Deadline moves come with risk

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The countdown to deadline day has begun.

Exactly four weeks from today, the NBA's trade deadline kicks in, a day that historically has produced very little movement or very little in the way of consequence.

But the days and weeks leading up to the league's annual deadline often have produced blockbuster deals or trades of significance.

Witness the trades last year of Pau Gasol, Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kidd, marquee players whose moves came at considerable risk and debate.

The Mavs brought Kidd back to Dallas, but the price was Devin Harris and two first-round picks going to New Jersey.

O'Neal's arrival in Phoenix was heralded as a new beginning for the Suns, who were hoping the Diesel's post presence would complement the team's uptempo game in the post-season.

Turns out O'Neal's trade proved to be the beginning of the end for head coach Mike D'Antoni.

The Lakers fleeced Memphis in acquiring Gasol, who went to Los Angeles in a package that saw his younger brother Marc head to the Grizzlies.

Players of Pau Gasol's ilk, O'Neal's profile and Kidd's all-round skills haven't been mentioned in rumours this season, which could only mean a big-name player will get moved.

Instead, speculation has involved some of the league's second-tier players, such as Larry Hughes, Jerry Stackhouse, Earl Watson, Brad Miller and Gerald Wallace.

The biggest names that appear to be available and are most likely to get moved are Jermaine O'Neal, Shawn Marion and Josh Howard, but the merits of each are questionable.

"I'm actually tired of it (trade talk),'' Miami's Marion, who has been linked with Toronto, Dallas and Sacramento, said.

"I'm really tired of it. It's very distracting."

It's no secret the defending champion Celtics want to address their bench.

In Cleveland, the Cavs figure they can topple Boston in the East and always can use a shooter when the ball isn't in the hands of LeBron James.

No one seems to be talking about the Orlando Magic, which plays host to Boston tonight, even though the team entered play last night with the league's best winning percentage.

A veteran frontcourt player or a backup at the point would serve Orlando well in the post-season, moves that can be engineered without disrupting the team's nucleus.

"People want you to panic," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said amid concerns in Big D that the team has yet to find its rhythm. "It makes for more interesting media and Internet.

"In the West, there's nobody running away with it. Every team except the Lakers has had a bad stretch."

Rumours, no matter how improbable they appear, can take on a life of their own. There is no such thing as accountability in today's world of blogging and Internet, often leading to speculation that has no credence.

But there is plenty of talk among NBA general managers at this time of the season, talk that gets intensified when they gather at all-star weekend in the days leading up to Feb. 19.

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey offered an innocuous observation that surely is shared by his executive brethren.

"I think by the trade deadline we'll do something,'' he said. "I think every year we've done something.

"Of course, how we're playing and who's healthy will really swing what happens, but I think history shows that there's always something that will happen at the deadline."

How big, or minor, will be decided shortly.

Barry on King James

Rick Barry pulls no punches, an approach many believe has prevented the Hall of Fame forward from landing a significant post in the NBA.

Barry is one of the game's greats who isn't exactly politically correct. He speaks his mind and isn't afraid of any repercussion.

When asked by a Bay Area TV station to assess James' game, the former Golden State Warriors scoring machine didn't mince his words.

"He's got major flaws in his game," Barry said. "He's six years into the NBA. How can a man six years into the NBA with his talent have a major flaw in his shot?

"How can he not use screens effectively? I watch the game very carefully, he doesn't use screens effectively and this is not LeBron's fault. It's the fault of the people who are teaching him.

"There is no doubt in my mind that LeBron, if shown these things, would do them because he wants to be a great player, he wants to win a championship.

"As great as he is, he should be better."

It's a scary thought.


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