6 NBA Teams That Still Need Talent Upgrades After Quiet Trade Deadline
Since the January 30 deal that sent Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, there have been just 12 mostly minor trades this NBA deadline period, leaving some contending teams and future hopefuls holding the bag.
However, while the trading deadline has passed, teams can still improve their rosters for the final stretch, the postseason or next year.
There’s still time for acquiring buyouts, promoting a D-leaguer or signing free agents, and there is some talent out there, surely enough to hang off the end of a bench.
The only catch: The player needs to be waived (non-rostered) after March 1 to be eligible for the postseason.
Maybe your team didn’t get that final piece before it was “too late.” All is not lost.
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The Miami Heat are the worst rebounding team in the NBA.
On deadline day, the Heat traded their 15th man, center Dexter Pittman, and a second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the rights to 6’11” D-leaguer Ricky Sanchez.
It’s essentially a trade of a future (known) pick and leaves Pittman’s seat on the bench free. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Sanchez currently plays in Argentina, so the trade "clears a roster spot for the Heat as they look to add a player, preferably a big man."
There’s not much to tap into in the free-agent market as far as big men go, but there are several potential buyouts, leading with Jermaine O’Neal.
O’Neal is making the minimum out in last-place Phoenix. However, word just came that he’s staying.
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On the other end of the Eastern Conference spectrum, the Washington Wizards could use some offense. Theirs is ranked 30th in the NBA in scoring.
The trade to acquire Leandro Barbosa (out for the season) and Jason Collins for Jordan Crawford hardly helps in this department. Crawford was the third-best scorer on the Wizards, and he was cheap to boot. What were they thinking?
The Wizards could use some backup point production at shooting guard and center.
There’s no way a player will accept a buyout to join this team, so Washington may want to try out a young free agent or D-leaguer who wants a shot at earning a longer contract.
With Barbosa off the roster, the Wizards can take a chance on someone like 24-year-old shooting guard Andrew Goudelock (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), who wasn’t so bad in his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers last year.
Free-agent center Josh Harrellson, a former New York Knick, can put in double-digit scoring per 36 minutes.
Both of these players could have a future.
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Has there ever been a greater disparity between a team’s offense and defense? The Indiana Pacers have the best defense and are the No. 1 rebounding team in the NBA.
Yet their offense is woeful—just 93.7 points a game, fourth-worst in the league.
This Pacers team smothered the Knicks on Wednesday night in a 34-point embarrassment and absolutely suffocated the Miami Heat in two games, including an 87-77 clampdown on January 8 that will likely be the Heat’s worst offensive game of the year.
Indiana can be the team that dethrones the champs.
A dose of even the smallest bit of offense will be an improvement, and there are plenty of players that might be willing to accept a buyout to play for a viable contender.
If the Charlotte Bobcats’ Ben Gordon wants a new basketball life ASAP, he might consider a buyout of his 2013-14 $13 million player option.
What a fit he would be in Indiana.
Los Angeles Lakers
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The Los Angeles Lakers are on the bubble, and if they (read: Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol) actually get their game together, they could become a problematic opponent out West.
The Lakers did nothing at the deadline yet still need help.
However, they are already over the salary cap by more than $55 million, and their contracts, other than that of rookie Darius Morris, are all guaranteed this season. Their $113 million payroll is more than $40 million over the tax penalty line. That puts a crimp in things.
The Lakers are giving up 100 points a game, so adding some D might propel L.A. into a playoff berth.
Jermaine O’Neal would be perfect here, but again, it looks like he’s not going for the buyout. There aren’t many good defenders left in terms of buyouts or free agents.
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN suggests going overseas:
Don't overlook former NBA players who have spent the winter playing in the Chinese league (CBL), which is currently in its postseason.
Eddy Curry signed for the minimum with the eventual champion Miami Heat last season. That could work here too.
But in what may be another poor move, it looks like the Lakers are interested in Utah Jazz shooting guard Raja Bell.
If Jazz decide to buyout Raja Bell, the Lakers will try to sign the veteran guard. Bell is working out in Fort Lauderdale and wants to play.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 21, 2013
Los Angeles Clippers
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As for overtaking the ageless San Antonio Spurs, it’s possible they’ll run out of gas at the end, just like they did last postseason.
Nobody on the Clippers rebounds a lot, not even Blake Griffin. There isn’t a player here rebounding nine times a game. Improvement on the boards will level the field some with the Thunder and provide a competitive advantage against the Spurs.
The aforementioned Haddadi and Harrellson could assist the Clippers' quest for a title.
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Hard to believe the Memphis Grizzlies have the fourth-worst offense in the NBA, and they traded their leading scorer, Rudy Gay, replacing him with a few meeker offensive players in Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye.
Memphis’ backcourt can use some propping up. The Grizzlies can do with some three-point action to keep them relevant too, as the NBA has gone crazy over the long ball.
Raja Bell might want to think twice about joining the Lakers. He might go a little further in the postseason with Memphis.
Bell led the league in treys in 2006-07 and would slip right in behind or maybe even ahead of current starting 2-guard Tony Allen.
If all else fails, wouldn’t it be cool to see Derek Fisher come back one more time?
Derek Fisher has been training with @joe_abunassar in Las Vegas. It sounds like the 38-year-old is looking to play again this season.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 21, 2013