Do you want to know why the NBA2K13 trade deadline would have been better than the real thing? Because the general managers in that game have guts, that's why.
Alright, to be fair, that's mostly because those GMs aren't real. It's a lot easier to make huge blockbuster trades when there's no pressure from the fans or the media, or when you can just hit the reset button if things go south.
Still though, no one took any risks at this year's deadline. And while that's fine for the league's five or six true contenders, you can't say the same for the rest of the NBA. In a league where it's best to be very good or very bad, too many teams are content to float in the middle.
The deals here range from good to bad to downright terrible. And while most of them aren't exactly plausible, some of them would be league changing. Let's start with an easy one.
(Note: Some trades aren't linked to the ESPN Trade Machine because the machine updated to restrict certain players from being traded while this article was being written. Of course it did.)
Los Angeles Lakers receive: Josh Smith, DeShawn Stevenson
Atlanta Hawks receive: Pau Gasol
Why? Because the Atlanta Hawks-Josh Smith and Pau Gasol-Dwight Howard marriages need to end.
Smith's not likely to stick around anyways, and Atlanta is banking on the fact that Gasol is still the low-post machine that we saw in the 2012 Olympics. The Lakers get younger and more athletic, Howard and Smith form the best shot-blocking front line in the league, and the team clears up a lot of spacing issues to boot. Not too shabby.
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Al Jefferson, Raja Bell
Utah Jazz receive: Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Martin, Perry Jones III, Toronto Raptors first-round pick
Why? The Jazz free up space for their young bigs and get a talented wing scorer. Perry Jones and the pick make up for having to absorb Perkins' truly awful contract. The Thunder get a big upgrade at the center position, get to dump Perkins' deal and pray that Jeremy Lamb is capable of filling in for Martin. They sacrifice defensively, but they no longer have holes on offense and can actually rebound for a change.
Trade No. 3
Brooklyn Nets receive: Literally anything
Any other team receives: Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Brooklyn Nets 2013 first-round pick
Why? Because the Nets tried to get in on pretty much every trade with this package at the real deadline. There has to be someone willing to pull the trigger on Humphries, Brooks and a pick, right? Right? Guys?
Boston Celtics receive: DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Paul Millsap, Kris Humphries, Mirza Teletovic, MarShon Brooks, Utah Jazz 2013 first-round pick, Utah Jazz 2014 first-round pick, Brooklyn Nets 2013 first-round pick
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Kevin Garnett
Utah Jazz receive: Rajon Rondo
Brooklyn Nets receive: Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger
Why? Because the Rajon Rondo injury causes the Celtics to finally blow up what's left of the “Big Three” era. They get some nice young players and picks out of the deals, all at the expense of having to deal with Kris Humphries for two years.
With Garnett, the Clippers become the odds-on Western Conference favorites for at least the next two years. The Jazz pay a hefty price, but they finally get the All-Star point guard they've been missing since the Deron Williams deal and gain more minutes for their young bigs. The Nets roll the dice (nothing new there) on the next two years, hoping that Paul Pierce is the piece they need to compete with the best in the East.
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Dwight Howard
Los Angeles Lakers receive: Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter
Why? Because the Lakers don't trust Dwight enough to build around him and would rather go all-in to win a championship in the last few years of Kobe Bryant's career. Pau Gasol gets shifted to his natural center position, Marc Gasol plays the role of the high-post/mid-range facilitator, and the Lakers get one of the best wing defenders in the league in Tony Allen.
The Grizzlies get a superstar and, with Howard and Zach Randolph teaming up, ensure that no other team gets a rebound ever again. In a one-year vacuum, this is my favorite trade. Doesn't look great for the Lakers on paper, but there's a reason that Spain keeps almost knocking off the U.S. in the Olympics. It's the Gasol brothers.
San Antonio Spurs receive: Michael Beasley
Phoenix Suns receive: Boris Diaw, Cory Joseph, San Antonio Spurs 2014 first-round pick
Why? Pretty simple. If any team can turn Michael Beasley into the star he was supposed to be, it's the Spurs. On the other hand, Phoenix hopes that the Spurs eventually fall off of their perch at the top. They need to rebuild, and Beasley wasn't giving them much, anyways.
Sacramento Kings receive: Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, their fans' eternal hatred
Houston Rockets receive: Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt
Why? The Rockets do it because they get a top-five pick halfway through his rookie season for practically nothing. The Kings do it because they love Cole Aldrich and all the potential he brings to the very, very end of the bench (I guess).
Just kidding, though. There's almost no way any team would be dumb enough to trade their top-five pick just so they could save some money. The owners of that team would have to be really, really greedy or something. It wouldn't happen.
There's No Way These Deals Ever Happen
Trade No. 1
Detroit Pistons receive: Dwight Howard
Los Angeles Lakers receive: Andre Drummond, Jose Calderon, Jason Maxiell
Why? To evaluate this trade, let's look beyond each team's individual aspirations and just look at the players. Jose Calderon and Jason Maxiell both have expiring contracts, so really, the deal comes down to Howard and Drummond.
Essentially, it boils down to what you trust more—Drummond's potential, or Dwight's ability to get back to being 100 percent healthy. Honestly, I don't think either team would want to do this deal. Really goes to show not only the way Drummond's blown us all away, but also just how underwhelming Dwight's been this season.
San Antonio Spurs receive: DeMarcus Cousins
Sacramento Kings receive: Matt Bonner, San Antonio Spurs 2013 first-round pick, San Antonio Spurs 2014 1st-round pick
Why? The Kings will end up saving a little bit of money, which they seem to think is the perfect compensation for a former top-five pick with tons of talent. And much like with Beasley, the Spurs have the best chance of getting the most out of Cousins. If there's anyone in the league you'd pick to mentor Cousins, it'd probably be Tim Duncan.
Miami Heat receive: Chris Paul
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Dwyane Wade
Why? Just for fun. But also because the Clippers think that Eric Bledsoe can do a reasonable Chris Paul impression, and the Miami Heat are scared of Wade's knees and looking to get younger.
What's crazy about this trade is that the Heat are calculated to improve by four wins by swapping Wade for Paul. That seems way high, especially considering how well Wade's been playing as of late.
See, we needed deals like that. Now that would have made for a trade deadline. What could have been. Anyways, just because it could be the Sacramento Kings' last deadline, let's send them out in style.