|Report: Nets make push for Hawks’ Josh Smith||02.11.13 at 9:54 am ET|
The Celtics’ days of Atlantic Division dominance appear to be ending, and the division might soon get even tougher. According to an ESPN report that credits league sources, the Nets — who began Monday with a 1½-game lead over the Celtics for second place in the division behind the Knicks — are making a push to acquire Hawks forward Josh Smith or Bobcats guard Ben Gordon before the NBA’s Feb. 21 trading deadline.
Forward Kris Humphries is the player the Nets are said to be offering as the centerpiece of either deal, with shooting guard MarShon Brooks available as well.
Smith is set to become a free agent following this season and is expected to demand close to maximum salary, so the Hawks risk losing him and getting nothing in return if they stand pat.
The 6-foot-9 Smith is in his ninth NBA season, all with the Hawks, after going directly from high school to the pros. In 46 games this season, he’s averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 blocks — all slightly above his career averages.
|Thursday Morning LEEInks||07.02.09 at 10:07 am ET|
Free agency has begun in both the NHL and NBA, with big-name players already on the move, including a few local college heroes landing in spots that will undoubtedly decrease their popularity in Boston.
In the NHL, the most popular free agent was taken off the market early when the Blackhawks decided it would be a good idea to pay Marian Hossa $5.233 million as a 42-year old. The 12-year deal is worth $62.8 million total, and while the average salary isn’t too devastating in the short term, Hossa will undoubtedly kill Chicago’s cap when he’s past his prime and the Blackhawks are trying to make improvements elsewhere.
While Hossa has played a part on almost-winning teams in the past (lost in Stanley Cup Finals the last two years with Pittsburgh and Detroit, respectively), the expectations placed on him by Chicago doubled when the Blackhawks watched leading scorer Martin Havlat defect to the Wild late last night for six years and $30 million. The Blackhawks also lost goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who is headed to Edmonton after going 25-8 in his final season in Chicago.
There may have been massive shakeup in Chicago, but perhaps the biggest splash was made by the Canadiens. After trading for Scott Gomezon Tuesday, the Habs opened free agency by inking Mike Camalleri, Jaroslav Spacek, and old friend Hal Gill, to name a few. While Gill will provide the team with size (and, as Boston has witnessed, probably not much else) it is the signing of a little man, Boston College alum and NCAA champion Brian Gionta, that should cause the most heartache around these parts.
Gionta played four years at BC, winning it all in the ’00-’01 season before heading to the New Jersey Devils. Many pegged him as too small for the NHL– he is the second-shortest player in the league at what seems to be a generous 5’7″– he started for the Stanley Cup champion Devils in the ’02-’03 season. After the lockout, it seemed as though the “new NHL” was designed for him, as the Rochester Rocket scored a career-high 48 goals in the ’05-’06. Now at the age of 30, Gionta will make $5 million a year for the Habs.
Not to be outdone, of couse, the Rangers threw some big money around too, but in what appears to be a less-logical fashion. Despite the fact that he only suited up in 17 games last season and has been notorious for his injuries, Marian Gaborik is headed to New York thanks to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract.
After missing significant time with a back injury last season, Gaborik was out for the final 38 thanks to hip replacement surgery. As Alex Katz wrote earlier today, hip injuries in sports are happening more and more often with each passing year.
As for the NBA, somebody just made Memphis’ recent pairing of UConn stars Rudy Gay and Hasheem look a lot less cool. The Pistons have thrown some big money around and should see a significant return when they team two UConn products– Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva– with former Husky Richard Hamilton.
While Gordon was a handful for the Celtics in their first-round match-up with the Bulls last season (42 points in game two, 33 in game seven), it is likely that both players will play a bigger role as nemesis to the Green than they previously have in their NBA careers.
A call into Jonathan the Husky was not immediately returned, but all signs point to him remaining in Storrs and not replacing Detroit’s incumbent mascot, Hooper.
Meanwhile, ‘Sheed Watch continues in Boston, with Ainge apparently pulling out the big guns today. As expected, the Celtics aren’t the only team vying for the services of the 6-foot-11 forward, with the Spurs being the latest team to display their interest.
Colleague Greg Cameron put together an impressive entry on NBA free agency in which he named Chris Andersen as a possibility for the Celtics. Unfortunately for local fans of tattoos and ridiculous hair, it’s looking like the Birdman will stay in Denver.
Here’s one to keep an eye on: the Cavaliers are apparently going after Ron Artest.
Music and Lyrics by Ronald William Artest, Jr.:
I’m so sorry to humiliate you on TV by pulling your shorts down.
I won’t do it again!
Truly one of the sincerest moments in NBA history. How could that guy in Detroit not like him? Oh well, art isn’t for everyone. Seriously though, the Celtics may have the Big Three, but do you think a team that featured LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Ron Artest wouldn’t sell out every road game they play? Artest would bring Cleveland defensive prowess, but his insanity may sell just as much.
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