The 2010 NBA trade deadline is the tipping point for the most anticipated free agent summer in NBA history.
Some things are certainties; others are unpredictable. Every team falls into a certain category at this point in time. There are a lot of teams that are looking to clear bad contracts and some looking take on expiring ones. Some teams are sufficient as they are and have no business considering a trade before the deadline.
With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, before the most anticipated free agent summer in NBA history, let's take a look at seven sensible trades that might happen before the trading deadline.
It should be noted first that these potential trades emerged after nearly a month worth of researching each team and how it plans to approach the trading deadline.
After completing the research, I am contending that a lot of trade scenarios rumored to be possible are not what the teams themselves are interested in.
And, while some teams may have glaring needs at certain positions, the logistics of executing a trade to fulfill those needs are more difficult than perceived. Also, sprinkled throughout the list of trades is my commentary on the status of every NBA team heading into the trading deadline.
So after taking everything into consideration, given each team's current state, here are seven realistic trades that the teams involved in should consider.
Let's start with the first-place teams in each of the conferences, the Cavaliers and Lakers. Each team is comfortable with its current squad and doesn't necessarily need to make a trade before the deadline. That doesn't mean, however, that each team isn't listening to offers in order to improve themselves for their playoff run.
In the case of the Cavaliers, the consensus seems to be that they need to trade for a "stretch 4-man," someone like Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy.
The Lakers' apparent need seems to be at point guard, where Derek Fisher is slowly becoming less productive while Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown aren't necessarily meshing in the backcourt.
To address the rumored Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh swap, the Raptors will not likely trade Bosh before the deadline as they appear to be a lock in the Eastern Conference playoffs at this point. Trading their best player would be foolish.
Beginning with the Cavaliers, the player they would have to give up in order to acquire the stretch 4-man is J.J. Hickson. The Cavaliers are quite reluctant to deal the young forward but are willing to do so if it dramatically improves the team. So here is a three-team trade the Cavaliers may consider involving departing with Hickson.
Trade No. 1
Cavaliers receive Troy Murphy
Rockets receive J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Mike Dunleavy
Pacers receive Tracy McGrady and Luis Scola
Why this works:
First, I want to address why the Pacers would agree to this deal. They receive McGrady's expiring $23 million contract and a serviceable power forward in Scola, whose contract expires at the end of this season.
The Pacers, in my opinion, are a rebuilding project. They need to blow it up and start over. With the cap space they'll receive at the end of this season, they're in position to sign a free agent to compliment Danny Granger.
The Rockets get a promising power forward in Hickson to replace Scola, Ilgauskas gives them needed size while Yao is injured, and Dunleavy is a veteran who needed a change of scenery and can mentor the young Rockets right now.
The Rockets are in playoff contention but not Finals contention. This trade doesn't mean they give up on the season but rather build for next season and beyond.
And obviously for the Cavaliers in return they get Murphy, who fills their need of the aforementioned stretch 4-man. They reluctantly sacrifice Hickson to make the deal work, but the Cavaliers are not short on young power forwards with Anderson Varejao, Leon Powe, and Darnell Jackson.
Plus, Murphy plays roughly similar to Ilgauskas although he's a bit shorter, so the Cavaliers can afford to spare Ilgauskas even though he's one of their great all-time franchise players.
On to the Lakers, whose need of a point guard isn't to the extent that they cannot win the Finals without making a trade for one. It's in the realm of possibility and is something they shouldn't dismiss immediately, as they have some trade chips they can expend without disrupting their core group of players.
The early candidate the Lakers were suspected of possibly dealing for was Kirk Hinrich. However, recent discussions haven't progressed any on that possibility and it seems to have all but died.
Other point guards have been named as possibilities, but ultimately the one that makes sense involves a three-team trade that allows a contender to fulfill a glaring need.
Trade No. 2
Lakers receive Steve Blake
Blazers receive Brendan Haywood and Dominic McGuire
Wizards receive Luke Walton and Juwan Howard
Why this works:
Let's all agree that the Wizards are a complete mess right now.
So to give up a solid big man like Haywood amid everything else that is happening, worse things have happened for the Wizards this season. Like the Pacers, the Wizards clearly need to blow everything up and start over. It's going to take some time before thing all is close to being right in Washington.
The Blazers fill a glaring need at center with the injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla. Taking advantage of the Wizards in disarray, they're able to nab Haywood from the Wizards for a relatively cheap price. With Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless, the Blazers are stable at point guard after sending Blake to the Lakers.
Blake fills the need for the Lakers. Walton is one of the few trade chips the Lakers could have parted with.
Long term, this doesn't affect the Lakers, and for the upcoming playoffs they shore up at the point guard position. But, obviously, the addition of Blake creates new roles for Farmar and Brown on the team. Personally, I like Blake as insurance for those two right now in case they become absolutely ineffective toward the end of the season.
The next trade was reported yesterday to be a possibility by ESPN.com's Chris Broussard. It involves the Celtics, but, no, it does not involve Ray Allen.
Bobcats coach Larry Brown has been looking for a big man to help bolster the team's interior before the team embarks on its first playoff run in franchise history. Here is a minor trade that helps both teams prepare for the playoffs.
Trade No. 3
Celtics receive D.J. Augustin and Stephen Graham
Bobcats receive Glen Davis and J.R. Giddens
Why this works:
Augustin has reportedly fallen out of Larry Brown's good graces in Charlotte, so the veteran coach apparently wouldn't mind trading him.
In return, the Bobcats receive Glen Davis, who is a solid NBA player but has had a rocky career in Boston, where he just doesn't seem to fit in.
Graham and Giddens are included to make the trade work financially. And though Graham is more of a contributor on the Bobcats than Giddens is on the Celtics, but the Bobcats are probably more than happy to part with him if it means getting rid of the headache Augustin is causing Larry Brown to have.
Plus, Davis is a nice fit on the young Bobcats roster, and Brown wouldn't reject any opportunity to acquire Davis only because he has to part with Graham.
The Celtics, like the Lakers, are also in need of some help at point guard. Rajon Rondo is carrying the team right now, and, frankly, he is playing too many minutes and exhibiting too much effort to keep the Celtics in the top four of the Eastern Conference.
Augustin could help reduce Rondo's workload down the stretch and make one of the league's oldest rotations a bit younger heading into the playoffs.
While we're on the Bobcats, heading into this month I thought they were one of the few teams or playoff contenders in the league that absolutely didn't need to make a trade before the deadline.
The other teams in that category, in my mind, were the Magic, Grizzlies, Hawks, and Thunder. However, when the possibility of this trade surfaced yesterday, in the best interest of the Bobcats I'd have no problem doing this trade. This doesn't affect the team's core terribly and anything Davis contributes is a bonus.
As I just mentioned, the Thunder are one of the teams I don't think should trade before the deadline. The team's plan of building a young core of guys around Kevin Durant is slowly but surely become quite effective. As of today, the Thunder are the fifth-seed in the Western Conference and are still improving as the season progresses.
The team ahead of them, the Mavericks, is fading. Owner Mark Cuban is upset about the team's recent play and has made it no secret that he is willing to move players before the deadline. In fact, Josh Howard seems set on the notion that he will be traded.
The Mavericks aren't out of Finals contention at this point, but the further this season progresses the less likely the team contends for the NBA title.
The following trade possibility isn't a drastic change to the team's plans, but I think the Mavericks are better off both for this season and the future by doing so.
Trade No. 4
Mavericks receive Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert
76ers receive Josh Howard and Erick Dampier
Why this works:
The Mavericks deal the disgruntled Howard for a terrific young talent in Iguodala, while Dalembert has come on strong lately and can be real impact player for the Mavericks the rest of the season.
There's no other way to say this, but the 76ers think too highly of their team right now. The Elton Brand experiment is a nightmare, and the rest of the team is just too young and inconsistent to contend for the playoffs in the immediate future. So, like the Pacers and Wizards, a rebuilding project is in order.
In return the 76ers receive Howard, who clearly needs a change of scenery, and Dampier, a veteran big man with a sizable expiring contract that can create cap space for the team next season.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, will just have to hope that they can stay alive in the West and sustain a deep playoff run with the additions of Iguodala and Dalembert. If not, they have some nice young pieces to build around before Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki no longer contribute like the stars they are now.
You're probably wondering how we've gotten this far and have yet to discuss the hot mess that is the Amar'e Stoudemire trade speculations. Well, we're about to get to that.
To this point, the 76ers and Pistons have expressed interest in acquiring Stoudemire but are skeptical to pull off a deal due to the fact that he would not re-sign with them before next season.
This is a legitimate concern of theirs; why would either depart with Iguodala or Ben Gordon just to bolster their interior for the rest of the season without any guarantee that Stoudemire re-signs?
Recently, a new team emerged as having sincere interest in Stoudemire, and the GM of the team is an individual who is more than willing to do what it takes to keep his superstar beyond this season.
The Heat have expressed interest and have some trade chips they're willing to part with. However, after attempting to work out every financial wrinkle to make this deal possible, the Suns and Heat cannot exchange players without a third party. Thus, I've brought in the Knicks to help us out.
Trade No. 5
Heat acquire Amar'e Stoudemire
Suns receive Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, and Eddy Curry
Knicks receive Jermaine O'Neal and Leandro Barbosa
Why this works:
Most people will look at this trade and say the Suns aren't getting enough in return.
Here's my defense: Galinari is a perfect fit for the Suns system. After all, his current coach, Mike D'Antoni, runs the same offensive system as Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
Harrington is an even better fit in Phoenix than Stoudemire is. Harrington can shoot the three better than Stoudemire and score and rebound with better consistency than Stoudemire could ever think of doing.
And if you're the Suns, you've got to willing to take on the expiring Curry contract for the rest of the season to create some cap space for next season.
I'm not implying that the Suns must move Stoudemire, but with this trade I merely present an opportunity to do so.
Wednesday night the Miami Herald reported that the Heat aren't likely to deal for Stoudemire before the deadline, citing a concern about the contracts involved with a possible trade as well as them wanting not to dismiss the possibility of signing Chris Bosh in the offseason.
However, this is why I believe including the Knicks in this deal helps ease the Heat's concern about trading for Stoudemire. Plus, dealing for Stoudemire surely affects Dwyane Wade's decision as to whether to re-sign with the Heat this summer.
This trade works for the Knicks because they get a reliable guy in Barbosa for the future and O'Neal's expiring contract that can be used to create cap space in an attempt to sign Bosh and LeBron James this summer.
This trade is too reasonable to dismiss immediately, regardless of how you feel about the free agent summer to come.
Speaking of the 2010 summer, here's a trade that sets two teams up very nicely to increase their chances of signing LeBron James. The trade also satisfies some other interests of the teams involved, some of which have been rumored to be legitimate possibilities.
Trade No. 6
Knicks receive Tracy McGrady, Marcus Camby, and Sebastian Telfair
Rockets receive Al Harrington, Al Thornton, and Chris Duhon
Clippers receive Danilo Gallinari, Eddy Curry, and Kyle Lowry
Why this works:
The Knicks acquire McGrady, who they have been rumored to be seeking in a trade for quite some time now. In addition, this week Camby was rumored to have been sought after by his former teams, the Knicks and Nuggets.
So in this trade, Campy is shipped to New York, while the Clippers receive something in return for him and his expiring contract, as they are now all but eliminated from the playoffs and have no reason to keep him.
Gallinari gives the Clippers are notable upgrade over Thornton at small forward, and in the small chance the Clippers sign LeBron this summer, Gallinari can play at the same time despite the two playing the same position. And Curry and Lowry have expiring contracts, which could free up more cap space for the Clippers next season.
The Rockets receive a quality veteran in Harrington, who gives them some flexibility down the stretch this season in terms of pairing him with Scola on the floor, or bringing Scola and his energy off the bench.
Both Harrington and Scola have expiring contracts, so at the end of the season, the Rockets could either part with both and acquire some cap space, or sign one to be the starting power forward for the team next season. Not to mention, the Rockets receive a veteran backup point guard for Aaron Brooks with the acquisition of Duhon.
In another attempt to unload Tracy McGrady, the Rockets can consider this deal, which brings a couple of terrific players to Houston.
Trade No. 7
Rockets receive Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood
Knicks receive Tracy McGrady
Wizards receive Al Harrington, Jared Jeffries, and Danilo Gallinari
Why this works:
Like the last trade Harrington and Gallinari are headed out of New York but this time to the same team, the Wizards, who, instead of just swapping someone for an expiring contract or two, get some nice additions to their teams.
Instead of an act of desperation, the Wizards can feel confident about their rebuilding project with this trade.
The Wizards have made it clear that they are willing to move both Butler and Haywood, with Butler being the most likely fit in Houston all along. While the Knicks receive the McGrady contract they've been seeking quite badly recently.
Those are seven most sensible trades I came up with after a lot of research the past month.
Obviously, some teams would be better off by remaining idle before the deadline, while others nearly have to trade. As you can see from the trade possibilities listed above, the teams most likely to trade are the Rockets, Wizards, Knicks, and Mavericks. I would be shocked if all four weren't involved in a trade before the deadline.
Now to the list of contenders I'm not anticipating trades from: Orlando, Atlanta, Toronto, Denver, Utah, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. So, essentially, I could understand if the rest of the teams in the NBA look to make a trade before Thursday.
I don't expect there to be as many trades as most people might think, but there should be some, and I think a few teams would be foolish not to.
Feel free to propose any trade scenario that either you have developed on your own and have read as reported.
Chances are I have mulled over the possibility at some point the past month and would be more than happy to discuss a possible trade and its implications.