How the Orlando Magic made the trade of the summer

Before free agency started last June, on the day of the draft, the Denver Nuggets and the Orlando Magic made a trade. The Magic sent Arron Afflalo to Denver for his second stint with the Nuggets, and Denver sent back Frenchman Evan Fournier, entering his third season, along with a second-round pick (which would become Devyn Marble).
At the time, the Magic and their general manager, Rob Hennigan, were mocked for participating in such a clearly one-sided trade. Afflalo had just finished his seventh NBA season and, incredibly, he had improved his scoring average during each and every year: from 3.7 points per game as a rookie with the 2007–08 Detroit Pistons to a team-leading 18.2 pointers per game with last year’s Magic. Factor in Afflalo’s considerable reputation as a hard worker, plus his relatively team-friendly $7.7 million salary (plus a $7.9 million player option for 2015–16), and who wouldn’twant that guy on their team?
Fournier, meanwhile, appeared to be an unproven com…

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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Speculation Surrounding Rajon Rondo and More

The NBA season can be broken into three acts—the pre-trade deadline, the post-trade deadline and the playoffs.

While the actual trades will likely come closer to the Feb. 20 deadline, there are always plenty of rumors circulating around the league in that pre-trade deadline period. The 2014-15 campaign has been no different.

With that in mind, read on to see the latest speculation concerning the Houston Rockets and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics.


Houston Rockets

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle passed along an update on the Rockets’ personnel plans:

The Rockets have been actively seeking to deal the $8.34 million trade exception that came with the Lin trade in a change to their original strategy, according to a person familiar with their trade talks around the league.

The Rockets have talked to teams about 10 to 12 players, the individual familiar with the trade talks said. 

Feigen also mentioned that Houston is looking to add a player to strengthen the overall rotation instead of someone to simply bolster one position, but it is hard to ignore the fact that Terrence Jones is out with injury, and the power forward depth is lackluster at best.

Houston is fresh off a 98-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in which it was outrebounded, 47-38. Granted, a major reason for that discrepancy is that Dwight Howard didn’t play, but the Rockets could certainly use another frontcourt option to help the big man down low on the glass and as an interior defender.

Houston could wait until closer to the deadline when more players will theoretically be available in potential trades, but Feigen pointed out that a smaller deal now involving the trade exception could actually improve its options in February in any possible larger deal for a more marquee player. 

It remains to be seen how this situation unfolds, but it is fairly clear that the Rockets are going for a title this season.


Rajon Rondo

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report noted that the Celtics could have a Rondo predicament on their hands:

These are the questions that may come to define the Celtics’ season, or at least the period between now and the Feb. 20 trade deadline. Rival executives say that Ainge has been firm in his stance that Rondo will not be dealt. But many of those same executives believe that Ainge has to trade Rondo, to avoid losing him for nothing next summer.

Beck also passed along a quote from a general manager: “They’re definitely bravely saying they won’t trade him at this point. I definitely think it’s the right thing to trade him. I think Danny knows it.”

The Danny he is referring to is Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge.

This is the question that is going to dominate any and all talks about the Boston Celtics all season. They are not a serious contender even in the watered-down Eastern Conference, and they would probably be better off in the long term losing more games than they win this season to improve future draft positioning.

Getting rid of Rondo in a trade would certainly increase Boston’s chances at losing the rest of the 2014-15 campaign and would also open up more playing time for rookie point guard Marcus Smart. If nothing else, it would provide an opportunity for Smart to pick up critical confidence and experience as a potential leader of the team.

Rondo also represents Boston’s best chance to get a number of assets in return in any potential trade, be it draft considerations or young players.

The flip side of that is that Rondo is a unique talent who doesn’t come around very often. He is still only 28 years old, and Boston could re-sign him as a franchise cornerstone and build a winner around his abilities. If it could add another young piece or two to a core of Rondo, Smart and Jared Sullinger, Boston could have a possible playoff team within a year or two.

Re-signing Rondo would in all likelihood require the Celtics (or any team) to give the point guard a max contract.

Regardless of the strategy the team takes, Rondo’s early play has strengthened arguments for both positions.

He is spearheading a Boston attack that is third in the NBA in points per game with nightly averages of 10.4 points, 11.8 assists and eight rebounds. He is not exactly doing it with a team of All-Stars surrounding him, either. 

His impressive play will help the team land more in return in any potential trade or help lure other players and free agents in if Boston decides to build around him in the future. Since there are multiple ways in which this situation could unfold, the Rondo saga will certainly be one of the most intriguing NBA storylines to follow for the rest of the season.


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6 Best Trade Destinations for Minnesota Timberwolves’ Corey Brewer

Corey Brewer may not be with the Minnesota Timberwolves for too much longer. 

“The Minnesota Timberwolves, fresh off heavy back-to-back losses in New Orleans and Dallas and in the latest indication of their growing focus on the future, are in active trade discussions with multiple contending teams pursuing veteran swingman Corey Brewer, according to league sources,” reports’s Marc Stein, revealing the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets have emerged as the primary suitors for the 28-year-old’s services. 

So long as the Wolves can receive future assets in return, it makes sense for them to shop Brewer. After all, trading him would free up minutes for the many young players on Minnesota’s roster, as well as clear the books a bit and save the organization some money. It’s Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins who are the future of this franchise on the wings after all. 

Brewer, a small forward who can also play the 2, is averaging 9.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.7 steals through nine outings in 2014-15, but it’s production that would be best utilized by a different team. Plus, we know he can do more when he’s not playing behind Wiggins and receiving only 22.9 minutes per game.

Chances are, Brewer will be dealt to a contender in need of some perimeter defense and transition offense, if he’s moved at all. But which squads present the best fit for his talents?

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NBA Trade Rumors: Corey Brewer Would Bolster Cavaliers’ Title Chances

The rest of the Eastern Conference may not want to hear it, but the Cleveland Cavaliers could be getting some reinforcements on their run to a potential NBA title.

Marc Stein of passed along a developing rumor regarding Corey Brewer:

The Minnesota Timberwolves, fresh off heavy back-to-back losses in New Orleans and Dallas and in the latest indication of their growing focus on the future, are in active trade discussions with multiple contending teams pursuing veteran swingman Corey Brewer, according to league sources.

Sources told that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets have emerged as the most serious suitors for Brewer.

While the Houston Rockets would be an intriguing option for Brewer considering their position as a Western Conference contender with Dwight Howard and James Harden, the Cavaliers at least don’t have to worry about the Los Angeles Clippers if this update from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is any indication:

Before digging too far into this rumor from Cleveland’s point of view, this makes some sense from Minnesota’s perspective.

Brewer will turn 29 years old this season, and the Timberwolves are in full-blown rebuild mode after trading away Kevin Love this offseason. Trading Brewer could net a couple of young players or draft picks for Minnesota, which is exactly what a rebuilding franchise is always looking for with an eye on the future.

Stein noted that Cleveland owns a trade exception large enough to take on Brewer’s $4.7 million salary.

With LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving in tow, it is championship or bust for the Cavaliers this season. Defense has long been assumed to be their weakness ever since they traded Andrew Wiggins in a package for Love, and Brewer’s greatest asset is his ability as a perimeter stopper on that end of the floor.

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders noted how bad it has been for Cleveland on defense in the early going this year:

He is versatile and athletic enough to defend guards or small forwards and can take some of the pressure off James on the defensive side. James has enough to worry about on offense to have to deal with the opponent’s best perimeter player on the defensive side for 82 games.

Brewer is averaging 1.7 steals a game in the early going, and, per, is holding opponents to a minus-4.2 net defensive field-goal percentage overall and a minus-11.4 net defensive field-goal percentage on two-point shots. That means opponents shoot 4.2 percent worse on field goals against Brewer than they normally would and 11.4 percent worse on two-point shots.

If the Cavaliers suddenly became more formidable on the defensive side, they would look like an even more dangerous title contender.

Brewer is also a sold offensive player, especially in transition. Stein pointed out that he was particularly effective off of Love’s impressive outlet passes in Minnesota, and fans would get to see that combination yet again in Cleveland.

One reason that Brewer is impressive in transition is his speed. He commented on that ability when he was in Denver, via Aaron J. Lopez of the Nuggets’ team website: “I always feel like I’m the fastest guy on the court, no matter what. When I get out and run, I feel I can outrun people.”

Brewer averaged more than 12 points a game in 2013-14 for Minnesota and 2012-13 for Denver. He is not the best three-point shooter (29.4 percent on his career), but he can attack the rim with speed off the bounce or as a slasher without the ball.

Outside of the defense and underrated offense, Brewer would boost Cleveland’s title chances because it would give it more depth at the shooting guard/small forward position. The Cavaliers are going to make the playoffs and need James to be relatively fresh by the postseason.

James is averaging 39 minutes a night, and it is only November. The overall mileage on his almost-30-year-old legs could be a long-term issue for Cleveland, especially if it plans on playing deep into the postseason.

Brewer would give the Cavaliers another option to reduce James’ minutes load, especially since the former Florida Gator can play multiple positions. 

Defense and the overall wear and tear on James may be the two biggest concerns for Cleveland. Brewer would immediately address them both.


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Wolves discussing Corey Brewer trade with Cavs, Rockets

The Minnesota Timerberwolves are reportedly discussing a trade of veteran wing Corey Brewer to either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Houston Rockets.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the news on Sunday afternoon. Brewer, 28, is an odd piece on the 2-7 Wolves who are limping to a slow start without the contributions of point guard Ricky Rubio. He is owed $4.7 million this season and has a $4.9 million player option for the 2015-16 season. Stein said both the Rockets and Cavs have trade exceptions large enough to fit Brewer, and might just need to send draft pick(s) back to Minnesota.
No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins — of course, a would-be Cavalier — is the future on the wing for the Timberwolves. Brewer is averaging only 22.9 minutes per game this season, down from 32.2 last year when Minnesota finished 40-42. Although Flip Saunders also acquired Thaddeus Young in the Wiggins trade, they might now be fully accepting rebuild mode with Rubio out and rookie Zach LaVine starting at the point.
Brewer had a natural co

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Corey Brewer Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Timberwolves Swingman

Minnesota Timberwolves guard-forward Corey Brewer has been a consistent player since returning to Minnesota. However, the franchise is reportedly looking to move Brewer to a playoff contender.

Two of the teams in the discussion for the veteran are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets. Marc Stein of ESPN passed along the report Sunday:

Stein noted more information for both the Cavaliers and Rockets:

Brewer, 28, was initially drafted by the Timberwolves in the 2007 NBA draft with the seventh overall pick. After three-plus seasons with the team, he had stints with the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets before coming back to Minnesota in the 2013-14 season.   

Zach Lowe of shared his thoughts on the reports:

After starting 81 games and posting 12.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last season, Brewer has seen his role reduced this year. His minutes have gone down from 32.2 to 22.9 per game and he’s only averaging 9.8 points.

If he does head to a contender like the Cavs or Rockets, Brewer would immediately add depth at the guard position. The veteran has also played in 19 playoff contests, so he would bring experience in the postseason.

Kevin Martin has been the main shooting guard for Minnesota this season, so the team would simply lose some depth if he is dealt away. The franchise is looking to get young with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Anthony Bennett on the roster, so a trade might further benefit the team moving forward.


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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo

It’s hard to feel sorry for Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics fans considering the two franchises basically had a monopoly on the Larry O’Brien Trophy for so many years.

However, the 2014-15 season is not going to be pretty for either legendary team. Neither squad will reach the postseason, and trade rumors will likely circulate around both franchises all year, even for the superstar players. 

With that in mind, read on to see the latest on Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo.


Kobe Bryant

Mitch Lawrence of Forbes provided an update on Bryant:

“But from what we can tell, talking to industry sources familiar with the Lakers’ thinking, No. 24 isn’t going anywhere. He’s got a no-trade clause and the Lakers have a no-trade mindset.”

Lawrence also passed along a quote from an NBA team president that would seem to suggest the same thing:

“I don’t see them trading Kobe, not at all. The Lakers almost have to keep him, as much for business reasons as anything else, and I believe that’s what they’re going to do.”

Those business reasons are important since the Lakers are not going to compete for a playoff spot this season. Bryant is the main draw at the box office, and Los Angeles is a town built on stars. All those celebrities sitting courtside at the Staples Center, as well as those tuning in to the television broadcasts, would be less inclined to follow the Lakers without Mr. Bryant.

That would be a problem for the NBA’s second-most valuable franchise (behind only the New York Knicks, per Lawrence).

What’s more, there probably aren’t a lot of teams lining up to trade for Bryant given his $48.5 million contract and age (36 years old).

The Knicks have been discussed because of his familiarity with the triangle offense and coach Derek Fisher, but New York is rebuilding this season. Giving up young or future assets for an aging superstar is not how you go about building a championship contender, even if that superstar is Bryant. 

Bryant will be a Laker the rest of his career.


Rajon Rondo

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated provided an update on Rondo through a quote from an Eastern Conference executive:

I don’t know how high it is. He is a free agent at the end of the year. A team that trades for him will have half a season to convince him to stay. He has to be in a city that he wants to be in. If he didn’t get hurt last year his value would have been higher then. A team would have had a year and a half and convince him to stay. And I don’t know how many teams truly need a starting point guard. Houston needs one. The Lakers. But if you’re the Lakers, why would you give up anything for him now when you can try to sign him this summer?

Rondo may be the superstar in Boston and the biggest draw for the team, but the Celtics are in full-blown rebuild mode.

They landed Marcus Smart and James Young in the last draft and have Jared Sullinger as a promising young big man down low. The Celtics are still a couple of pieces away from having a formidable core that will develop together, and Rondo is the best trade chip they have at their disposal.

Even if the Celtics didn’t get any notable young players back in a Rondo trade (which they probably would), they could get draft picks to help in the future.

Plus, trading Rondo would open up the point guard spot for Smart so that the Celtics can see what they fully have in the Oklahoma State product. Smart will be the eventual starting point guard for the Celtics, so the more experience he can accumulate as a rookie, the better off he will be in the long term.

Rondo is averaging 10.1 points, 12 assists and 8.1 rebounds a game in the early going and is a walking triple-double threat every time he takes the floor.

That early season performance is exactly what the Celtics need if they are going to trade him away. Rondo is an excellent player, but he represents the past for Boston. 

It’s time to look toward the future.


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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on J.R. Smith and Rajon Rondo’s Trade Value

The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks both lost in heartbreaking fashion on Friday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz, respectively. 

While both proud franchises nearly came away with a win, it underscored an important point for the 2014-15 NBA season: The best the Celtics and Knicks can realistically hope for is to come close to contention. The pieces just aren’t there to win anything of note this year.

It is no surprise, then, that New York and Boston will be part of trade rumors all season, as stockpiling young assets and future draft picks is the surest way to rebuild. Following those lines, there were whispers surrounding both J.R. Smith and Rajon Rondo on Friday.

Read on to find out the latest.


J.R. Smith 

Ian Begley of ESPN New York passed along an update on Smith:

The talks are in place, so we know the Knicks could possibly move the shooting guard at some point this season. In light of that, one league executive had a very interesting take, via Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York:

J.R. has had a lot of issues but he can be a big-time scorer when he’s doing the right things. There’s always a team out there willing to take a chance on somebody if they feel he can put them over the top, and there’s no doubt J.R. can play. People are going to be concerned about chemistry issues in the locker room, so it would have to be a strong leadership and coaching staff that take him in.

As with so many people on the trade block, there are ups and downs when discussing Smith, which is exactly what that executive said. One of the positives with Smith is that he is only 29 years old and theoretically has a few productive seasons left in the tank. He also has a $6.4 million player option for next season, which isn’t exactly a crippling contract from a team perspective.

The Knicks will likely be patient before making any drastic moves since they are adjusting to the triangle offense under head coach Derek Fisher, but Smith is underperforming as a scorer in the early going.

His lowest per-game scoring total in the last eight years was 12.3, and he even scored as many as 18.1 a night in 2012-13. However, Smith has scored more than 12 points in just one game this season, and he has not asserted himself as a reliable or consistent second scorer behind Carmelo Anthony. 

Smith may just not be meant for the triangle, so there will likely be other teams interested in him as a streaky scorer. Now the Knicks have to pull the trigger.


Rajon Rondo

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated provided an update on Rondo through a quote from an Eastern Conference executive:

I don’t know how high it is. He is a free agent at the end of the year. A team that trades for him will have half a season to convince him to stay. He has to be in a city that he wants to be in. If he didn’t get hurt last year his value would have been higher then. A team would have had a year and a half and convince him to stay. And I don’t know how many teams truly need a starting point guard. Houston needs one. The Lakers. But if you’re the Lakers, why would you give up anything for him now when you can try to sign him this summer?

There is a lot at work here in these comments, especially with the injury history. For as talented as Rondo is, NBA franchises need their cornerstone players to be reliable health-wise. Mannix opined in the same piece that Rondo isn’t quite a max-contract player because he isn’t capable of carrying his team deep into the playoffs without the right surrounding pieces.

What’s more, there is simply an incredible amount of talent at point guard around the league, as the executive suggested. The law of supply and demand implies that Rondo’s trade value is not as high as it could be with such a large supply of talented point guards across the NBA landscape.

However, Houston is an intriguing option because Rondo would not be asked to score much with Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and James Harden leading the way in that department. And there really isn’t a top-notch distributor already in place.

Rondo is racking up ridiculous assist numbers with Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner as his surrounding pieces in Boston. Just imagine what he could do with Harden and Howard flanking his sides.

Given that Rondo is an impending free agent, Boston probably isn’t going to get as much as it would like in return in a trade unless the other party receives a guarantee that Rondo would sign an extension after the season.

The Celtics will still explore their options, though, as they look toward the future in their rebuilding efforts.


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Beck/Bucher: Imagining the Ideal Kobe Bryant Trade Scenarios

Kobe Bryant has been and probably always will be a Los Angeles Laker. Currently under a 2 year and $48.5 million contract, it would seem implausible to find Kobe Bryant wearing another jersey other than purple and gold.

However, if Kobe were traded, which teams would be interested? Which teams would benefit from having a 36-year old Kobe Bryant?

Watch as Howard Beck and Ric Bucher debate what Kobe Bryant trades would be intriguing to see happen and which team would say no in the video above. 

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5 Players Miami Heat Are Most Likely to Target in a Potential Trade

At 5-4, the Miami Heat are off to a decent start to the 2014-15 NBA season.

While there is much to be encouraged by—such as the strong play of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade—it’s clear this team needs to improve if it wants to seriously contend in the Eastern Conference.

One way for Miami to improve is to hit the trade market. The Heat aren’t going to pursue a marquee player, with $72 million already on the payroll and a set core of top talent in place.

However, there are smaller deals for this team to consider pursuing. Let’s take a look at five options.

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