5 NBA Stars Who Should Have Been Dealt Before 2013 Trade Deadline

Moke Hamilton@@MokeHamiltonCorrespondent IIFebruary 22, 2013

5 NBA Stars Who Should Have Been Dealt Before 2013 Trade Deadline

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    The 2013 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and it went out with a whimper.

    Despite widespread speculation that there would be a lot of player movement—something we have grown accustomed to over the years—the biggest name that ended up being moved was J.J. Redick.

    The 2013 trade deadline was the first time since 2007 that no current or former All-Stars were moved. However, there were certainly a handful of stars that should have been traded. 

First...a Foreword on Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol

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    Let's make sense of the Los Angeles Lakers' decision not to trade either Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol.

    Last season, the Nets gambled that Deron Williams would not leave the team to return home to his hometown of Dallas, and it worked out. The Los Angeles Lakers are clearly willing to do the same with Dwight Howard.

    The Lakers can offer Howard $30 million more than any other team, and general manager Mitch Kupchak believes his monetary advantage, coupled with the franchise’s rich history, will be enough to keep Howard. 

    Fair enough, but trading Gasol for a “stretch” 4—a power forward who would complement Howard—definitely would have helped convince D12 to stick around. 

    If Howard does leave, though, they will need Gasol to become the team’s starting center. If Howard re-signs, Gasol will probably be traded in the offseason.

    It's easy to argue that the Lakers should have dealt one of their seven-footers, but the right play here, based on the uncertainty of the situation, was to stand pat. 

5. Will Bynum (Detroit Pistons)

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    Will Bynum has impressed with his fourth-quarter scoring barrages and all-around floor game for a man of his stature. The point guard is 30 years old and has just a $3.5 million salary this season—the last under his current contract.

    When Bynum hits the market this summer, he is likely going to look for a raise, and preferably a spot on a playoff team. His 9.1 points and 3.8 assists per game are not eye-popping, but he gets those numbers in 18.6 minutes per game.

    It’s befuddling that Bynum’s name was not mentioned more prominently around the deadline. He should have at least been able to fetch the Detroit Pistons a draft pick.

    Now, he is almost certain to leave the franchise this summer for nothing in return. 

4. Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings)

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    After failing to reach an agreement with the Kings on a contract extension this past October, Tyreke Evans is expected to hit restricted free agency this summer.

    The problem? Most young players getting set to hit free agency care about their numbers and their averages. It’s pretty telling that Evans routinely takes more shots than DeMarcus Cousins, who is easily the best player on the team.

    Cousins, when engaged, is one of the best big men in the league. However, he needs to be the unquestioned go-to guy for the Kings, and Evans is halting that progress. 

    Aside from that, the Kings have an abundance of guards, and although Evans is probably the most talented of the bunch, he might not be the best fit with with Isaiah Thomas—a point guard who does not distribute the ball particularly well.

    Evans' best attribute is his scoring, but with Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Jimmer Fredette, the Kings could probably do without him.

    All things considered, moving Evans—who will likely command a $10 million per year salary—would have made a lot of sense for the Kings.

3. Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz)

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    Intel coming out of Salt Lake City had either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap being moved by the Utah Jazz. Surprisingly, both big men remain with the club, despite Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings.

    The bottom line as it relates to Millsap, though, is that Favors could replace Millsap’s 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game much more easily than Kanter could replace Jefferson’s 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

    Both Millsap and Jefferson will be unrestricted free agents this summer, and although the team could re-sign one or both of them, the Jazz are in a quandary. Because of new restrictions in the CBA, it will be more difficult for the team to pull off a sign-and-trade for either of the stars.

    Millsap is a very talented player, but the rebuilding Jazz need draft picks and young players whose best days are ahead of them.

    The smart move would have been to deal Millsap, eventually re-sign Jefferson and have Kanter continue as a reserve for the time being. Unfortunately for the Jazz, that opportunity has now passed.

2. Monta Ellis (Milwaukee Bucks)

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    Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings have been a questionable backcourt pairing since Ellis was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks last season.

    The two guards are remarkably similar. They play their best with the ball in their hands, they both like to shoot, they are both undersized and neither excels at creating opportunities for teammates.

    Even before taking into consideration that the Bucks traded for the major catch of deadline day in J.J. Redick, Ellis made news a few days before the deadline. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported that Ellis would exercise his option to terminate the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

    With Redick, the Bucks seems to have acquired a shooter whose game fits more naturally with the ball-dominant Jennings. The move should have made Ellis more expendable, yet he's still in Milwaukee.

    While Ellis opting out of his final year with the Bucks was already a high probability, the timing of Washburn's report signaled that Monta has already decided to take his talents elsewhere.

    Milwaukee just couldn't take a hint.

1. Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks)

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    In some ways, keeping Josh Smith makes sense for the Atlanta Hawks. Dwight Howard’s unhappiness as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers has been well documented, and the Hawks just so happen to have hoards of cap space this summer when Howard becomes a free agent.

    Smith and Howard have a relationship dating back to their AAU days and could simultaneously entice one another to sign (or in Smith’s case, re-sign) with the Hawks.

    Imagine an opposing defense trying to score on that frontcourt.

    By not trading Smith, the Hawks obviously retain his Bird rights and preserve the ability to offer him the richest contract allowable under the CBA—five years, about $100 million.

    The problem is, Smith has never even been an All-Star, and it would be difficult to justify giving him a max deal. And at this point, it seems as though Howard's arrival is the only thing that could entice Smith to remain in Atlanta. If Howard decides to re-sign with Los Angeles, it’s very likely that Smith could skip town. 

    The other major consideration for the Hawks is that, beginning on July 1, the rules behind executing sign-and-trade deals will become far more restrictive. The Hawks will be limited to a smaller pool of teams to do business with. 

    We have known since December that Smith is unhappy in Atlanta. Barring a defection by Howard, Smith’s days in Atlanta are numbered.