NBA Trade Deadline 2013: 5 Teams with Most on the Line
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Teams are jostling to make final moves before the trade deadline at 3 PM EST on Feb. 21. Five teams in particular are looking to make final roster adjustments that could help them make a deeper push in the 2013 NBA playoffs.
J.J. Redick has been linked to a number of teams as a shooter whose skill set will integrate with any contending team. Josh Smith could instantly transform a team's defense.
With destiny-changing players swirling in the whirlwind of rumors, which team will be able to make the necessary roster adjustment necessary to be a true contender?
Could Duke legend J.J. Redick be the missing piece for Indy?
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The Indiana Pacers rank No. 16 in the NBA in threes made per game (6.8), which makes their reported interest in the Orlando Magic's J.J. Redick very credible, as reported by Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld via Twitter.
Redick could give the Pacers the shooter they need to space the court. He's a clear upgrade over starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson, notwithstanding that Stephenson has been playing some good ball lately.
The Pacers are seeded third in the Eastern Conference, with a 33-21 record, but they are just 1.5 games ahead of the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls. The Pacers will seek to avoid slipping in the standings to ensure they have home court advantage in the first round. The Atlanta Hawks, whom the Pacers would face if the playoffs started today) are 22-5 at home this season, which makes home court advantage quite an advantage indeed.
Likely playoff opponents include the Hawks, the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls. The Pacers would likely prefer a matchup against the Hawks or Nets, given that Derrick Rose could possibly return and make the Bulls real juggernauts in the east again.
Redick is no longer a liability on defense, and his play on the defensive end would help the Pacers against any team with a premiere shooting guard. While Redick isn't a great one-on-one defender, he's excellent chasing players around screens, plays passing lanes well and is a good help-side defender. The Pacers could add him and complete their starting lineup as they prepare for the 2013 playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs
Al Jeff could give the Spurs a twin tower look not seen since David Robinson hung it up.
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The San Antonio Spurs are said to be in the running for Al Jefferson, according to Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops.
Acquiring the Utah center, who is on a $15 million expiring contract, could make the Spurs one of the toughest teams on the interior.
What makes the rumors all the more credible is that the Spurs offer Jefferson the type of organization in which he would likely feel comfortable re-signing this summer. A Jefferson and Tim Duncan tandem inside would prove very difficult for the smaller teams in the league to match up with.
Jefferson also gives the Spurs a premiere big man who will be around after Duncan hangs it up.
The Spurs have the best record in the Western Conference and aren't pressed into making major shakeups. But teams can always get better, and acquiring Jefferson would help not just this year, but for years to come, assuming he sticks around in San Antonio.
Bledsoe may be dealt with the Clips confident of retaining to-be free agent CP3
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They have a very valuable trade chip in point guard Eric Bledsoe, and he could be useful in obtaining help. Bledsoe was linked not only to the Big Ticket, but also to Utah's Paul Millsap, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.
Millsap would give the Clips some toughness inside and allow Blake Griffin to focus more on his offense, since Millsap can grab a lot of the rebounds that the Clippers usually rely on Griffin to snag.
The Clippers are not a bad rebounding team. They rank No. 10 in the NBA in rebound rate (50.9 percent), but acquiring Millsap could take them from a good rebounding team to an elite squad. Moreover, Millsap is a good finisher on the break and would fit seamlessly in "Lob City."
If the Clips can't acquire Millsap, they'll still be contenders in the West. They are 39-17 and seeded third in the conference, but they'll want to ensure they hang onto home court advantage with possible matchups against the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, which are 23-3 and 17-7 at home, respectively.
Sources are indicating a Josh Smith trade is a near certainty.
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The Atlanta Hawks are at a crucial stage in what is developing to be an awkward rebuild: They're still playoff contenders, but have little chance of contending in a conference featuring the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.
The Hawks are shopping Josh Smith hard, but it's unclear whether any return in a trade for the forward could keep the Hawks competitive this season. But should that even matter to GM Danny Ferry with his team just 29-23 and facing a likely matchup against one of the Eastern Conference juggernauts?
The Hawks will need to carefully consider the long-term vision of their team. Al Horford has proven himself to be a perennial All-Star big man, and Jeff Teague has shown a lot of promise in the backcourt.
But outside of Horford and Teague, the Hawks have few pieces that could be considered worthy of building around.
As to whether Josh Smith can potentially bring any such pieces remains to be seen.
Ellis is rumored to be the main chip in a potential trade for Josh Smith.
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The Milwaukee Bucks may be one of the most active teams this trade deadline, but John Hammond's reluctance to make his best trade chips available has mitigated any chance the Bucks had of improving the team.
Hammond declared Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders and John Henson as "virtually untouchable," according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
All three are promising young players with a lot of potential, but Hammond apparently has forgotten that to acquire the pieces needed to improve his 26-27 Bucks, he will have to give up something of value.
The Bucks refused to include their first-round pick in a potential deal to acquire J.J. Redick, according to Lance Allan of NBC Milwaukee.
They've been rumored to be shopping Monta Ellis (who has an expiring contract), and if Ellis is dealt, they may increase their bidding for Redick. Ellis has been mentioned as the major trade chip in acquiring the Hawks' Josh Smith, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports' Twitter account.
Acquiring Smith would make sense for the Bucks, but only if they felt the talented combo forward would keep his talents in Brew Town.
Smith would give the Bucks the kind of power forward needed to contain the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, and if the Bucks are to ever seriously contend, that goal must be heavily considered.
The Bucks are not a true contender yet—make no mistake. They are a very good fringe playoff team with a real future. However, acquiring the players they need to take the next step will be a difficult task without Hammond making his best players available.