10 Players Who Should Have Been Traded at 2014 NBA Trade Deadline
Much like last season, the NBA trade deadline went by with very little fanfare. The only big-name deal was that between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Indiana Pacers, swapping Evan Turner for Danny Granger.
Apart from that, few trades carried much notability or the possibility to shake up the league. A total of 26 players swapped teams and few, save for the Philadelphia-Indiana swap, have the potential to make a huge difference.
It was a bit of a disappointment, but the trade of these 10 players would have made the deadline much more exciting.
Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics
The new era of Boston Celtics basketball is underway, and that means out with the old and in with the new.
Brandon Bass isn't technically old by NBA standards, at 28 years of age, but he's a rugged forward that should have been moved at the deadline. He's averaged 11.1 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Celtics this season, but Bass' value goes beyond his numbers.
He's a physical player in the paint, on both ends of the ball, and is equipped with a reliable mid-range jumper (44.1 percent, per NBA.com). Bass' salary is very reasonable as well, set at just $6.7 million this season.
As such, the Celtics should have sought to sell high on the power forward at the deadline. The team is reaping in assets to rebuild, and Bass would have brought some in a trade from contending teams in need of a presence in the paint.
The deal would have also cut some salary from Boston's payroll, which will see the team pay the luxury tax for a season that isn't worth it. It isn't a very large amount, given the Celtics are over the tax line by roughly $400k, but it remains wasted finance on a season that's focused on a rebuild.
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
This isn't really a deal that had to happen for any reason other than it was too good to not happen.
Iman Shumpert is a talented guard, but is particularly effective defensively. Per Synergy Sports (subscription required), Shumpert has held opponents to 37.1 percent in isolation plays and 37.6 percent in spot-up shooting situations.
He's struggled offensively this season, shooting just 37.7 percent, but has converted on 34.5 percent of his long-range shots. Shumpert was involved in a plethora of rumors prior to the deadline, with one reported deal to the Los Angeles Clippers falling short at the last minute.
It should not have come down to the last minute though, as Shumpert's services come at the cheap price tag of just $1.7 million this season. He's still on his rookie-scale deal, but his extended stay in New York could be due to a sprained MCL prior to the deadline against the Pelicans on Feb. 19.
The New York Knicks may have set the bar a little high in terms of the team's asking price for Shumpert, but any draft pick or young player would have been enough.
The team must do everything conceivably possible to convince star Carmelo Anthony to re-sign in the offseason, despite New York's underwhelming and underachieving 21-35 record. The Knicks are at risk of missing the playoffs completely this season and will be over the cap before even signing Anthony.
New York does not have a pick in the upcoming draft, and Shumpert was key to obtaining one. It's a shame he was injured prior to the deadline, but it's only a mild injury that should not have mattered.
Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons
Smith’s numbers this season (16.2 points and 7.0 rebounds) haven’t been terrible, but it’s not what Detroit needs. The logjam the Pistons have in the frontcourt with Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond provides no accurate floor spacing for the team.
It makes little sense to have so much athleticism, but very little three-point shooting.
Smith tries his best to be a three-point shooter, but it’s a face-palming shot that isn’t his strength. He averages 3.4 attempts from long range per game, but converts just 23 percent.
Detroit needed to swallow some pride at the deadline and admit a fault, but instead they will continue a playoff push with a disjointed roster. It’s possible no other teams were interested in Smith’s bloated contract, which leads to our next inclusion.
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
Just as Greg Monroe was coming into his own, the Pistons opted to sign Smith, who plays the same position.
As such, Detroit needed to come clean and decide on moving either Smith or Monroe. Keeping Smith would have given the Pistons a supremely athletic frontcourt, which has become an increasingly potent aspect of NBA basketball.
Keeping Monroe makes more sense, given his age and potential, as Smith has pretty much hit his ceiling. Yet, as seen in the previous slide, it’s possible no one wanted Smith and his overpriced deal, which makes Monroe expendable in terms of improving the team.
You can hardly blame the Detroit front office, as losing out on a skilled big man is a hard pill to swallow. But it’s a matter of addition by subtraction, and keeping Monroe on board makes no sense going forward.
The Pistons are in the midst of a playoff drought, and if that is the goal in sight, dealing Monroe for shooters on the wing had to happen. The same could be said for moving Smith, but Detroit did neither and kept both.
Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans
Much like the Pistons’ failed Smith-Monroe experiment, the New Orleans Pelicans’ acquisition of Tyreke Evans has produced poor results.
It made little sense to trade for a ball-dominant player with two players of the same nature already on the roster in Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. It was a great move in hindsight, but realistically hasn’t worked out.
To be fair, the Pelicans' season isn’t going to see the team in the playoffs, so waiting to see if this works out is a good decision. Holiday is out with injury (leg), so there’s plenty of time between now and the offseason, or even next season’s deadline, to make a call on moving Evans.
But looking exclusively at this season, trading Evans for a player that better fits would have been a confident decision. Acquiring a wing that fits and working them into the rotation, both to close the season and in the offseason, would have resulted in a confident approach to next year.
Evans and the Pelicans may very well work eventually, but it’s still an outcome that remains to be seen. His lack of an outside shot (15.4 percent from three-point range this season) limits his place on the court without the ball, as Holiday and Gordon would be relegated as spot-up shooters with Evans handling the rock.
Every team would want the ball in Holiday's hands over Evans', which makes this pairing mismatched. As such, the sooner the Pelicans look to move Evans, the better. Only, it's too late for this season.
Emeka Okafor, Phoenix Suns
Emeka Okafor is yet to play a game for the Phoenix Suns this season (neck), but he was the team's most valuable trade asset at the deadline.
Despite suiting up for zero total minutes, Okafor's expiring contract of $14.5 million would have opened up significant cap space for receiving teams. Per a report from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Suns have expressed a willingness to absorb a veteran player on a short-term deal who wouldn't compromise the organization's ample salary-cap space for the future, league sources said. As rival teams explore ways to shed payroll and avoid luxury-tax payments, the Suns could have a multitude of deal possibilities to consider over the next few weeks.
Later in the report, Wojnarowski notes that Phoenix's general manager Ryan McDonough "has expressed publicly his willingness to explore using his draft picks, young assets and cap space to explore possible deals for All-Star-level players who could become available on the market."
In a perfect world, the Suns and the Lakers should have swapped Pau Gasol and Okafor. There are few teams that have All-Star talent on board but are also looking to shed salary and lose said All-Star player in the process.
In any case, Phoenix keeping Okafor does work in the team's favor financially. With a loaded 2014 draft class, the Suns have four picks available and then significant cap space when Okafor's deal comes off the books to chase talented free agents.
It's just a situation that could have netted veteran talent or assets at the deadline.
Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers
Thaddeus Young is having his best season as a pro in his seventh NBA season. And he's still just 25 years old.
The Philadelphia 76ers are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference, ahead of just the Milwaukee Bucks, and in the midst of a rebuild. Keeping Young around, given his youth and talent, therefore makes sense in one regard.
Yet, with the loaded 2014 draft class upcoming, shipping him elsewhere for a first-round pick would have been a preferable choice. As seen with the Phoenix Suns, the team was ready to send out picks in exchange for talented players.
Young is owed just $8.6 million for this season, but the 76ers could have packaged Young in exchange for the expiring deal of Okafor (cap space) and a first-round pick to draft a talented forward to pair with Michael Carter-Williams.
Philadelphia already has Nerlens Noel on board, but he's recovering from injury (knee). Yet looking forward into next season, having a "Big Three" of Williams, Noel and one of the many talented prospects in the draft would give the 76ers a very, very optimistic future.
Young fits that bill, but it's clear what he is and isn't capable of at this point. Opting for a prospect over one that's already developed to a certain point is always the better choice.
Jarrett Jack, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jarrett Jack's time with the Cleveland Cavaliers hasn't gone as expected, hence he should have been moved at the trade deadline.
After a successful season behind Stephen Curry with the Golden State Warriors, Jack has averaged just 8.4 points and 3.8 assists per game. Both would be his lowest numbers since the 2010-11 season, in addition to shooting a career-low 38.9 percent.
It's a good concept on paper to have a veteran guard behind an up-and-coming one in Kyrie Irving, but it just hasn't translated well on the court.
Jack's deal pays him $6.3 million this season and the three thereafter (last year is a team option), which is solid value given it's just a tick above the mid-level exception.
Both the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings were rumored to be looking at Jack, but Cleveland was unwilling to take back salary in any deal. It evidently cost the team the chance to move him, but Jack will be a big player come the postseason.
That's if the Cavaliers make it that far, in which case having Jack on board beyond this season doesn't make much sense. If there was any time to move him, it was at the deadline.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Gasol’s value as a player will never be higher than it is this season, but L.A missed out on a chance to swap him for draft picks or players.
His 17.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists are well above what we saw from him last season, and are absolutely numbers that could help a playoff team. The Phoenix Suns were rumoured to be in the running for Gasol, which would have given the team a legitimate post presence.
In return, the Lakers would have received Emeka Okafor, per a report from ESPN.com:
One option for the Suns, by virtue of their $5.6 million in available salary-cap space, is swapping the expiring contract of injured big man Emeka Okafor for Gasol, even though Okafor's $14.5 million salary this season falls well shy of Gasol's $19.3 million.
His deal expires in the offseason, which would (and should) have been a huge selling point in trading Gasol. It opens up significant cap space for L.A anyway, which is indicative of the Lakers wanting to chase some big-name players in free agency.
Opting not to take back salary in a trade would have absolutely been a roadblock in any proposed deal, but it may also have cost Los Angeles other assets. Phoenix was even prepared to offer one of their "possible four first-round picks in the loaded 2014 NBA draft if it meant they could get an impact player immediately."
Instead, the Lakers will remain in the gallows of the Western Conference with a player whose value (and career trajectory) will only diminish going forward.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets
If we’re going to look at teams and players that make no sense being together, Omer Asik and the Houston Rockets is the prime example.
Asik has been disgruntled ever since Dwight Howard’s arrival in Texas, going as far as requesting a trade when the signing was announced. He has been playing in an increasingly limited role, but has been injured for the better part of the last few months.
Below are Asik's minutes per game averages by month:
It’s fair to predict many teams would have jumped at the chance to add a player of Asik’s caliber, but Daryl Morey’s "delusional" asking price means the big man will remain relegated to the bench.
Instead, looking to add personnel that can help the team and fit within the construct of Houston’s identity should have been the route travelled. Every trade doesn’t need to be of equal return value, even though that’s the rule of thumb, but having a sullen player on the end of the bench complicates things.
Even a deal that would have netted Houston two mid-level players, such as a forward who can shoot and an athletic wing, would have propelled the Rockets further than just sitting with Asik until the offseason.
Houston is looking to contend, and dealing with this scenario now would have increased the team’s chances as opposed to at the season’s conclusion.