Ranking the NBA's Top 6 Trade Buyers During 2013-14 Season
Who will be the biggest buyers of the 2013-14 NBA trade season? You might think the list is limited to the league's elite, but in fact, the opposite is probably true.
Whether it be financial limitations (Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls), a lack of movable assets (Brooklyn Nets), limited needs to fill (Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat) or the desire to add a final piece only at a huge discount (Oklahoma City Thunder), sometimes the league's elite are actually the least likely to make a trade.
More often, it's the teams who need to make the biggest leap in status that are the buyers come deadline time.
Whether it's about making a push to secure a playoff spot or going from a good team to a great team, these buyers should all share the same desire to get to the next level this season.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Best Trade Assets: 2016 first-round pick (2014 is owed to Charlotte Bobcats), Wesley Matthews, Thomas Robinson.
The Portland Trail Blazers are probably a borderline playoff team, and with the clock ticking due to LaMarcus Aldridge's contract expiring after next season, it would make sense to push in now and try to have enough success to keep Aldridge around for the future.
It doesn't appear that the Blazers need much after adding a lot of depth this offseason, so perhaps upgrading a member of the core would make more sense.
Wesley Matthews is a nice player to have around thanks to his defense and three-point shooting, but Portland may need a more dynamic player next to Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum to really reach the next level. Packaging a pick with Matthews and a young asset like Robinson may be enough for the Blazers to pull off a blockbuster deal this season.
Portland has made plenty of smart little moves, but it might be time for the big splash that solidifies it as a contender now and moving forward.
5. Detroit Pistons
Best Trade Assets: 2016 draft pick (2014 owed to Charlotte Bobcats), Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva's expiring contracts.
The Detroit Pistons are a wing player away from being a really scary team in the Eastern Conference. While general manager Joe Dumars hopes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will develop into the missing piece, moving Greg Monroe to get a known entity at shooting guard or small forward might be the best move.
Monroe will almost certainly demand a max contract in restricted free agency, and with Josh Smith and Andre Drummond already on the roster, perhaps the Pistons will look to move Monroe now to a team that would match any offer made.
If the Pistons want to keep Monroe, the $8 million dollar expiring deals of Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva and a future first-round pick could likely bring back a nice piece on a tough long-term contract, like an Eric Gordon.
Don't be surprised if the Pistons make a splash at some point this season. They have all the assets necessary to do so.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Best Trade Assets: 2016 draft pick (2014 owed to Oklahoma City Thunder), Shawn Marion.
The Dallas Mavericks don't fit the same profile as most of the other buyers this season, mainly because they lack assets to make a big acquisition.
One asset they don't lack, however, is an owner willing to spend. Mark Cuban likes to say that the "Bank of Cuban" is open come deadline time, and perhaps that will lead the Mavericks to trade an expiring deal like Shawn Marion's along with a draft pick to go after a difference-making small forward.
Dallas doesn't have the ability to make a lot of little moves, but future cap space isn't a concern. If a team is looking to unload an unfavorable long-term deal, the Mavericks might pounce to improve their playoff hopes in what should be one of Dirk Nowitzki's last seasons.
After striking out in free agency the last two years, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Mavericks go a different route by trading for an already-locked-up player. As long as everyone stays healthy, the Mavs should be buyers.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Best Trade Assets: Any future draft pick, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a perfect position to buy. There's a glut of talent in the frontcourt, a need on the wing for shooting and all the future draft picks still in the cupboard.
Keep a close eye on Anderson Varejao. Although the Cavs may hold on to the belief that LeBron James might come back, and that good 'ol Andy would help aid that cause, dealing Varejao while he's upright might be a good decision, particularly if Andrew Bynum is also healthy.
Cleveland wants to maintain cap space for next year, which means that moving young assets would be the likely play. Players like Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson could be very available for a team with a star looking to press the reset button.
Add in that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert may not be the most patient man, and a big move could be made this year.
Remember: Free agents evaluate the guys already on the roster a heck of a lot more than future draft picks. If Cleveland really wants to be a major factor in free agency next season, cobbling together assets and buying an established piece would make plenty of sense.
2. Washington Wizards
Best Trade Assets: 2016 draft pick (2014 owed to Phoenix Suns), Trevor Ariza.
The Washington Wizards were the early-bird buyer, snatching up Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Emeka Okafor's expiring deal and a first-round pick.
The Wizards might not be done yet, either. Although dealing Nene for a more reliable option in the frontcourt would be ideal, the Wizards may end up having to use Trevor Ariza's expiring deal and another draft pick to add a big piece.
Once Otto Porter gets healthy, that might be a real option for Washington, as Ernie Grunfeld is in full-blown win-now mode.
More likely, though, the Wizards will probably look to make a smaller move to follow up the big deal for Gortat. Still, the incentive to buy is most definitely there, especially if the Wizards don't live up to expectations early on.
1. Houston Rockets
Best Trade Assets: Any future draft pick, Omer Asik, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is the best in the league at what he does, and that's acquiring assets. Now that his core is in place, it might be time to cash in a few of those assets and add one final piece to the puzzle.
The Rockets could probably use a legitimate stretch 4 next to Dwight Howard as that piece, as power forward is the only position that isn't really solidified in Houston right now.
While it's certainly possible that the Rockets perform well enough to cement their status as a title contender without doing anything else at all, Morey might have that one move in his pocket that puts the team over the top.
Depending on how the Howard-Asik frontcourt experiment plays out, we could see a big move that could possibly make Houston not only a contender for a championship, but maybe even the favorite for one. Yes, the assets Houston can deal are that good.