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Posted on March 12, 2012 | No Comments
For NBA General Managers, the NBA trade deadline is a lot like closing time at a bar. It’s getting to the end of the night and there’s not much time to decide whether it’s time to call it quits and rest up for next time, or whether they’re going to try and hook up with someone and continue the evening.
Unlike the end of the season, where only one person ends up scoring (well, actually two, but that ruins the analogy), the trade deadline is when lots of people can win, but there’s an air of desperation and sometimes people end up settling for something when it was probably in their best interests to sit it out.
Whether this trade deadline is busy or very quiet depends solely on what the Orlando Magic end up doing with Dwight Howard. If Orlando chooses to keep him, and try and re-sign him in the summer, which I think is the most likely scenario, then I don’t think we’ll end up seeing much action this week. Too many teams are keeping their doors open for Howard, which means they’ll want to wait until the summer to do something.
Howard isn’t the only player who should be keeping their furniture mover on speed dial. Josh Smith, Andrew Bogut, Raymond Felton and Michael Beasley have all either asked to be traded or been rumored to be on the trading block.
While I don’t pretend to have any idea of where these guys are going, I do have an idea of what I think would be best for the teams. Here are a few trade ideas…
PHOENIX & ATLANTA
Phoenix should do Steve Nash a favour and trade him to a team he has a chance to take somewhere. No one wants him to go somewhere where he’ll ride on the coattails of a team that doesn’t really need him, like Miami, the Lakers or Dallas.
Josh Smith apparently wants out of Atlanta. He’s always been a high maintenance player, but he’s also got All Star level talent and he’s only 26 years old.
Atlanta is a team with a hard ceiling. They’re in that category that I like to call high level mediocrity. They’ve been good enough to compete, but not good enough to actually contend. The second round is and has been their limit with the roster they have.
Joe Johnson is a perennial All Star, but he’s not a franchise player who’s good enough to get his team to the Finals. Steve Nash, however, might still be, despite his age. Atlanta should be desperate to do something. Joe Johnson is in decline and the team is hamstrung by his contract. Atlanta has the types of athletes that Nash can make look great, plus he brings a couple of players whose careers he revitalized. If Al Horford can return from injury, the Steve Nash may be the right player to lead the Hawks past the second round first time in over 40 years.
ORLANDO AND OKLAHOMA CITY
It may be true that Dwight Howard won’t turn down the extra $30 million (without state taxes) that he’ll get if he stays in Orlando, but Cleveland and Toronto are examples of what happens when you gamble and lose.
Oklahoma City is the favourite to come out of the West in the playoffs, but they have two things that will limit their chances of winning the Championship. The first is that they lack a scoring threat inside. Serge Ibaka is a excellent young big man, but he’s not a scoring threat and neither is the (so far) disappointing Kedrick Perkins. It’s hard to go all the way in the playoffs without a low post threat teams have to double team. No team has, in fact, ever won without one.
The other thing holding Oklahoma back is one of their best players.
I was a fan of Russell Westbrook from his days at UCLA. He was my sleeper in the draft until he started moving up and thought he could end up being one of the best players from the draft. Normally I’m not a big fan of combo guards who are drafted to become PGs, but I felt Westbrook had what it took to make the adjustment.
Fast forward four years, and Westbrook is a perennial All-Star and scoring 23 ppg while helping lead his team to the best record in the West. Unfortunately, he’s also struggled to adjust to being a PG, has shown to be far too shot happy, especially when it matters (including last year’s playoffs) and currently is dishing out just 5.5 assists per game while turning the ball over 3.9 times a game. For a PG, that’s absolutely horrible.
Oklahoma is one few teams in the league that can give Orlando what they are looking for for Howard and still have enough talent to contend.
Orlando is apparently demanding that whoever takes Howard also take Turkoglu, but I think they should be flexible on that. Westbrook, Ibaka, Perkins and Sefolosha may seem like a lot to give up for Howard, but a trio of Howard, Kevin Durant and James Harden might very well be as good as Miami’s trio and definitely better than New York’s. Plus, they all compliment one another. Nick Collison is no Ibaka, but a perfect PF to play alongside Howard. Duhon and Eric Maynor aren’t anyone’s idea of great PGs, but they can pass the ball, which is all they’ll need to do with that team.
The players that Oklahoma could give Orlando would still allow them to be a playoff team, if not a 50 win team.
TORONTO RAPTORS AND…
If Jose Calderon wants to stay in Toronto, then his ankle injury is the best thing that could possibly have happened to him (and it might be good for the Raptors, too). With him out of the trading picture, the Raptors still have Leandro Barbosa who the Raptors should try and move. With the Raptors unwilling to take back a longer contract, it means that the trading options are limited. Raptor commentator, Leo Rautins, mentioned Chicago as a possible trading partner, but they have no contracts that work.
There are, of course, other teams that could use an instant offense-type, like Barbosa. Orlando desperately needs a scorer that can create his own shot, but don’t have a contract the Raptors would want.
The Lakers are another team that could use some more firepower off the bench, but like Orlando and Chicago, don’t have a contract the Raptors would take back.
There is one team that could use Barbosa, and not only have a contract or two the Raptors would agree to, but a late first round pick the Raptors might be able to pluck away.
Boston is a team that is at the point where they either have to start to rebuild, or try and make one last run. If they want to make one last run, would they agree to…
Leandro Barbosa and the Raptors 2nd round pick for Jermaine O’Neal and their lowest of their 2 first round picks
Considering the restrictions the Raptors are apparently putting on a trade of Barbosa, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barbosa is still in a Raptor uniform when the team takes the floor against Memphis on Friday.
Now, there is one more trade I’d love to see regarding the Raptors, but a few things have to fall into place for it to happen. Plus, it can’t happen until after the draft. The first, and most important thing, is that the Raptors win the lottery and get the first pick. Anthony Davis has elite potential and might be the best big man to come out of college since Tim Duncan. A duo of him and Jonas Valanciunas could give the Raptors the best front court in the NBA 3-5 years from now and one that might be the most difficult to score on since Duncan teamed with David Robinson.
If the Raptors do get Anthony Davis, two of the three present PFs suddenly become expendable. Ed Davis, despite his struggles this year, still has loads of potential, but I don’t see him being happy in a long term bench role. I’m still a big fan of him, but his value on the open trade market and the chance he won’t want to stick around as a reserve makes him an obvious choice to go.
Neither Valanciunas or Anthony Davis are known as scorers, so, on paper, Andrea Bargnani seems like the perfect compliment to the defense of the two young players. In reality, though, things are a little different. Bargnani has always struggled in a reserve role, and has shown that he needs big minutes to be an effective scorer. He’s also a guy who can hurt the team if he’s not scoring. His contract, plus his past questions about motivational issues, makes him an extremely risky guy to keep. If he fails to adjust, his contract and the fact that he’s so high maintenance, could make him not only untradeable, but harmful to the franchise.
Amir Johnson, while not as skilled offensively, is a low maintenance player, with a manageable contract and who produces the same whether he plays 15 minutes or 25 minutes.
Now, Bargnani is a player who many have thought would benefit greatly from playing with Dwight Howard and visa versa. New Jersey is apparently Howard’s destination of choice….
This deal doesn’t work in ESPN’s Trade Machine because the Nets are over the cap right now, but won’t be after the season ends. New Jersey also can’t trade it’s pick since you can’t trade picks two years in a row (last year’s and next year’s go to Utah), so New Jersey would select the player Toronto wants.
Bargnani will have far more of an immediate impact that any rookie they draft will, and considering Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are in their prime right now, surrounding them with veterans is probably a good idea and the best way to help them make it out of the East. Bargnani is a better scorer than Howard is and will benefit from his presence down low and Howard will benefit from Bargnani’s outside shooting.
Toronto gets a top ten pick in a pretty damn good draft and a three point shooter to help open things up. Plus they get about $4 million in extra cap space.
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