Is Brook Lopez the long-term answer in Brooklyn?
It's a bit early for any teams to push the panic button. We're just a couple of weeks into a long and grueling season. However, it's never too early to start anticipating problems that are in the process of coming to the surface right now, and the five teams in this slideshow are all in different situations.
Ostensibly, only two of the five teams here are true playoff teams. The others are making moves with the future in mind. Let's take a look at some possible trade scenarios for five teams that are all in need of changes.
If this guy spends more time in street clothes...
Golden State may not have been expected to be any better than .500, and they haven't been, but there's some small issues that can be rectified that could render them a playoff team.
The Warriors have beaten Phoenix, the LA Clippers and Cleveland. They've dropped contests to Memphis, Sacramento, the LA Lakers and Denver.
They just lost Brandon Rush for the season, and now rookie Harrison Barnes will be seeing a much heavier load of minutes than they anticipated or wanted.
Andrew Bogut is still coming back slowly and has seen only 18 minutes a night in the four contests in which he has played. David Lee is averaging under 15 points per game.
There's things to be addressed if the Warriors are going to make the playoffs. The biggest might be having a healthy center, but can that be addressed through trade, or do the Warriors simply hang on to Andrew Bogut and pray he's healthy for once?
Trading David Lee might make the most sense (because it's unlikely any team wants Bogut). Carl Landry has been sensational as a backup, and Lee is one of the Warriors players with enough value to net something decent in return. The other tradeless alternative would be to play Lee at center and start Carl Landry.
One trade that would bring in a center and make sense for both teams involved would be to send David Lee to Washington for Nene Hilario. The Wizards have Kevin Seraphin to develop, and David Lee could more easily play alongside Seraphin at power forward.
It would help the Wizards more than starting Emeka Okafor, whose offensive contributions are nowhere near as great as what Lee could offer.
Nene would fit in well in Golden State, as he has the agility to run the court and can finish well. If Bogut remained healthy, Nene could slide back to power forward, but the move is made under the assumption that it gives the Warriors a combo big man who can play both power forward and center.
Might Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan be good fits in ORL?
The Orlando Magic have been a bit of a surprise, but not really that much of one. They're still not likely to make the playoffs. In continuing to rebuild, they are still going to have to make some trades to continue the process.
The Magic have some assets. More so than players, they have a $17.8 million trade exception from the Dwight Howard deal, a $4.3 million trade exception from the Ryan Anderson trade and a $1 million exception from trading Brandon Bass. They may not be used in conjunction with one another.
In addition to the trade exceptions, the Magic also have some players who have value: J.J. Redick, Glen Davis and newly acquired Aaron Afflalo.
The M.O. for GM Rob Hennigan is to obtain young talent and draft picks while giving up the trade exceptions in exchange for young talent that they can build around.
One deal that could help Orlando with this rebuilding by bringing in some young talent would be to ship J.J. Redick and Glen Davis to the LA Clippers for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe would be the point guard of the future for the Magic, while DeAndre Jordan is a more athletic and more promising center than either Nikola Vucevic or Gustavo Ayon.
The Clippers, as contenders, would gain two players in their prime in Redick and Davis. Redick would start immediately at shooting guard, and be a huge upgrade over Willie Green. Davis would give the Clips more offense than Jordan brings at center, and when they needed to go defensive they can still bring in shot-blockers Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins.
Josh Smith has been mentioned in connection with the Celtics.
The Boston Celtics have now won three of their past four, and are appearing to gain steam this year. But there are still some things that could be addressed via trade, and one has been the possible trading of Paul Pierce. Pierce hasn't fallen off by much, and still has value as an NBA player.
The Atlanta Hawks are rebuilding, and Josh Smith is a free agent at the end of the season. The perfect trade, I am insinuating, is to send Pierce's contract, which expires in two seasons, to the Hawks for Smith.
The trade would keep the Hawks relevant, and yet at the same time, not good enough that it would hinder the rebuilding process. The Hawks also have the option of just letting Smith walk and getting nothing in return.
But the C's would offer more than Pierce, of course. Throwing in a first-round draft pick (or two) as well as some young talent would make it a palpable trade for the Hawks.
Atlanta would likely demand Jared Sullinger in return, and Danny Ainge would have no choice but to acquiesce.
Adding Smith to the C's frontcourt would make the Celtics an even better defensive team and add some youth to pair with Rajon Rondo. In addition, Rondo and Smith are good friends, making the situation all the more ideal.
It's highly likely that Jose Calderon is dealt before February.
The Toronto Raptors sit at just 1-5, and have dropped their past three games to Oklahoma City, Dallas and Philadelphia. It's disappointing because many have pegged the Raptors as a possible sleeper in the Eastern Conference this year.
The obvious trade they almost have to make is jettisoning Jose Calderon and his $10.5 million expiring contract for someone who could make a difference in the long term.
What do the Raptors need? One need could be getting an immediate impact shooting guard while Terrence Ross develops. Their frontcourt is solid with DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas forming a trio that should be good for years to come.
In the backcourt, Kyle Lowry is continuing to show that he is on the verge of becoming an elite point guard. Calderon is entirely expendable.
Lowry leads the Raptors in scoring (18.3 points per game) and assists (6.3 per game). He's playing 31 minutes a night, a load that could increase further with Jose Calderon out of town.
Which shooting guards would make sense for the Raptors that cost around $10.5 million?
One deal that would give the Raptors some depth and make sense for the team in question would be to trade Calderon to the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris and Sebastian Telfair. The Raptors could start Dudley at shooting guard, develop Morris for their frontline as a backup or possible starter and use Telfair as an adequate backup point guard.
The rebuilding Suns get some cap relief and clear salary so they can make a run at another free agent. There will be those that counter that Dudley and Morris are part of the Suns' long-term plans, but they really shouldn't be.
Neither Dudley nor Morris has the potential to be anything more than a replacement-level starter.
The Suns need some top-shelf talent, and losing $10 million in salary would give them more wiggle room to go after another top free agent.
The Nets will likely make another push for Howard if they can.
The Brooklyn Nets have jumped out of the gates 2-2 with wins over Toronto and Orlando and losses to Minnesota and Miami. In other words, they've beat the teams they are supposed to beat so far, and lost to both opponents that could be rendered better (though the Timberwolves only halfway fall into that category with both Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love on the shelf).
It's far too early to push the panic button in Brooklyn, especially after a .500 start, but looking at trade options is never a bad idea for the Nets. They face the Orlando Magic today (Sunday, Nov. 11), and they just beat the rebuilding Magic on Friday night.
So, if they win today and improve to 3-2, it is a winning record cushioned by the fact they have played the Magic twice and faced the Raptors. They won't have real tests in their schedule until they head out for a Western Conference road trip in a few days.
The Nets have a balanced scoring attack thus far, with star player Deron Williams averaging only 15.8 points per game, but have six players averaging double figures. The Nets have saddled themselves with a lot of salary, so making a move to clear cap room may make sense.
Quasi-GM and owner Mikhail Prokhorov may establish after another week or two that his current roster isn't good enough to win a championship (catharsis can be great, because it isn't).
Brook Lopez still doesn't rebound. Adding a rugged big man that would fortify the defense would help, but the problem is that Lopez's contract makes him very difficult to trade. Not all teams would have been willing to give a player like Lopez a max deal.
Could the Orlando Magic now decide that Lopez would be a good piece to build with and around? They have the trade exceptions to take on Lopez's contract without sending equal trade value out.
The Nets were willing to deal him for Howard, but could they realize that going a different direction at center may take their team to the next level?
Asking Kris Humphries to grab every rebound works in theory (or does it?), but centers are supposed to rebound the ball, and Lopez averages under six rebounds per game. The Nets could deal Lopez to Orlando for Gustavo Ayon and get another big man to fill Lopez' void for the rest of the season while using the cap room that the trade allows to sign a big man next summer.
They are aplenty. Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Al Jefferson are all free agents, and all are better than Lopez.
The Nets may have missed out on Howard with their first swing, but if the Lakers continue to struggle, Howard may rekindle his fire to become a Net. Bynum is a franchise center in his own right, and Al Jefferson is the best of the next tier of centers after Howard and Bynum.