Who said no deals? Assuming a resolution of the NBA labor standoff is forthcoming, word floating around Las Vegas is that P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn could be heading to Boston.
Celtics coach Rick Pitino wants Mashburn, his former Kentucky star, badly and may be willing to re-sign Antoine Walker, then send the all-star forward to Miami to get a deal done.Walker wants a nine-figure deal, out of Boston and away from Pitino. The feeling is becoming mutual.
Walker could also end up in Portland in exchange for forward Brian Grant.
Latrell Sprewell's name also popped up in several trade conversations. Rumors about him heading to San Antonio in a deal that involves Sean Elliott are still out there. But the one that is gaining momentum has him heading to Miami. Heat coach and president Pat Riley is the only one willing to take a chance on Sprewell right now with $17 million remaining on his contract.
One possibility has the Heat re-signing Brent Barry, then trading him along with Mashburn and Voshon Lenard to Golden State for Sprewell and Clarence Weatherspoon.
Scottie Pippen is no longer at the top of Orlando's or Houston's wish lists of coveted free agents. One reason is because everyone believes Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf will dole out the bucks to ensure Jordan's return. The other reason is Pippen's back surgery in July, along with the long-term contract he desires.
The fact that Trail Blazers point guard Damon Stoudamire could be grabbed does not help Pippen's case, either.
Heat forward and former Temple standout Mark Strickland desperately wants to stay in South Florida. But if Miami does not put forth a couple million dollars, don't be surprised to see him in Boston.
OTHER NOTABLES: If Charles Barkley does not stay in Houston, it's 50-50 that he will end up in a New York Knicks uniform.
As for other power forwards, "We need one desperately," said Lakers forward Robert Horry, who was forced to defend Karl Malone during the Western Conference finals. "Like (Toronto's) Charles Oakley."
Marcus Camby, the frail 6-foot-11 forward/center traded to the Knicks for Oakley in June, has bulked up to 240 pounds.
Matt Geiger, one of the top free-agent centers available, is losing marketing power by the day. Word is out that he may have a back problem.
Free-agent center Isaac Austin isn't far behind him. Supposedly, the bones in his knees are rubbing together.
No wonder Nets center Jayson Williams is rapidly becoming the top center available, with Phoenix and Seattle expected to make a run at him.
Did you think no team other than the Bulls would take a chance on free-agent forward Dennis Rodman? Guess who's considering it: Pat Riley.
Rodman and Sprewell on the same team? What a country.
HILL A NO-SHOW: Unity is what they preached, and unity is what they appear to have. But the National Basketball Players Association does have a noticeable kink in its armor that needs to be rectified before NBA masterminds discover a window of opportunity.
The Pistons' Grant Hill, considered by some to be the heir apparent and league poster child once Michael Jordan retires, did not show up along with the 240 players in Las Vegas on Thursday, and more than a few agents and players were perturbed by his absence.
Some agents pointed to his father, Calvin Hill, and his involvement in trying to become an NFL owner in September, then asked incredulously why his son was a no-show.