We’re well into the NBA offseason with the dog days of general inactivity looming, but there’s still plenty of player movement to be settled before training camp opens in a few short months–and we’re guaranteeing at least one more blockbuster trade which could involve one or more of these five players. One way or the other, we expect all five to be donning new uniforms at some point in the near future.
Carlos Boozer, PF, Utah Jazz – This one’s pretty obvious: the Jazz want nothing to do with Boozer, and Boozer’s only interested in staying for the hefty paycheck before bolting as an unrestricted free agent next summer. He won’t have to wait that long to pack his bags.
Whichever team he winds up on–Chicago and Detroit remain the most likely destinations–will probably be satisfied to let him play out most if not all of the final year of his contract before approaching him about an extension. His injury-checkered past has been well-documented, as has his reluctance to consistently play defense and totally dedicate himself to his first two NBA franchises (Cleveland being the other). He has to prove himself before he gets paid like he wants to be.
Even as a possible one-year rental, though, Boozer is a reliable 20 and 10 guy when healthy and one of the most offensively gifted big men in the league. And if he’s not back, hey, that’s $12.6 million off the books.
Tyson Chandler, C, New Orleans Hornets – He was already traded once (to Oklahoma City) for a bag of chips and a can of Wilcox at last year’s trade deadline, but was marked as damaged goods by the Thunder and sent back to the cost-cutting Hornets. Awkward.
Chandler’s ongoing rehab from his myriad injuries has and will likely continue to hamper the team’s efforts to move their $12 million-ish man in the middle, but they’ll continue to listen to any and all offers and prefer to move on. Health does remain a concern, but the 26-year-old seven-footer would be a major steal considering the likely low asking price and upside on the investment: in 79 games played in the 2007-08 season, Chandler averaged 11.8 points, 11.8 boards, and 1.1 blocks in 35 minutes per.
Richard Hamilton, SG, Detroit Pistons – With Ben Gordon in the fold and signed to a semi-lucrative $55 million deal, the rebuilding Pistons don’t have the luxury of keeping Hamilton with so many glaring holes in the frontcourt. GM Joe Dumars has a sentimental attachment to his All-Star shooting guard, one of the last remaining pieces of the ’04 championship team, but he’ll get over it once the right deal presents itself–and that could be soon.
There’s been plenty of talk about a straight-up swap with the Jazz for Boozer–if that happens, it’ll likely be this week with the clock ticking down on the Jazz to match Paul Millsap’s toxic offer sheet from Portland. If it doesn’t, Dumars could have trouble finding equal value with many teams loathe to take on a contract of Hamilton’s size (over $49 million for the next four seasons).
Ramon Sessions, PG, Milwaukee Bucks – Maybe there’s something going on behind the scenes we don’t know about. Perhaps Sessions has rubbed team brass and/or head coach Scott Skiles the wrong way. Who knows. Whatever the reason, resigning restricted free-agent Sessions doesn’t seem to be very high on the team’s offseason priority list and is even less so after they spent a lottery pick on Brandon Jennings (whom ETB contributor Zach Blott thinks should be stashed overseas for now).
In his second NBA season, Sessions averaged a respectable 12.4 points (44% FG), 5.7 assists, 3.4 boards, and 1.1 steals per 27:30, though we thought he’d be in store for even bigger numbers given his strong showing towards the end of his rookie season. A lot of his expected PT went to Luke Ridnour, unfortunately. Though Ridnour is on the final year of a contract that’ll pay him $6.5 million, Sessions seems the more likely candidate to be moved in a sign-and-trade, with the experienced, steady-as-(s)he-goes Ridnour leaned on to hold down the fort while Jennings adjusts to the NBA game.
Travis Outlaw, F, Portland Trail Blazers – Still only 24 years old, the six-year vet doesn’t seem to have a future in Portland with the team making every effort to upgrade the small forward position. They tried to add Hedo Turkoglu, were rumored to have pitched the Pistons on Tayshaun Prince, and have made no secret of their willingness to part with Outlaw for the right price.
With second-year forward Nicolas Batum in line for even more minutes this season, the only way we see Outlaw sticking around is if the team falls flat on their face (like Superman) in their pursuit of an established veteran starter–and that could very well happen. However, the writing is on the wall and a smart GM would be wise to pick up the phone and inquire about Outlaw: he’s a flawed player on both ends, but one who hasn’t yet hit his ceiling and is coming off a career-best season in which he averaged 12.8 points (45% FG), 4.1 rebounds, and 1 triple per 27:41 minutes.
Given the minutes, coaching, and the right system, down the road we can see this kid being a sparkplug–maybe even a starter–for a contender.