While most of the NBA converges on Houston for All-Star weekend, Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King continues to hit the phones.
The Nets are “interested” in Portland Trailblazer forward J.J. Hickson, according to New York Daily News Brooklyn beat writer Stefan Bondy.
Bondy took to Twitter Friday afternoon: “Heard the Nets are interested in Portland's JJ Hickson, who can veto a trade. Hickson would lose his Bird Rights if dealt.”
Bird Rights give a team the right to exceed the salary cap in order to re-sign a current player. League cap rules also allow players to make more money with their current clubs, giving them more incentive to stay.
The Nets have been looking for more size, and were also linked to Utah Jazz big man Paul Millsap earlier this week. The Nets have reportedly been willing to part with forward Kris Humphries, who is in a down year and his presence is made irrelevant thanks to Reggie Evans.
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Hickson joined the Blazers after 35 games and 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds with the Sacramento Kings in 2011, and quickly improved his scoring to 15.1 per game.
The 24-year-old is making $4 million this season, but will be a free agent this summer. Hickson is averaging a career-high 10.3 rebounds, and has more offensive skills than Evans or Humphries provide the Nets.
Hickson, along with center Brook Lopez and forward Gerald Wallace, could give Brooklyn a formidable frontcourt as they try to move up the East standings in the second half of the season.
Another reason Brooklyn may want to move Humphries is the $12 million he is owed next season. The Nets are potentially on the hook for the largest luxury tax bill in the league with the new taxes kicking in starting next year, and might try to shed some salary to lower their tab. Brooklyn is almost $17 million above this season's cap, and could balloon to $19 million next year.
The Blazers (25-28) are battling the Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot in the West, and could cash-in on Hickson’s strong play this season to bring in some help for their less than stellar defense. Portland is ranked 21st in the league allowing 99.7 points per game.
Teams have until Feb. 21 to complete deadlines.