No sooner had the rumors of a potential deal between the Celtics and Wizards involving a Ray Allen for Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler swap materialized, than reporters began poking holes in the supposed trade.
According to the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, no such deal has been discussed. Furthermore, Lee’s sources told him that the potential Wizards trade “with the most traction” was the proposed Josh Howard and James Singleton for Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson deal that had been rumored earlier in the week.
Danny Ainge also denied any and all reports of an impending trade with Washington, although to be fair, that is de rigueur for GMs in these circumstances.
So what’s going on here? Based on Lee’s reporting, it seems like the Allen for Jamison and Butler rumors are more smoke than fire at this point. In that case, some GM used Yahoo!‘s Adrian Wojnarowski to spread false rumors. And that GM is indubitably Washington’s Ernie Grunfeld. By raising the specter of Jamison AND Butler suiting up for the Celtics, Grunfeld must be hoping to bluff the Cavaliers into strengthen their bid for Jamison, so as not only to fortify their own team, but also to prevent a rival from doing so. Likewise, Grunfeld is likely trying to get the Mavericks to up the ante on their offer for Butler, as it’s thin on the type of assets (prospects or picks) that rebuilding teams usually seek in addition to cap space.
Expect a lot more poker between now and February 18th.
Update: According to Wizards reporter Mike Jones, a league source confirmed the Allen for Jamison and Butler talks. So it seems the rumored deal isn't merely posturing. Jones reports that aside from the three principals, "other being being discussed", which could mean that the Wizards are trying to get back more than just Giddens and Scalabrine's expiring deals. Perhaps Washington is looking for a few first round picks as well?