With the NBA trade deadline looming a little over two weeks from today, many teams throughout the league are silently scrambling to try to make their final major decisions before the stretch run to the postseason.
The injury-riddled Houston Rockets, who, as of this afternoon, sit in sixth place in the Western Conference playoff picture, are hoping that they can field enough players, most notably their "Big Three" of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Ron Artest, to make a run deep into the playoffs for the first time since the late 90's.
Tonight's game at home with Chicago will be one of the few in which they will have had their core of the "Big Three" along with Shane Battier all in the lineup.
All the moves the Rockets have made in the recent past (bringing in Battier, Artest, etc.) have indicated that the team is trying to win a championship right now, in the middle of the prime of Yao Ming's career.
The New Jersey Nets, on the other hand, are 21-27 going into tonight's home matchup with Milwaukee. However, even though they're six under .500, they're only a game-and-a-half out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Although it's possible that they make the playoffs now, it's evident that the Nets are more focused on what looks to be a bright future.
Point guard Devin Harris is enjoying a career year in his first full season as a Net, and rookie seven-footer Brook Lopez is having a quietly stellar season in the middle. The young crop of talent is looking very promising for the Nets.
The Nets should trade Vince Carter and Stromile Swift to Houston for Tracy McGrady.
You may ask why the Nets would want to trade one of the most popular players in the league (Carter) in the middle of one of his first injury-free campaigns in recent memory for a guy (McGrady) that can't seem to stay on the court, and when he does, doesn't make much of a difference.
It's extremely simple: it's highly beneficial for both teams.
For Houston, it gives them a swingman who can score efficiently from the outside or off the dribble; something McGrady hasn't been able to do consistently for a couple of years now. Sure, Carter is three years older, but the fact that he's playing every night when McGrady is watching from the sidelines essentially negates that argument.
Throwing Carter into the mix with Yao, Artest, and the rest of what the Rockets run out every night would instantly take them from the level of "possible contender" to "definite contender", at least in my opinion.
The emergence of Von Wafer as another capable scoring threat off the bench behind Carter at the two or three spot would make the Rockets that much deeper and more dangerous. Carter's reputation as one of the nicer guys in the league wouldn't hurt a Rockets locker room that already includes the sometimes-volatiles personalities of Artest and Rafer Alston.
Stromile Swift would just be thrown into the deal in order to match the salaries. There isn't much room for him to see the floor in Houston.
For New Jersey, it's even more simple. Carter is signed to a contract that pays him over $15 million per season until at least 2011. McGrady's contract is heftier at over $20 million annually, but expires after next season. Indeed, right before the Bonanza Summer of 2010.
It doesn't hurt that he's still a big name that fans will pay to come see, when healthy.
Taking McGrady's $23 million off the books after next season would clear a ton of cap space for New Jersey, who, even with Carter, would have a decent amount of money to spend on a big star.
Essentially dumping both contracts would give the Nets the kind of cap flexibility to go into Knicks territory, and possibly snag two of the big-prize free agents, such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or whoever tickles their fancy.
Plus, there's no telling whether or not McGrady is even really done. He's still shown some flashes of brilliance this season for the Rockets when he's been out there. Plus, at 29, he is still young enough to play at a superstar level, if healthy and committed.
Maybe McGrady could be one of the players New Jersey chooses to sign to a big deal if he can prove that he's still capable of that level of play.
There isn't much of a downside for either side in this deal, and it's one that would be in the best interests of both sides to look into.