2008]
No shortage of NBA players looking for greener pastures
(South Florida Sun-Sentinel (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) "Anybody," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said, "has the right to throw out names and speculate."
The comment was in response to the trade conjecture that linked the Mavericks to Jason Kidd's wanderlust.
But since "anybody" was allowed to take their best shot, we figured we might as well take ours, with the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline fast approaching.
What most sticks out this season is the number of players displaying Kidd-like dissatisfaction with their current surroundings.
"I'm sure a lot of players around this league would like to be someplace else," Nets President Rod Thorn said as he deliberated Kidd's status. "But if you're under contract, you're under contract."
Unless, of course, you complain so much that banishment becomes a win-win situation for both parties.
A look at those griping:
Jason Kidd: Brooding is now a factor in New Jersey, after similar snits in Dallas and Phoenix.
Still, when one considers that Mark Cuban couldn't justify $65 million over five years for a younger Steve Nash, why exactly would there be a rush for Kidd, whose extension desires would have the Mavericks on the hook for about $50 million during these next three seasons?
Ron Artest: You had to figure this would grow toxic at some point, with Artest able to opt out after this season and perpetually questioning his pay and role in the Kings' offense.
"I look around our team, and I see the emerging young stars, and I don't get the sense that I'm going to be around," he told the Sacramento Bee last week. "It might just be time to move on."
Denver has been linked to overtures, but one has to wonder whether a Heat team now in rebuilding mode would have as much interest as this past offseason.
J.J. Redick: Buried on the Magic bench since he was selected 11th in the 2006 draft, Redick simply lacks the defensive ability to crack Stan Van Gundy's rotation.
Redick's representatives have approached the Magic about a trade, but General Manager Otis Smith said he needs Redick as a fallback option, with Keyon Dooling, Carlos Arroyo, Keith Bogans and Maurice Evans all potential free agents next summer.
Delonte West: The Sonics' muddled situation at point guard has left West feeling like an outsider since he was acquired in the offseason from the Celtics
"All of my stuff in my apartment in Seattle is still packed up," he told the Seattle Times last week. "I still got a month-to-month efficiency here."
Gordan Giricek: He wasn't happy about not playing in Utah, and he's hardly been given a chance since being dealt to Philadelphia.
Agent Marc Fleisher already has fielded overseas offers for the impending free agent, who also has had stints with the Mavericks, Spurs, Grizzlies and Magic.
Zach Randolph: Well this has worked out splendidly, this dual power play alongside Eddy Curry. Not.
Coach Isiah Thomas, who brought Randolph to New York in the offseason, has been on the power forward about doing things beyond trying to score.
For his part, Randolph last week questioned Thomas' decision to go small against Golden State, saying Thomas shied from the opportunity to overpower the Warriors.
IN THE LANE
A SHAQ NO-VOTE: Asked by the Cleveland Plain Dealer to name the best center in today's NBA, Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, now a Lakers aide, said Tim Duncan. "Shaquille has been very capable, but his commitment to being in shape goes up and down," he said of the Heat's O'Neal. "So there are times he can't contribute because he's not in shape. He's been injured a lot."
KEEPING IT REAL: Sometimes it takes an outsider to provide proper perspective. So thank you Andrew Bogut. "The East is bad, so if we just keep plugging away at it you never know what might happen at the end of the season," the Bucks' Aussie center said. "Thirty-five wins might get you a playoff seed in this conference."
KEEP PUSHING: Like Heat coach Pat Riley, Knicks coach Isiah Thomas plans to continue to push for the playoffs until that door is closed. "You just want to get in," he said. "And if you get in, then the second season starts. It's always better to get in the playoffs, because the lottery is the lottery."
PUSHING THROUGH: An afterthought amid the Timberwolves' youth movement, Antoine Walker, at 31, insists he has five or six years left in his career. "I'm not ready to leave this game anytime soon," the former Heat forward said. "Sometimes people get the wrong perception about that. In the process of trying to teach guys, I'm still trying to play this game."
LESSON LEARNED: Jose Calderon said he's still adapting to the NBA's trash talking. The Raptors' point guard said former Heat guard Gary Payton provided his first test. "He was talking to me for the whole game," the guard from Spain said. "After one whistle I said, `Look, the only thing I can say in English is, `I don't understand what you are saying.' "
SONIC BUST: Despite struggles in recent years, Seattle entered 2007-08 with the longest run with at least one All-Star. That 14-year run ended with Thursday's announcement of the All-Star reserves. The longest streak now belongs to the Lakers, who have had an All-Star for 11 consecutive seasons, when counting Kobe Bryant's selection for the Feb. 17 game in New Orleans.
THE PAYOFF: Not only is Caron Butler an All-Star again, but another player from the 2004 Heat-Lakers deal that landed O'Neal in South Florida also will be at All-Star Weekend. Lakers guard Jordan Farmer was selected to the second-year team for the Rookie Game. Farmar was taken with the 2006 first-round pick the Heat sent to the Lakers in the O'Neal deal.
ON THE OUTS: As disappointed as the Heat's Daequan Cook might have been over being bypassed for the Rookie Game, consider the plight of former Florida State standout Al Thornton, who was overlooked despite ranking fifth among rookie scorers. "There's a conspiracy going on," guard Sam Cassell said of his Clippers teammate.
ALL OR NOTHING: Former Heat guard Anthony Carter recently had 14 assists and no points for the Nuggets against the Lakers. The last time a player had as many assists without scoring was the Knicks' Greg Anthony, who had 14 in an overtime victory against the Magic in 1993.
SECOND THOUGHT? Perhaps Robert Horry should have given additional thought to returning at age 37. The Spurs' forward has so struggled that a recent 1-of-5 night raised his shooting percentage. For now, San Antonio is getting more production out of reserve forwards Matt Bonner and Francisco Elson.
Material from Sun-Sentinel interviews, wire services, other beat writers and league and team sources was used in this report.
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