NBA Trade Rumors: The Los Angeles Lakers and 4 Teams That Need to Stand Pat
The Feb. 21 NBA Trade Deadline is less than a month away and teams are putting on their thinking caps in an effort to make a deal that will give their roster the push it needs to make a deep postseason run.
But there are some teams that would be better off not making any trades and letting their squads rough it out for the next few months.
Here's a quick glance at four teams that should leave their rosters alone and stand pat until the summer.
N.Y. Knicks Don't Need to Trade Amar'e Stoudemire
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There's an idea out there that the N.Y. Knicks should trade Amar'e Stoudemire and rid themselves of their injury-prone shell of an All-Star before the trade deadline comes rolling around.
They absolutely should not.
Fresh off of his knee injury, Stoudemire is averaging 11.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. With Iman Shumpert now rejoining the starting lineup, it's even more important for the Knicks to have that one dominant game-changer coming off the bench.
They've already got J.R. Smith—who, in my opinion, is having an All-Star year and got snubbed by the coaches—but if Stoudemire can get some of that bounce back and have a little bit more luck down on the low block, he could very well be the deciding factor in a Game 7 of a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Miami Heat.
Boston Celtics Need to Let Paul Pierce Retire in Beantown
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The Boston Celtics trading Paul Pierce would almost be as absurd as the Lakers trading Kobe Bryant, the San Antonio Spurs trading Tim Duncan or the Dallas Mavericks trading Dirk Nowitzki. It's almost to the point where The Truth bleeds green, but there's still rumors that the C's are interested in dealing him before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
However, I'm also hearing that Ainge has been quietly exploring other options should his quest to strengthen his team fail. If a team offers significant young assets for Rondo or Paul Pierce, this might be the year the Celtics finally blow things up.
Now, the Celtics are having their struggles. They're 20-23 and sitting as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. But every team goes through times like these. You don't go and trade the franchise's second all-time leading scorer.
This isn't the same Paul Pierce, however, that torched Allen Iverson in the Eastern Conference Finals. This Paul Pierce is shooting only 35 percent from downtown. It takes this Paul Pierce 15 shots to get to 18.2 points per game, and this Paul Pierce is only playing 33.5 minutes per game.
But after all he's done for Boston, for both the city and the franchise, Pierce deserves to retire in green and white.
Memphis Grizzlies Must Keep Their Core of Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph Together
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The Memphis Grizzlies are currently fourth in the Western Conference with a 28-14 record. They've won four of their last five games and are recognized conference-wide as a team that no one wants to see in the playoffs. Yet for some odd reason, sources from all over are reporting that they're still fielding and entertaining deals for their starting forward, Rudy Gay.
Sources say the Grizzlies continue to make and accept calls on Gay, though they're doing so from a position of strength because they no longer have to trade him before the Feb. 21 deadline. If they don't, they'll be open for business around draft time and in July.
Why on Earth would they want to break up a core of players that has worked so well over the past few seasons?
The initial thought is cap space.
According to HoopsHype.com, both Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph are set to earn $17.8 or more in the 2013-2014 season, but the trade that sent Marresse Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and (for some odd reason) a future protected first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers shed $6 million off of the Grizzlies payroll without doing much harm to the roster.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," is an old adage that some of us live by. Memphis has already relieved itself of O.J. Mayo—who's having a career season for the losing Mavs. Why break up the team even more?
Gay isn't having the best season from a numbers standpoint. His stats have steadily declined since his breakout season of 2007-2008 (20.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG). This season he's putting up the rather pedestrian numbers of 17.2 points on 41 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent from downtown.
But the team has chemistry, which is something that supersedes individual stats. Besides, what player is going to give their all knowing that they could be dealt somewhere else at any moment?
L.A. Lakers Must Keep the Twin Towers of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol Intact
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This idea that there's something wrong with the Lakers' roster is ridiculous—it's the coach that's the issue.
Without analyzing the roster at hand, general manager Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family put their heads together and made a curious move. Instead of entertaining the thought of bringing back the Zen Master to run the triangle offense with one of the most stacked starting fives in the NBA, they saw Steve Nash and immediately assumed that Mike D'Antoni was the perfect fit.
Boy, were they wrong.
ESPN's Chris Broussard is reporting that D'Antoni is already losing the locker room:
Beyond that, there are strong rumblings that D'Antoni already has lost significant parts of the locker room. Two sources close to the situation have told me that many of the Lakers are fed up with D'Antoni and his system and that Kobe Bryant is the only one keeping many of the players from completely tuning out their coach.
With both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, the Lakers can still run their twin tower-type offense and pound the ball inside. Why give up the one thing that makes you deadly to suit the philosophy of a coach who has never made it to the promised land?
Los Angeles is coming off of an impressive 102-84 victory over the Utah Jazz, where Kobe Bryant nearly posted a triple-double with 14 points (7-of-9 FG), 14 assists—yes, Kobe had 14 assists—and nine rebounds. He ran the pick-and-roll to perfection with Howard, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash ended up with 15 points as beneficiaries of Bryant's distributing the ball.
Only four games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth seed in the West, the Lakers need to keep this core together if they want to make a push for the playoffs. It's not a far-fetched notion. The only far-fetched idea would be the Black Mamba continuing to sacrifice his own scoring for the better of the team.
The DeMarcus Cousins Scenario
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At this point, I don't think anyone believes DeMarcus Cousins belongs in Sacramento. Keith Smart isn't a coach who can handle such an extroverted talent, and, quite frankly, he's not going to win with the Kings, either.
And we all know that winning can taper the worst of tempers.
Several GMs have told me that their calls to the Kings about Cousins' availability are being rebuffed. With the team currently for sale, it makes sense that president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie's hands are tied, even if he wants to trade Cousins.
Cousins is easily a top-five talent at center in the NBA. The only wild card is his maturity and willingness to work towards achieving his maximum potential. And the only way he'll ever reach that potential is if he plays for a coach that has zero tolerance for the garbage that comes out of his mouth.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is ideal, but there's no way Cousins ends up with the Spurs without them giving up a leg and an arm. Boston's Doc Rivers would be another possibility, which would mean the C's giving up Paul Pierce. However, the Kings would want more than an aging superstar on the decline.
I don't have a picture-perfect trade that gets Cousins onto a team with a no-B.S. policy and gives the Kings enough young talent or quality pieces in return. Still, Cousins is a young stud who will go to waste if Sacramento doesn't find a way to get rid of him.