There's no time quite like All-Star Weekend for NBA trade deadline deals to get hammered out.
All the general managers and agents in the league will be in one central location, the drinks will be flowing to loosen up some inhibitions and the pressure will be on to at least advance discussions with the deadline looming. You'll normally hear some interesting stuff as a fly on the wall in New Orleans, and All-Star Weekend will be no different.
With that in mind, Bleacher Report's NBA editor Joel Cordes cooked up three All-Star break deals involving players that could be on the block and teams with the incentive to buy or sell at the deadline. Let's break down each trade and ultimately decide who says no.
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: SF Jeff Green, C Vitor Faverani
Boston Celtics Receive: C Kendrick Perkins, SF Perry Jones III and Oklahoma City's 2014 first-round pick.
Oklahoma City's biggest addition will be getting Russell Westbrook healthy and back into the lineup, but that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't tweak the roster a bit. With Steven Adams and Nick Collison both proving to be capable at the 5, perhaps the Thunder would finally consider moving on from Kendrick Perkins in order to add some more firepower at the forward spot.
Bringing Jeff Green back to Oklahoma City would make for a good story, and his ability to play multiple positions could make the Thunder even more dynamic. Green is a better player now than he was during his first run with OKC, and he'd have a lesser role on this team, which might be for the best.
For the Celtics, getting rid of that third year of Green's deal would clear up lots of cap space for the 2015 offseason, which seems to be the plan. Scooping up an intriguing prospect in Jones and another first-round pick would be a nice return for Green, even if Perkins would have no value besides being an expiring deal next year. Ideally the pick would have a chance to be higher, but this would be tough to turn down.
While you can see the logic in this for both sides, ultimately it would be OKC that would say no. The Thunder aren't in a position where they need to make a drastic move before the deadline, especially if it's bringing back a player on a long-term salary like Green. The talent or fit isn't great enough to justify shaking things up, and OKC wisely values first-round draft picks (even late ones) as much as any team in the league does.
This would pretty much go against all the principles Oklahoma City is built on: the forfeiture of cheap assets, the acquisition of long-term salary and the shaking up of a core that's already capable of winning a championship.
Who Says No: Oklahoma City
Charlotte Bobcats Receive: SF Wilson Chandler, PF J.J. Hickson, PG Andre Miller
Denver Nuggets Receive: SG Ben Gordon, PF Cody Zeller, SF Jeff Taylor
The Denver Nuggets are strapped for cap space moving forward, and it's hard to see how this group produces anything but mediocre results for the next few seasons. If the Nuggets want to begin to blow it up, trading with Charlotte makes sense.
Acquiring Ben Gordon's expiring deal worth $13.2 million would allow the Nuggets to dump the long-term salaries of Chandler and Hickson while also shedding a malcontent in Miller. The Nuggets would also get a young frontcourt prospect that can really run the floor in Zeller, and another young forward to add to the collection in Taylor.
The problem here is that Chandler is on a pretty fair contract ($6.3 million) given his production level, even if there are durability concerns. Hickson is overpaid, but not egregiously so. Miller can be bought out next year. If the Nuggets are going to rebuild, dumping a truly damaging contract like JaVale McGee's or Danilo Gallinari's should be the priority.
From Charlotte's standpoint, it's certainly a talent upgrade. Gordon is providing the Bobcats with nothing right now, and Zeller is too raw to be a consistent contributor. In Chandler, the Bobcats would get a badly needed three-and-D guy on the wing.
Is that worth giving up on Zeller's potential, though? Probably not, especially considering the future salary that would be coming back in return. Hickson doesn't mesh with Al Jefferson in the slightest, and he's an empty stat producer for the most part. The Bobcats already have a solid backup point guard in Ramon Sessions, so Miller isn't exactly a need, either.
While this would help in a playoff push right now, you'd like to think the Bobcats could get much more with the available cap space in free agency or in a separate trade for Zeller. Chandler is a good player and a great fit, but this is too much to pay for him.
Who Says No: Charlotte Bobcats
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: SG Eric Gordon
Washington Wizards Receive: PF Ersan Ilyasova, SG Gary Neal
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: SF Trevor Ariza, PF Ekpe Udoh, PF Jan Vesely
Would the Milwaukee Bucks actually consider bringing on a huge contract like Eric Gordon's despite their poor record? Earlier this year, Bleacher Report's Howard Beck provided some insight into the way Milwaukee views these sorts of things:
“In our organization, there is this competitive need to be as good as we can every year,” Bucks owner Herb Kohl told Bleacher Report. “It’s an instinct. Even though one might argue that mathematically you’re better off going the other way.”
The Bucks should go the other way and sell talent for draft picks while dropping long-term salary, but we've seen too many times in the past that Kohl will refuse to rebuild. With that in mind, taking a big risk on Gordon isn't out of character.
For the Pelicans, clearing the backcourt logjam and acquiring expiring deals would clear up some much needed cap space, although not receiving back a future player or draft pick could be damaging if Dell Demps misses again by signing another player like Tyreke Evans. You'd feel more confident about the cap space being freed up if someone else was able to use it.
If Washington truly feels they'll lose Trevor Ariza in free agency this offseason, I suppose you could do worse than adding an offensive talent like Ilyasova.
So who says no here?
For Washington, this move would almost certainly make them a worse team this year, as Ariza plays an important role defensively while also spacing the floor for John Wall. Ilyasova has been a huge bust this season, and there are plenty of injury concerns there.
With that in mind, it's hard to say Ilyasova is worth his lengthy contract. It seems highly unlikely Washington would sign up to overpay him for the next few years, especially considering how inconsistent he's been over the course of his career.
The Wizards should be able to do much better in free agency, even if Ariza goes elsewhere. This doesn't help them now, and it's unlikely it would help them much in the future.
Who Says No: Washington
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