Last-Minute Predictions for Final Landing Spots for Biggest Names on Trade Block
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and players like Josh Smith, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap could all potentially be on the move.
There's been mass interest in Smith, but with so many teams in the running for his services, which one can make the best offer?
The Hawks are listening to offers, as are the other three teams involved in this slideshow. It's well worth establishing which destinations are the most likely for this year's five most coveted free agents.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Prediction for Final Landing Spot: Phoenix Suns
But which team actually stands the best chance?
He's sure to command a nice package, but he's also seeking a max-contract this summer, which makes acquiring the combo forward a risky proposition for any team. There's no guarantee that they can retain him this summer.
Of the three teams in on the Smith sweepstakes, the Houston Rockets may have the most to offer, but that doesn't mean they are willing to relinquish those assets. They may be hesitant to include either Omer Asik or Chandler Parsons, who have been performing well this season.
The reasoning behind keeping Parsons and Asik is that the Rockets could just sign Smith outright this summer.
They're going to be under the cap and in the hunt for a big name free agent. Giving up on Parsons and Asik may not be in their best interest. Both start and have been developing well on a high scoring Rockets team led by the NBA's fifth leading scorer James Harden.
Harden may be an attractive selling point for Smith or any other free agent this summer; superstars like playing with other superstars.
The Suns were also reported to be among the frontrunners for Smith, and are offering a package centered around the underachieving Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley and a first-round pick according to Gary Woelfel of the Journal Times.
The interest by the Rockets and Suns fits with what general manager Danny Ferry wants: send Smith to the Western Conference and avoid helping out any team the Hawks could face in the playoffs this season or next.
But the Milwaukee Bucks have also shown interest. Smith likes the idea of playing with high scoring 2-guard Monta Ellis, but indicated he would play for the Bucks with or without the combo guard, according to Woelfel.
The Bucks have been hesitant to include players in deals, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. They've reportedly made 2012 draft pick John Henson, Brandon Jennings and the league-leading shot blocker Larry Sanders unavailable to teams.
But with Smith being the coveted forward he is, general manager John Hammond may have no choice but to include one of his "untouchables."
If the Bucks aren't willing to meet the asking price for Smith, expect him to end up in a Rockets or Suns uniform.
The Rockets seem hesitant to give up major assets, though, making Phoenix's offer likely the best on the table and the one that Ferry will ultimately end up accepting.
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Prediction for Final Landing Spot: L.A. Clippers
Paul Millsap is on a $7.2 million expiring deal, and the undersized power forward is producing on a level far higher than his pay commands.
That makes him the likely choice over their other player on an expiring contract, Al Jefferson, according to Ric Bucher via Sulia.
One deal on the table, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN, is the Minnesota Timberwolves sending the disappointing Derrick Williams for Millsap.
Williams has been on the trade block all season, but hasn't drawn much interest. It's doubtful the Jazz would consider a deal to bring in a No. 2 overall pick when Williams just hasn't performed anywhere near his potential.
Acquiring the Arizona product makes little sense, especially with Derrick Favors to develop and groom as their power forward of the future. While Williams could play the 3-spot, he runs into Gordon Hayward there, and the Jazz are high on the Butler product.
Aaron Bruski of NBC reported the Jazz would like to keep Millsap, but they're likely to deal either he or Jefferson, whose bigger contract could make him a harder sell.
Chad Ford of ESPN reported the Jazz will likely be seeking a point guard in exchange for Millsap.
This makes the rumors reported by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelbrune this week involving the Los Angeles Clippers Eric Bledsoe seem very credible.
It's uncertain as to whether the Jazz will deal Millsap, but the best offer reported so far has been Bledsoe, and if a trade occurs, expect it to be with the Clippers, who seem prepared to offer the best package in a potential All-Star and dunk contest participant who has been dubbed "Mini LeBron" by fans.
Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
Prediction for Final Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs
Al Jefferson is on the last year of a deal that pays him $15 million this season.
That could make trading him difficult, and any team looking to acquire the durable and productive center will need to know they can re-sign him to a reasonable deal after the season.
The San Antonio Spurs have shown interest, according to Chris Sheridan of Sherdian Hoops, and that would be a far more likely destination since he would probably want to re-sign with a perennial powerhouse.
San Antonio has some piece to offer for Jefferson. They could offer the $10 million expiring contract of Stephen Jackson, Tiago Splitter's $3.9 million expiring contract and promising point guard Patty Mills.
The move would fit with what the Jazz are trying to do: shed salary and obtain a point guard who they could use in their rebuilding effort.
Mills barely plays for the Spurs, but played some phenomenal ball in the 2012 Olympic games, and league executives took notice.
Would a deal for two expiring contracts and Mills be enough to pry Jefferson from the Jazz?
It seems likely, and Jefferson is far more likely to end up in San Antonio than in Phoenix.
J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic
Prediction for Final Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs or Indiana Pacers
J.J. Redick is having a career year and is on a $6.75 million expiring deal.
He's drawn mass interest around the league, with at least five teams showing interest, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.
Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan was said to be seeking young talent on a rookie contract, expiring deals and—an absolute must—a first round draft pick. The Magic are in the early stages of a massive rebuild, and, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, they have secured a first round pick for Redick.
Wojnarowski's report that the pick is likely in the mid-20's indicates that the San Antonio Spurs or Indiana Pacers may be the frontrunners for Redick.
Milwaukee, Detroit and Washington will all have valuable lottery picks they're likely to hang on to since so many teams are unwilling to trade draft picks this year.
But Orlando Local 6's David Pingalore reported that the Magic have no plans to trade Redick. That report seems to lack credibility with so many teams interested in the 2-guard.
But Pingalore also was the one to break the news that Stan Van Gundy was on his way out in Orlando last year, so his credibility isn't in question, just his sources.
The Magic do not have to deal Redick. His contract will come off the books, and Hennigan certainly isn't looking to do any NBA teams a favor. If he can't find a favorable deal, he may seek to re-sign Redick, though his agent Art Tellum stated the Duke legend will be seeking at least $10 million this season over four seasons (via Wojnarowski).
The most likely scenarios are that Redick ends up in San Antonio or Indiana, with a strong possibility that neither occur and the Magic keep a player whose entire career has been spent in central Florida.
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
Prediction for Final Landing Spot: Not Dealt
For unknown reasons, the New York Knicks were said to be shopping Iman Shumpert. Shumpert's promise as a potential All-NBA defender is well documented.
Shumpert averaged averaged 2.1 steals per game last season as a rookie, and he's arguably the second best backcourt defender (behind Boston's Avery Bradley) in the east.
Brewer's value is nowhere near as high as Shumpert, who had been linked in talks involving Orlando's J.J. Redick, according to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported the Phoenix Suns have an interest in Shumpert. The Suns desperately lament not having drafted the Georgia Tech product with their No. 14 overall pick in 2011 (they opted for Markieff Morris of Kansas).
The main chip the Suns were offering was Jared Dudley, who would be a redundancy on a team that already has so many three point shooters and averages over 11 threes per game.
With J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, the need for another three point shooter just doesn't seem to be there; especially not at the cost of the Knicks best backcourt defender.
With Anthony urging the Knicks not to deal Shumpert and no real favorable deals on the table, it's likely that he remains a Knick for the remainder of the season and quite possibly much longer than that.