The Chicago Bulls are thought to be preparing a run at Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7). (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)
New Orleans — A few All-Star weekend musings:
After talking to a few executives, the consensus seems to be things are quieter this time around. Usually All-Star weekend is the jump-off for serious trade negotiations because executives are all in town for some reason or another.
That said, there are still several teams looking to make moves before Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline, and almost all have different motivations. The Golden State Warriors, a chic preseason pick to make the NBA Finals, are actually in the eighth spot, just a game and a half away from being out of the Western Conference playoffs.
Although they acquired Detroit native Jordan Crawford, they still want to bring in a guard capable of lessening Stephen Curry’s load (24.6 points, 9.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds), not wanting to wear him down for what they hope is a long playoff run.
Depending on him too much without an adequate backup, as evidenced by his career-high 4.1 turnovers, has led to some uneven games as a whole — despite bringing in Andre Iguodala via free agency last summer.
Second-year forward Harrison Barnes’ role seems to be misplaced as a facilitator off the bench — considering he’s not a great ballhandler. If they place him on the market, his rookie-scale contract and potential will attract a lot of suitors.
Philadelphia wants to be a seller at the trade deadline. Already a near-lock to obtain one of the top three picks in the draft, they’re looking to unload guard-forward Evan Turner and forward Thaddeus Young.
Turner is approaching restricted free agency and the 76ers don’t appear willing to commit to him long-term, and even his one-year qualifying-offer salary of $8.7 million doesn’t look like an amount they’re willing to pay.
Young (17.1 points, 6.1 rebounds) is on the books for two more seasons after this one at $9.1 million and $9.7 million. They’re affordable amounts but the 76ers seem more intent on future picks than keeping the talent they have in-house to go with likely Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.
Executives seem to be higher on Barnes than Turner, but the prices could be too steep.
Speaking of steep, the Boston Celtics are looking for a king’s ransom for the still-recovering Rajon Rondo, their all-world but mercurial point guard.
Rondo, not yet 100 percent from a knee injury he suffered one year ago, is averaging 9.8 points and 7.1 assists for a Celtics team that isn’t going anywhere.
Danny Ainge curiously revealed to reporters in Boston that he tried to sign Rondo to an extension weeks ago but was rebuffed.
What does he want for Rondo? Only two first-round draft picks, and you’ll likely have to take the contracts of either Gerald Wallace (two years/$20.2 million following 2014) or Jeff Green (two years/$18.4 million following 2014) to do so. Green is far more productive than Wallace, but it’s highly unlikely a team will part with multiple first-rounders for a player whose hallmark has been inconsistency — even if Rondo is the linchpin of the deal.
Ainge’s protégé in Boston, Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough, is also on the hunt before the deadline. The Suns are one of the NBA’s surprises, and it’s quite clear they’re looking to pair borderline All-Star point guard Goran Dragic with a premier big man for the playoff stretch.
They’ve been talking to the Lakers about future free agent and perpetually misused Pau Gasol.
Memphis big man Zach Randolph and Chicago’s Carlos Boozer also have been mentioned as possible targets of the Suns.
They’re well under the cap and could absorb Randolph’s or Boozer’s deal.
Considering the Bulls are a little over the luxury tax and Derrick Rose leading them to a title isn’t a realistic scenario, they’re trying to not only get under the tax this year, but prepare for a scenario in which they could make a legit run at New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony this summer.
Anthony is in a precarious position. Although the Knicks haven’t gotten anywhere since acquiring Anthony in 2011, they’re intent on keeping him and giving him a maximum contract this summer.
Anthony has performed well but the Knicks have underachieved after making it to the second round last May. With the speculation surrounding coach Mike Woodson, Anthony has firmly stated Woodson isn’t going anywhere and he’s under the assumption the Knicks will make moves to make the team better.
The problem is, they don’t have many trade assets and no draft picks to give up — which, to be fair, nobody is trying to get out of this June’s top-heavy draft.
One team to definitely keep an eye on is the Toronto Raptors. First-year general manager and reigning executive of the year Masai Ujiri has a surprising squad, a team many believed would be in the running for a high lottery pick at the start of the season.
But the trades of Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have helped lift the franchise above .500 and they could look to bolster their frontcourt before Thursday, along with the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that would like to solidify its playoff position before rosters are set.