Paul Millsap to the Houston Rockets would be ideal for Clutch City.
The 2013-14 NBA season has nearly hit the halfway point, and with the trade deadline approximately one month away, every team has an area where it can improve.
For some, trade targets are obvious. The Houston Rockets, for instance, would love to add Paul Millsap to the roster, and the season-ending injury to Al Horford could be the leverage they need to make it happen.
However, all deals have at least two sides to accommodate, which means the Atlanta Hawks could have a very different trade partner in mind.
Not all teams have glaring weaknesses, which means salary cap and team chemistry have to be considered. That said, no team is perfect, as every squad has a player in mind who can help them either immediately or down the road.
*All statistics and rankings are accurate as of Jan. 13, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. ET.
**Unless noted as rumored, trade targets are speculation.
As much as the Houston Rockets might want to pry Paul Millsap away from the Atlanta Hawks, it doesn't make much sense for Atlanta to give in. The deal would surely surround Omer Asik, and while the addition of the big man would help with Al Horford's absence, Millsap is just too valuable at this point in the season.
For that reason, we shift our attention to Kosta Koufos.
It's been painfully obvious that the Memphis Grizzlies have needed outside shooting the past few years, and that's something Atlanta can provide. Koufos is a solid 7'0", 265 pounds, and in 22 starts this season, he's averaging 8.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.
The Hawks, of course, would have to consider the fact that Marc Gasol is out with a knee injury and that Ed Davis is the only other center on Memphis' roster. However, if the timing is right, these two teams could combine for a deal that helps Atlanta retain home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
The Boston Celtics have already shaken things up, as they sent Courtney Lee to the Memphis Grizzlies for Jerryd Bayless. The move gives the team another combo guard to help run the backcourt, but more importantly, it provides it with cap flexibility.
Despite piling up losses left and right, the Celtics are just 2.5 games back of being a top-eight seed in the dreadfully bad Eastern Conference. Remember, it wasn't long ago that the team was actually in fourth place out East—a spot that is still wide open.
As bad as things have looked at times for Boston this season, bringing in a player like Gordon Hayward could turn things around both now and down the road. It's possible that the Celtics are sellers in February, but with the upcoming return of Rajon Rondo, it doesn't hurt to see where this team can go.
ESPN's Bill Simmons has indicated that Hayward could be a target for Boston at the deadline, and if that doesn't pan out, it could go after him again in free agency. The earlier moves to clear cap are designed to bring in a long-term piece—something Hayward can be for this organization.
Entering the New Year, the Brooklyn Nets had been one of the most disappointing teams in the entire Association. In fact, Bleacher Report's own Adam Fromal established six trade scenarios to help fix the team, all of which involved blowing up the roster.
Following a 5-1 start to 2014, fans in Brooklyn should be less willing to start over, but there's one proposed deal that should still be of interest.
Deron Williams for Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has reported that this deal was once a possibility, but is "probably dead for good with Williams undergoing multiple injections in his chronically bad ankles this week." All that said, Asik would be an immediate replacement for the injured Brook Lopez, while Lin could step in and be a distributor among the stars.
When it comes to money, don't think Mikhail Prokhorov will be scared by these two contracts. In fact, the two deals are relatively short-term, giving the Nets room to officially start over in free agency sooner than expected.
The likelihood of this deal seems small at this juncture, but unless the Nets are content with what they have, they'd be remiss not to consider it.
Arron Afflalo's contract with the Orlando Magic has gone from perplexing to downright desirable.
Despite having a rough season in 2012-13, Afflalo has become a true No. 1 option with the Magic. He's averaging career highs across the board, and he's shooting 41.4 percent from deep—a category where the Bobcats desperately need help.
Through 38 games, Charlotte is shooting just 33.9 percent from the three-point line. According to ESPN, the team is 28th in offensive efficiency, trailing only the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
Adding Afflalo would be dangerous because of his player option in 2015-16, but worst-case scenario is he walks and the team has increased flexibility. Best-case scenario is they have a new go-to scorer on offense and they keep him around well into their current rebuild.
The Chicago Bulls are officially sellers.
Following the deal that sent Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it's safe to assume Chicago won't be acquiring any big names this season. Sam Amico of Fox Sports has reported that the Bulls likely aren't done dealing, but at this point it's safe to assume that any potential trades will be aimed at the future.
Although the Bulls won't admit to tanking, they'd be smart to focus on their impending rebuild. Derrick Rose is out for the year, Deng is gone and the chances of doing damage out East right away are slim to none.
If Chicago is smart, it will look at a team like the Phoenix Suns as a potential trade partner. Phoenix has a plethora of picks at its disposal, and according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, the team isn't above dealing them this season.
The Suns have begun the year in surprising fashion, and with the playoffs a real possibility, a contributing player would be more beneficial to them than future assets. Chicago, on the other hand, faces the opposite reality, as it recognizes that the time is not now, but down the road when Rose is able to return.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have already made the biggest splash of the regular season bringing in Luol Deng, but that doesn't mean they're content with where they stand.
As Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster put it, "Trades of this magnitude typically don't require a big follow-up deal, but then again, teams that are 11 games under .500 aren't often the ones buying."
Cleveland is certainly buying at this point in the process, and one player who should be on its radar is Larry Sanders.
The Milwaukee Bucks big man recently earned a four-year, $44 million extension, but the Cavs shouldn't be afraid of that kind of money if they're serious about their chances out East. Foster went on to state that, "The Cavs are one Varejao injury away from starting either Thompson or Tyler Zeller at the 5, which certainly wouldn't be ideal, especially defensively."
Adding a player of Sanders' caliber would take care of that concern, and it would add a dynamic defensive presence regardless of who else is healthy. The Cavs shouldn't be done wheeling and dealing just yet, and the lowly Bucks could be the perfect team to help keep things moving.
Assuming that the price tag on Omer Asik is too high for the Dallas Mavericks, let's bring Spencer Hawes to the forefront of the discussion.
Hawes isn't the kind of player who will draw attention away from stars, which is what Dallas needs with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis leading the way. The center also isn't going to bog down anybody with a massive contract, which, once again, is ideal for a Dallas team looking long-term.
At 7'0", Hawes' value is found on both ends. He can spread the floor with his soft shooting touch, but his presence is also felt on defense above the rim.
With Samuel Dalembert already on the roster, the question is how reliable can he be? Following a big game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Dalembert was quoted by ESPN's Tim MacMahon as saying, "As you can see, when they call my name, I’m out there and I’m going hard and I’m giving all I can to help win the game."
That may have been the case against New Orleans, but if you're looking for an insurance policy to back up that statement, Hawes might be the guy.
Nothing lowers a player's trade value like being placed on the block after becoming publicly disgruntled.
Both J.R. Smith and Andre Miller are in this situation, making the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets ideal trade partners.
Denver needs to improve at 2-guard before making a run in the playoffs, and while Smith is a wild card when it comes to the mental aspect of his game (not to mention streaky shooting), he's also the kind of player who can spark a run at almost any given moment.
Management has changed since Smith last played in the Mile High City, and if the organization is willing to take a chance, this deal would make sense for both parties.
The Detroit Pistons were supposed to be contenders throughout the 2013-14 campaign, but as it turns out, they're more of a mess in a historically bad Eastern Conference.
Despite the hype surrounding Josh Smith upon his arrival, it's time to consider the experiment a failure. Trading Smith before the deadline would be smart, and sending him to the Orlando Magic would be the perfect scenario.
Through 38 games, the Pistons are just 19th in offensive efficiency and 21st on defense, per ESPN. If the team believes Arron Afflalo is for real, which it should, the guard would be a fantastic addition on both sides of the floor.
Admitting you were wrong is never easy, but if Detroit is smart, it will look to part ways with Smith sooner rather than later. The good news is that a deal involving Smith and Afflalo will cause headlines to focus on Smith, giving Afflalo a relatively quiet entrance to an organization that is otherwise filled with controversy.
The Golden State Warriors have gotten hot lately, winning 11 of 12 after starting the year 14-13. The winning streak has helped fans league-wide remember how good they can be, but it's also helped them forget how much they've missed Jarrett Jack.
After finding an incredible amount of success last season, Golden State has clearly lacked a reliable shooter/facilitator off the bench. Toney Douglas has filled in up to this point, but the Warriors would love an upgrade in Kirk Hinrich
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Warriors have had interest in the guard for a while. Their interest dates back prior to the Luol Deng trade, but with Chicago hoping to further shake things up, Golden State could find its true replacement to Jack in Hinrich.
Andre Miller is another option here, but his historically bad shooting makes Hinrich the more favorable choice.
The popular name here is Ryan Anderson. However, let's step away from the idea of an Anderson-Omer Asik swap and talk about a less likely scenario that might be a better fit.
Bringing in Paul Millsap would be perfect for this organization. Not only would it rid itself of Asik—something that should have happened a while back—but it would get a big man who can shoot outside while crashing the boards and defending the rim.
Millsap has proved his versatility with the Atlanta Hawks, and as previously discussed, prying him away seems difficult. Then again, finding the right trade partner can take some convincing, and the Rockets would be sorry to not pursue this one.
Using the absence of Al Horford as leverage, the Rockets must at least make a call. The Anderson deal will likely be there if Millsap falls through, but without testing the waters, you'll have to wonder what could have been.
It's no secret that Eric Gordon is expendable when it comes to the New Orleans Pelicans. The team has avoided dealing him for too long, and the Indiana Pacers would be wise to jump in and help make it happen.
The goal for Indiana is to improve on offense without sacrificing chemistry. However, even if you believe they're the favorites out East, taking down the Miami Heat is easier said than done when you're the 20th points-per-game team in the NBA.
At this point, the easy deal would be to swap Gordon with Danny Granger. The Pacers get a player they can add to their core, while the Pelicans get a solid wing scorer (when healthy), not to mention an expiring contract.
Gordon's health is, of course, a concern, but considering how this team has performed without Granger, consider Gordon's production a bonus at this point in the process.
According to ESPN's Arash Markazi, Doc Rivers is happy with the Los Angeles Clippers' roster.
That said, every team has room to improve, and Rivers' team is no exception.
Despite DeAndre Jordan having a career year (13.4 RPG, 2.5 BPG), the team from Southern California is still just 22nd when it comes to its opponents' points in the paint, per TeamRankings.com. The bench features names such as Ryan Hollins, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison; none of which are known as even remotely good shot-blockers.
Bringing in someone who can at least alter shots down low would be huge for this team, and that's where reserves like Timofey Mozgov come into the picture.
If Mozgov proves to be outside the realm of possibility, consider the Charlotte Bobcats' Bismack Biyombo Plan B. Joe Kaiser of ESPN (Insider subscription required) wondered earlier this season if "the Biyombo experiment" is over, and if the answer proves to be yes, the Clips could swoop in and find a place for him in their rotation.
When it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers, there is no such thing as an ideal trade candidate. The team has too many injuries to project chemistry, and quite frankly, there are holes all over the roster that need to be filled.
For that reason, let's get nostalgic and revisit a narrative that has come and gone over the past few seasons: the idea of bringing in Rajon Rondo for Paul Gasol.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Gasol's trade value has "plummeted." That's not exactly an indicator of a deal like this going through, but if the Boston Celtics are selling at the deadline, a hefty expiring contract makes sense.
While the point of this assignment is not to create specific trades, it's worth noting that other players would need to be involved. Rondo's contract is cheap compared to Gasol's, meaning Boston would have to include other pieces.
Acquiring an injured point guard is counterintuitive when it comes to solving L.A.'s problems, but once healthy, Rondo would be just what the Lakers need to take the pressure off of Steve Nash once he finally returns.
The Memphis Grizzlies are 18th in the NBA in three-point shooting and 21st in points per game. Their defense is still strong, allowing just 97.6 points per contest (sixth), but scoring continues to be a problem; one that Eric Gordon could help fix.
Despite the variable that is Gordon's health, the Grizzlies know they'd be getting a player who can light it up from deep and be a go-to scorer. He's currently shooting 39.7 percent from downtown, which is the best mark of his six-year career.
Dave Joerger has tried to up the tempo a bit during his first season, but the Grizzlies are still dead last when it comes to pace, according to ESPN. Adding Gordon to the mix would help, as the guard would complement Mike Conley nicely out in transition.
Whether or not the Grizzlies can push for the playoffs has yet to be determined, but if Memphis is serious about making that happen, a phone call to the New Orleans Pelicans might be the first step.
Just 54 minutes before the calendar flipped and the New Year struck, Brandon Rush made a declaration on Twitter, stating, "This is gonna be a better year for me."
The 28-year-old has struggled finding minutes with the Utah Jazz, and while a move to the Miami Heat might not help that aspect of his frustrations, winning can change attitudes very quickly.
With Dwyane Wade's health and Ray Allen's age to consider, having a guy like Rush on the roster would be a solid insurance policy moving forward. There's, of course, the prospect of adding big man Andrew Bynum to the frontcourt, but when it comes to outside shooting and perimeter defense, Rush should be the target.
At this point, Miami would be just fine without Rush, which is why you're not bound to hear much coming from Miami's camp. However, it's the role players who have helped differentiate this team ever since Year 1 of the Big Three.
Rush can be one of those role players, and someone who helps add incredible depth to an already established rotation.
The Milwaukee Bucks are awful, and at this point in the season, we can assume that this is by design. They're not going to compete in the playoffs, and even making the postseason would take them away from a potential first pick in a highly touted draft.
The problem is adding one rookie in 2014 won't get them near elite status, so adding a scorer now could be beneficial later.
Although DeMar DeRozan appears to be safer now that Rudy Gay has left Toronto, there's really no such thing as "safe" with Masai Ujiri running the show. He recognizes that being mired in mediocrity won't get the Raptors anywhere, and even if they end up with home-court advantage in the first round, they're all but done when they face the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.
Milwaukee sits at 29th in the NBA in terms of scoring, while DeRozan is posting 21.3 points per contest. He'd be a huge upgrade over Luke Ridnour as the starting 2-guard, and while the fears of a logjam with O.J. Mayo are legitimate, the only place this team can go is up as it has the worst record by a relative long shot.
Despite being the No. 2 team in the NBA in terms of points per game, the Minnesota Timberwolves are subpar at best when it comes to three-point shooting.
Despite attempting 23.1 long-distance shots per game (ninth in the league), the team is just 19th when it comes to percentage. Minnesota connects on just 34.9 percent of its three-point attempts, which is why a guy like Jimmer Fredette could be invaluable in a run to the playoffs.
So far this season, Fredette is taking just 1.4 shots from downtown per game. However, he's shooting 48.4 percent in that same category, making him a high-percentage, low-volume shooter—something the Wolves could desperately use.
The danger here is that Fredette is in the midst of his worst season as a pro, but the silver lining for Minnesota is that his value has dropped. Bringing him in as a role player is exactly what the team needs, and making it happen should be a priority before the deadline.
You knew we had to come back to this one.
Despite the Houston Rockets having a more ideal trade target than Ryan Anderson, the New Orleans Pelicans should be the ones who really want to make this happen.
At this juncture, Anthony Davis has played 43 percent of the team's minutes at center, per 82games.com. He's a phenomenal defender with an emerging offensive game, but his defensive numbers are far greater when he's able to play his natural position at the 4.
With Ryan Anderson currently sidelined, this deal gets even stickier than it once was. That said, these two have been dancing around this deal for what seems like forever, and it's time that they get it done before the deadline passes.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the New York Knicks are interested in bringing on veteran point guard Andre Miller.
Stein points out in his report that the Knicks' "limited assets" makes this concept difficult to pull off. It's true that a lack of draft picks will make Denver less likely to deal, but if the Nuggets are high enough on J.R. Smith (slight pun intended), the move to swap guards could help both organizations.
The Knicks have had a dreadful season, but a common narrative out East rings true in New York. They're an unimposing 14-22 at this point in the year, yet they're just half a game out of the top eight in the conference.
A strong second half will push the Knicks into the playoffs, and the addition of Miller could help with that process. He's as crafty as it comes as a pass-first floor general, and if the team can bring him in while shipping Smith out, it's a win-win situation.
Andre Miller wants to play on a team where he can have a decent-sized role. This has been a theme with him throughout the years, but winning with the Oklahoma City Thunder just might help change his tune.
Since Russell Westbrook was sidelined on Dec. 27, OKC is just 4-4. Reggie Jackson is a serviceable player in the starting lineup, but Derek Fisher off the bench screams that this squad needs an upgrade.
While Miller may not receive the big-time minutes he's craving late in the year, he'd be welcomed into the rotation right away. Despite being 37 years old, his style of play is focused on distributing and earning easy looks, which is why he's found success throughout his career.
He's not going to see the kind of minutes he wants during the playoffs, but let me state it once more: Winning just might change his attitude. He's never seen the second round of the playoffs, and barring a catastrophe, the Thunder will push themselves deep into the postseason.
Miller is all but gone in Denver, but where he lands has yet to be determined. If OKC is smart, it'll do what it can to enter the sweepstakes before it's too late.
Josh Smith hasn't worked out with the Detroit Pistons, but let's assume that this is the byproduct of the 28-year-old being miscast as a small forward.
Revisiting the notion of sending Arron Afflalo to the Detroit Pistons, in return should come Josh Smith. There will, of course, need to be other pieces involved, but making this happen not only gives Detroit a solid two-way player to boost efficiency, it also gets Orlando its first star player since the loss of Dwight Howard.
At this point, Smith is considered a gamble. His early stint with Detroit has been controversial, but in the right situation, he can thrive as an athletic centerpiece.
The Magic are in a great position to turn some of their assets into star power, and while Smith isn't considered the All-Star he used to be, he's still the kind of player you want in your rotation when he's playing his natural position.
The Philadelphia 76ers haven't got their sights set on this season—they're looking down the road at everything that takes place after the 2014 draft.
Pau Gasol's name is typically mentioned among contenders who don't want to be bogged down with long-term contracts. While the Sixers are about as far from contenders as it comes, the latter holds true for an organization looking to clear cap space and build toward the future.
In return for Gasol, the Sixers have a number of pieces that would interest the Los Angeles Lakers. Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner should all get L.A.'s attention, and the idea of giving back the 33-year-old Spaniard should be icing on the cake.
Gasol's expiring contract is what Philly will desire, and the fact that he's having another down year makes him easier to acquire. The Sixers don't want to push for the playoffs out East, making this a win-win for both teams involved.
Remember how the Phoenix Suns might be willing to move a draft pick if the right guy comes along?
Arron Afflalo could be that right guy.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Orlando GM Rob Hennigan is hesitant to deal its go-to option. "The reality is that no one is giving up first-round picks these days," Stein states, but the Suns could prove to be the exception.
If Phoenix truly wants to continue pushing toward the 2014 postseason, parting with picks is likely the only way. The team is without Eric Bledsoe for the foreseeable future, and replacing his production is crucial for immediate success.
Whether or not Afflalo makes Phoenix a contender is a question worth asking, and while we can assume the Suns won't be title favorites this year, he's the kind of player who will be good for a handful more seasons. At 28 years old, he's a solid two-way presence, and that's something every winning organization covets.
The last thing the Portland Trail Blazers want to do is mess up chemistry. They've been the surprise of the 2013-14 season, and they're looking like contenders as we approach the halfway mark.
However, the next-worst thing they could do is stay content, as improvement in the frontcourt is crucial to their long-term success.
While Omer Asik has been a popular source of rumors for teams needing bigs, the Trail Blazers would benefit more from someone like Brandon Bass. So long as he accepts a role off the bench, he'd provide more production than Meyers Leonard or Thomas Robinson have all season.
If you've watched Portland, you know that the backcourt isn't the problem. The recent addition of a healthy C.J. McCollum further defends that notion, making Bass the final piece to the puzzle.
Having Bass on board will create for a firm 10-man rotation, and while that number will likely decrease in the playoffs, you can never have too much stability from top to bottom.
Andre Miller would seemingly be a perfect fit for a number of organizations, and the Sacramento Kings are one of them.
Sacramento has already made headlines with its midseason acquisition of Rudy Gay, but the team isn't satisfied—or at least it shouldn't be. It is 13-22 on the year, which is only good enough for the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
Isaiah Thomas has been great this season, albeit unpredictable. Having Miller on board to act as a mentor would be hugely beneficial, and it would provide leadership to a franchise that desperately needs it.
The Kings aren't going to win a lot of games in 2014, but having Miller on the roster would provide entertainment. He's great at getting others involved, which is something this roster could use as it's just 21st in assists per contest.
As strange as it might be to witness these two rivals doing business with one another, the San Antonio Spurs could benefit greatly from snagging Jodie Meeks from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs, who aren't exactly known for their midseason changes, could use an extra body at shooting guard. You never know how durable Manu Ginobili is going to be down the stretch, and having someone who can step in and not make mistakes is crucial come the playoffs.
To make this happen, the Spurs would have to be willing to sacrifice their depth at either point guard or center. They go four deep at each position, meaning they have plenty of assets to throw the Lakers' way to make this happen.
Los Angeles will be a tough team for anyone to deal with because of their injuries, but a trade involving Meeks should spark the interest of any Spurs fan league-wide.
Masai Ujiri has been busy during his first season with the Toronto Raptors.
Despite the notion that the Raptors could fight for the third seed in the East, Ujiri understands that the odds are stacked against this organization if it reaches the second round. There is plenty of talent to be had in the upcoming draft, which is why acquiring a big name at the deadline makes little sense.
Although you could throw expiring contracts into the mix here, consider draft picks a more likely asset for the Raptors to obtain. Toronto is not a desirable place for marquee free agents, and targeting the draft makes more sense than targeting superstars.
Cathal Kelly of TheStar.com has reported that Toronto no longer intends on trading Kyle Lowry, but his expiring contract could catch the eye of teams looking for imminent improvements. Don't put anything past Ujiri just yet, as he's successfully turning this franchise into his own in a short amount of time.
Evan Turner's stock may be the highest it's ever been, but he's also on a team that has no intention of winning.
Translation: A lopsided trade isn't out of the question.
The Utah Jazz currently have Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush holding down fort at the small forward position. They're also 27th in the league in scoring, and bringing in Turner would help both of those categories.
If the Jazz are worried about playing themselves out of the 2014 lottery, they shouldn't be. Turner has proved to be a good scorer and a solid stat-sheet stuffer, but he's yet to prove he can lead a team to a solid record.
Utah could grab Turner before the February deadline, giving it another building block entering next season.
Let's throw the Washington Wizards into the mix when it comes to acquiring veteran point guard Andre Miller.
Despite having a sub-.500 record at 16-19, the Wizards are just 2.5 games back from the No. 3 spot out East. Adding Miller to the mix would do wonders for this organization, and it would push it closer to home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Putting it nicely, backup point guard Eric Maynor hasn't worked out. According to 82games.com, the 26-year-old's PER at the point guard position is just 4.0 per 48 minutes.
Furthermore, his net points per 100 possessions is a minus-30.1. Miller is a plus-4.7 in that same category, also courtesy of 82games.com.
While the Wizards might not be able to take down the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in a seven-game series, this isn't a team looking to go quietly. Nabbing the third seed would be huge for this retooling franchise, and adding Miller to the mix will help them get there.