6 NBA Stars Who Would Be Re-Energized by a Trade at the 2013 Deadline
Sometimes an NBA star can get stuck in a rut. That's when a change of scenery can be just the thing to rid one of that nasty funk.
Just look at very recent history. A remarkable thing happened when Rudy Gay was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors.
After seeing his scoring average steadily decline from 18.7 points per game in November to 15.9 PPG in January, Gay received a shot in the arm from the trade to Toronto
In seven games with Toronto, he's averaging 20.7 points. His turnovers are also down and his steals average has tripled from 0.9 in January to 2.7 in February. And now the Raptors are actually winning close games thanks to a finisher like Gay.
So here's a half dozen other players who would be re-energized by a trade this week.
At the All-Star break, Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks are 29-22, putting them in sixth place in the East. But all has not gone to plan in Smith's first season without Joe Johnson since being a rookie.
Even though Smith was expected to be the offensive focal point with "Iso Joe" now a Brooklyn Net, Smith has seen his scoring average decline and his turnovers increase. His free-throw shooting has also been worse than ever (50 percent for a 65.9 percent career shooter).
Of course, Al Horford has returned to shoulder some of the scoring burden, but Smith is also expending tremendous amounts of energy trying to lead the team and keep the Hawks in playoff position. Smith's blocks have increased, averaging 2.1 per game, and he's crashing the boards as well, grabbing 8.6 a night.
But if Smith had a better supporting cast around him, he could conserve some of the energy he's using on the interior, which would certainly be a boon for his scoring and shooting numbers.
On Sunday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports cited sources linking Smith as a trade candidate to no less than five teams (via Twitter).
Eric Bledsoe wore his Los Angeles Clippers jersey during the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest, but would he be better off throwing down reverse slams for a different team?
At the moment, Bledsoe is merely a spark off the bench for the Clips, but there's no doubt he's a rising star.
He won't make anyone forget about Chris Paul, and he can't provide as much bench scoring as Jamal Crawford. But when he's on the court, he looks really, really good.
If you look at Bledsoe's stats per 36 minutes, the numbers become even more impressive.
Bledsoe averages just 21.8 minutes per game, and even that number is inflated, as he has started the dozen games that Paul has missed due to injury.
But per 36 minutes this season, Bledsoe averages 15.9 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.4 blocks. Those would be starter's numbers on almost any team in the league.
On Sunday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein cited sources indicating that the Utah Jazz are interested in swapping forward Paul Millsap for Bledsoe.
Utah is in search of a point guard after losing Mo Williams to a hand injury, and they have a surplus of talented big men.
Which brings us to our next candidate for re-energizing...
Paul Millsap owes Deron Williams a fruit basket. Before D-Will joined on with the New Jersey Nets, he was instrumental in transforming Millsap into a double-double threat for the Utah Jazz.
Millsap's numbers rose from 2008 through 2011 as he grew into a starting role, and Williams averaged his highest assist totals in those seasons.
Now Millsap is stuck without a point guard after Mo Williams' thumb injury, and he's forced to try to outdo Al Jefferson on a nightly basis.
Utah has depth in the frontcourt (especially with a much slimmer Enes Kanter) and will need to choose between signing Millsap or Jefferson this offseason anyway. They figure to trade one of them and Millsap seems the likelier target so far.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein cite a source suggesting that Millsap could net the Jazz Eric Bledsoe, and that swap might be beneficial for both sides with Bledsoe stuck behind Chris Paul on the depth chart.
The Toronto Raptors drafted Andrea Bargnani first overall in 2006.
The Italian quickly proved proficient at scoring, but he also brought to mind some phrases typically associated with European big men: "finesse," "soft," "no shot-blocking presence" and "bad at rebounding."
Don't tell Toronto's front office that they could have had LaMarcus Aldridge.
Bargnani averaged 21.4 points per game in 2010-11, but he has struggled to stay healthy since then. A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered.
Since returning from injury, his minutes have been erratic. He did mange to score a total of 27 points in back-to-back games in early February, but coach Dwane Casey seems to be finding it difficult to get him in the rotation.
Also, the Raptors can afford to jettison Bargnani considering the emergence of Amir Johnson.
The Toronto Star's Doug Smith quoted a source on Monday as saying that it "looks like the summer" will be when the Raptors deal Bargnani.
But a week before Thursday's deadline, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune wrote that according to league sources, the Raptors could get Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson for Bargnani and John Lucas III "whenever they wanted."
Brandon Jennings is in his fourth season with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was supposed to form a lethal backcourt combination with Monta Ellis, but that pairing has proved to be somewhat awkward at times.
While Jennings was on the short list to replace Rajon Rondo for the NBA All-Star Game, he's also shooting just 39.5 percent from the field, suggesting the presence of Ellis is not leading to more open shots for Jennings as was hoped.
Jennings has also seen his scoring dip slightly and his turnovers tick up. Ellis has similarly seen his shooting percentage go down and his turnovers increase. Maybe this is a case of "he's just not that into you."
Jennings is a talented player and the Bucks have him as a restricted free agent, so they're under no significant pressure to move him.
But ESPN's Chad Ford cites that a ubiquitous informant, an unnamed source, as saying there are "irreconcilable differences" between Jennings and the Bucks.
If Milwaukee is unwilling to give Jennings the big deal that he wants, the best decision would be to trade him now if they can find a team desperate enough to give up a sizable bounty for him.
ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Dallas Mavericks are interested in a trade with the Bucks, according to one source (via Twitter).
J.J. Redick has never been a consistent starter in his career, but this season, he is putting up starter's numbers.
Redick is averaging 15.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. He's also an assassin from three-point range and he makes almost 90 percent of his free throws.
The only problem is that he plays for the Orlando Magic. After "solving" the Dwight Howard crisis in the offseason, the Magic are in rebuilding mode yet again. Redick might feel a little more motivated starting for a contender.
The other kicker is that he will hit unrestricted free agency this offseason and will be due a pay raise from his current salary after having a career year. Orlando doesn't seem to have much interest in retaining Redick, so they might as well get what they can for him.