The Celtics were the first team to start a team with three maximum or near-maximum superstar players. They started this trend when they acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to add to Paul Pierce. Before the two additions, the Celtics were in a state of flux.
After the additions, they went on to win an NBA championship, allowing Garnett to shout the now-famous saying "Anything is possible" after the Celtics won the 2008 NBA title.
The Miami Heat also built their team after LeBron James', arguably the best all-around player in the NBA, contract expired while with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a much-publicized decision, LeBron told the nation he intended on taking his talents to South Beach, joining good friend Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who also joined the Heat as a free agent.
But with new implications for teams that are spending over the salary-cap limit, teams with three or more All-Star-level players are looking to dump at least one of them.
Clearly the Thunder were not going to re-sign Harden at his market's worth, so he was shipped out.
The Grizzlies, on the other hand, were looking to unload a massive contract, and the likely man out was Rudy Gay and his massive $17-plus million contract.
They easily found a suitor in Bryan Colangelo and the Toronto Raptors, who were without any semblance of a small forward on their team.
After nearly two months of talks, the Raptors and Grizzlies eventually came to an agreement shipping Gay and Hamed Haddadi to Toronto for Jose Calderon, Ed Davis and a 2013 second-round pick. Calderon was later shipped to the Detroit Pistons for Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
With that said, the Raptors must make a decision in the next few weeks before the trade deadline. Which players stay? Which players leave?
The simple fact is the Raptors currently have a lot of wasted money going to players with limited impact on their roster.
With Landry Fields making upwards of $7 million a season, the Raptors were relying on him to be an all-around small forward in the Shawn Marion mold. What the Raptors got was an extremely bad shooting small forward who can really only score on dunks and the odd layup.
He plays decent defence and plays within the team concept, but $7 million for him is far too much to be paying for limited production. Sadly, though, the Raptors will not be able to trade him unless he's included along with another player for a much worse contract than the one Fields owns.
Another player hitting the trade block could possibly be newly signed DeMar DeRozan, whose new extension and limited outside shooting could likely land him on the trade block. If the right deal is there, don't be surprised to see DeRozan dealt. I stress, though, I don't see him dealt in the near future, if at all.
The most likely player to be traded next I believe is Andrea Bargnani for various reasons. The Raptors have played better defensively without the Italian power forward. Also, Bargnani's price tag at over $10 million a season is another reason why he may be on the outside looking in as the Raptors continue to rebuild their roster.
Before his elbow injury, Bargnani was drawing some trade interest, and with his eventual return expected within the next week, I fully expect Bargnani's trade value to again resurface and then likely be dealt as the Raptors try to get better on the interior.
Here are a few deals that could make sense for the Raptors moving forward.
Three Realistic Bargnani Trades
To Charlotte: Andrea Bargnani
To Toronto: DeSagna Diop, First-Round Pick 2013 via Portland (Lottery Protected for next three seasons)
This deal nets Toronto some much needed cap space. With an amnesty buyout still at his disposal, GM Bryan Colangelo will have some wiggle room to add that much needed power forward to his roster.
To Oklahoma City: Andrea Bargnani, Mickael Pietrus
To Toronto: Kendrick Perkins, Eric Maynor, 2013 First-Round Pick (Toronto's pick back)
This deal is simple. The Raptors get tougher inside with Kendrick Perkins. They also get a good backup point guard as insurance in case either of the two remaining point guards get hurt. The first-round pick back is probably the biggest key to this trade.
To Golden State: Andrea Bargnani
To Toronto: Andris Biedrins, First-Round Pick 2013, First-Round Pick in 2014, each lottery protected.
This trade cements the Warriors as an elite-level offensive club. With a big-man rotation that includes rebounders Andrew Bogut and David Lee, as well as a good utility big man in Carl Landry.
Bargnani gives the Warriors that much needed spread four that can make the Warriors one heck of an offensive club for years to come.
I have decided not to include DeRozan in any deals because frankly I don't think he'll be dealt. His contract next year, along with his inability to shoot three-pointers severely hurts his trade value. I believe the Raptors will not get getting a fair return for DeRozan.