The NBA trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and every team in the division looks like they could either become a buyer or a seller closer towards end of February. While it's very difficult to predict actual trades, I attempted to make mainly believable trades that these teams would consider given their position.
Despite losing their last two games, they’ve still won 17 of their last 19 en route to a franchise record for consecutive victories. Boasting a strong starting unit and one of the league’s best benches, they still await the full returns of guard Chauncey Billups and forward Grant Hill. My primary concern would be their lack of big men, especially having to count on Lamar Odom to step up in case of an injury.
Clippers trade small forward Caron Butler and point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Utah Jazz for power forward Paul Millsap and a future draft pick.
Now before Clippers fans riot over this trade, I have to explain myself. Millsap could become their primary backup at both guard positions. In a dream scenario, Grant Hill would come back and start, but current backup small forward Matt Barnes would log the majority of the minutes. This would allow Millsap to back up both Blake and play with Lamar as well.
It is unlikely that they would seriously consider this deal. They would be trading a potential franchise point guard for a rental player. (Millsap’s contract expires at the end of the season.) But getting out of Caron’s contract would be a very Sterling-esque move, but I can’t see the team wanting to potentially mess with their chemistry and winning ways.
The Warriors are off to a hot start, as they just cooled off from beating the Clippers Tuesday night and winning seven straight. All their young players are contributing, and Klay Thompson appears to be a great fit next to Stephen Curry. The Dubs are accomplishing this all without center Andrew Bogut, the star Australian they received in last season’s Monta Ellis/Milwaukee deal. Current starter, rookie Festus Ezeli, logged just eight minutes in the victory.
Warriors trade center Andris Biedrins, small forward Draymond Green and future draft considerations to the Dallas Mavericks for center Chris Kaman.
This is another trade highly unlikely to happen due to the probable satisfaction of the team from general manager Bob Myers given their high win count. Kaman would certainly get more minutes than Biedrins since they could play him as both a starter or as a super-sub. Draymond Green may have potential, but he’s blocked by their other rookie small forward, current starter Harrison Barnes.
I’m not going to use this section to talk about the Lakers’ misfortunes this season and how they’re drastically underperforming. Instead, I’ll focus on the surging and epic Toronto Raptors, who are winners of eight straight games. Although they remain at just a 12-20 record, it’s been the stunning play of 31-year-old point guard Jose Calderon who’s rallied the squad since taking the reigns from Kyle Lowry.
Lakers trade forward-center Pau Gasol to the Toronto Raptors for forward-center Andrea Bargnani and point guard Kyle Lowry.
The Lakers need to get younger and faster. While it would certainly send shock waves through the Lakers fan base, trading Gasol may end up being a realistic option. Bargnani would be a good fit for D’Antoni’s system, where he would be given more jump shots (while not clogging the paint for Dwight Howard).
Lowry is a little more difficult to explain, but D’Antoni has talked about playing a smaller lineup. So could a starting five of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Howard, Bargnani and Lowry work? Would Metta World Peace, Jodie Meeks and potentially Steve Blake become the focal points of a respectable bench?
I would be disappointed if the Lakers traded Gasol without giving him an ample opportunity to become a fit to D’Antoni’s system. After all, Gasol has two rings while his coach has yet to get past the conference finals. D’Antoni has to be willing to adapt his system and figure a way to use Gasol’s talent to the best of the Spaniard’s abilities.
However, due to encouragement from fans, the Lakers might want to pull the plug on this season and try a drastically alternate look. At least Bargnani and Lowry would represent that. I'm not sure if Toronto would want to give up Lowry already, but perhaps if Calderon continues his stellar play, they would be convinced to ditch their latest investment along with the overpriced Bargnani.
While the Kings have had some nice victories in 2012, their future looks muddled and bleak due to the coaching and young egos in their locker room. The primary distraction has been young center Demarcus Cousins, who’s already received multiple suspensions in this brief season. Maybe they'll get fed up with the former Wildcat and trade him for pennies on the dollar, like this idea.
Sacramento trades center Demarcus Cousins and forward-guard Francisco Garcia to the
Orlando Magic for guard J.J. Redick, forward-center Josh McRoberts and forward-center Nikola Vucevic.
Maybe Orlando throws in a future pick or two, but this is a somewhat realistic trade for the Kings to make. They’re always attempting to lower their cap figure, and acquiring expiring contracts in Redick & McRoberts could intrigue them to let go of their young talent. This would only happen if the situation in Sacramento got so poisonous that drastic measures were taken. Orlando would be acquiring another distracting big man (similar to Howard), but he could develop into a dominant, athletic force down the line.
As the lone non-California team in the Pacific, the Suns have failed to get going since the departure of Steve Nash in the summer. Free-agent signees forward Michael Beasley and point guard Goran Dragic have yet to get many wins in their league record. Dragic leads the team at just 14.3 points per game, while it looks like they should just bottom out and hope for a savior.
Phoenix trades center Marcin Gortat to the Dallas Mavericks for guard-forward Dahntay Jones and guard Rodrigue Beaubois.
Two things would need to happen for this trade to go through: Phoenix would have to willingly decide to bottom out and hope their fans are OK with that, and Dallas would have to be in a position where they could make a run in the playoffs. They would decide to bolster their depth and trade for another year of Gortat for expiring deals.
A lot of different players could be on the move this upcoming deadline, and I expect the Pacific Division to be among the most busy in the entire NBA. Marquee players could be heading to teams on the West Coast. Championships can be won or lost with the right or wrong move.
Players like Gasol, Millsap, Kaman and Lowry could definitely swing the fortunes of their teams, while trades involving Bledsoe or Cousins could create long-term effects.
Got a complaint? Hit me up on twitter @metta_colin. Hope you enjoyed and happy new year!
You can read more of Colin's work at Metta Chronicles.