Things could get interesting for the Kings now. Or, of course, they could put the "dead" in "trade deadline."
After a short period of quiet on the trade front, I was being told by a number of sources last night that a deal could be coming 'round the bend. Truth be told, I wasn't entirely sure something regarding John Salmons wasn't going to happen before this story in today's paper was ever published.
As I mentioned in the piece and wanted to elaborate on, the potentially interesting part is in seeing what approach the Kings take now. If something happens quickly - as in sometime Monday - then chances are the Kings opted to cut payroll and maybe grab a pick or two along the way. In other words, they went down the safer (financially speaking) and longer road to rebuilding.
With the Maloofs' losses for this season projected to be from $25 million to $28 million, it's no surprise that some of these scenarios involve severe cost-cutting measures. For example, one of the many things on the table at the moment is the Kings' proposal that salary-dump deals involve the other team sending cash their way in order to pay for the remaining years on the contracts of players who are not expiring. But there is still a small chance a deal could be done that doesn't make the team's fanbase groan in collective despair.
Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire, in particular, remains available and possibly within reach if you look at the other offers out there. And while it has been known for some time that the two teams had talked numerous times, I confirmed a Yahoo report that said talks had taken place on the ownership level (the Maloofs and Suns owner Robert Sarver). That being the case, it's safe to say this notion has been floating long enough to give it some real consideration.
Cleveland's offer, I was told, centers on Wally Szczerbiak's expiring deal, with Anderson Varajeo and rookie big man JJ Hickson (more pieces needed here, though), while Chicago's proposal involves the expiring deal of Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha. There are variations of these that have been reported, but certainly none of them are blowing away the Suns' front office and ownership right now.
Just as the Suns themselves are grappling with the financial implications that surround their every move after reportedly firing Terry Porter and after a rough stretch for the organization, the Kings must decide whether they think landing a 26-year-old talent like Stoudemire would result in the sort of excitement/profits that could counter the millions that would likely be added to payroll. There is, as an added note, the reality that they would likely have to give up their top first round pick for this June. What's more, a source close to the Suns tells me Kevin Martin remains out of this conversation.
Ironically, I had been playing armchair GM for about a month now on various radio appearances saying the Kings should do what they had to do to land Stoudemire. It is, in some respects, a similar situation to when they landed Chris Webber - that of the star who wouldn't be thrilled to be here but who could be the King of this castle upon arrival.
And just as Webber stayed when he became a free agent, Stoudemire - who can receive an extension this summer - will be a free agent in 2010 and would have every reason to stay so long as he is the type who enjoys adding to his bank account. As the New York Times' Howard Beck reminded us all recently, free agents hardly ever flee their home city because of the incentive to stay that is built in to the collective bargaining agreement.
So you tell us: would adding Amare Stoudemire (without losing Martin) bring you back to Arco Arena?
THE BIG, BIG PICTURE
NBA commissioner David Stern spoke at All-Star weekend on how the economy has changed the landscape for much of the league. There was the news that he and Player's Association director Billy Hunter have been talking CBA in hopes of avoiding a 2011 lockout, , and Stern touched on the uncertain future of teams like the Kings as well...
"I can predict nothing other than to say that we worry a lot and we offer to assist our teams," Stern said, "and we are going to work together as hard as we possibly can to weather this economic storm that is really so far beyond sports that I feel almost insignificant talking about it compared to some of the suffering that is going on out there."
Lastly, our own Marcos Breton gave his take on the Kings' situation on Sunday also. - Sam Amick