We've got a short roundup today of the latest NBA news, and it starts with fellow Southwest Divisioner New Orleans.
1) Lotto Picks In Play?
The Hornets reportedly are willing to trade either of their two first-round picks (each pick is expected to land in the lottery) so long as a trade partner accepts Emeka Okafor as well. Okafor has a fatty contract that will pay him $28 million in salary after this season. He's currently averaging ten points and eight rebounds.
FOX Sports Ohio's Sam Amico tweeted the rumor this morning:
Let's recap: One of New Orleans' first-rounders could likely wind up being the number one overall pick (though it's more likely they'll pick second or third). The Hornets' other first-rounder is from Minnesota — without Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves are most likely a lotto-bound team as well.
It's an interesting proposition from Houston's standpoint. Dell Demps and Daryl Morey know they'll be working under Cloud Stern and that could throw a wrench into talks. But Houston makes sense as a suitor. They have expiring contracts, potentially two first-rounders of their own and you'd have to think they would take Okafor's contract given their impending cap room. The question is: Would they be able to pair, say, Pau Gasol with Okafor? Would that work financially? We'll have to ask BimaThug, because I'll admit, I'm not the world's best cap expert. We're also not quite sure what the Hornets will demand in return for a trade — exactly how much proven talent will they want in a salary dump?
Either way, Houston may want to seriously consider this option. It gives them a chance to reload right away around a young stud in a stacked draft.
2) Ricky Rubio Is Out For The Season
It's a sad day when a young talent like Rubio goes out for 6-9 months, but for Houston, it opens up an easier route to the playoffs. I wouldn't put it past the Wolves to make a hard push for the eighth seed regardless given their coach and the remaining point guards on their roster (Barea, Ridnour). But you have to think the Rockets might have caught a break in their quest to compete.
3) That Knicks Pick Is Looking Better And Better
Thank you, Carmelo Anthony. Thank you for putting an end to Linsantiy, thank you for consistently shooting under fifty percent from the field, thank you for making everything right in Rockets land. As ClutchFans pointed out on Twitter earlier today, if the Knicks miss the playoffs (they're currently only a game and a half up on the Bucks for the eighth seed) that pick could jump from 15 to 10, or perhaps even higher.
The March 15 trade deadline is just a sniff away. I know I'm excited.