Best Fits for Top Names on NBA Trade Block
For some, the reasons are obvious. For others, there are more nuanced factors involved.
Regardless, these are the teams that the players whose names are shrouded in trade talk—and the agents who represent them—should hope become the next stop in their careers.
J.J. Redick – Denver Nuggets
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Only two teams in the NBA make three-pointers at a rate worse than the Denver Nuggets. Their 33.2 percent shooting from long range is laughable compared to the Oklahoma City Thunder's league-leading 39.1 percent.
No team could use J.J. Redick more.
Redick, a career 39.9 percent three-point shooter, would be able to immediately improve the team-wide shooting woes. Moreover, what that spacing could add to the team's offense could make it scary.
The Nuggets already lead the NBA in points in the paint, and there is a Grand Canyon-sized chasm between them and the second-place team.
According to TeamRankings.com, Denver's per-game average of 56.3 points in the paint is 10 points better than the next team, the Los Angeles Clippers, who manage 46.3 per game there. The Clippers' total is impressive; Denver's total is otherworldly.
With Redick on the court bombing away three-pointers, the opposing defense would be even further limited in its ability to sag toward the middle. The lane would only become more open, and it will just be that much easier to score from inside.
By making one small acquisition, the Nuggets could both diversify how they score and enhance their greatest strength. And in the process, Redick could find a new home where he becomes an invaluable component of the team's success.
Rudy Gay – New Orleans Hornets
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Frankly, there are no great fits for Rudy Gay. The caveat for him fitting in anywhere else is the same as it is for the Memphis Grizzlies: He makes too much money.
The increasingly harsh luxury tax penalties of the new collective bargaining agreement mean that there are few teams that would be excited about paying Gay $37.1 million over the next two seasons, which is what he is owed in guaranteed salary, according to Shamsports. (Gay can turn down his $19.3 million salary option for the 2014-15 season, but that is not likely to happen.)
On the court, however, Gay would do well in New Orleans.
The team could build an offense similar to the one Stan Van Gundy implemented in Orlando. Anthony Davis would be the lone, true big; Ryan Anderson would play the role of Ryan Anderson; and Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay and Greivis Vasquez would man the perimeter.
That team isn't a contender, but Gay could serve as both insurance against a Gordon injury and a short-term option to help move the team toward the playoffs as Davis matures into a superstar.
Regardless of their salary cap complications, the Grizzlies do not seem prepared to simply give away their once-prized swingman, but the Hornets have enough draft picks and middling big men—not to mention Austin Rivers—that they may be able to get involved in a larger deal that nets them Gay without giving up any of their core producers.
J.J. Hickson – Boston Celtics
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Though Doc Rivers went on PTI to walk back his earlier comments about the Boston Celtics' need to make a trade if the team doesn't improve, he would certainly love to have some other options at his disposal. Every coach could use a few more good players.
For the Celtics, J.J. Hickson could be a great option. And it is a good fit that goes both ways.
According to Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, one of the gripes Rivers mentioned during his candid comments after the team's Jan. 20 loss to the Detroit Pistons was that he doesn't think that Boston has "committed to being a good basketball team."
Based upon his play this season, it is clear that Hickson has committed to becoming a good basketball player.
The Celtics have actually increased their once-signature defensive tenacity since the return of Avery Bradley. As they won six of their first seven games after he came back from injury, there was a noticeable injection of life.
Meanwhile, Brandon Bass has lacked spirited play all season.
Hickson could be the solution for a lackluster frontcourt.
With Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce around to help win games late, the team may just need better effort earlier in games from younger, hungrier, more voracious players—especially in the paint.
If Hickson can make his way to Boston and bring those attributes, he can endear himself to the team's fans and leaders and perhaps help the Celtics turn their season around.
And if he does that, the soon-to-be free agent will be looking at a nice payday in the offseason. Those who succeed in the limelight of Boston's TD Bank Garden have a history of getting noticed by opposing general managers.
Pau Gasol – Atlanta Hawks
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Like Atlanta, for instance.
Danny Ferry has done a tremendous job fixing his team's long-term payroll situation, so the Hawks might balk at taking on Gasol's salary. But they have a ton of cap room—almost too much—so it may be better to spend next season hoping Gasol rounds back into form as opposed to committing multiple-year contracts to too many new players.
As for Gasol, he could pair with Al Horford to present a formidable duo on both sides of the court, giving the franchise a tremendous inside-outside threat as it turns the keys to the offense over to Jeff Teague.
Both big men can play from the wing or the block, and they each have range out to 20 feet—something that could provide ample spacing for a system focused on letting Teague run the pick-and-roll.
The risk for Atlanta would be that the team wastes a year paying too much money to an over-the-hill relic. For Gasol, however, it would be all upside.
Because if moving to an ideal on-court situation and getting away from the magnifying glass that comes with playing for the Los Angeles Lakers doesn't help him revive his game, maybe nothing can.
Eric Bledsoe – Dallas Mavericks
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Eric Bledsoe is more of a basketball player than he is a point guard. This isn't to say he cannot run a team; it just means that his ability to make plays is more advanced than his playmaking.
That may sound like the same thing, but it's different.
When we think of the typical playmaker, we think of Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo. They often have the ball in their hands for an extended period of time and then force the defense to rotate so that they can set up a teammate for an easy hoop.
Bledsoe can do that, albeit not nearly as well as the two aforementioned point guards, but what he is really great at is just making stuff happen. On defense, in transition, moving without the ball—wherever.
And since having the ball in his hands all the time would quell his spontaneity, it would be nice for him to find a home where he doesn't have to run the offense all the time.
The Dallas Mavericks are that place.
Dirk Nowitzki is basically an offense on his own. If Bledsoe were able to rush the ball up court and probe the retreating transition defense, only to concede and wait for his teammates, dynamic things could happen if he just tossed the ball to Nowitzki. As Dirk did his thing at the top of the key, Bledsoe could get busy doing his.
The baseline-cut, slip-screen and dribble-handoff opportunities would abound—and so too would the SportsCenter highlights.