Gutsy Ideas for the NBA Trade Deadline
You typically see a flurry of moves at the trade deadline.
Some of the moves are small trades, like a contender adding a backup point guard for depth. Others are based around financial motivations, like a team getting under the luxury tax or just cutting salary with a trade that doesn't have much impact on the court.
While it's those deals that account for most of the action, every once in a while we get a trade that really shakes up the league.
Here's a look at five hypothetical deals that would certainly require each team's general manager to think big at the trade deadline.
Charlotte Bobcats Trade for Pau Gasol
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SG Ben Gordon, PG Ramon Sessions and a 2014 first-round pick (via Portland).
Charlotte Bobcats Receive: PF Pau Gasol, PG Jordan Farmar
If the Los Angeles Lakers want enough room to offer a max contract this offseason, they'll have to renounce all rights to Pau Gasol. If that's the plan, why not flip Gasol's expiring contract at the deadline for two other expiring deals and pick up a first-round pick in the process?
For Charlotte, acquiring Gasol would add some much needed offense to the frontcourt. Josh McRoberts has had a nice little season, but Gasol is a massive upgrade at starting power forward. Although they'd be a slow tandem, Gasol and Jefferson could work as a great high-low post combo.
Even if Charlotte has no intentions of keeping Gasol, renting him for a playoff run might be worth a pretty late first-round pick (via Portland) at this point. Losing Sessions would sting a bit, but Farmar can offer similar production as a shoot-first guard off the bench.
As for the Lakers? It's better to get something than nothing, even if it's a late pick. Taking back no future salary in a trade for Gasol is going to be tough, but this accomplishes that.
New Orleans Pelicans Trade for Greg Monroe
Detroit Pistons Receive: SG Eric Gordon and a 2016 first-round pick
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: PF Greg Monroe and PF Charlie Villanueva
It seems certain that Greg Monroe is going to command a max offer in restricted free agency, which the Pistons may be hesitant to match given the presence of Josh Smith and Andre Drummond in the frontcourt.
Getting Monroe out of the conference may be the best-case scenario, particularly if it brings back a floor-spacing wing who can also get to the rim. Gordon is definitely a risky acquisition due to his long-term deal and injury history, but he'd be a great fit with the rest of Detroit's roster and provide exactly what Detroit needs on both ends. A first-round pick from a shaky franchise doesn't hurt, either.
For the Pelicans, teaming Anthony Davis up with a big body who can score on the block is ideal. Davis can help protect Monroe defensively, and Monroe can take care of the banging while also providing some really great passing out of either post. This would be an incredibly dangerous frontcourt.
Also, it's worth noting that New Orleans doesn't have the path to a star player except for a trade like this one due to their lack of cap space and traded pick in this year's draft. With the ability to match on any offer for Monroe, this would be a great way to lock up a young big man that otherwise wouldn't be available to them.
Houston Rockets Trade for Shawn Marion
Dallas Mavericks Receive: C Omer Asik
Houston Rockets Receive: SF Shawn Marion
Here's what Rockets GM Daryl Morey told season ticket holders about trading Asik, as transcribed by the Houston Chronicle:
"We pushed to trade Omer in December. We felt we had to make a fair and aggressive effort to do that. Obviously, he’d prefer to be a starter. At this point, Omer is very likely going to be here until the end of his contract at the end of next season, not this season. The window to trade him was (in December), and teams weren’t aggressive enough to get him, so we’re excited about him being a part of our future."
Could the Dallas Mavericks be aggressive enough to make Morey change his mind?
The Rockets and Mavericks would certainly make for strange trade partners, as it's rare that two potential playoff teams in the same conference deal with one another at the deadline.
This deal would appear to be mutually beneficial for a few reasons, though. For the Rockets, they'd turn Asik into an incredibly effective small-ball 4 who has plenty of experience playing in uptempo systems. Marion would serve as a badly needed plus defender who can cover multiple positions, which is a big deal.
Houston would also get out of paying Asik the $15 million in salary he's due next season while also pulling one step closer to clearing max cap space next year, if that's something Morey desires.
One of the challenges with trading Asik is that general managers may be a little sheepish about asking their owners to pay up, but Mark Cuban has never had a problem doing that in the past, particularly for centers.
With Asik, the Mavericks would have their defensive anchor in the middle next to Dirk Nowitzki, which should be a priority at this point. Losing Marion would hurt, but getting younger at a position of need is probably worth the price. Asik can be a big difference maker.
San Antonio Spurs Trade for Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy
San Antonio Spurs Receive: PF Taj Gibson and SF Mike Dunleavy
Chicago Bulls Receive: PF Boris Diaw, PF Matt Bonner and a 2015 first-round pick
This one is all about the money. If Chicago wants the cap space to chase players like Carmelo Anthony in free agency, it will take more than just amnestying Carlos Boozer.
Although Gibson is an incredibly productive player, he'll be 29 this offseason and maybe won't be viewed as a "must-keep" player with big man Nikola Mirotic coming over next season.
Picking up the expiring deals of Diaw and Bonner would clear over $10 million in cap space, which paired with Boozer's amnesty would allow Chicago to recruit a star free agent. Hoping the Spurs finally age rapidly in 2015 isn't the worst idea, either.
For the Spurs, this would be highly uncharacteristic. This is a team that doesn't panic, even as the injuries start piling up. That being said, Dunleavy could provide even more wing shooting while Gibson would offer great defense, athleticism and the ability to step out and hit a mid-range jumper. Both Gibson and Dunleavy are smart enough to step into San Antonio's system and thrive.
This one is highly unlikely, but San Antonio would solidify their title hopes and Chicago would have the space to add a star next to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah while helping the tanking effort this season.
Phoenix Suns Trade for Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner
Phoenix Suns Receive: C Spencer Hawes and SG Evan Turner
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: C Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round draft pick (via Indiana)
You would think that both Hawes and Turner would be available at the deadline, as it's hard to imagine either player is in the future plans for the Sixers. That might not allow the Sixers to have much leverage in any deal, but getting a first-round pick would be a big victory here.
It also doesn't hurt that Emeka Okafor will have 80 percent of his remaining contract covered by insurance. For that reason, this trade would save Philadelphia tons of cash, which is always appreciated by owners, particularly in losing seasons.
For the Suns, picking up Hawes and Turner for a playoff run could be worth a late first-round pick. Hawes would fit in naturally as a floor-spacing big guy, and Turner could provide some scoring pop on the wing in the type of uptempo system he's enjoyed this year in Philadelphia.
Neither Hawes or Turner would likely stick around long-term, but perhaps a sign-and-trade would become available to Phoenix this offseason. At a relatively low acquisition cost like this, it might be worth a shot.