The NBA trade deadline is less than 24 hours away and many players rumored to be headed out of town are still sitting on the runway.
Troy Murphy is one of these players.
We've been hearing for months how Murphy is going to Cleveland, Cleveland and Cleveland, but it appears both Milwaukee and Sacramento have joined the mix as of late.
Three teams. Are only three teams interested in adding Murphy? Is that really the case?
I refuse to believe that.
The 29-year-old power forward/center is one of the more dynamic big men in the league. He's 6-foot-11 and at least 10 pounds heavier than his listed 245. He's one of the few players of his size who can bang in the post, face-up and stick the jumper, and also draw his man away from the hoop with his three-point range.
He's no Dirk Nowitzki, but he poses a similar matchup problem with his ability to go in and out. Murphy is also one of the league's best rebounders.
So why is a player of his size, skill and talent even on the trade block? Two reasons:
1. He's injury-prone. Murphy has missed 147 games during his nine-year career. That's an average of 16.3 games missed per season.
2. He's in his prime, having a strong season (14 ppg and 10 rpg in 31 mpg, on 49/39/79 shooting percentages), and becomes a free agent at the end of next year. Thus, the Pacers want to deal him now while his value is high and they can maximize their returns.
So where will Murphy go? What teams have interest in him? Where would he best be able to thrive?
Let's look at five places, not named Cleveland, Milwaukee or Sacramento, where Murphy would be a great fit.
Despite having a handful of quality low-post bigs, the Rockets (27-24) are an average rebounding team at best. Luis Scola leads the unit with an average of 8.4 boards per game. Their best rebounder, Chuck Hayes, stands at 6-foot-6 and plays only 22 minutes per contest.
Both Scola and Hayes have their contracts expiring this June. Surprise stud Carl Landry could become a free agent if his option isn't picked up. Yao Ming can decline his one-year, $17.7 million option and test the market.
Ming will most likely re-sign and the Rockets will undoubtedly pick up Landry's last year. Hayes, an organization and fan favorite, will have his option picked up for one more year at $2.3 million. Scola will only be retained if GM Daryl Morey can't find an upgrade at a comparable price.
It's possible that at least one team will throw $8 to $10 million at Scola, which makes Troy Murphy and his one year, $12 million deal a bargain.
Furthermore, unlike Scola, Landry, and Ming, all of whom are inside scorers, Murphy can stretch the defense with his range. By adding Murphy, the Rockets would open up the middle offensively and improve rebounding on the defensive end.
Potential deal: Murphy (one year, $12 million), Mike Dunleavy Jr. (one year, $10.6 million), Luther Head (expiring) and a 2010 first round pick (projected #6) FOR Scola (expiring), Tracy McGrady (expiring), and a 2010 first round pick (projected #14).
The Suns (32-22) need to figure out how to trade Amar'e Stoudemire and remain competitive for a playoff run.
Adding Murphy and a few pieces could solve that problem. The Suns are consistently out-rebounded each night and are woeful defending in the post. The offensive-minded Stoudemire is a big reason for that.
Murphy would get more touches and be allowed to showcase his ability. In the 11 games this season in which he has played at least 34 minutes and attempted at least 10 shot attempts, he has averaged the following line:
18.8 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2 threes, on 53/41/91 shooting percentages.
If Murphy is in Phoenix, he's guaranteed to get at least 34 minutes and 10 shot attempts per game.
Potential deal: Murphy, TJ Ford (one year, $8.5 million), Solomon Jones (one year, $1.5 million), Josh McRoberts (expiring) and a 2010 second round pick (projected #53) FOR Stoudemire (opting out) and Leandro Barbosa (two years, $14.7 million).
Can you name the big men on the Thunder (31-21) off the top of your head?
Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic, Etan Thomas, Serge Ibaka, BJ Mullens, and DJ White.
Thomas is coming off of ACL surgery and rarely plays. White just had surgery on his thumb and is set to miss two months. Mullens has appeared in only nine games. Ibaka averages 16 minutes per contest. Collison and Krstic average a combined 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Needless to say, if there's one area in which the Thunder are lacking, it's in the post (offensively and defensively). The team has enough money to trade for Murphy and still sign a high-priced free agent. Murphy's mobility would be a good fit on this team since it likes to run so much. His veteran experience would help as well.
Potential Deal: Murphy, Luther Head, and a 2010 second round pick (projected #36) FOR Thomas (expiring), Collison (one year, $6.8 million) and a 2010 first round pick (projected #20).
The Bobcats (26-26) are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and only three games back from the next spot. They're the best defensive team in the entire league and can hang with anyone.
That is until they need to score down the stretch and Stephen Jackson and Flip Murray become their best options.
Obviously, the 'Cats need some scoring punch, especially in the post where the oh-so-deadly trio of Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler and Nazr Mohammed makes its mark. For as great as Gerald Wallace has been, he's far from being a go-to guy; he scores in transition mostly.
Murphy would easily become their best or, should I say, most efficient, scorer. Their rebounding would improve and their defense wouldn't lose much.
Potential deal: Murphy and TJ Ford FOR Raymond Felton (expiring) and Tyson Chandler (one year, $12.8 million).
The Nets (5-48) have such an incredible combination of cap flexibility, young talent and draft picks that they can't be left out of any potential trade.
The Nets are in the market for a power forward to complement franchise center Brook Lopez. Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudmire could all be elsewhere before new owner Mikhail Prokhorov--Russia's richest man--even gets the chance to pull out his wallet.
Murphy, a local boy from Morristown (20 miles west of Newark), would be a great alternative.
Potential deal: Murphy, TJ Ford, and a 2010 first round pick (projected #6) FOR Devin Harris (three years, $27 million), Yi Jianlian (one year, $4 million), Tony Battie (expiring), a 2010 first round pick (projected #23), and a 2011 first round pick (via Golden State; lottery-protected).
Cleveland certainly looks like the most likely destination. But should that deal fall through, and should the Pacers not retain him, fully expect him to go to one of the five teams discussed in this article.