So, we’ve entered the boring period of the NBA off-season. The time after the trades and free agency have mostly ended, the Summer League is long-over, and now it’s just a wait until the season starts. So what better time to look at NBA Trades that should happen?
NBA Trades that Should Happen
This article is basically what the title says; I take a look at each team’s roster, future, etc. and determine a move they should make. For these first eight you will see things that range from “duh” to “are you batshit insane?” in my suggestions. Again, these are suggestions and some have very unlikely outcomes, but that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t try to do them. I’ve decided to break this piece into four pieces: Eastern Conference Part 1, Eastern Conference Part 2, Western Conference Part 1, and Western Conference Part 2.
Atlanta Hawks – Fire Sale
The Hawks are clearly trying to rebuild. The only players they on the books after this season are two time All-Star Al Horford, the newly signed Lou Williams, Jeff Teague, Jordan Williams, and rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott. They unloaded Marvin Williams and got rid of the albatross Joe Johnson and in return they got Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, and the previously mentioned Williams. It’s not an attractive outlook with perennial All-Star snub Josh Smith wanting the hell out.
That being said, the Hawks are ready made for a firesale. While none of the players they have on the roster could be center pieces to a trade aside from Smith, they can all bring in at the least a second round pick. Devin Harris would make a serviceable backup point later in the year to a team willing to take on his $8.5M for the rest of the year. Sharpshooters Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow could provide elite level three-point shooting for $5M and $4M respectively. Zaza Pachulia was (exactly) a 10-10 player per 36 minutes last year and has a great ORtg (111) to DRtg (99) differential.
So what the Hawks need to do is ship out Smith for a first-rounder and possibly a prospect to a team in need of an athletic small forward. The Cavs, Rockets, Hornets, and Raptors are all teams with both prospects to offer, a most likely mid-to-late lottery draft pick, and the ability to give Smith a good contract offer to stay with his new team.
If I’m the Hawks, I try to get something like Chandler Parsons, JaJuan Johnson, and a first rounder from the Rockets. The Rockets could use Smith to compliment Omer Asik’s defense, but have him offset the offensive liability that Asik is. It would give the Rockets a nice young, balanced core of Jeremy Lin – Jeremy Lamb – Josh Smith – Royce White – Omer Asik if Smith were to resign.
Boston Celtics – Acquire Future Picks
The Celtics are deep. Very deep. They’re backcourt consists of Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, and Keyon Dooling. The defense provided by that backcourt is insane and it also has the ability to have very, very good offensive output.
Well, here comes the interesting part. If Sullinger out produces Bass or one of Lee and Bradley renders the other expendable, the Celtics would have an interesting trade piece on their hands. They could ship out Bass, Lee, or Bradley for a late first rounder or a protected pick with potential to grow. The sole purpose of this would be to stave off losing once Pierce and Garnett retire.
Charlotte Bobcats – Amnesty Tyrus Thomas
The Bobcats are bad, but there is hope on the horizon. Bismack Biyombo, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist provide exceptional defense in the front court while Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker could be a talented scoring back court. Brendan Haywood and Ben Gordon could both be valuable trade pieces; every team needs an extra big or sharpshooter.
From there, no one on the roster is really worth mentioning other than Tyrus Thomas.
Thomas was a clown in Chicago when he got traded to the Bobcats and it seems like he took the “10 cent brain, million dollar body” stance to the extreme as a player with a world of talent that is just a backup big who is massively overplayed.
The Bobcats should amnesty Thomas and remove the yearly $8M hit he causes their payroll. He’s a worthless player and the Bobcats would be better off trying to strike gold in the NBA D-League than deal with him taking up overpaid minutes at Power Forward.
Chicago Bulls – Trade for a Shooting Guard
This one isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Bulls have built a defensive minded team to serve as the shield to Derrick Rose’s sword. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah can make shots when set up for them and Carlos Boozer isn’t what he was in Utah, partially because the Bulls do not run the amount of Pick & Roll that the Jazz did.
So on a roster of defensive minded players or a pick and roll man, where is the player to help Rose with creating shots? The Bulls desperately need a shot creator who doesn’t rely on Rose to get open, a creator who can open things up for Rose and allow him to fully blossom into the best player he can be once he returns from his injury.
Speaking of the injury, Rose will soon be doing “light” court activities. He won’t be ready for Opening Day, but I see him back in December. And when he returns, he needs help.
The Bulls best shot at answering this question would have been the draft. Had the Bulls moved up to #14 to draft Jeremy Lamb, I feel he would have been Rose’s perfect complement, but it was not in the cards. That leaves only one major option with Eric Gordon off the market: James Harden, who might just now be available after he had a disappointing NBA Finals and the Thunder have resigned Serge Ibaka to a large deal.
I know those are lofty standards, but the Bulls need a shooting guard of that caliber to be able to defeat the Superteams forming in Brooklyn, Miami, and Los Angeles. The Bulls do have some attractive pieces in the cards however. Athletic rookie Marquis Teague, the rights to 2-Time Euroleague Rising Star power forward Nikola Mirotic, a protected first round pick from the Bobcats, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and sophomore Jimmy Butler.
Trying to pry Harden from the Thunder would mean offering up something along the lines of Teague, Mirotic, the Bobcats pick, and two first rounders from the Bulls. Throwing in Rip Hamilton to help offset the drop in scoring could work as Hamilton was still decent at scoring last year, when he played. Coming off the bench for OKC behind Thabo Sefolosha could likely keep Hamilton fresh to score.
This would only happen if Harden isn’t re-signed and the Thunder didn’t want to lose him for nothing. The chances are one in a million of it happening.
There are also two major problems. One is that there will be many teams bidding for Harden if he hits the trade market. The second is that the Bulls would have no funds to keep him, unless they amnesty Carlos Boozer, which they should do anyway, and give Gibson the keys to PF. A Rose-Harden-Deng-Gibson-Noah core with a good bench could place the Bulls right back into the title race.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Trade Anderson Varejao
Don’t look now, but the Cavaliers are slowly building something nice in the Post-Decision wasteland that is Cleveland basketball. Kyrie Irving was the 2012 Rookie of the Year and is making himself out to be a marketable star. Throw in Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller and the Cavs have the structure of a nice, young core building.
This means two things: The Cavs need a small forward to plug into that core and they have no place for Anderson Varejao after spending a first rounder on Zeller.
Varejao is the team’s highest paid player averaging $9M over the next three years. Now, just because he’s pricey doesn’t mean he’s worthless. The past two Post-LeBron seasons have been rough for Varejao, who has been productive but injured for much of the past two years.
What the Cavaliers need to do is trade Varejao at the deadline to a team desperate for size, energy, rebounding, and defense. A mid-to-late first round pick could possibly be the exchange for Varejao, giving the Cavaliers a second first rounder which they could use to move up in the 2013 Draft or stay put with two picks. The Cavaliers would do well to snag LeBryan Nash as a SF in the 2013 Draft, giving them a player projected to be very good defensively. Also, his name starts with “LeB-”, which worked out last time. Kinda.
Detroit Pistons – Amnesty Charlie Villanueva
The Pistons are in a similar situation to the Bobcats: They’re terrible enough that they can’t make any big splash trades but have very talented young players on hand. Rodney Stuckey is a decent shooting guard while Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond make up a giant frontcourt with lots of skill, especially Monroe who could be an All-Star in the near future. The Pistons still have Tayshaun Prince, who looks like he just might begin his decline into old age after his shooting percentages dropped last year, and added rookie Kim English who could project as a lengthy 3-and-D player on the wings.
The Pistons only hope is to clear out their cap space and not blow it on Villanueva and Ben Gordon this time, ironically by amnestying Villanueva. This move would let the Pistons use next offseason to start all over.
Indiana Pacers – Stand Pat
Ok, I know this is “Moves Every NBA Team Should Make,” but here me out. The Pacers are a well-built team. They are massive with the 6’10 Paul George at SG, 6’8 Danny Granger at SF, 6’9 David West at PF, and the 7’2 Roy Hibbert. I’d honestly hate to be D.J. Augustin in that huddle, having to look up at everyone.
The sad part is, despite all the talent and depth, the Pacers will be stuck in NBA Hell, much like the Hawks of yesteryear or the Pre-Rose Bulls.
So, after the season the Pacers should trade Danny Granger. He’s a highly payed player who would be a great expiring to trade after the season. I know it sounds crazy considering he is their franchise player and leader, but he could bring back some picks and talent that might be the push needed to get the Pacers out of NBA Hell.
Miami Heat – Contemplate the Future of the Big 3
Let me preface this with the statement that I still can’t stand any member of the Heat, so I may be a bit biased. Yet if I’m Pat Riley, I’m starting to give the roster a long, hard look at the roster’s future. The depth is astounding on the wings with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, James Jones, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, and Mario Chalmers. For starters, I can’t count the number of three point specialists (hint: everyone other than LeBron, Wade, and Cole). Yes players like Allen and Battier can do other things, but won’t really be asked to do much other than shoots threes and play defense next to LeBron and Wade. But the depth gets me to my next point.
The front court is incredibly shallow with Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, and Dexter Pittman. In that group is an All-Star, a dirty work player, a warm body, and Dexter Pittman. For the sake of this discussion, Pittman is part jackass (after he forearmed Lance Stephenson) and part Eddy Curry (useless center with weight problems, though Pittman should be applauded for his impressive weight loss from 388 to 285).
So, what should the Heat do? Well, let the year play out a bit and look at Wade, the greatest player in franchise history. Wade carried the Heat to their first title, brought in Bosh and LeBron, and will have his number in the rafters of the American Airlines Arena amongst Hardaway and Mourning. Also Michael Jordan and Dan Marino, but that’s just because Miami is weird.
Then again, Wade is getting older, injuries have plagued him, he was almost a Chicago Bull, he’s redundant on a roster with the significantly better (and younger) LeBron, and he is no longer Batman on the Heat. LeBron took the title of Batman from Wade last year when he won the NBA Finals for the Heat.
Of course, Hall of Famer-to-be Ray Allen is on the roster. He’s cheaper, fits better with LeBron with his three point shot, and he isn’t a defensive liability. So what happens if he plays well and Wade goes down with injuries?
Well, this is the most extreme case (See: I only wrote this because I needed a move for every team) but the Heat should trade Wade in a deal to bring in young size and draft picks, which would only extend the window for LeBron and Bosh when they leave their primes.
It’d be an insane gamble, but then again so was the 2010 Offseason, and it could go either way. Yet, if it worked, the Heat could become even better.
*Note - Also, just to put this out there, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to write an article. No, it’s not because of some insane reason you might concoct in your head, I merely got back to school and have been swamped with a 101 things, including having to tweet and blog for class, which I’m sure would confuse the hell out of some middle-aged adults. Also, yes that was a shameless self-plug.
What do you think? What teams should be making trades? Let us know in comments!