NBA Trade Deadline: Contending Teams That Should Actively Seek Deals

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 7, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets speaks during a press conference announcing the signing of Jeremy Lin at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline is still a few weeks away, yet there are several teams on the fringe of contention that would benefit greatly from making a big splash.

Some of the following teams are a bit of a surprise, considering that they have already made relatively big swaps amidst this season. But with the increased star power on the league's elite teams—see: the defending champion Miami Heat—more teams should be adopting the win-now mentality.

Here is a breakdown of two contenders from each conference that should be active in seeking out deals to get their franchises into title talk territory.


Chicago Bulls

All the Bulls need is more players who can put the ball in the hoop, because it's pretty clear that no matter who Tom Thibodeau is coaching, his team will play magnificent defense.

Derrick Rose's eventual return this season is sure to help in that regard, but Chicago needs someone that can spread the floor and not put so much of the scoring onus on Rose.

Shooting just below 44 percent from the floor and in the middle of the pack from beyond the arc, the Bulls need a big boost. Consider this report by's Alex Kennedy, in which he implies the Bulls have been linked to Orlando Magic SG J.J. Redick:

The Chicago Bulls are one team that has been linked to Redick. The Bulls were the team that extended a three-year, $19 million offer sheet to Redick in 2010, and they may pursue him again before the trade deadline.

Redick is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, and Kennedy indicates that this increases the odds that Orlando will try to move him.

As much of a sharpshooter as anyone in the league, this has been a career year for Redick. He is averaging over 15 points per contest on .452 percent shooting and 40 percent from distance. Additionally, he averages 4.5 assists per game and would blend in well with the Bulls.

With Rose's ability to penetrate the lane and Redick's dead-eye shooting, it would be shocking if the Bulls didn't give this prospective move a hard look.


Memphis Grizzlies

The nucleus of this Memphis team pulled the improbable upset over the San Antonio Spurs as a No. 8 seed in the playoffs two seasons ago. That means there is hope that they will carry on playing at a high level now that they are permanently without Rudy Gay.

But for a team that struggles mightily to score in putting up just 93.1 points per game, it's hard to justify dropping the squad's leading scorer.

With massive luxury tax ramifications looming, the Memphis brass essentially had no choice but to move Gay's max deal. Yet the team still had to absorb the contract of Tayshaun Prince, who is a decent swingman but doesn't pack scoring punch.

If Jerryd Bayless is supposed to be the bench scoring savior, that's not exactly something that will get Grizzlies fans particularly excited. It may seem unlikely the Grizzlies make another move, but in light of Gay's departure, it just might happen.

With Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph eating up a lot of minutes in the frontcourt, it's become crowded with Darrell Arthur, Ed Davis and Austin Daye all vying for minutes.

One of those players could definitely be exchanged for something, most likely Arthur because of his proven ability to come off the bench or Davis due to his upside.

In order to compete with the best teams in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies must find more offense—and fast.

Houston Rockets

GM Daryl Morey is known for being aggressive and always looking for ways to improve the Rockets. That should once again be a theme at the deadline, since Houston can't really play a lick of defense, ranking 27th in the league in points per game allowed.

All of the big men on the current roster aside from Omer Asik are too perimeter-oriented to match up inside with imposing post players.

That should be considered an asset to teams looking for their power forwards to spread the floor more, and Morey could easily flip either Marcus Morris or Patrick Patterson in exchange for more adequate defensive help.

Really, the Rockets just need to hold onto the backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden, the underrated Chandler Parsons and Asik. Anyone else is fair game to move, and it could result in getting another relatively big name into the starting five.

Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith has been tied to Houston, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. He would provide the defensive versatility and help necessary to get the Rockets over the hump. Playing for the No. 2 scoring team in the NBA, Smith wouldn't be asked to do much on that end, where he struggles with shot selection.


Boston Celtics

The C's are floundering a bit at No. 8 in the Eastern Conference. However, this is such an experienced team, and the presence of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett should keep them in the postseason and a tough out as usual.

With the loss of star PG Rajon Rondo for the rest of the season, GM Danny Ainge needs to find rebounding help all the more urgently at this point.

Unfortunately, Boston's current roster doesn't have many attractive long-term assets. Jeff Green's contract will be next to impossible to move, and parting ways with Pierce and Garnett would blow up the team at this point.

That means players like Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa should be on the move. They are valuable wing players that could contribute to a championship club—and possibly be enough for the Celtics to land another big man in return.

It might not be much, but a trade could work out where the team brings Greg Stiemsma back to Boston. He is an energetic, hustling player who hasn't quite fit into the Minnesota Timberwolves' rotation but would give the Celtics a much-needed offensive rebounding presence.

Stiemsma also has experience playing alongside Boston's stars and would be a bargain at this juncture.

That's pure speculation, but any other big man would boost the C's right now; it will be very difficult for Boston to get out of the first round of the playoffs averaging just 8.6 offensive rebounds a night.