So far, NBA general managers are still passing judgment on their own teams, evaluating needs and slowly, surely feeling out the market. The February trade deadline is more than two months away, but conversations are beginning to gather momentum.
For starters, multiple league executives believe the Chicago Bulls’ shopping of forward Tyrus Thomas(notes) could result with him moving sooner than later. As Thomas has rehabbed a broken forearm, the Bulls have had discussions with several teams, but perhaps none as serious as the ongoing dialogue general manager Gar Forman has had with New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh.
Several sources believe the Bulls are agreeable to a package of Thomas and Jerome James(notes) for Knicks forward Al Harrington(notes). Thus far, Walsh has resisted parting with Harrington, but discussions are still active and the teams have explored different combinations in recent days that would ultimately deliver Thomas to the Knicks.
“Nothing is imminent, but both sides would like to figure out a way to do this,” one league executive briefed on the talks told Yahoo! Sports.
The Bulls believe Harrington’s ability to score coupled with a $10.2 million expiring contract make this a worthy exchange. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has long been fond of Thomas, a 6-foot-9 forward whose nimbleness and athleticism makes him an intriguing fit for New York.
Thomas, 23, was the fourth pick in the 2006 NBA draft, and started to fulfill his promise with 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds last season. Nevertheless, Chicago believes it has a worthy power forward successor on the cheap in rookie Taj Gibson(notes), and jettisoning Thomas would also eliminate his approximate $13 million cap hold for the Bulls next summer.
Thomas’ agent, Brian Elfus, tried to negotiate a contract extension with Chicago, but talks never pushed past perfunctory.
Here are other teams that front-office officials, coaches and agent say are active in talks.
That isn’t much of a surprise, but this is: In conversations with Portland’s front office and coaching staffs, several league officials believe Andre Miller(notes) could soon be available. As a free-agent signee over the summer, Miller can’t be traded until Dec. 15.
After missing out on several preferred free agents, Pritchard settled for Miller and signed him to a three-year, $21 million contract, the first two years of which are guaranteed. Yet, Blazers coaches have privately insisted to confidants throughout the league that Miller isn’t working out, and the belief is that Pritchard is testing the market on Miller’s worth. Portland could stay with Steve Blake(notes) or use Miller to bring back another playmaker.
Houston: The Rockets continue to offer Tracy McGrady(notes) in a trade, but that will be a difficult proposition considering he’s the highest-paid player in the league ($23.2 million) and no one has seen him play in nine months. Houston seems willing to take back a longer-term contract for McGrady, but most executives believe his high salary makes it hard to put together a package.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey and coach Rick Adelman don’t want McGrady back with the team, and have insisted that he isn’t physically ready to return to the lineup. McGrady would love a trade, but knows he must start playing again for it to be possible.
Philadelphia: Sixers GM Ed Stefanski is desperate to unload forward Elton Brand(notes) and the $66 million owed over the remaining four years of his crippling contract, sources say, but that will be incredibly difficult. Even with several teams, including Golden State and Charlotte, desperate for low-post scorers and rebounders, no one believes Brand, who makes $14.8 million this season, has enough left to merit taking on that contract.
Before Monta Ellis(notes) started on his scoring tear, Philly had hope that his issues with Golden State might inspire the Warriors to take a chance on Brand, but that isn’t happening. Sacramento had some interest in center Samuel Dalembert(notes), another contract Philly wants to shed, but couldn’t work out a three-way deal with Boston.
Los Angeles Lakers: With a league high payroll of $91 million, the Lakers are looking again to shed salary off their bench, and GM Mitch Kupchak has told teams to take its pick of reserve players – except for Lamar Odom(notes), of course – to relieve the team of some salary.