Blockbuster NBA Trades That Would Shake Up the Association
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
This blockbuster list of trades that would shake up the Association include a number of players who could potentially be moved before the NBA trade deadline on February 21. In fact, a few of the players identified in each deal have been mentioned in trade reports recently.
Others, meanwhile, appear to be available based on evaluating each team's organizational direction and roster depth.
I do not have any inside knowledge to suggest these blockbuster trades will or won't eventually materialize—nor is that my specific intent with this article. I am merely highlighting the benefits for each organization in exploring these blockbuster possibilities.
In some cases, these trades would help a playoff-caliber team advance even further in the postseason this year. For the teams that are rebuilding, they would receive a combination of young players and expiring contracts that could position them for playoff success in the future.
Draft picks of some measure could have been included in each proposed deal, but for the purposes of this article, I did not speculate on future draft considerations.
Also, ESPN.com's Trade Machine was used to confirm that the contract values in each scenario lined up correctly.
Read on for four potential blockbuster deals that could shake up the NBA within the next couple of weeks.
Atlanta Hawks Trade Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets
Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Summary: Atlanta Hawks trade Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets for a package that includes Patrick Patterson, Terrence Jones, Carlos Delfino and Cole Aldrich.
How trade works for Hawks
As opposed to letting Josh Smith's contract expire at the end of this season—and using that cap space to simply hope Dwight Howard chooses to sign with Atlanta this summer—this trade allows the Hawks to proactively receive a combination of young assets and short-term contracts that expire before the summer of 2014.
Patrick Patterson is a 23-year-old power forward on a reasonable deal who is averaging 11.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game this season. Terrence Jones, meanwhile, still possesses the same upside that made him a first-round pick this summer, despite a lack of minutes thus far in Houston.
Besides those two young bigs, Atlanta would also receive the contracts owed to both Cole Aldrich and Carlos Delfino, which will both be off their books before the prized free agent summer of 2014.
How trade works for Rockets
The Rockets are currently the owners of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and they are only 4.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for fourth place as of Wednesday morning.
Adding Smith allows Houston the opportunity to bolster their frontline in an attempt to make a major push towards the Western Conference playoffs in the second half of the season.
With Smith stepping into the starting power forward role, Houston's starting unit would be even more potent than it is right now.
The Rockets would lose quality depth in the form of Patterson and Delfino, but they would make up for it with Smith's production.
The decision to then re-sign Smith in Houston for the long-term is one that GM Daryl Morey could use the remainder of this season to evaluate. If they only end up renting Smith, his $13.2 million would come off of their books and the Rockets could explore other options this summer.
Utah Jazz Trade Al Jefferson to the Indiana Pacers
Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson
USA TODAY Sports
Trade Summary: Utah Jazz trade Al Jefferson to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger.
How trade works for the Jazz
Al Jefferson is on an expiring deal and could command max dollars as a free agent this summer. I don't see how the Jazz are in a position to make that type of commitment to Jefferson, nor do I see why they need to.
Derrick Favors is ready to start in this league and Utah might as well find out what could happen when he does. In only 21.8 minutes per night off the bench so far this season, Favors is averaging 9.3 points and 6.4 rebounds.
He could explode in an expanded role, and dealing Jefferson creates that opportunity for him. At the same time, it also creates additional rotation minutes for Enes Kanter as well.
Meanwhile, Danny Granger would dramatically improve the wing position through 2014—if healthy—while keeping the Jazz in the playoff mix as they rebuild their frontline around Favors and Kanter.
How trade works for the Pacers
The Pacers are Paul George's team. He is the All-Star and leading scorer moving forward. As a result, Danny Granger no longer fits, and he has become expendable due to George's emergence.
In saying as much, however, the Pacers still need to score a lot more than they have been. As of Wednesday, the 92.8 points per game that the Pacers are averaging is good for second-last in the NBA.
Al Jefferson would provide a huge lift in that department. He could also present matchup issues inside for Eastern Conference playoff teams—like the Miami Heat, for example—if they were to potentially collide in the postseason.
Jefferson would need to defend more than he ever has in his career in order to fit in with these Pacers, though. How Roy Hibbert would be used becomes a question as well. But I'd bet Frank Vogel can figure all that out.
If he does, his Pacers would become markedly better than they were last month with Big Al in the mix for the remainder of this season.
Orlando Magic Trade J.J. Redick to the Denver Nuggets
Orlando Magic's J.J. Redick
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Summary: Orlando Magic trade J.J. Redick to the Denver Nuggets for Timofey Mozgov and Evan Fournier
How Trade Works for Magic
For as well as J.J. Redick is playing this season, the 28-year-old guard does not fit into the Magic's long-term rebuilding plans.
His $6.2 million contract comes off the books at the end of the year and Orlando would do well to get something in return for the value that Redick provides.
In the form of Timofey Mozgov, the Magic would acquire a young big on a $3.1 million contract that expires at the end of this season.
More importantly, though, they'd also receive a rookie shooting guard in Evan Fournier, who has the potential to develop into the type of player that Redick currently is.
Fournier hasn't earned significant minutes for the Nuggets, but he certainly would for the duration of the year as a member of the Orlando Magic.
In the right situation, Fournier could demonstrate the upside that made him the 20th overall pick in the draft last summer.
How Trade Works for Nuggets
Despite a record that is good enough for fifth in the Western Conference, the Nuggets rank 28th in the NBA in terms of three-point field goal percentage at 33.5 percent.
Redick would jump into the playoff mix in Denver due to his shooting 40 percent from long-range for his career and 39.9 percent this season specifically.
He would make the Nuggets an even deeper and more versatile team moving forward, and the team would not even have to give up any significant pieces to their current rotation.
In the wake of the fourth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies trading away their leading scorer, a move like this could be all that Denver needs to secure home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers Trade Pau Gasol to the Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Summary: Los Angeles Lakers trade Pau Gasol to the Toronto Raptors for Andrea Bargnani and Landry Fields
How trade works for Lakers
This season hasn't gone according to plan for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Pau Gasol hasn't been happy—and more importantly—he hasn't been productive while playing alongside Dwight Howard in Mike D'Antoni's system.
Gasol recently told T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with D'Antoni either, and for all those reasons, it's time to move on.
In this proposed trade, Gasol is sent to Toronto in exchange for Andrea Bargnani and Landry Fields.
The major piece here is Bargnani, but despite a less-than-attractive contract, Fields would also be an improvement to the Lakers' bench as it's currently structured.
Bargnani hasn't been playing well this year, but maybe he would find new life in Los Angeles. Alongside Kobe Bryant and Howard—in the freedom of a well-executed D'Antoni system—he should get his fair share of open looks, at least.
How trade works for Raptors
The Raptors just traded for Rudy Gay and appear dead-set on making the playoffs.
Adding Gasol to a mix of Gay, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan would all but assure the Raptors of at least an eighth seed next season—maybe even higher.
As for this season, though, 7.5 games out of the eighth slot seems like a steep climb, even with Gasol. But maybe Raptors' GM Bryan Colangelo thinks it's more achievable than I do.
What the Raptors are able to accomplish with this move, regardless of postseason success, is managing their way out of paying Bargnani and Fields a combined $36.5 million over the next two seasons.
That salary relief could provide major value over the next two seasons, assuming the money is eventually spent wisely.