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Maggette Update

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In a ClipsNation poll back in December, almost 70% of us thought that Corey Maggette would be traded by the February 22 trade deadline.  Fully 38% thought he would be gone by the New Year.  Well, he's still a Clipper, and with the Clippers decidedly uninterested in the offers they've received, it's starting to look like Corey will be with the team through the end of the season.  Now, that's just a common sense conclusion based on the fact that the Clippers have been openly trying to deal him since December, and less openly before that, but he's still here.  

Various potential deals (Ron Artest, Mike Miller, Mike Dunleavy Jr., etc.) haven't happened, so it looks less likely that he will be traded.  Of course, teams may get more desperate as the trade deadline gets closer, so someone might make a better offer (or the Clippers might accept a lesser offer).  So it's certainly not over.

Mark Stein echoed the 'it's not happening' stance in his weekend dime Sunday on ESPN.com.  

But we might have to take it a step further, with the Clips insisting that the chances of Maggette being moved anywhere before the Feb. 22 trading deadline are "extremely unlikely."
Now is that mere posturing from the Clips to get interested teams (Utah, San Antonio and Minnesota among them) to make better offers?
That's a sensible conclusion.
The Clips, though, maintain that it's a faulty conclusion. As much as they need to make the playoffs to help pay for Donald Sterling's increasingly liberal spending -- and as much as Maggette is the natural choice for a shake-up move given that he and everyone else have been expecting a trade for months -- rumblings persist that Maggette has a better chance of moving into the starting lineup than relocating in the next month.

That's the first time I've seen that in writing: the Clippers think it is extremely unlikely.  This is of course good news to those of us who think Corey should be a cornerstone for the Clippers, and it's even better news that Stein is suggesting he could wind up back in the starting lineup.

Now for the bad news.  For one thing, I don't really believe it.  It is entirely possible that elements within the Clipper organization think Maggette should be starting, but it seems obvious that MDSr is not one of them.  In the general handling of the Maggette situation, and in the specific case of the Dunleavy Jr. fiasco, it seems clear that MDSr and Elgin Baylor (and Donald Sterling, a big fan of Maggette) are not on the same page.  This does not bode particularly well for a franchise that has just invested more in this head coach than they did in their prior 10 head coaches combined (I made that up, but it certainly SOUNDS true).  

The other bad news is that something has been distracting this team this season, and the status quo on Maggette will likely continue to be a distraction.  Somehow, this situation needs to be resolved.  Might that happen in a closed door meeting between the coach and the player, for instance?  Perhaps, though it's probably a long shot.  More minutes for Corey will certainly help.  Let's face it; Corey has been terrific through all of this.  In spite of everything, he is the one Clipper who always brings maximum effort.  But the last time he said something about MDSr, it was "Coach doesn't respect what I do."  When the second leading scorer on the team (deservedly) feels unappreciated by the coach, it's not a good thing.  I'm not saying that everyone has to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but listening to MDSr constantly yell at Corey from the sideline, one understands how he could feel unappreciated.

So stay tuned.  

For what it's worth, here are the latest Maggette rumors I have come across.

In the above quote, Stein references Utah, San Antonio and Minnesota.  As we've discussed before, Corey is a major talent, so contenders are going to be interested, and these teams all view themselves as contenders (though Minnesota is a stretch).  As for specific Utah rumors, according to the Salt Lake Tribune the bait is Gordon Giricek, Jarron Collins and Rafael Araujo.  The Clippers are not biting on that.  Jazz owner Larry Miller recently made some disparaging remarks about Andrei Kirilenko being "on thin ice" but GM Kevin O'Conner went out of his way to say the AK47 is not on the block:

Let's put this to bed: We are not looking to trade Andrei Kirilenko. Period.

For what it's worth, I think AK47 is great, but he would be a monumentally bad choice for the Clippers.  We've already paid out one maximum contract for basically a complementary player, albeit a great complementary player.  Two such contracts on the same team would equal a second round playoff exit (at best) for years to come.  We can't afford to spend $13M per year on a guy with limited offensive skills when we're having trouble scoring.

This is the first time I've seen Minnesota mentioned anywhere.  Maggette for Ricky Davis is almost the only cap-viable trade involving the Wolves, and I just don't see that happening.  For the Clippers, it might represent more value than most of the other offers they're seeing, but it's hard to imagine that MDSr would be significantly more pleased with Davis' defense or basketball IQ.  

As for San Antonio, the Brent Barry and Beno Udrih rumor has been out there for awhile.  Just to illustrate how crazy the world of NBA trade rumors can be, on Sunday Peter Vecsey reported that the Clippers approached the Spurs with this deal only to be turned down, while the San Antonio Express-News reported it was the Clippers who rebuffed the Spurs' offer.  Hmmm.  Which scenario seems more likely?  For his part, Vecsey thought it was 'astonishing' that the Spurs would turn down that deal, and I agree.

A quick aside about Vecsey.  He seems to have a giant chip on his shoulder about his sources.  I've posted about this twice before, but the guy continually goes out of his way to scream about how his sources are legit, while other writers just spread rumors.  He did it again this weekend, saying 'I told you so' when the Gizzlies started shopping Pau Gasol.  See, Vecsey was peeved back in December when Michael Heisley called Vecsey's "Pau to Boston" story a fabrication.  Funny thing is, Gasol has apparently asked for a trade now, where he had not before.  So, it is entirely possible that it was indeed a fabrication back in December, even if Pau is on the block now.  Meanwhile, he absolutely contradicts himself on Maggette.  Back in December he wrote

there's not a shred of truth to a Miami Herald report that had the Heat and my Paper Clips discussing a trade involving Corey Maggette. Not one word of dialogue along those lines ever took place. Moreover, it won't. Pat Riley can offer nobody of consequence who can replicate what Maggette does for L.A.

But on Sunday he wrote

To date, the most "attractive" offer my Paper Clips have received for Corey Maggette, an essential component of LA's offense, is from the Heat: James Posey and Jason Kapono. Both are free agents-to-be; a negative, if you're the Clips, who have Maggette under contract for an additional season.

Just as with the Pau situation, it's entirely possible that something changed between December and now.  But in Pau's case, we know what changed:  he asked for a trade.  In the case of the Heat and the Clippers, there's no reason to believe that this offer was not discussed back in December when Vecsey went out of his way to accuse the Miami Herald of printing something without 'a shred of truth.'  By the way, Vecsey was also among those who reported that Jermaine O'Neal was consulted before they traded his pal Al Harrington to the Warriors.  Well, that's not true according to Harrington and Donnie Walsh and pretty much everyone else involved.  

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  At this point, I know first hand that you have sources that you trust, you write something, but it doesn't mean it's going to happen, because things change.  Or maybe the source was just mistaken this time, for whatever reason.  You write what you believe, in good faith, and then you move on.  But Vecsey is just being so hypocritical to accuse others of spreading rumors, while acting insulted when his stories are called into question.  Michael Heisley said there was no truth to your Gasol story 6 weeks ago?  Get over it.

Back to Maggette - Posey and Kapono?  No thanks.  I may be wrong, but it just seems like a Kapono-like shooter is available on waivers somewhere.  Let's face it, Kapono himself will be available in a few months.  Luke Jackson wasn't that guy (though I believe he will find a home in the NBA eventually) - but there are shooters out there.  Casey Jacobsen, anyone?  Anyway, James Posey is 30 years old, and a career 9 point a game scorer.  Kapono is having a nice year, but he's incredibly one dimensional, and going to be a free agent looking for a lot more money.  Why would you trade Corey Maggette for that package?

The only other thing I've seen was a Charlotte rumor: Maggette to the Bobcats for Toronto's first round pick and a small forward.  That small forward could only be Gerald Wallace, looking at the Bobcats roster.  Wallace was an absolute monster last season, though his productivity has dropped off this year now that Charlotte has a few more options.  Wallace and a first round pick would be an interesting trade, but I can't really see why the Bobcats would want to do that.

The old rumors - Ron Artest, Mike Miller, Mike Dunleavy Jr - all appear to be dead.  Thank the FSM the MDJr. rumor is dead.