Sources: McGrady for Carter trade talk

February 17, 2009 5:52:20 PM PST
Sources tell ESPN.com that the Nets are talking to both the Rockets and Blazers about a deal for Vince Carter. The Rockets and New Jersey Nets meet on the court Tuesday night in Houston. Will they be swapping more than baskets?The two teams have exchanged Vince Carter trade proposals over the past few days, league sources told ESPN.com Tuesday. And the Rockets aren't the only team talking to the Nets. Sources said that the Blazers were also talking to the Nets on Tuesday afternoon about a deal that would send Carter to the Blazers for a package headlined by Raef LaFrentz.

Currently the Rockets and Blazers are both haggling over what the Nets will get in return for Carter. Sources say the Rockets have been pushing a trade that sends Tracy McGrady to the Nets for Carter and Trenton Hassell.

The Blazers are offering LaFrentz and his expiring contract along with Travis Outlaw and Sergio Rodriguez.

The Nets are refusing to take McGrady who is slated to make $22 million during the 2009-10 season. However, McGrady's contract comes off the books in the summer of 2010. The deal would save the Nets roughly $21 million over the life of Carter's contract. The Nets would then have around $30 million in cap room to use in a stellar free-agent market.

Sources say the Nets are also concerned about McGrady's health. McGrady has already missed 18 games this season. The Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday that McGrady missed Monday's practice and will not play against the Nets as he prepares to seek more opinions on his problematic left knee.

The Nets have countered with a proposal that would send Carter and Josh Boone to the Nets for a combination of Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Luther Head and Carl Landry.

The Nets' proposal is related to both talent and finances. The contracts of Artest and Head expire this summer, clearing around $8 million off the team's cap in the summer of 2009. Sources say the team is looking for immediate cap relief in any deal for Carter. However, management doesn't want to completely gut the team and believes that Battier and Landry could play important roles in the future.

At this point sources say that the ball is in the Rockets' court. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Rockets were still mulling over the Nets' proposal. While the Rockets have strong interest in Carter, they may be reluctant to take on the remaining two years and $37 million left on his contract if they can't move McGrady as part of the transaction. They would also lose two valuable pieces in Battier and Landry. Is Carter good enough to make up for their losses?

Meanwhile the Blazers have moved into the fray with perhaps a more enticing offer. LaFrentz's $12.7 million comes off the books this summer and Outlaw is an upgrade to the Nets situation at the three. As for the Blazers, adding Carter gives them a veteran small forward who has more playoff experience than most of the players on Portland's roster.

The Blazers also have been shopping Channing Frye, who also could be included in a Blazers-Nets trade if New Jersey added on one or two spare parts from the trio of Stromile Swift (expiring $6.2 million contract), Sean Williams (1.52M this season, 1.62M next season) and Hassell ($4.35 million player option for next season).

The Rockets and Blazers aren't the only team the Nets have spoken with concerning Carter. The Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers have all shown interest, though it sounds as if the Rockets deal has the highest probability of happening. The Rockets have been shopping McGrady hard over the past month to a number of teams but have struggled to find takers given his injury history and contract.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. ESPN Insider's Chris Sheridan contributed to this report.

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