Trade-deadline reaction around the NBA
• Jenny Dial Creech, Houston Chronicle: The Rockets traded third-string point guard Aaron Brooks to the Denver Nuggets for forward Jordan Hamilton. Trade speculation had swirled for weeks before the deadline about the Rockets’ moving backup center Omer Asik, who hasn’t been happy about becoming a backup to Dwight Howard. There were other rumors as well, but at the end of the day, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said the team wasn’t looking to make a lot of changes. … Morey said the Rockets have had their eyes on Hamilton for awhile because of his athleticism and skill. … “He is really a highly-regarded prospect and hasn’t had a chance to emerge,” Morey said. “That is usually the kind of guy we do really well with, catch him before they get a chance and see them flourish with us.”
• Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus, Los Angeles Times: What’s next for a team on pace for its worst season ever? The Lakers are headed for a lottery pick in the June draft, followed by free agency in July. They saved about $4 million in salary and luxury taxes by trading Steve Blake on Wednesday night for two seldom-used Golden State guards. But the Blake deal definitely irked Kobe Bryant, who weighed in on Twitter with a big thumbs down. So it wasn’t surprising to hear Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak talk about the future more than usual when meeting with reporters Thursday. … “It’s reasonable to think that every now and then, or maybe once every 10 years, or maybe once every 15 years, you might have a bad year. And we are not having a good year,” Kupchak said. “Our hope and our desire is that next year is going to be a lot better than this year and we certainly have the tools to begin that process. Next year we’re going to have Kobe when he’s healthy and we will have a good draft choice and we’ll have dollars to spend on free agents. So it depends who we can get in this summer.” Here’s the problem: The Lakers don’t know what they can get this summer.
• Christopher Dempsey, Denver Post: [Nuggets acquisitions Aaron] Brooks and [Jiri] Vesely offer options. There is no future financial impact as both have expiring contracts. The chances of either one returning next season is slim, but nothing can be ruled out. Vesely would be the player to watch most in this scenario. At 23 years old, he was a lottery pick just three years ago, and entered the league with a reputation of being an athletic, if raw, wing. The sample size wouldn’t be huge, but a fresh start might do him some good after he averaged just 3.5 points and 3.4 rebounds with the Wizards. “It’s not often you get a chance to get a 30-game look at the sixth pick in the draft from a couple years ago,” Connelly said. “His versatility kind of fits the mold of player that we’re attracted to. Hopefully he comes here, it’s a fresh slate and we’ll see what he can do.”
• Paul Coro, Arizona Republic: [Suns GM Ryan] McDonough said the Suns were never close on any deal. Part of the concern was how much a new player could even help with 29 games remaining and about eight possible practice dates. He said their research shows that trade deadline moves do not usually have a high impact outside of Rasheed Wallace to Detroit and Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers. “We didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize what we have or our long-term future for a short-term bump,” McDonough said. “We feel like we’ll be a major player in trades or free agency.”
• Joe Freeman, The Oregonian: [T]here was a heavy feeling around Rip City that something needed to be done. The Blazers (36-18) have excelled most of the season, but are in the middle of a rough stretch, having lost seven of their past 10 games. Also, because of injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), Meyers Leonard (left ankle) and Joel Freeland (right knee), the team’s frontcourt is razor-thin. Before the trio of short-term setbacks decimated the roster, the Blazers would have welcomed another frontcourt piece — the injuries only increased the urgency. … But a variety of factors derailed any serious talks — for [Spencer] Hawes, [Chris] Kaman or anyone else. The Blazers do not hold a pick in the 2014 NBA draft. They don’t possess a trade exception. They don’t have any salary cap space. They don’t even feature a valuable Raef LaFrentz-like expiring contract. Add in the fact that they didn’t want to deal a piece of their core, and the Blazers didn’t have the assets to make a deal.
• Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee: Thursday’s trade deadline passed without the Kings further altering their roster. Playing time to close out the season is far from settled, however. The Kings’ coaching staff and front office are in evaluation mode and want to see what they have in the players acquired since the new regime took over in May. … Holdovers such as [Jason] Thompson and [Jimmer] Fredette could see their playing time diminish over the final 28 games of the season as the Kings take extended looks at rookie Ray McCallum, [Carl] Landry and [Derrick] Williams.
• Jerry Zgoda, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Wolves didn’t strike a deal before the 2 p.m. deadline passed, and Love on Thursday refuted an unsourced Twitter report from late Wednesday night that said he told president of basketball operations Flip Saunders before the All-Star break he’ll opt out of his contract in July 2015 so he can play elsewhere. Longtime columnist and commentator Peter Vecsey’s series of tweets also said the Wolves were expected to trade Love by Thursday’s deadline or this coming summer. Saunders quickly responded with a tweet of his own shortly after Love delivered a 42-point, 15-rebound performance in a 104-91 home victory over Indiana on Wednesday and Love said he and Saunders “laughed about it” before Thursday’s partial practice at Target Center. “It’s a media-driven story,” Love said. “For the past couple years, I can’t believe some of the stuff that has come out.” … So, for the record: He never told Saunders he wants to play for a franchise with a winning culture and plans to leave as soon he can, in July 2015? “No, no,” he said.
• Ben Bolch and Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: The trades involving [Antawn] Jamison and [Byron] Mullens leave the Clippers thin at the power forward and center spots, with only Ryan Hollins as a backup to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Former Atlanta power forward Ivan Johnson recently worked out for the Clippers but did not impress those in attendance, according to a league executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the workout was private. … Other big man options for the Clippers include Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who reportedly [completed] a buyout with the Orlando Magic, and free agent Jason Collins, both of whom previously played for [Doc] Rivers with the Boston Celtics. The Clippers could have competition for Collins from the Brooklyn Nets, who reportedly were considering signing him to a 10-day contract. Collins, the first openly gay player in major professional sports, has been working out in Los Angeles in hopes of signing with a team.
• Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times Picayune: If there was an opportunity on Thursday for the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire a much-needed pick in the first round of the June NBA Draft – considered the deepest in years – the team failed to consummate a deal. … Given the Pelicans’ place in the standings, the team’s playoff hopes on life support with the plug dangling loosely from the wall socket, it’s disappointing the team couldn’t do anything to get back the 2014 first-round pick it sent to Philadelphia.
• Dan McCarney, San Antonio Express-News: [E]ven when fully healthy, the one major hole in the Spurs’ depth was a true backup for [Kawhi] Leonard in the event that [Danny] Green, [Manu] Ginobili and/or Marco Belinelli aren’t suitable for that night’s particular matchup. Sub-par as he’s been so far, [new acquisition Austin] Daye could at least fills a role the Spurs have previously tried to fill with the D-League’s Othyus Jeffers and NBA veteran Shannon Brown, who is nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the Spurs.