Around the League

With less than 24 hours until the March 15, 3PM trade deadline, this is one of the rare occasions when teams are more concerned about what’s going on in their back offices than on the court.

It is surely an uneasy day for a number of players rumored to be on the trading block who know that they might have to pack up and move to another city tomorrow. Whether or not a trade ultimately works in a player’s favor, what’s guaranteed is the immediate and total disruption of his life. But that’s the nature of playing sports at the pro level.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors got the ball rolling with a multi-player trade. The Bucks will ship their 2005 No.1 overall pick, center Andrew Bogut out west along with 12th-year veteran Stephen Jackson in exchange for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown.

Milwaukee will get a young, explosive scoring guard in Monta Ellis, who could be a be a major factor in playoff race down backstretch. And the Bucks will also benefit from having a couple more healthy bodies on the bench in Udoh and Brown.

The Warriors have landed an All-Star caliber big in Bogut. However, it remains to be seen if he can overcome the injuries that have plagued him throughout his entire NBA career. Jackson was a productive contributor on a number of teams before falling out of favor with coach Scott Styles, so he could wind up helping Golden State too.

Dozens of players traded jerseys in last year’s frenzy of trade deadline deals. Though there may not be as much wheeling and dealing this season, there are some big names in the hat, most notably this year’s Carmelo-Anthony-style headline dominator Dwight Howard. And, in fact, Melo himself has resurfaced in the trade rumor mill. Though this is an incredibly stressful time for all involved, the rest of us who are anxiously waiting, watching and wondering get to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Gameday Dish: Charlotte Bobcats at New Jersey Nets

Prokhorov’s Nets will host Jordan’s Bobcats in Newark this evening. It should be a competitive contest. Both the Bobcats and Nets are trying to establish winning habits early and carry them through the remainder of the season in order to have a shot at the playoffs.

This is a big game for the Nets as Coach Avery Johnson needs to convince his team that they are good enough to challenge for a playoff spot. The Nets stand at 2 and 1 after three games – a drastic improvement over last year’s 18 straight L’s to begin the season.

The Charlotte Bobcats on the other hand are 0 and 3, so Coach Larry Brown will be anxious to get a win under his belt. Last season the 2004 expansion team kept the Bulls and Raptors at bay to clinch the seventh spot in the East and their first playoff berth. Now that they’ve tasted the postseason, the Bobcats will be hungry to return for seconds and hopefully better their playoff record with some wins.

The Bobcats were only 13-28 away from home last year, and that included a loss at New Jersey on December 4th, 2009, to break the Nets’ 18-game-season-opening losing streak. However, the Bobcats later defeated the Nets on a return trip to the Garden State on their way to the postseason.

This is New Jersey’s fourth consecutive home game to begin the season, a true scheduling rarity and something the Nets must capitalize on because after tonight they begin a brutal stretch wherein they’ll play 7 of their next 9 games on the road. Last season they were a pitiable 4-37 road team.

Center Brook Lopez leads the Nets in scoring this season at close to 25 points per game. PG Devin Harris, now in his seventh year, has averaged almost 19 points and 8 assists over the first three contests. And third overall draft pick Derrick Favors continues to show signs of improvement as he gains NBA experience, averaging 10.0 rebounds and 10.3 points per game so far in his rookie career.

Coach Brown leads the Bobcats and is counting on top scorer F Gerald Wallace (league leader in minutes played) and 11th year veteran G Stephen Jackson (a 1997 second-round draft pick) to help the team gel early this campaign after the departure of long-time starting point guard Raymond Felton to the Knicks in the off-season. It remains to be seen whether the Bobcats will have as much of an impact without Felton and Tyson Chandler, who were both key pieces to last year’s success.

Third-year PG D.J. Augustin, out of the University of Texas, has replaced Felton in the lead guard role. In last game’s loss at Milwaukee he had 26 points and shot 5 of 6 from 3-point land.

Ian and I will cover the action tonight at 7:00 PM EST on YES.