Seven trades that should happen
As the trade deadline nears, here are seven deals we would like to see
Updated: February 19, 2013, 2:22 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider
KG And Pierce On The Block
Chris Broussard, Flip Saunders and Tom Penn discuss whether the Celtics might trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Tags: NBA Trade Rumors, Celtics Trade Rumors, Chris Broussard, Flip Saunders, Tom Penn, SportsCenter
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If research from ESPN Stats & Information is any indication, we're in for plenty of jersey-swapping this week. Over the past five trade deadlines, we've seen about seven deals (7.2 to be exact) on deadline day. That, coincidentally, is the same number of trades that Memphis VP of basketball ops John Hollinger predicted would go down leaguewide by Thursday.
If that's the case, here are seven deals that I'd like to see go down, given each team's strengths and weaknesses and cap situation.
1. Eric Bledsoe to the Jazz
Utah Jazz receive: Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler and Ronny Turiaf. Los Angeles Clippers receive: Paul Millsap and Alec Burks. The deal in Trade Machine.
The Utah Jazz have one of those "good problems" on their hands: They have too many starter-quality big men on their roster. This puts them in a very desirable position at the trade deadline because they possess a surplus that can be used to fill a need (backcourt help).
NBA Trade Machine
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Enter Eric Bledsoe. The rumored swap (detailed in-depth here by our own Bradford Doolittle) makes sense on almost every level for the Jazz. They net a potential star in Bledsoe while giving up Millsap, who may be nothing more than a temporary placeholder for Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter in Utah's frontcourt. Bledsoe is averaging 15.9 points, 5.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds every 36 minutes this season, and Utah would have every reason to give him that kind of playing time.
As for the Clippers? Millsap would help raise the team's No. 21 ranking in defensive rebounding rate and give them some much-needed scoring punch down low. Lamar Odom was supposed to be that guy, but he's scored double digits just once this season. The Clippers could go big and slot the 6-foot-8 Millsap at the 3, which would give them one of the league's most formidable frontcourts. Would it guarantee a better shot at the title? It's certainly a safer bet than Odom's becoming a reliable NBA player again.
2. Kevin Garnett to the Thunder
Boston Celtics receive: Toronto's first-round pick, Kendrick Perkins, Eric Maynor and Perry Jones.Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Kevin Garnett, Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins. The deal in Trade Machine.
We going to fall for this again? Few people remember this, but Garnett told everyone in June 2007 that he wouldn't accept a trade to Boston. And then, of course, he did. So take Garnett's recent insistence that he won't waive his no-trade clause with a grain of salt. As Garnett famously howled once before, anything's possible.
Garnett in OKC makes almost too much sense on the court. Something tells me Garnett wants to win a title above all else and Boston probably can't do that for him anymore, not with Rondo out of the picture. Now that the Lakers and Grizzlies have fallen out of the title-contention circle, Perkins doesn't make sense on the roster. Garnett, as a defensive maestro and leader, does.
Of course, Boston doesn't even think about this deal unless they've committed to rebuild, rebuild, rebuild. That Toronto pick could easily end up in the top seven once Rudy Gay decides to stop making every do-or-die shot at the buzzer. And if healthy, Perry Jones has about as high of a ceiling as any player in the draft (to reiterate: if healthy). Boston probably balks at this deal even with the young, high-upside pieces, but it's too tantalizing from OKC's standpoint not to mention.
3. J.J. Redick to the Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets receive: J.J. Redick. Orlando Magic receive: Timofey Mozgov, 2016 Knicks first-round pick. The deal in Trade Machine.
Look around the league, and it's hard to find a team that couldn't use a player like Redick, who is shooting and dishing (five assists per 36 minutes) like a lesser version of Stephen Curry this season. But the Denver Nuggets stand out because they rank sixth-worst in 3-point percentage and have a massive $13 million trade exception from the Nene trade last season.
After a hot start, Corey Brewer has shot a putrid 23 percent from downtown since Jan. 1, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't think he was Steve Kerr out there. Brewer is probably more suited to be a defensive specialist than a "3-and-D" player, and Redick would give the Nuggets the spacing they desperately need.
The Magic won't give up Redick for nothing, which is why the Nuggets could toss in the 2016 first-rounder from the Knicks along with a serviceable young big in Mozgov, who probably deserves more PT than he's gotten in Denver. Such a deal would -- and let's be honest -- allow the Magic to chase a top-three pick in next season's draft and net another pick down the line. Redick makes much more sense for a contender; otherwise, his talents will be wasted on a basement-dwelling team.
4. Steve Nash to the Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers receive: Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake. Los Angeles Lakers receive: Danny Granger, George Hill, Lance Stephenson and Ben Hansbrough. The deal in Trade Machine.
It's just too painful to watch Nash's talents go to waste inside the ongoing circus in Laker Land. Dwight Howard appears to be allergic to running the pick-and-roll with Nash, which is a basketball crime of the highest degree. Not to mention, Kobe Bryant is now splitting ballhandling duty, which strips Nash of his wizard-like talents with the rock.
Indiana would be a brilliant landing spot for the two-time MVP, even aside from the obvious fact that Nash looks like he could step in right away for a "Hoosiers" remake. The Pacers rank 24th on offense and sorely need an injection of offensive creativity. Nash hasn't penetrated the paint as he has in the past, but he may just need a change in scenery. And Granger becomes a bit superfluous with Paul George's ascension. Metta World Peace's return to Indiana is a whole separate matter.
As with the Boston scenario above, the Lakers would have be on board with the idea that building for the future is more valuable than a slight chance at a first-round exit this season. In the short term, Hill would give the Lakers a much stronger defensive presence on the ball, and Granger (if and when he's healthy) could help buoy the offense without Nash. A 2013 playoff push wouldn't be ruled out, and Granger becomes a free agent just in time for the 2014 free-agent sweepstakes. This a deal that probably won't happen, but Nash's leading the Pacers against the Heat would be fantastic postseason theater.
5. Josh Smith to the Spurs
San Antonio Spurs receive: Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia, Ivan Johnson. Atlanta Hawks receive: Tiago Splitter, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, future first-round pick. The deal in Trade Machine.
What could an athletic marvel like Josh Smith become under the guidance of coach Gregg Popovich? The Spurs could look to stand pat at the deadline and try again to win the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2008. But with OKC and the Clippers looking strong as ever, the Spurs may want to go all-in while they still can.
Smith would arrive with the obvious red flags: maddening shot selection, occasional defensive apathy and a maturity level that has led to team-administered suspensions. But Popovich has worked wonders before (look no further than this version of Boris Diaw) and the Spurs could use an injection of youth for the stretch run, especially if the 35-year-old Ginobili continues to be limited with a pesky hamstring strain.
Ideally, the Hawks could pry Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs, but the prospect of landing Splitter may be enough. For the second straight season, Splitter has a 20-plus player efficiency rating and per-minute numbers that scream above-average starter. As an efficient post presence, he'd fit well next to an inside-out talent like Al Horford, perhaps more so than Smith. Jackson is mostly a salary dump, and the future first-rounder would offset having to take on Diaw. All in all, the Hawks stay flexible long term without losing Smith for nothing.
6. Tyreke Evans to 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Tyreke Evans. Sacramento Kings receive: Evan Turner and Arnett Moultrie. The deal in Trade Machine.
The ultimate "change of scenery" trade. With the Kings in the midst of a possible sale, it's highly unlikely they would sign off on a deadline deal involving Evans, who was once considered the future of the franchise. But even so, it's clear that the partnership with DeMarcus Cousins and Evans isn't working; the Kings have lost by 7.8 points per 48 minutes with that duo on the court, which is somehow worse than the team's average score margin overall.
The Kings and 76ers find themselves in similar predicaments with Evans and Turner. Like Evans, Turner hasn't found his groove since being a top-five pick, and the Philadelphia organization has clearly (and justifiably) favored another youngster (Jrue Holiday). Aside from an improved 3-point shot, Turner has been stuck in neutral since his debut season, and with a 12.7 PER he remains one of the biggest busts in recent drafts.
The Kings would probably need another asset besides Turner since Evans is the superior player. Moultrie may not be enough to make it worthwhile, but Lavoy Allen isn't exactly lighting the NBA on fire, either. Still, something feels right about a swap centered around Turner and Evans. Both franchises could use some fresh faces on the floor.
7. Al Jefferson to the Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns receive Al Jefferson, Mo Williams and Earl Watson. Utah Jazz receive Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and Wesley Johnson. The deal in Trade Machine.
A straight salary dump for a Suns franchise that is going nowhere and fast. Like the Dallas Mavericks, the Utah Jazz have an array of expiring contracts that could be attractive for teams looking to slash long-term payroll. By firing coach Al Gentry earlier this season, the Suns have clearly waved the white flag on 2012-13, and starting from scratch appears to be the No. 1 priority going forward. If there is a priority list.
At this point, the Suns should engage in full-out tank mode for the top pick in the draft, even though University of Kentucky star Nerlens Noel recently tore his ACL. Dealing Dragic and Gortat now would probably ensure a top-three pick, especially with a healthy John Wall steering the Wizards out the basement.
If the Jazz can't land Bledsoe, they should direct their attention to Dragic, who is quietly delivering another solid campaign at 26 years old. He's young enough to grow with Favors and Kanter, but savvy enough to make some noise in the playoffs with this Jazz crew. Gortat's contract expires after the 2013-14 season and he could be trade bait at the end of the season if he doesn't fit with the team's plans long term.