The ESPN NBA Trade Machine doesn’t take basketball realism into account when calculating whether a deal is actually feasible; finances are what matter. The prospect of LeBron James taking his talents to Sacramento—for any reason other than to drop 50 on the Sacramento Kings—would be thrilling for fans in that market.
But it’s not going to happen.
Imagining LeBron in purple is just as outlandish as sending a young stud who’s still on his rookie deal— say, Kyrie Irving—to a team that would love to add him to the roster, but doesn’t have the trade chips to deal for the face of a franchise.
No matter how laughably imbalanced a deal may be, there’s only one rule when it comes to the Trade Machine: Make sure the numbers match. The following can be a friendly warning that, while it may be acceptable within the fiscal structure of the NBA to strike certain deals, there are ways to go overboard with hypothetical situations.
Making deals work on paper doesn’t necessarily make us future NBA GMs.
LeBron James will more than likely retain his title as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2013. The Miami Heat superstar is underpaid—in NBA terms—for what he does, resulting in his relatively easily tradeable contract.
In theory, he could be shipped to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for the services of swingmen John Salmons and Francisco Garcia. In practice, it won’t happen for several reasons.
For starters, LeBron is the face of the NBA and an integral part of the championship-winning Heat squad. Trading him to Sacramento and returning Salmons’ and Garcia’s contracts would lop off a whopping 17 estimated wins from Miami’s projected total. The Kings would get nine wins added to their projected total and untold amounts of added exposure for their team.
LeBron averages 27.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 38.5 minutes per game. In 47.0 MPG, Salmons and Garcia combine to average 14.2 points, 4.4 boards and 4.1 assists.
Expiring contracts are valuable trade chips in the NBA. The bigger they are, the bigger the potential for added salary cap space in the next season. That still doesn’t mean that Zaza Pachulia moving to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Atlanta Hawks for Kyrie Irving is a good idea.
It’s a good idea for Atlanta, but Cavs fans would be even fierier than the furor that followed “The Decision.”
Pachulia (22.1 MPG) would be a double-double threat if he played the number of minutes that Kyrie does (35.3): He’s on pace to average 9.9 points and 10.4 rebounds if he got that kind of run.
Irving, however, is an All-Star and the future of a franchise. He’s scoring 23.5 points per game and shooting a ridiculous 42.5 percent from deep as the No. 1 option on a rebuilding team.
The 25-29 Los Angeles Lakers have had to deal with a lot of personnel shuffling—between the lines and beside them—this season. Dwight Howard has been the center of attention, with copious amounts of speculation regarding whether he likes playing with his team or in the L.A. market.
Plenty of people wonder about what could have been had Chris Paul taken the court as a Laker, too. The 39-17 Los Angeles Clippers are doing well, though, which is why they wouldn’t consider swapping CP3 and DeAndre Jordan for Dwight and Steve Nash.
While a blockbuster deal that requires exactly none of the involved players to change addresses—aside from their lockers—would be the talk of the NBA universe, the Clippers would be gifting the Lakers with a plethora of talent and returning massive uncertainty.
Paul is an MVP candidate and Jordan is a high-flying finisher. Howard and Nash have been ailing all season, and Nash is 39 years old.
The Lakers may be broken…but the Clippers aren’t going to fix them.
DeMarcus Cousins has unfortunately attracted frequent negative attention with the Sacramento Kings organization. Wouldn’t it be fun to send him cross-country to play ball with his former Kentucky teammate, John Wall?
Too bad the Washington Wizards don’t have many assets to send to Sacramento. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, they’re not interested in giving up Wall, Bradley Beal or Nene—at least, not for Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks. Perhaps Nene would be on the table to acquire a talent like Cousins, but Sacramento is unlikely to be swayed to move their frontcourt centerpiece by the players on Washington’s roster unless Wall and/or Beal were available.
In talks with ATL for Josh Smith, Wizards have said all but 3 players available: J Wall, B Beal & Nene
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 19, 2013
Still, the numbers match in a deal sending Emeka Okafor and Martell Webster for Cousins, Travis Outlaw and Chuck Hayes. Surprisingly, the projected win difference would only subtract one from Sacramento and add one to the Wizards.
Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose—when healthy—are the two most electrifying point guards in the game. The numbers work out on a simple swap between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls to exchange Westbrook for Rose; each is even locked up for the next five years.
But Chicago won’t trade away its native son, not when he’s 24 years old and has worked so diligently to rehab from an ACL injury. Westbrook would be a nice immediate return while Rose is out—which is why the title-ready Thunder won’t move him—but Rose is a former MVP, who was last seen messing around and almost getting a triple double before tearing his ACL last April.
He had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in 37 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers.
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