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Suicide Lines: No tax-driven deals? NOLA stands pat, Braun dies

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with you tea. Just tea, thanks.

Art Garcia, "[Mark] Cuban isn't convinced that many teams will just cut bait to get under the luxury tax. Maybe most of the high-priced talent stays put to use in sign-and-trade scenarios this summer. An all-out fire sale my not be on the horizon, at least not this month.

"I really don't know," Cuban said. "It depends on who different owners perceive what collective bargaining is going to be. I really don't know."

Cuban does have two potentially huge bargaining chips in Howard and Erick Dampier(notes). Both have expiring contracts worth more than $10 million this season, and Cuban isn't averse to taking back salary. For the right deal, he isn't handicapped by the luxury tax.

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: "The Charlotte Bobcats bid Acie Law(notes), Flip Murray(notes) and their 2010 first-round pick, a league executive said. The Bobcats have been searching for a long, athletic forward like [Tyrus] Thomas, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, and are expected to be aggressive pursuers. Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard made an offer they'll have to improve upon to be taken seriously - one of his expiring contracts (Steve Blake(notes) or Travis Outlaw(notes)) and two future second-round draft picks."

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: "Tracy McGrady has been working out with trainer Tim Grover in Chicago at his Attack Athletics Gymnasium since late December, waiting for the Houston Rockets to find a trade for him. Yet, the Rockets have been unwilling to let teams interested in trading for McGrady stop by the gymnasium and monitor his progress, one league executive said. "They won't allow a ‘casual sitting,' " the executive said."

Michael Lee, Washington Post: "[Al] Harrington is in the last year of a deal that pays him about $10 million, but he is also the Knicks' second-leading scorer at 17.8 points per game. He's actually scoring better and shooting better than Butler this season. The Wizards were interested in acquiring Harrington in the summer of 2004, but President Ernie Grunfeld decided to make a deal for Antawn Jamison(notes) instead.

Jamison continues to be linked to Cleveland. But the league source said that while the teams have talked, the Cavaliers have yet to present an offer to get a deal done. That could change in the next week, but is growing less likely with Cleveland having the best record in the league and on a 12-game winning streak -- with Mo Williams(notes) and Delonte West(notes) sidelined."

Michael Lee, Washington Post: "The Wizards appear to be open to the salary cap relief that comes from an expiring deal, which means that Dallas also remains a possible destination for Butler. The Mavericks have been slumping miserably of late, and are coming off humiliating 36-point loss to Denver last night. They are offering Josh Howard(notes), who is having an awful season and has complained about his role. Howard essentially has an expiring deal, since there is a team option on his $11.8-million salary next season.

Butler has helped raise his value, scoring 54 points in the past two games. And as I reported after the win in Orlando, he already sounds like someone who has accepted that he will get dealt. We'll know for certain in the next eight days."

Paul Coro, Arizona Republic: "Kerr declined to comment on where the team stands regarding a possible contract extension for Stoudemire. Kerr said all teams are "a little hesitant to do much going far forward" because of the unknown of an expiring collective-bargaining agreement in the summer of 2011. That could lead to anything from a lockout to a hard salary cap, changing the dynamics of every payroll.

"If you really lock yourself in long term with a lot of big contracts, then you might find yourself in some trouble," said Kerr, who is in the last year of his contract. "There's no way of knowing it, whereas in the past, you knew what you were dealing with. Right now it's a little bit of a grey area where we're heading.'"

Steve Adamek, Bergen Record: "That doesn't rule out Tracy McGrady's(notes) nearly $23 million expiring deal, nor the latest name to hit the radar, former Knick Marcus Camby(notes) and the $9.65 million he's making this season with the Clippers.

However, Walsh also acknowledged that if one of the top-drawer 2010 free agents suddenly pops on the market, he'll listen.

"I don't expect players of that caliber to be traded because their own team wants to keep them," he said. "If they decide they can't keep them, they're going to reach out and try to make trades."

The one such player who could be moved, Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), is of little interest to the Knicks and the coaching staff that had him in Phoenix."

Chris Tomasson, FanHouse: "'It's very, very possible there's going to be a lockout,'' said Billups, a second-year man during the last one. "The only thing I tell guys is, 'Save your money so you'll be able to withstand however long it is.'''

The sides will hold a negotiating session in Dallas during All-Star Weekend. The owners have presented a first proposal to the players union, and the initial reaction hardly has been positive.

With the economy faltering, owners want to drastically cut salaries and to go to more of a hard salary cap rather than the current soft cap, which places a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax on teams surpassing a certain threshold. With profits down, owners will tell players they need to accept a good bit less than the current figure of 57 percent of basketball-related income."

Bill Ingram, "[Hornets GM/coach Jeff Bower]: 'I don't think people understand our commitment to Chris [Paul] and David [West]. We're only going to be making deals that we think help our basketball team from a basketball perspective. We are under the luxury tax now, so any moves that we make going forward will be basketball-driven. We like these guys, their abilities, and how they fit together, so for us to make a change it would have to be something that we really felt would help us.'"

Richard Goldstein, New York Times: "Carl Braun, a former All-Star guard for the Knicks and one of the finest shooters in the first decade of the National Basketball Association, died on Wednesday in Stuart, Fla., where he lived. He was 82.

His death, at a hospital in Stuart, was announced by his daughter Susan Braun.

Playing for the Knicks at the old Madison Square Garden, Braun led them in scoring in his first seven seasons, relying on a two-handed set shot launched from above his head. He teamed in the backcourt with Dick McGuire, a brilliant playmaker, who died on Feb. 3 at 84."

Richard Goldstein, New York Times: "Playing for the Knicks from 1947 to 1961, except for two years of Army service, Braun averaged 13.5 points per game. Although he played the first half of his career before the advent of the 24-second shot clock, which changed the professional game from a plodding affair to a high-scoring spectacle, his 10,449 points as a Knick puts him fifth on the team's career list. He was often among the top 10 scorers in the league. Last March he was honored by the Knicks as one of what they called their franchise Legends."

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