Whether or not the 2014 trade deadline is a massive dud, there are a number of trades that should happen.
They might not, because general managers are notoriously stubborn, failing to sell when they should and overvaluing their own talent, but they should happen.
Heading down the closing stretch of the deadline festivities, there are five trades that stand out as moves that need to come to fruition. They're the rare mutually beneficial deals, ones that help out each side equally, regardless of whether the team in question is interested in rebuilding or improving its standing in the present.
These swaps also don't have to be rumored.
In fact, none of them have been popping up in the news recently, or at all, for that matter. But a lack of prominence in the rumor mill doesn't mean they aren't good for both sides.
That said, these aren't the only deals that should come to pass. Feel free to leave suggestions of your own in the comment section, but remember to make them realistic and ensure that all salaries match up.
Orlando Magic receive: Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb, 2014 first-round pick
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Arron Afflalo, Jason Maxiell
"I love the opportunity this team has given me individually. In a perfect world, I’ll continue to grow, the young guys will continue to grow, and I’ll be able to win while being an elite player," Arron Afflalo recently told Grantland's Zach Lowe.
Well, he could do all of that on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The breakout 2-guard might receive less opportunity on offense, but he'd be featured heavily, just as James Harden and Kevin Martin were before him. But more importantly, he'd be able to win on a team that's already competitive.
Can you imagine how good OKC would be if it were forced to let go of Kendrick Perkins, replaced him with Steven Adams and Jason Maxiell (in smaller lineups) and then filled out the starting lineup with Russell Westbrook, Afflalo, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka?
That's a lineup that features four All-Star-caliber players, and it would still have Reggie Jackson coming off the bench as a sixth man supreme. Putting that much two-way firepower on the court is worth giving up a high-potential player and a first-round pick that will come so late in the draft it might as well be a second-rounder.
As for the Magic, it's all about continuing to stockpile assets.
While Afflalo has enjoyed a tremendous season, to the point that it seems logical for general manager Rob Hennigan to consider him a building block, he's still older and less filled with potential than Jeremy Lamb. Picking up another first-round pick helps too, and not necessarily because the Magic could draft one more rookie.
Orlando's goal must be acquiring a star.
Even if Afflalo can't be traded for one, it's possible to turn him into more assets, then swing another deal during the offseason or 2014-15 campaign.
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Ben Gordon, 2014 first-round pick (via Detroit Pistons)
Charlotte Bobcats receive: Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao
The Charlotte Bobcats are aggressive buyers heading into the deadline. There's no doubt about that, even if the team has yet to make an actual move.
Even if it's for no reason other than rewarding fans for loyalty, the 'Cats are intent on hanging tough in the Eastern Conference playoff race and making the postseason for the second time in franchise history. They may have enough talent to do exactly that without making a trade, but upgrading would almost ensure the eventual playoff berth.
Charlotte's biggest weakness is offense in general. But to get more specific, the Bobcats have more than their fair share of difficulty from beyond the three-point arc.
Basketball-Reference shows that only the Memphis Grizzlies have made fewer triples this season, and Dion Waiters would help solve that problem. While firing away 3.2 times per game, he's hit 36.1 percent of his looks from downtown, and he's only going to look better with a change of scenery.
Plus, it's not like Anderson Varejao is just a throw-in. While the long-haired center isn't the headliner of this deal, he'd be an immediate upgrade over Bismack Biyombo and would give the 'Cats the ability to use two centers at once.
Things are a little more complicated for the Cleveland Cavaliers, though.
Even though he's been at the center of a lot of controversy throughout the 2013-14 season, Waiters has superstar potential. He's shown flashes of offensive greatness throughout his first two professional seasons, and losing him would be painful.
That said, the Cavs simply must go into rebuilding mode, or else they risk stagnating and losing Kyrie Irving when he hits free agency. Doing so now allows them to get Ben Gordon—solely as an expiring eight-figure contract—and the best of the Bobcats' first-round picks in the stacked 2014 draft.
Boston Celtics receive: Ben Gordon, 2014 first-round pick (via Portland Trail Blazers)
Charlotte Bobcats receive: Jeff Green, Keith Bogans
Let's stick with the Charlotte Bobcats for one more trade.
Obviously, this one wouldn't happen at the same time as the Dion Waiters swap. It's also not quite as beneficial, both when talking about the near future and the distant future. However, it's still a trade worth making.
This time, Ben Gordon is still on the move, but he's joined by a 2014 first-round pick from the Portland Trail Blazers. That's likely to fall at least 10 picks behind the selection owed to the 'Cats by the Detroit Pistons, so it's less valuable.
Less valuable, yes, but still valuable to Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics.
Clearing up cap space for next offseason, getting rid of Jeff Green's albatross contract and picking up another first-round selection are all highly beneficial for the C's as they attempt to build around Rajon Rondo.
According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, Boston already has quite a few assets to work with:
Look at the assets the Celtics now have to play with. They have a pair of first-round picks in '14, '15 and '16. That conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia will transfer to Boston if Philly makes the playoffs this season (not happening) or next (not out of the realm of possibility), and becomes two second rounders if they don't. And speaking of second-round picks, the Celtics have a haul of them over the next few years, too, including the '16 second rounder Miami sent their way for taking Anthony's salary off its books.
Let's just add more to the picture, increasing the possibility that Danny Ainge can turn some of them into a star player or an even better draft pick.
As for the 'Cats, they're acquiring a player who fits in with their current system rather perfectly.
Green can play either the 3 or the 4 (in a small lineup), and his defensive mentality would be emphasized under Steve Clifford. With him on the roster, it would be hard to deny Charlotte a playoff spot.
San Antonio Spurs receive: Thaddeus Young
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Jeff Ayres, Nando de Colo, Matt Bonner, 2014 first-round pick
Can you imagine what Gregg Popovich could turn Thaddeus Young into?
The forward has been having a standout season for the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 17.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 48 percent from the field. The biggest development, though, has been his three-point ability, as the former bricklayer has dropped nearly a triple per game on 32.2 percent shooting from downtown.
And though he'd be given more limited opportunities with the San Antonio Spurs, it's not hard to see him getting even more efficient. Popovich would milk all of the talent out of him, ensuring that he acts like a homing missile with his sights set on the rim at all times.
With everyone fully healthy, a starting five comprised of Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Young and Tim Duncan would be terrifying. Well, more terrifying than the Spurs already are.
As for the Sixers, they'd gain a first-round pick out of it, and that's something general manager Sam Hinkie has coveted for quite some time. Sure, it would be at the tail end of the process, but it would still be one of the top 30 selections.
Matt Bonner's $4 million salary is also coming off the books, so the Sixers would gain even more financial flexibility than they already enjoy.
Rumor has it that Philadelphia would prefer to keep Young, as he's a veteran presence who would be a nice mentor for the myriad young players on the roster, but it would still be worth trading him for this type of return.
Golden State Warriors receive: Eric Gordon, 2015 second-round pick (from Houston Rockets), 2016 second-round pick (from New Orleans Pelicans via Sacramento Kings)
Houston Rockets receive: David Lee
New Orleans Pelicans receive: Harrison Barnes, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer
It's time to bring three teams into the equation.
The Golden State Warriors are essentially trading David Lee, David Lee's massive contract, Harrison Barnes and Harrison Barnes' potential for Eric Gordon and a pair of second-round picks. While the contract and potential essentially cancel each other out, acquiring Gordon would force the Dubs into playing small ball almost all of the time.
And that's a strategy that should work in the Western Conference.
Golden State is in dire need of a spark, and Gordon's shot-creating abilities would be highly beneficial. Klay Thompson is a great shooter, and Andre Iguodala is terrific at creating looks for others, but Gordon can get his own opportunities.
As for the Houston Rockets, they'd be moving Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and a second-round pick for David Lee. Why wouldn't they do that?
Lee's contract isn't exactly a good one, but neither is Asik's. On top of that, the offensive-minded power forward would be a perfect fit alongside Dwight Howard, and teams would basically wet themselves trying to figure out how to guard Lee, D12 and James Harden at the same time.
Finally, we have the New Orleans Pelicans, who are getting the best end of this deal.
While ridding themselves of Eric Gordon's contract and parting ways with a 2016 second-round pick, the Pelicans would be adding a pair of stellar assets. Harrison Barnes could be the small forward the team has been seeking for quite some time, and Asik would be a terrific rim-protecting center next to Anthony Davis.
Talk about two big men who complement each other perfectly.