It is becoming more apparent that guard Jeremy Lin will not be returning to the New York Knicks. New York has acquired guard Raymond Felton from the Portland Trail Blazers in a sign and trade deal. The Knicks will be sending forward Jarred Jefferies to the Trail Blazers to complete the trade. Lin, who signed a three year 25 million dollar offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, has a 14.8 million dollar balloon payment in the third year of the deal making it very difficult for New York to match because of potential luxury cap taxes. Lin became a fan favorite and a nationwide media darling last season because of his rags to riches story.
The trade of Jefferies could also signal the end of Nicolas Batum’s tenure in Portland. Batum, who signed a four year 45 million dollar offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves, stated he did not want to return to the Trail Blazers but in recent days has backed away from his hard stance. Batum could be a key player in Minnesota’s drive to a playoff spot in the 2012-2013 season. It is expected that Minnesota will send Portland compensation in a sign and trade deal.
One of the key players that will be available at the trading deadline is driving up the asking price because of his recent performance. Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster has tied the Cubs consecutive scoreless inning streak at 33. Dempster has a 5-3 record with a 1.86 earned run average. Many of the top contending teams have shown interest in dealing for the 35 year old right-hander. The strongest rumors have Dempster going to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two pitching prospects. The Cole Hamels news is coming hot and heavy as the Phillies in recent days have been preparing to offer him a 6 year contract extension at over 100 million dollars. This is the kind of juicy action that really affects the odds on MLB baseball.
Also, at the same time the Phillies are having discussions with the Dodgers about a potential deal if the contract talks fall apart. Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is on the market and the Pittsburgh Pirates are emerging as serious contenders to acquire Upton. He is hitting .264 with 7 home runs and he has not lived up to his potential with Arizona. He is only 24 years old and worth taking a risk that he can still become a star player. If the Pirates can trade for Upton he would fit right in with star outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
The San Diego Padres are expected to be active at the deadline and have several valuable assets to deal. Outfielder Carlos Quentin is getting the most interest but San Diego is listening to offers for utility man Mark Kotsay, closer Huston Street, and starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. The Padres acquired several young prospects from the Reds in the offseason in the Mat Latos deal and want to trade for more to continue the rebuilding process.