10 Potential Deadline Deals That Would Shake Up 2013 Playoff Race
It's trade deadline season in the NBA and the rumors are flying fast. Between now and the Thursday, Feb. 21 deadline, there will be a lot of chatter, if not tangible activity.
What makes this deadline different is that the seismic events perhaps already happened, back in the preseason. Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers, as was Steve Nash. In a final, dramatic flourish, James Harden was dealt for Kevin Martin in a move that supposedly made Oklahoma City fringe contenders at best.
It hasn't worked out that way, as OKC is assuredly a top contender. Nearly every other team in the Association could stand to make another move.
Josh Smith to the Suns?
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
The Phoenix Suns are among a few Josh Smith suitors. If any team takes him, it will do so with plans on awarding him with a long-term contract when his deal expires at the end of the season.
While it's easy to declare that Josh Smith isn't a "max" player, there are a few teams that might as well pay the price. The Suns are one of those teams.
What are they doing anyway? Where is this roster taking them?
Marcin Gortat has been the most frequently rumored trade piece for Smith. Again, the Suns should consider it under the "Why not?" justification. The Hawks would finally get a quality center by which to team with Al Horford, which could make them into an Eastern Conference sleeper.
Josh Smith to the Spurs?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
This is my favorite trade rumor of the season, because it would be the ultimate test of whether the best organization can markedly improve a misguided talent.
Josh Smith is immensely skilled, but also maddening. His shot selection is terrible, and he tends to take those bad shots at the worst times.
But, perhaps the San Antonio Spurs could fix it. Marc Spears of Yahoo! reported San Antonio's interest in the athletic forward, and it's easy to see what they see in him.
The Spurs have a wonderful offensive system and a lot of regular season success. But they also might be a little under-talented for the playoffs. If he doesn't ruin everything Greg Popovich's offensive schemes by stopping the ball, Smith could get the Spurs past the Thunder.
Paul Millsap to the Clippers?
USA TODAY Sports
Such a move would give Los Angeles depth in the frontcourt and allow the team to spread the floor with Millsap's three-point shot. Should they ever go small with Millsap and Blake Griffin at once, the results could devastate slower opponents.
In return, Utah would finally get a young point guard to build around. That Jazz flex offense would look incredible if Bledsoe ever lives up to his potential.
Andrea Bargnani to the Bulls?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Andrea Bargnani is possibly the most rumored-about player, which might mean that we're in for a quiet trade deadline. True, he's a former number one pick, but he's dangerously close to being worthy of the dreaded "bust" label.
Bargnani intrigues because he is a seven-footer used to shoot well from deep. Though a career .360 three-point shooter, he's managed less than 30 percent this season and last season.
If the Italian can recapture that three-point stroke, and recapture his defensive competence from last year, he could help a team in need. That's a lot of "ifs," but it's enough for some desperate team out there to take a chance.
If that desperate team is the Chicago Bulls (in exchange for say, Carlos Boozer), it could either vault them to contender status, destroy them or maintain the status quo.
Kevin Garnett to the Clippers?
USA TODAY Sports
I flat do not understand why the Clippers would trade Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett's services. It would be one thing if it was Bledsoe or Jordan for KG, but both is too much.
Garnett is soon to be 37 years old in May. Though a floor-spacing KG makes more sense alongside Blake Griffin than DeAndre Jordan does, it's hard to justify trading two valuable trade assets for the short-term addition.
Regardless of whether it's wise, KG-to-the-Clips would probably make Los Angeles into a more formidable contender. The old man can still play.
Danny Granger to the Rockets?
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Granger could return to the Indiana lineup any day, but his spot has ostensibly been taken. Paul George is Indiana's swingman of the future, and Granger is its franchise player of the past.
At least, that's how it seems after an All-Star weekend in which Granger looked like one of the most talented players on the court Sunday. Given that the Pacers already have a lot of money tied up in other veteran players, it would make sense for it to deal a roster redundancy.
Houston is apparently interested in Granger, which makes sense. Granger could augment the Rockets' three-point attack as a small-ball power forward, thus helping their playoff (and first-round upset) chances.
J.J. Redick to the Nuggets?
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
J.J. Redick could really help any NBA contender. The Orlando wing can shoot with range off the dribble and off the catch, a rare combination even at his position.
He's also tethered to a team that isn't going anywhere for awhile. The Denver Nuggets, in contrast, are a playoff team, looking to improve from beyond the arc. So, it's no surprise that they have interest in Redick.
The question, as always in these deals, is "at what cost?" The Nuggets have a few swingmen to deal and JaVale McGee hasn't exactly worked out, but would the Magic take one or more of these players in a swap?
Eric Gordon to the Warriors?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Gordon is on the trade market, which is no surprise considering how unhappy he appears to be in New Orleans. "Surly," "oft-injured," and "toting a max contract" might sound like red flags, but perhaps a team will bite.
Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News has reported that there is little to rumors that Gordon could be dealt for a package including Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, which is logical considering the youth and good health of those two players.
If the price gets cheaper, though, perhaps the Warriors would be interested. They would like a penetrating guard, and Gordon's ability to do so would mesh with Stephen Curry.
Grizzlies Give Up Zach Randolph?
USA TODAY Sports
The speculation is that the Rudy Gay trade means the end of Zach Randolph in Memphis. Chad Ford of ESPN predicted that Randolph is as good as gone.
The idea is that the new owner in Memphis wants to save money and Randolph is set to make over $50 million. Also, the Grizzlies might be looking to move away from the low-post style that defined their return to relevance.
I actually don't think that dealing Z-Bo is the worst idea. Of course, a lot of it hinges on the return value, but Memphis could perhaps find more offensive success running the pick-and-roll with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.
Randolph remains an excellent rebounder, but his offensive efficiency has slipped. And despite improving on defense, he's not exactly a vital cog on that end of the floor.
Dwight Howard for Rajon Rondo?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Ken Berger of CBS Sports conjured up this highly doubtful scenario. Still, it's a lot of fun to mull.
The Lakers would finally get a top point guard (sorry, Steve Nash), and the Celtics would get the Dwight Howard circus.
It's impossible to see Dwight dealing well with the Boston media, but that's the smallest barrier to feasibility here.
The bigger concern is that Howard's trade value far exceeds Rondo's. It would be one thing if Rajon were healthy, but he just tore his ACL. Though Dwight's back is ailing, he's still one of the league's better centers.
If this wacky move were to somehow happen, though, it would markedly improve Boston's dark horse chances.