12 NBA Offseason Moves That Should Have Happened but Didn't
Even NBA general managers and front offices aren't infallible.
Well, you already knew that. The history of professional basketball is littered with poor signings, draft picks that became busts and clearly lopsided trades.
As the famous quote goes, to err is human.
Clearly, the 30 teams (and some of the players) making up the Association weren't thinking this offseason, as they failed to make these 12 moves. All of them should have happened in my hypothetical fantasy world.
They would have strengthened players and teams, promoted championship dreams and provided shortcuts in the rebuilding processes. Shame on the NBA for not making them into realities.
So, in your mind, which moves should have happened?
Otto Porter to the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't need to add another big body to their cluster of frontcourt players, and Anthony Bennett is very much a power forward. He may be undersized, but he doesn't yet have the perimeter game necessary to play the 3.
If the Cavs intend on playing the No. 1 pick at small forward, they'll quickly regret it.
The easy solution, especially now that we know Cleveland had no intention of following convention at the top of the drafting order, would have been selecting Otto Porter out of Georgetown. Porter was the best small forward in this draft class and both his perimeter shooting and defensive versatility would have greatly aided the inevitable playoff push.
I'm still shocked Bennett got to join the exclusive club of top overall selections.
Ben McLemore to the Charlotte Bobcats
The other big mistake at the top of the draft involved—surprise, surprise—the Charlotte Bobcats.
Cody Zeller could develop into a solid NBA big man. Quite frankly, I expect him to, as I was ready to call him a steal once he fell into double-digits. However, he's a reach at No. 4, especially since he went to a team that already had frontcourt presences.
Now we get to add in Al Jefferson to the mix as well.
Imagine if the Bobcats had landed Ben McLemore instead of letting him slip to the logjam of a team that is the Sacramento Kings. He'd be the clear-cut starter at shooting guard, and he'd be able to thrive as a featured player in the offense.
A starting five of Kemba Walker, McLemore, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and Jefferson could actually make a little bit of noise in the Eastern Conference.
Danny Granger for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler
We all knew that the Los Angeles Clippers wanted to trade Eric Bledsoe. And while they got a solid return for the talented young point guard, there were a few better options.
The first would have been landing Danny Granger.
While the Indiana Pacers could use another quality point guard, one who would likely send George Hill to the bench once he learned how to fit in with the rest of the roster, the Clippers had an even bigger need for a quality small forward.
Remember, we aren't too far removed from Granger leading the Pacers in points per game and emerging as a borderline star. His outside shooting and overall scoring abilities would have been a nice addition to a Clippers roster that is still on the rise.
Arron Afflalo for Eric Bledsoe Works Too
Here's another mutually beneficial trade that centers around Eric Bledsoe.
The Orlando Magic have potential at every position, save one: point guard. If they intend to play Victor Oladipo at the point once the actual season begins and he isn't facing Summer League competition, that will be one of the most creative tanking strategies I've ever seen.
Adding Bledsoe would be a fantastic move, as he'd shore up the defense and could learn behind Jameer Nelson until he's ready to take over.
Meanwhile, the Clippers could have solved their shooting guard problem with an even better solution than J.J. Redick. Afflalo doesn't have the same potential we once believed he possessed, but we're only a calendar year away from him being universally considered a valuable young piece.
He could still develop into a nice two-way player, but he won't do so on the Magic.
Eric Gordon for Danny Granger
The New Orleans Pelicans need a small forward and have a shooting guard to spare. The Indiana Pacers need an upgrade at shooting guard and have a small forward to spare.
Why haven't other people started connecting these dots yet?
Danny Granger would be a tremendous fit on the Pelicans roster as he'd bring some three-point shooting to the forward rotation. He'd also allow Tyreke Evans to shift over to his natural spot at shooting guard and ease the concerns that the former Sacramento King doesn't want to play the 3.
Meanwhile, Gordon would escape a situation he was unhappy with, and he'd get to return home. Don't forget that the 2-guard was once an Indiana Hoosier, and the Pacers fanbase historically has fallen in love with home-grown products.
Just look at how they've embraced George Hill. The same would be true for Gordon, especially if he started reminding everyone of his Los Angeles Clippers days.
Josh Smith Signs with the San Antonio Spurs
Josh Smith has always been one of the most physically gifted players in the NBA, but that space covered up by his headband (and his skull, I guess) has prevented him from making good on those immense talents.
Yep, we're talking about Smoove's jump-shooting struggles. You've all heard about them.
If there's one organization who could have screwed the head on straight, it would have been the one featuring a scowling Gregg Popovich on the sidelines. Can you imagine what some San Antonio Spurs discipline would do for Smith's career?
He might turn into a bona fide MVP candidate. He's that physically talented.
Additionally, the defensive potential of a lineup featuring Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Smith and Tim Duncan is just through the roof.
Dwight Howard and Chris Paul Join Forces on the Atlanta Hawks
Only the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks could have realistically pulled that off, although the Hawks had the advantage because Al Horford and the remaining cap space would have allowed for the best supporting roster.
How often do the league's best point guard and premier center get a chance to play together? Outside of the All-Star game, of course.
Moreover, CP3 and D12 actually have playing styles that mesh together.
This would have been nothing short of spectacular.
Monta Ellis and Andrei Kirilenko Both Stay Put
Monta Ellis was set to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks and make $11 million during the 2012-13 season. He opted out of the contract, instead choosing to hit the open market.
The same story applied for Andrei Kirilenko, just with the Minnesota Timberwolves and another eight-figure contract.
That's not all the shooting guard and versatile forward have in common, though. They're both still free agents, looking at diminishing paydays as interest and the number of teams with money to spend wanes.
If they could do things over again, they might just have to stay put rather than take significant pay cuts while landing in uncertain situations.
Kirilenko, as reported by Peter Vecsey, is now set to join the Brooklyn Nets at the mini mid-level exception, worth $3.2 million per year. That's one hell of a pay cut and playing-time cut.
Ellis could be next.
Denver Nuggets Keep Everything Together
The Denver Nuggets were one of the most promising teams in the Western Conference during the 2012-13 season. Even though they were quickly eliminated in the postseason by the red-hot Golden State Warriors, we were all aware of the potential.
A healthy Danilo Gallinari would have changed things. With two functioning ACLs, he would have kept Denver in the hunt.
Fast forward through the rest of the playoffs.
After the season ended, George Karl was fired. Masai Ujiri left for the Toronto Raptors. Andre Iguodala opted out of his contract.
All of a sudden, a promising team was thrown into shambles. Don't you think the Nuggets wish they could go back and see how things would have unfolded had they bitten the bullet and retained the reigning Coach of the Year?
Phil Jackson to the Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have the roster of a championship contender, but they're going to war with a head coach pacing the sidelines for the first time in his basketball career. Jason Kidd might develop into a stellar coach in the future, but he's as inexperienced as possible.
Basketball I.Q. doesn't automatically convert into coaching I.Q. upon retirement, yet Kidd was hired by Brooklyn just seconds after he pulled the plug on his playing days. That's an exaggeration, but only slightly.
The Nets would seem like much more of a threat if they boasted one of the best head coaches out there. A man like Phil Jackson.
Can you imagine how dangerous this team would be if a man who belongs in the Mt. Rushmore of coaches was calling the shots for Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez?
It's almost unfathomable.
Mega Trade Brings Marcin Gortat to the Oklahoma City Thunder
This trade, originally thought up by B/R's Joel Cordes, is a bit complicated, so let me break it down for you here:
- New York Knicks get Kendrick Perkins, Michael Beasley, DeAndre Liggins, two future first-round picks from the Oklahoma City Thunder and two future second-round picks from the Phoenix Suns.
- Phoenix Suns get Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lamb.
- Oklahoma City Thunder get Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye.
Getting the Knicks to agree here is the biggest obstacle, hence the draft picks flowing in their direction. But think of this as a salary dump for them, as Stoudemire isn't getting any better as age and knee injuries pile up.
Perkins has a bad reputation, but he's actually a quality defender, and Beasley still has offensive potential in the right system.
It's a no-brainer for the other two teams.
Phoenix picks up a possible shooting guard of the future, and OKC gets a center who can replace Perkins and puts them over the top in the Western Conference.
Who says no?
Rajon Rondo for Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward
The best hypothetical is also the last one.
Imagine if the Boston Celtics traded Rajon Rondo to the Utah Jazz for Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward. It would literally be the perfect move for both squads.
And, hint hint, it's still possible.
The C's are hovering on a rebuild, and this would firmly push them into a full one. However, they'd trade away one established player for a highly talented point guard entering his rookie season and a small forward with some serious upside.
Burke has the tools to become the next great point guard in this league, and Hayward has been impressive whenever he's on the court. While playing small forward during the 2012-13 season, the Butler product produced an 18.6 PER and held opposing players at the position to just 12.4, according to 82games.com. He was less stellar at shooting guard, but the results were still positive.
It's the Butler connection that really makes this work for Boston, though.
Brad Stevens is a promising head coach, and a Hayward reunion would ease the transition to the ranks of professional basketball. The same can be said for dealing Rondo, whose talent is occasionally matched by his willingness to challenge authority.
During a rebuild, I'd rather not mix a first-year head coach with a player notorious for being tough to handle.
As for the Jazz, this move makes sense for them because they land a guaranteed All-Star. Burke has potential, but plenty of high-upside 1-guards have flopped once they leave the collegiate level.
Rondo would be a great fit for the rest of the young roster, and he'd help speed along their improvement.