The trade deadline is just over two weeks away and it appears that seems major moves could be simmering right below the surface. The Hickory-High staff has been putting the ESPN Trade Machine through the wringer, exploring many of the scenarios. Today we thought we’d have some fun and share a few of the oddities we assembled. Below you’ll find a collection of semi-outlandish trades we’ve cooked up and tried to defend. I made sure to identify the guilty party for each one so you know where to direct your indignant responses.
Trade #1 – Ian Levy – @HickoryHigh
I’ll openly admit that I had my Mavericks’ blogger hat on when I drew this one up, but as a simple exchange of talent it doesn’t seem to tip the scales too far in either direction. Phoenix is in desperate need of across the board upgrades and have very few enticing pieces to do it with. They don’t seem ready to part with Marcin Gortat and no one is biting on Michael Beasley or Luis Scola. That leaves Jared Dudley. The production of Mayo and Dudley has been very similar this season, but while Dudley appears to be maxing out his talent, Mayo still has room to grow. He’s also two years younger than Dudley, and has two fewer seasons on his contract which means Phoenix can take a flyer on his continued development without sacrificing any long-term flexibility. I’m not sure I can point to another deal where Phoenix gets such a return of talent for just Dudley. Of course, the dowry for the Dudley/Mayo swap is for Phoenix to give up on Kendall Marshall.
Marshall means nothing to the Suns’ present, he’s played just 96 minutes this season and they’ve been content to let Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown chew up the backup backcourt minutes, while Marshall gets most of his reps in the D-League. Even there he has been underwhelming, shooting just 31.3%. In exchange for taking a pass on Marshall’s future, the Suns get Jones and Beaubois, two dynamic backcourt players who have had a hard time turning dynamism into consistent production. Both have untapped potential and could benefit from a system that allows them to freelance and attack, making mistakes but continuing to play.
From the Mavericks perspective (at least the way I see it), this would be a huge move. Mayo has played great times, horrible at others, and although he’s a player with considerable untapped potential it looks more and more like he’s a bad fit. In an ideal situation the Mavericks offense has a fairly strict structure. Mayo’s offensive skills, while considerable, also bring with them the collateral damage of numerous broken plays, forced jumpers and careless turnovers. Dudley could provide a significant portion of Mayo’s versatile floor game, but without all the negative fallout. However, Marshall is the real prize for the Mavericks.
Although Darren Collison has been playing strong basketball of late he still hasn’t shown the propensity to consistently manage all the moving parts a fully-functioning Mavericks’ offense relies on. At his best, Marshall seems like the kind of heady floor general who can see the multiple layers and options available and keep the ball moving to where it needs to go. There is a lot of development that needs to happen before that becomes a reality, but Marshall’s peak seems like it could mean a lot more to the Mavericks than Mayo’s peak.
Trade #2 – Kyle Soppe – @unSOPable23
Houston Rockets Receive: Kevin Garnett
Even the most optimistic Celtics fan is simply rooting for a playoff berth, with their championships aspirations torn along with the ACL of Rajon Rondo. Is this salary dump/youth movement a bit extreme? Probably, but hear me out.
Why the Celtics would consider - It is hard to go down the Celtics roster and find many players where age or health isn’t a serious concern. Assuming the Boston brass has identified this season as a “non-championship contender” season, they figure to begin building a team for the future around Rondo. Douglas would provide a floor stretching guard who has a score first mindset, the ideal skill set of a SG playing alongside the pass first Rondo. Adding Douglas would give the Celtics a young backcourt that can score, defend, and distribute the basketball. Replacing a sure fire HOF like Kevin Garnett is impossible to do, but by acquiring two young bigs in addition to the duo they drafted last season (Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo), they will have a front court that is on the uptick. Garnett is great, but with over 1400 career games and the Rondo injury, it is time to move on. Morris (23 years old) is the best candidate for an immediate replacement and he has shown some nice signs of growth this season. The addition of the three point shot (1.3 3PM per game) to his game should play nicely into Rondo’s penetrate and dish style. For Boston as an organization, the trade of KG would label them as a “player’s organization”, one that is willing to look out for the best interests of their players. This would play into their favor in the future, as incoming players will be confident that the organization has their best interests at heart. Boston can’t replace the emotional intensity of KG, but if Paul Pierce can shoulder some of that burden, they can remain competitive during this transition period.
Why the Rockets would consider – As long as you haven’t been under a rock for the past month, you’re well aware of the story surrounding Ray Lewis. Kevin Garnett has always been the Ray Lewis of the NBA; an all time great that is aging gracefully and relies more on his emotional impact than his regressing skill set. We all remember the emotional embrace he shared with Kevin McHale (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pgvpyHdIlA) and who is to say that reuniting the two can’t lead to something special? They would be getting a HOF level player and would keep their core group of players in place. Adding KG would have a positive impact this year (on the court) and could provide their up-and-coming front court of Greg Smith and Patrick Patterson with some tools to be successful down the road. Houston has plenty of young depth, making them a prime candidate for a veteran like Garnett.
Trade #3 – Matt Cianfrone – @Matt_Cianfrone
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Danny Granger
Indiana Pacers Receive: Monta Ellis
Does this trade have a great chance of happening? Probably not. But does it make a whole lot of sense and get Monta off the Bucks, thus making me incredibly happy? Absolutely. Think about it, the Pacers are in desperate need of an influx of scoring from the bench. Combine this with the fact that Paul George has become a a clear go-to franchise player this season and dealing Granger, the one player on the roster that would hold George back, makes a whole lot of sense. For the Bucks they make it clear to Brandon Jennings that the team is committed to him, trading away the “other guard” that they have a chance to keep this summer, and add a guy that can get them buckets easier than anyone on the roster. It also eliminates the size problems the Bucks have on the wings by allowing Granger to play either the small forward or shooting guard spot and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute or Mike Dunleavy at the other spot, giving them size that they have been missing. Also I become an incredibly happy Bucks fan as I no longer have to watch Monta loaf on defense, take bad shots and do other things that generally annoy me. . . I mean watch him become great for the Pacers and keep Brandon in Milwaukee. But alas, a trade between two division rivals almost never happens especially with names of this caliber. But boy, does it make sense.
Trade #4 – Ming Wang
Sacramento Kings Receive: Paul Millsap
Raison d’être: This trade allows both teams to remove log-jams and positional overlaps within their
rosters while gaining an upgrade at a position of need.
Why it makes sense for Sacramento: The Kings finally close the chapter on the Tyreke Evans era, one that has seen their former rookie standout (20/5/6 in his first year) fail to blossom into the star many projected him to become. Coach Keith Smart will be able to allocate Evans’ playing time among his
crowded backcourt, giving Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette a well-deserved increase in minutes. In exchange for Evans, the Kings receive Paul Millsap, who will pair with DeMarcus Cousins to form one of the most offensively potent frontcourts in the league. Millsap has years of experience playing with another offensively dominant big man in Al Jefferson, and his combination of nifty post-moves, solid mid-range game, and ability to draw fouls will help goose Sacramento’s bottom-ten offense.
Why it makes sense for Utah: The Jazz’s desire to move Millsap stems from his impending free agency as well as the minutes he’s taking away from promising young big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Utah will surely miss his offensive potency, but the Jazz’s problems lie on the other side of the ball—they are 12th in offensive efficiency and 23rd in defensive efficiency. Inserting Favors into the line-up in place of Millsap should pay immediate dividends defensively. In Evans, the Jazz are getting a young guard who’s shown flashes of brilliance but never quite been able to live up to his potential. More importantly, Utah is getting a vast upgrade over the Jamaal Tinsley and Randy Foye backcourt that they’re currently trotting out. While Evans has been a sub-par shooter for most of his career, he has functioned as a serviceable distributor when called upon to do so. His main value, however, lies in his ability to penetrate and either get to the line or create opportunities for others, a skill that should mesh well with Mo Williams’ spot-up friendly game (once he returns from injury). Above all, the Jazz are getting a three-month trial period with a promising young player while still fielding a team that should keep them in the Western Conference playoff race.
Other considerations: The impending sale and move of the Kings to Seattle makes any trade potentially complicated. This may be partly alleviated by the fact that the Kings won’t be taking on any long-term salary in this trade (although presumably they’d aim to re-sign Millsap at season’s end).
Trade #5 – Andrew Koo – @xAndrewKoo
Chicago Bulls Receive: Austin Daye
Breaking down a minor trade that sharpens a few edges for the teams involved:
For Memphis, the departure of high-usage Rudy Gay increases the offensive workload of bigs Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. This might make the Grizzles, already one of the slowest teams in the league, even slower as they claw (pun intended) for points down low. While the two are capable post players, opponents should subsequently adjust by swarming the paint, as Memphis’ lack of three-point shooting would fail to take serious advantage. The impending return of Quincy Pondexter and addition of Tayshaun Prince will help, but that leaves new forward Austin Daye without playing time, especially if ten-day man Chris Johnson’s outside shooting proves legitimate.
In flipping Daye for Aaron Brooks, Memphis adds a respectable shooter from Sacramento’s crowded backcourt. Using him for spot-up duty applies more pressure on opposing perimeter defenses, and distinguishes him from Jerryd Bayless, who Lionel Hollins can always go to if he wants a guard to shoot the team out of a game.
For the Bulls, also a slow-paced team with minimal outside threats, the notion that Luol Deng won’t soon collapse from exhaustion is hard to dismiss. Daye won’t provide much relief, but he’s shot 51% from three, and is capable of playing both forward spots.
Richard Hamilton is returning from a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, making it hard to gauge his trade value. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson have filled in admirably, and the recently signed Daequan Cook makes Rip superfluous in Chicago. He’d express ill feelings from being sent to a non-contender in Sacramento, but by sending him and Marquis Teague to the Kings, the Bulls cut their payroll by $2.89 million, nearly wiping out their looming (first ever) luxury tax bill.
Hamilton’s second year is only $1 million guaranteed, so he’s effectively an expiring contract for the Kings. They’d also add young Marquis Teague, a Kentucky product and late first rounder, who ostensibly has little future in Chicago behind Derrick Rose. Brooks has a $3.4 million player option that’s likely to be picked up, which would probably be the biggest hindrance to this trade.
Trade #6 – Daniel Lewis – @trueDanLewis
Denver Nuggets Receive: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a future second round pick from the Jazz
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Paul Millsap
A rumor was spread recently that the Milwaukee Bucks, along with the Denver Nuggets, had an interest in Jazz power forward Paul Millsap.
Millsap and his partner in the frontcourt, Al Jefferson, are both at the top of the trade market, as efficient players on expiring contracts, playing for a team with the depth to replace them. Millsap, however, has a friendlier contract – $8.6 million this year – and is a smaller part of the Jazz offense, making him the more likelier to be moved before the February 21 deadline. Unfortunately for Denver and Milwaukee, Millsap can only be with one team at a time, meaning that if one team trades for him, the other is not going to be able to benefit from his presence in the lineup.
However, the Denver general manager, Masai Ujiri, is a shrewd individual. He has proven in the past that he is able to adapt his personnel to available trades. Ujiri interjected the Nuggets into the Dwight Howard trade, helping the Nuggets secure long-coveted wing Andre Iguodala. Ujiri dealt the longest-tenured Nugget, Nene, to Washington for long-time gag reel participant JaVale McGee. Ujiri also cut his teeth two years ago, orchestrating the Carmelo Anthony trade and helping keep the team in the playoffs. It’s because of Ujiri that I think this trade could reach fruition.
Utah needs to upgrade at the wing position. Randy Foye has brought perimeter shooting, but can’t rebound. DeMarre Carroll brings intensity on defense, but plays best with the second unit. Marvin Williams has fallen off in every aspect – shooting percentage, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, scoring – with Utah. Gordon Hayward has played well on both ends of the court, but is most comfortable leading the offense as a sixth man. The Jazz also have one starter – Marvin Williams – under contract for next season, with only Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and little used players Jeremy Evans, Alec Burks, and Kevin Murphy signed on for next season. (Marvin Williams can opt out of his contract if he chooses).
Milwaukee needs to improve their offensive efficiency. With two volume scorers in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, the Bucks are ranked No. 22 in offensive efficiency, averaging 0.995 points per possession. They are excellent at securing offensive rebounds, grabbing 13.4 per game largely because of Larry Sanders, who is grabbing 2.7 offensive boards a game in just 25 minutes a game.
Denver has one of the top offenses in the league, scoring 1.046 points per possession and 103.8 points per game. They are the best team in the league at scoring in the paint, averaging 56.2 points per game, a mark nearly 10 points higher than the second place ranked Los Angeles Clippers. The area they struggle in is defense, where they give up an average of 1.015 points per possession and 100.7 points per game, both in the bottom half of the league. The Nuggets are so poor in fact, that when the Nuggets sub out their best defender – Andre Iguodala – their defensive rating jumps seven points.
This swap seems like a way to smooth out many of those problems.
Denver wants Mbah a Moute, who is an excellent defender, and can guard a variety of positions. George Karl has been playing Wilson Chandler against power forwards on defense, a position that the wing has very little experience defending. Mbah a Moute would be able to fill Chandler’s role with the second unit, defending power forwards and running the floor in transition with a lineup of Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, JaVale McGee and (theoretically) Evan Fournier or Jordan Hamilton.
Milwaukee would be able to start Millsap at power forward, allowing Ersan Ilyasova to slide back to the 3. The trade would also allow John Henson to receive more playing time and continue to develop as he adjusts to NBA talent and pace. If the Bucks are able to resign Brandon Jennings, the space created by moving Mbah a Moute could be used on Jennings’ contract offer.
Utah would be able to increase Favors’ minutes, and would add two valuable contributors to the lineup under contract for potentially the next three seasons at an average of $9.33 million per year. Harris has shown the ability to get the ball in the basket, averaging 20.8 points per game during the 2012 summer league. Chandler has good defensive skills, and is able to score from a variety of positions on offense in part to his quickness and length.