NBA Trade Deadline: The Top 5 Trade Assets on the Block
As the trade deadline approaches, some rumors are finally coming to fruition while players find themselves in new homes.
Just yesterday, Monta Ellis and Andrew Bogut exchanged destinations, as they joined a new team for the first time in their career.
Even as we hear about current rumors from ESPN Insiders or through Twitter, there still are many trade rumors that we might never hear.
That's the beauty of the trading season. Sometimes, we are shocked when we see a trade occur.
With that in mind, here are the top five trade assets left on the market. I base my decisions on three factors: the player's play on the court, his contract and the impact he can make on a new team.
Each player's skill level is graded on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, while the contract and impact are graded on a scale of 1-5. The player with the higher skill-level rating is always ranked higher if there is a tie.
No. 5: Josh Smith
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Play on the Court: Josh Smith is having a benchmark season for the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 17.8 points and 9.7 rebounds while continuing his outstanding defense. Smith was snubbed from the All-Star team this year, but has continued his torrid pace after the All-Star break. (8)
Contract: While Smith's contract is not a nightmare, he is being paid 12.4 million dollars this year and has only two years left on the contract. With that in mind, Smith has been known to have a short list and will likely re-sign only with a big-market team. (3)
Impact on New Team: Can Josh Smith make a major impact on most teams in the league? Yes. Will he elevate most teams to the status of championship contender? Probably not. If Smith can stop falling in love with the three, he can become an even more effective player. The other issue is that Smith is undersized as a four, yet is not a sure-fire scorer like most threes. (3)
No. 5: Paul Pierce
Play on the Court: Even though he missed the first few games of the season, Paul Pierce has looked very impressive, averaging 18-5-5 throughout, earning himself another selection onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team. (8)
Contract: Pierce's trade value would probably be much higher, but he has three more years, including the end of this one, along with a salary of 15.333 million dollars in 2011-12. For a player who is now 34 years old, 15 million dollars is a steep price to pay for Pierce and will likely stray away suitors. (2)
Impact on New Team: Pierce is one of the steadiest players in the league, and teams can count on him averaging at least 15 points and five assists and rebounds each in basically any situation. In addition, he is a veteran leader who has championship experience. (4)
No. 4: Brook Lopez
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Play on the Court: When Brook Lopez is healthy, he plays like a top-five center and potential All-Star. During the preseason, Lopez committed himself to working on his rebounding and seemed to have made huge strides. However, injuries have plagued him this year, and Lopez has not received substantial playing time. (7)
Contract: Lopez has a tiny deal right now, as he is being paid just over three million dollars in the last year of his rookie contract. He will be out on the open market this summer, but his current team can match any offer. Besides, getting a young center will cost more than a few Benjamins. (4)
Impact on New Team: Most teams in the league do not possess a quality center, sometimes implementing systems with two power forwards in lineups. Having a top-five five will benefit basically every single team in the league. Lopez would have a maximum impact if he were a better rebounder. (4)
No. 3: Pau Gasol
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Play on the Court: Even though he is considered "soft" by so many analysts and fans, Pau Gasol is one of the more effective big men in the league. Instead of using supreme athleticism, Gasol has great touch around the basket and complements Andrew Bynum very well with his 16.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. (9)
Contract: Gasol's contract with Los Angeles is huge, as he is being paid over 18.7 million dollars this season, What makes Gasol's better than Pierce's is the fact that he is three years younger, making the pill much easier to swallow. (3)
Impact on New Team: Like I said before, Gasol would be an excellent complement to almost every single elite center in the league. He is solid on the free-throw line and has a superb finesse game. In addition, Pau can play both the power forward and center, although he is far less effective at the five. (4)
No. 2: Rajon Rondo
Play on the Court: Like Smith, Rajon Rondo has had his best season statistically, averaging 13.9 points, 10.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds for the Celtics. He made his third-straight All-Star team and has cemented himself as one of the best "pure" point guards in the league. (9)
Contract: Rondo might have one of the best contracts in the league, as he is being paid only 10 million dollars this year and is under contract for the next four years. His deal is far more favorable in comparison to Russell Westbrook, who just received a five-year, 80 million dollar extension. (5)
Impact on New Team: If Rondo joins a playoff-worthy or championship contender, his impact will be huge because he will be able to get a talented roster more involved. However, he is a horrendous shooter and would not be as effective on a lottery team. (4)
No. 1: Dwight Howard
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Play on the Court: Dwight Howard is a definite top-five player in the league while being the undisputed best defensive player. He is averaging a startling 21.2 points and 15.2 rebounds while being nagged about trade rumors at the same time. In truth, Howard is the best big man, center or power forward, in the league. (10)
Contract: The problem is not with how much Howard is being paid, as almost every team would definitely pay him just over 18 million dollars in a season. However, D-12 has made it known that he will only commit long-term to a select group of teams. With that, most teams in the league are definitely turned off, especially with Howard's consistent waffling. (3)
Impact on New Team: Even with the issues with his contract, Dwight Howard would help every single team because he is the best player at his position. In addition, his defensive presence would automatically improve team defense, a major talking point for coaches around the league. Big men like him do not grow on trees. (5)