Four Realistic Deals Before the NBA Trade Deadline
With 2017 now under way, the NBA trade deadline is approaching fast. So, who will be dealt this winter? Which contenders will bring in players that put themselves above the rest? Here are some predictions for what will ensue prior to February 23rd.
(Image courtesy of BBallBreakdown)
Raptors Give: Terrence Ross, Jared Sullinger, Norman Powell, two future 1st round picks
Hawks Give: Paul Millsap
Although Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that the Atlanta Hawks took Paul Millsap off the trading block, you never know what could transpire between now and the end of February. This could be the deal that would really add some drama to a relatively boring trade deadline, and would truly make things interesting in the Eastern Conference. Paul Millsap fits perfectly in Toronto, as he is a rare big that can handle the ball, score from the outside, as well as anchor a Raptors defense that sits a lackluster 21st in the NBA in defensive rating.
Millsap, who was honored with the accomplishment of All-Defensive Second Team last season, is one of those players that can make any team better. He’s not just a scorer or a rebounder; he can do it all, and is the type of acquisition that will bring Toronto up to that next level. However, the question is whether that new level will be high enough.
With Millsap sitting at 31 years of age and past his prime, the Raptors would have a short window with him playing at an elite level. Thus, would it be worth giving up the necessary assets it would take to acquire him? Does inserting Millsap into the starting lineup allow them to realistically contest the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East? Because if not, then they likely won’t even bother and just wait out the rest of LeBron James’ career like the rest of the conference.
However, this is a trade that the GM north of the border should definitely pull the trigger on. By the time LeBron retires, Toronto’s aging core will probably not be the next in line for a Finals ticket, so the Raptors have to make the most of their current roster. Therefore, why not spice things up in the NBA and finally make things interesting in a season that has mostly been a bore? Why not give LeBron James some actual competition on his way to his 7th straight NBA Finals appearance? Why not set yourselves up for a seven game duel instead of an expected defeat?
The other side of the equation, though, are the Hawks. Since they are the ones who took Millsap out of trade consideration, it is truly them who decide the fate of this blockbuster. Atlanta currently sits at the number four spot in the East, so there is admittedly no reason for them to go into full rebuild mode just yet, especially after the money they gave to Dwight Howard this past offseason. But the fact that it was even an option shows something, so maybe they will change their minds once more and really shake things up in the Eastern Conference.
Cavaliers Give: Iman Shumpert, DeAndre Liggins, Jordan McRae
Bulls Give: Rajon Rondo
Now this trade would be an interesting one. LeBron James has expressed the Cavaliers’ need for a backup point guard, and Rajon Rondo currently sits unhappily in Fred Hoiberg’s doghouse in the Windy City. So that means this deal would be perfect, right? Wrong.
There are a few issues that could come about from the Cavs acquiring Rajon Rondo. For one, Rondo has been a headcase for coaches in recent years, a possible conflict that Cleveland can’t afford in their chase for a second consecutive title. Secondly, Rondo is a god-awful shooter, something that is also contrary to the Cavaliers’ quota of outside scoring. Lastly, would Rajon Rondo really accept being Kyrie Irving’s backup? Wouldn’t he wish to be traded somewhere where he could garner more playing time, and thus would be just as much of a problem in Cleveland as he’s been in the past? Well, that is where LeBron James can introduce himself.
LeBron is one of the best leaders the game has today, and could easily bring out the best in the former All-Star point guard. Despite his shooting woes, Rondo can still be a huge contributor to any unit he suits up for. And in an environment led by a player of James’ caliber, the good Rajon Rondo (you know, the one that has proven to be one of the best passers and defenders in the league) will shine. If that does occur, Cleveland may have trouble finding time for him on the floor, but that is a problem the team wouldn’t mind having.
In return, Chicago would be receiving three shooting guards. Although they already have a logjam at that specific position, the Bulls would still gratefully bring in some guys that can actually space the floor, and would likely take anything to rid themselves of the headache by the name of Rondo. The Cavaliers would also not mind the risk, as their recent addition of Kyle Korver gives them another option on the wing to go along with veteran Richard Jefferson and three-point specialist JR Smith (once he returns). Overall, this move would certainly be a dangerous one, but the Cavs are going to have to be dicey if they hope to knock off the Golden State Warriors come June.
Trail Blazers Give: Al-Farouq Aminu, Mason Plumlee
Suns Give: Tyson Chandler, future 1st round pick
Two summers ago, the Phoenix Suns gave then 32-year-old Tyson Chandler a hefty 4 year, $52 million contract. The deal was delivered as a way to entice then free-agent prize LaMarcus Aldridge to town, as the star power forward would fit perfectly next to Chandler in the Suns’ supposed new-look frontcourt. But Aldridge never came to Phoenix, and he left the Suns stuck with an awful contract to an aging center who was surrounded by nothing other than a major rebuild. However, there could finally be an opportunity for Phoenix to dump this salary-cap burden.
The Trail Blazers, led by their electrifying offensive duo in the backcourt, made a surprising trip to the playoffs last season behind a 44-38 record. But this year, the team sits six games under .500, albeit still in postseason position in an uncharacteristically weak Western Conference. Much of the Blazers’ disappointment is courtesy of their atrocious defense, which ranks 28th in the NBA, allowing over 112 points per 100 possessions.
Tyson Chandler can help with that. Despite his increasing age, he is still a dominant post defender. Although Chandler’s 0.5 blocks per game seem like an embarrassing number for a seven footer, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year is currently averaging 12 boards per contest and his presence down low is all Portland needs to get back into contention. In return, Phoenix would receive a temporary center replacement in Mason Plumlee and a relatively young wing in Al-Farouq Aminu. However, their major incentive would be the loss of Tyson Chandler’s $13 million on the cap, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the rebuilding process.
76ers give: Jahlil Okafor
Suns give: Brandon Knight
A Brandon Knight-Jahlil Okafor swap has yet to be mentioned anywhere, especially considering the Sixers stated back in November that they would rather trade fellow big Nerlens Noel than Okafor, however it would be a deal that makes sense for both parties involved.
For the 76ers, it makes much more sense to keep Noel rather than Okafor. Joel Embiid can already produce over 20 points per game, and Noel would be in there as a defensive presence. On the other hand, Okafor is a defensive liability who would clog the lane that Embiid, and eventually Ben Simmons, like to occupate.
However, Okafor would be a great fit in Phoenix. The Suns are stacked with perimeter depth and young stretch-fours, so a solid scorer in the post could definitely help complete this roster, especially if the team also executes a deal involving current center Tyson Chandler.
Furthermore, Brandon Knight would be a great addition to a Sixers squad that drastically needs some backcourt stability. Although Ben Simmons will likely employ most of the team’s ball-handling duties once he returns from injury, Knight can still remain an outside shooting threat with Simmons on the floor while maintaining his spot at point guard in the former LSU star’s absence.
This is a trade that hasn’t been subject to much speculation and is thus unlikely to occur, but a deal that nonetheless seems to work for both sides, and would accelerate the rebuilding phases for both these units from across the country.