The trade deadline is less than 6 days away and the Mike Miller Trade Watch is heating up, moving into the Orange Level.
You don't know what the Orange Level is? Well, let me fill you in.
Level 1 - Green or Low...Just a normal day in the trade friendly NBA.
Level 2 - Blue or Guarded...Name is thrown around the NBA trade rumor grapevine.
Level 3 - Yellow or Elevated...Name is thrown around in rumors AND other indicators point towards the likelihood of a trade.
Level 4 - Orange or High...Either exceptionally strong trade rumors OR the Yellow Level near the trade deadline.
Level 5 - Red or Severe...Trusted media sources basically assuring us a deal is imminent.
If you read this blog much, you've probably noticed that I like to review what events have transpired to get us to where we are now. Let's do that now as it relates to the Mike Miller Trade Watch. To a lesser degree, the Mike Miller Trade Watch has been going on for a while now.
-- In 2006, after yet another playoff sweep it became obvious that some changes needed to be made, it was rumored that Houston had their pick of either Shane Battier or Mike Miller in the Rudy Gay trade.
-- During June of 2007, it is probably safe to say that the Watch was at a Gaurded Blue Level. There were rumblings around town that Miller may be traded on draft night. One possible destination thrown out before the draft was Charlotte, who had a late lottery pick cap space to absorb Miller's contract. Charlotte ended up trading their lottery pick (and cap space) for Jason Richardson.
-- The beginning of season was more of the same. Tom Ziller at AOL Fanhouse thought Mike Miller was likely to be traded this season. Spartacus replied to TZ, which is a particularly interesting read now considering how the season ended up unfolding.
-- The Watch stayed at a Guarded Blue Level this season until Pau Gasol was traded, when it was then raised up to the Elevated Yellow Level. Part of the reason the Watch immediately went to Yellow was the manner in which Pau was traded. Chris Wallace has been highly criticized for the deal he accepted for Pau, which was a pu-pu platter of expiring contracts and draft picks. If Pau is being traded for cap space and picks, it is logically to think Miller may too, right?
-- Chris Sheridan thought so and named Miller one of the most likely players to also be moved by the trade deadline. At this point the rumors of Miller being traded were loud enough the Commercial Appeal ran the obligatory "I'm not thinking about the trade rumors" article.
Now, things are heating up. In the presence of a looming steaming hot trade deadline, amid swirling trade rumors all across the country that Miller is on the block and in the face of a evidence the Grizzlies are in a fire-sale, the Mike Miller Trade Watch has been raised to the Orange Level. Let's expand on those thoughts.
-- Miller's name is being thrown around in trade rumors all across the country (more on that in a bit).
-- It has even been reported Miller has told friends he believes he will be traded before the deadline.
-- Chris Wallace (or Micheal Heisley depending on your viewpoint) has shown he has a plan for the future and that plan apparently includes increasing both future cap space and future draft picks. On top of that Wallace has shown he will not hesitate to pull the trigger on a deal if it fits his plan (look no further to trading Pau 3 weeks before the trade deadline for cap space and draft picks). If someone offers cap space and picks for Miller, it is reasonable to assume Wallace just may say yes.
-- Chris Vernon, who I can't remember ever being wrong about the Griz, says that Heisley has the team in fire-sale mode and that if Miller gets traded for money and picks, the fire-sale will be completely undeniable. I have learned to always believe Verno and when he tells me there is a good chance that the Pau trade will lead to a similar Miller trade before the deadline, I take him seriously.
-- In what may be the most active trade season in recent memory, there are still 6 days for NBA GM's to make deals and load up in the apparent Western Conference Arms Race (including a yet to be completed Jason Kidd to Dallas trade). I'm sure other teams are talking to Wallace about Mike Miller.
Ok, so there are plenty of reasons to pay attention to the possibility of Miller being traded. What are some of the rumored trades and possible destinations for Miller?
-- Heat. A popular rumored destination is to Miami where they have expiring contracts in Jason Williams (oh, the irony) and Ricky Davis (who if you didn't know is a proud member of the Griz Killer Dream Team). One catch is that they can't trade their 2008 draft pick right now since it could be owed to the Twolves from the Walker-Davis trade.
-- Nuggets. A local rumor floating around that I've heard a number of people tell me about is with the Denver Nuggets. With the rest of the West loading up and the Nugs on a 50 win pace yet still on the bubble for the playoffs, they could make a play to improve their club. They have an expiring contract in Najera as well as their pick to trade. Oh ya, they also have a knucklehead named JR Smith ready to poison any locker room he gets put in.
-- Mavericks. Here is a new one, allegedly a sports radio host in Dallas talked about a local rumor of Dallas signing Keith Van Horn for 1 year and 20 million (!!!), then trading him for Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins. Talk about a Memphis salary dump!! I wonder if that could be a way to fill in the Dallas roster after a Kidd-for-half-the-team trade takes place. But that would mean a heck of a lot of luxury tax Cuban would have to pay. Anyway, it is just a rumor and likely without merit and completely untrue, but I just wanted to pass it along.
-- Nets. A New Jersey paper reports the Nets are interested in Miller. They have expiring contracts in Magloire and Nachbar and possibly extra draft picks from any impending Jason Kidd trade.
So there you go. In the next 6 days don't be surprised if Miller is traded for more cap space and draft picks.
One more aspect I think I should mention. There are 3 other Griz players being routinely named in these same Miller rumors:
-- Lowry (everybody assumes he is the odd-man-out among our young guard trio)
-- Hak (very few people see a role for him on this team in the future, so why not try to get something for him now)
-- Cardinal (please, will someone freaking take his contract off our hands)
Personally, I go back and forth on if Miller will end up getting traded before the deadline, however, I will safely predict that if Miller is traded, it won't be for current talent, but rather more cap space and more picks.
If any new information is leaked in the coming days and a trade seems imminent, we will be sure to raise the Watch Level to Red and promptly fill you in on the details and give you our analysis.