Dwight Howard may get traded next week, but not to the right team
Every year we hear rumors of blockbuster trades that may go down at the deadline.
And every year we are disappointed when those trades don't come to pass.
What happened last year and in 2008 were the exceptions, not the rule. NBA teams more so than those in any other sport are notoriously stuck in their ways. Innovation in basketball comes slowly, so we rarely see teams think outside the box and make unconventional moves.
As such, many of the trades that make sense to us as rational fans will never actually occur because teams refuse to rock the boat. Allow me to take you on a journey to a magical land where trades that should happen actually do. Here are five deals that make sense for both sides, but would never actually happen.
Could Danny Granger be a star in New Orleans?
The trade: Indiana trades Danny Granger and Jeff Foster to New Orleans for Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman.
Why Indiana should make the trade:
Rumors have surfaced that Larry Bird has been shopping Granger around the league for weeks. He has been very good for Indiana, but not the franchise player many thought he could be.
Paul George has emerged in Indiana as someone who can be that type of player. He is one of the best athletes in the league and has steadily improved since his rookie year, but he is trapped behind Granger as they play the same position. Indiana has played him at shooting guard, but be honest, can you name anyone else who played that position at 6'10''?
If Indiana trades Granger to move George to his natural position, it would create a hole at shooting guard. Luckily for the Pacers, Indiana native Eric Gordon has been rumored to want to sign in his home state as a free agent.
The problem is he will only be a restricted free agent this summer, so New Orleans will have the right to match any offer presented to him. Therefore, the only way for him to get to Indiana would be through trade. The Pacers could then move Paul George to small forward and would have a young nucleus ready to turn themselves into a contender.
Why New Orleans should make the trade:
Eric Gordon hasn't been happy in New Orleans. He was reportedly devastated when the Clippers decided to trade him for Chris Paul, and with good reason. He went from playing in Los Angeles with Blake Griffin to playing for an owner-less team with nobody even close to an All Star.
The Hornets will have the opportunity to keep Gordon this summer, but would they really want a player who doesn't want to be there? Most teams wouldn't, especially when that player is getting paid close to a maximum salary.
By trading Gordon for Granger now, New Orleans would assure themselves of a borderline all star for at least two more season. Granger is also locked up to a very team-friendly deal for that time, which is very valuable to the league owned Hornets.
On another financial note, Granger could help the Hornets sell tickets. While he isn't a superstar, adding a player of his caliber will generate at least some interest from New Orleans' fanbase, certainly more than Gordon who has missed most of the season with injury.
Why this trade won't happen:
First of all, the league owns the Hornets. As we saw in the Chris Paul debacle, it's nearly impossible for teams to negotiate with GM Dell Demps with the looming shadow of David Stern hanging over everything.
Owners don't like players bolting as free agents, so even though Eric Gordon wouldn't be going to a particularly large market they might not want to allow him to leave New Orleans yet, especially considering how much they put into getting him there.
On Indiana's side it's hard to believe they'd break up one of their most successful teams in recent years for the chance to get a player who has missed most of the season. Even though he would help them in the long term, the Pacers are just now getting over the effects of the Artest melee.
Larry Bird won't risk the good vibes a playoff run would create in the community for a player that may not be able to be a part of it, even if it makes sense for the future of the franchise.
Indiana will likely pursue Gordon over the summer, and a trade similar to this one may bring him to Indiana if a new owner is in place for the Hornets, but for now there is simply no way the Pacers would break up their team to get Eric Gordon.
The trade: Minnesota trades Michael Beasley, J.J Barea, Anthony Randolph and Wesley Johnson to Boston for Kevin Garnett.
Why Boston should make the trade:
The Celtics are going to rebuild, and soon. Kevin Garnett's contract expires at the end of the season and he will likely sign with a team in a better position to contend. If you're Danny Ainge, wouldn't you rather get something for him now than watch him walk for nothing?
None of the pieces Boston gets back are blue chippers, but all of them are young and will have ample opportunities to prove themselves in Boston's rebuilding effort. The Celtics have reportedly already inquired about Beasley, but likely not in a trade for Garnett.
Finally, this trade may even improve Boston in the short term. Even without Kevin Garnett Boston has three stars in Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. What they lack is depth. Trading one player for four solves that. While neither scenario gives Boston a realistic chance to compete with Miami or Chicago, trading Garnett could at least give them the flexibility to spell their veterans with young legs.
Why Minnesota should make the trade:
Kevin Garnett is the greatest player in team history, so bringing him back to Minnesota would do wonders for the Wolves financially. They'd sell more tickets and merchandise, and considering Garnett's contract expires at the end of the season the cap ramifications are beneficial as well.
The trade looks even better on the basketball side. Kevin Garnett can't play starter minutes anymore, his knees just won't hold up. In Minnesota he could backup Kevin Love and Nikola Pecovic, which may extend his career by a few years.
Minnesota also desperately needs help on defense. Not only is Garnett still one the league's premier defenders, we've seen the effect he has on the culture of a new team. He could teach youngsters like Love, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams how to play defense correctly so they can compete for the next decade.
Finally, Minnesota has a logjam when it comes to playing time. David Kahn's strategy of bringing in as many quality youngsters as possible is great on paper, but it's simply impossible to get them all on the court enough to improve significantly. By trading four players for one, Rick Adelman could set up a much more clearly defined nine man rotation, mixing in the veterans like Garnett and Brad Miller with their youth.
Why it won't happen:
There is no way Danny Ainge will give up Garnett's expiring contract and take back deals that go beyond this year. He has this crazy delusion that Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams may come to Boston, so he wouldn't dare risk any of his cap space.
Four for one trades are also just a rarity in the middle of the season. With guaranteed contracts and roster spots it's hard to make them work. If both sides really wanted to it's definitely possible, but both teams will likely feel that it isn't worth shaking up their rosters that much.
They're wrong, but hey, I'm not a GM.
Could Steve Nash lead the Sixers past Miami and Chicago? We'll never know
The trade: Philadelphia trades Jrue Holliday, Andres Nocioni and a top five protected 2013 first round pick to Phoenix for Steve Nash.
Why Phoenix should make the trade:
The Suns will never win a championship with Steve Nash. We all know it, yet they refuse to set their legendary point guard free. It would hurt ticket sales, but trading Nash now while he still has a shred of trade value is the best move Phoenix can make to start their rebuilding process. Shawn Marion is gone, as is Amare Stoudemire, Nash is the last vestige of a once great team. It's time for both sides to move on.
Jrue Holliday hasn't quite lived up to the lofty potential we saw in him as a high-schooler, but he's a legitimate NBA starting point guard. While the notoriously cheap Robert Sarver probably wouldn't want to take on the contract of Andres Nocioni, it expires after next year and is far better than the alternative of Elton Brand.
A young core of Holliday, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat is an excellent start to the rebuilding effort. They're good enough to be the supporting pieces for a contender, but bad enough to let Phoenix tank for top draft picks. Most teams start with the star and build around him, with this trade Phoenix could do the opposite.
Why Philadelphia should make the trade:
No top-tier free agent will ever choose the Sixers. It's sad but it's true—we're in an era where the best players will all gravitate to Florida, Texas, LA, Chicago or New York.
Considering you need top-tier players to contend for titles, Philadelphia will have to look to the trade market. They've actually been quite good this year, if they can add that missing piece they might actually be able to make a deep playoff run.
Nash can be that piece. For the reasonable price of Holliday and a draft pick the 76ers can add the type of player they need to seriously compete with the Bulls and Heat. Nash's defensive shortcomings have been well documented, but Philly is the best defensive team in the league. If anyone can mask his deficiencies it's them.
On offense Nash is exactly what the Sixers need. Both Jrue Holliday and Louis Williams are scorers before passers, so Philadelphia has asked Andre Iguodala to initiate the offense far more than they should. Nash would allow Iguodala to be an isolation scorer on offense, but focus most of his attention on the other side of the ball, where he is one of the league's most disruptive perimeter defenders.
Nash is also the perfect mentor for Philadelphia's young guys. There is no way Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young wouldn't benefit from a few months under the tutelage of Nash. Even if he bolts as a free agent this summer, what he teaches those guys will make this trade worth it.
Jrue Holliday is replaceable, if they can parlay him into Steve Nash they have to do it. When else will Philly have a chance like this?
Why this trade won't happen:
The short answer is because Robert Sarver is determined to crush Nash's soul. How else can you explain choosing to pay Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu instead of Amare Stoudemire?
It has become apparent that Sarver will not trade Nash unless he specifically asks for it. Being the teammate and leader that he is, Nash would never do that.
Even if Nash did hit the open market, I find it hard to believe that Philly would go after him. Teams horde young players like treasure, and while the idea is good they simply don't do it correctly. The correct model is Oklahoma City's, you have to identify which guys are untouchable (for them, it was Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka) and use the other guys to fill needs (which is what led to them trading Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins).
Jrue Holliday is a good young player, but certainly replaceable by a smart front office. While I think a chance at Nash is worth losing him over, Ed Stafanski likely doesn't, so expect the Sixers to stand pat at the trade deadline.
Could Gasol be the missing piece for Denver?
The trade: Denver trades Nene, Andre Miller and Kenneth Faried to Los Angeles for Pau Gasol and Steve Blake.
Why Denver should make the trade:
Denver acquired a boatload of assets for Carmelo Anthony, but none of them are capable of being a true go to guy. Despite what the '04 Pistons would have you believe, you really do need one to get anywhere in this league.
For whatever reason, the Lakers have made one available. Pau Gasol is a 20-10 type big man on the right team, yet trade rumors have prevented him from playing to his full potential. If he does get moved, Denver is the perfect place for him to go.
While Nene is a very good player, the upgrade to Gasol could propel the Nuggets to the top of the western conference. A trio of Gasol, Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson to go along with Denver's incredible depth would make the Nuggets a very tough out.
While Andre Miller has been a valuable contributor, it's time to hand the point guard spot over to Ty Lawson completely. He's ready, with his top tier athleticism and improving skills as a point guard he has the potential to be an All Star.
Denver faces the same problem discussed with Minnesota earlier. They have too many players that need to get on the court. While depth is a valuable commodity in a lockout shortened season, it has its limits, Denver would be better off opening up minutes for deserving players by packaging a few for a star like Gasol.
Why Los Angeles should make the trade:
The Lakers really only have three above average players on their roster. While the trio of Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum is an excellent start, you can't get anywhere without depth.
Nene isn't Pau Gasol, but he can provide a reasonable impression of him. If he can give the Lakers 80% of what Gasol does now, the trade will make the Lakers a better team.
LA's well documented issues at point guard have finally come to a head this year. Derrick Fisher may be the league's worst starting point guard, and Steve Blake is in a similar situation as a backup. Andre Miller isn't Chris Paul, but he's definitely a starting caliber player. He would really help take pressure off of Bryant to run the offense every possession.
The ultra efficient Kenneth Faried would also be a valuable addition to the Lakers. though he only plays 19.3 minutes per game, John Hollinger's PER stats have him ranked as the league's ninth most efficient offensive player. What is amazing about this is that Faried is known more for his defense and rebounding then offense, so the fact that he has produced this much on both sides of the court shows how much promise he has.
His efficiency numbers would likely go down with more playing time, but he is locked into a rookie contract for the next four years, which is the next element to the trade. The Lakers have suddenly appeared to be very conscious of the league's new luxury tax rules.
Gasol's deal may be fair value, but if the Lakers want to spend on other players it will cost them a fortune. By bringing in Faried, the Lakers will assure themselves production from a cheap source for four seasons.
In this vein, Andre Miller's expiring contract is very valuable. Though he makes over seven million dollars now, his next contract is likely to be cheaper given his age. The Lakers would also get to dump Blake, saving an extra four million dollars per year before the luxury task.
This essentially means that by trading Gasol the Lakers can fill three spots for the price of one and rid themselves of an unnecessary contract. For a team now thinking about fiscal responsibility, that's a pretty good deal.
Why this trade won't happen:
Despite every indication that he will be a Net, the Lakers are clinging to the dream of trading for Dwight Howard. Conventional wisdom states that you always go for the superstar. The problem with this logic is that the Lakers already have a super star in Kobe Bryant and another budding one in Andrew Bynum.
So why not make a move to make the team better now and in the future? Because Kobe Bryant would never allow it. At this point in his career he desperately wants superstar teammates, so trading Gasol without getting a better player would likely make him furious. The Lakers can't risk upsetting Bryant, so even though ESPN's trade machine says this trade improves both teams, LA would never agree to it.
Should the Heat break up their dynamic duo for a chance at Dwight Howard?
The trade: Miami trades Dwyane Wade and Joel Anthony to Orlando for Jason Richardson and Dwight Howard.
Why Miami should make this trade:
In short, the Heat would be absolutely unstoppable. They would have the league's best center and perimeter player. They would have arguably the league's two best defensive players.
And that's not even factoring in Chris Bosh.
Not only would Miami's new big three of LeBron James, Howard and Bosh be incredible, but the trade would also make them deeper. Jason Richardson would be a far better fourth Heatle than anyone this group has ever had, and would fill in admirably for Dwyane Wade.
Miami would boast a nine man rotation of James, Howard, Bosh, Richardson, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. I hate to guarantee titles, but absolutely nobody would beat that team.
Miami's alpha dog issues would disappear. No more clumsy give and take between James and Wade, this would be LeBron's team. While questions still remain about his fourth quarter abilities, you have to imagine the pressure would dwindle if he could go back to playing like Cleveland LeBron full time.
If Miami ever decided to trade Wade for Howard, they would immediately become not only the best team in the modern NBA, but potentially the most talented team the league has ever seen.
Why Orlando should make this trade:
It's rare for a team to get 100 cents on the dollar for a star, but Orlando does just that in this trade. In Wade they would get a player who might actually be better than Howard, but just didn't fit in quite as well as he had to with his old team.
Owner Rich DeVos wants to remain competitive after trading Howard, and considering Wade has dragged far worse supporting casts to the playoffs then the one currently in Orlando I'd say it's a near certainty that he'd be able to do it with the Magic.
Finally, can you imagine how angry Wade would be at this trade? He puts the Heat on the map, first by winning the '06 title and then by bringing his buddy to South Beach, then he gets traded because a better opportunity presented itself to the Heat?
A motivated Dwyane Wade would tear through the league. I'm not prepared to say he'd match Kobe Bryant's absurd 35.4 points per game in 2006, but it's definitely possible. If Orlando is dead set on competing after trading Howard, nobody could come close to offering them a player as good as Wade.
Why this trade won't happen:
The NBA operates on politics as much as it does logic, and while this trade would virtually guarantee multiple titles for the Heat, they would simply never trade Wade.
The sentiment of loyalty is rare in professional sports, but Wade's connection to the Miami community is too great for the Heat to ever consider trading him. Unless they were receiving Michael Jordan in his prime, the fans of Miami would never accept trading Wade.
There's also the fact that Howard simply doesn't have nearly as much trade value as Wade. Regardless of how close they are as players, Wade is locked up for a multiple seasons which makes him way more valuable as a trade piece than Howard. Therefore, even though the trade makes the team better, Pat Riley knows it isn't equal value.
Finally, are we entirely sure Dwight Howard would welcome a trade to the Heat? He has been as vocal as any current player in bashing LeBron for how he handled his free agency, and he always seems to get up a bit for games against Miami.
Miami would likely require Howard to sign an extension before trading for him, but if he didn't and then bolted in the summer they would look awfully stupid for giving up Dwyane Wade to get him. It's a bit of a stretch, but we can't know for certain whether or not Howard would accept a trade to the Heat.