NBA: Let's Make a Deal: Suns, Cavs, Hawks, Blazers, Knicks, and Nuggets
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Today could not have started any better. After waking at 5 a.m. up with a rejuvenated zest for all things morning, I headed off to the gym to run five miles and swim another two, but not before I lifted some heavy iron in an attempt to strengthen and define my muscles.
Am I lifting weights in the pool?
At around 9 a.m., after a shower and shave, I traveled across the state to have dinner with my ex-mother-in-law. She’s also my boss, and was my third-grade teacher.
If this meeting goes well with her, I should be able to get a promotion, and then I’ll be able to fall back asleep, just in time to watch the Super Bowl yesterday.
O. K. Wait one second. Would you mind telling me, Harry, just what in the world you are talking about? I’m starting to that think you don’t respect me.
And then I woke up, alarm blaring, birds chirping. Half confused, a quarter disappointed, and a hundred percent sure I cannot remember a single detail of my subconscious state, I roll out of bed and start writing.
The Super Bowl is not yesterday. Or is it?
IT’S A DREAM, ONLY A DREAM
While the reality is I cannot force NBA teams to make trades that could be beneficial to both teams, therefore inspiring not only new hope for fans, but plenty of debate for analysts and fans alike, I can dream about it.
Here are three trades that would curl my toes:
(Justin Case: As much as I would like to pretend to be a salary-cap guru, I do not have full knowledge of the intricacies of the trade/salary-cap dynamic. However, I do know that the salaries meet the requirements, and, more importantly, the players make sense.)
These trades are in order of size:
1. Antawn Jamison from Cleveland to Phoenix for Goran Dragic, Josh Childress, and Channing Frye.
Why it makes sense for Phoenix:
While they may be older than a forgotten Fourth of July burger this time of year, the Suns starting five would feature Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Grant Hill, Jamison, and Lopez/Gortat.
The bench will lose its only PG, but Carter or Hill can handle the duties while Nash rests.
Of course, the defense will suffer a- oh yeah, we’re talking about Phoenix.
The Suns will now have a better chance of outscoring their opponents, and experience, in the playoffs or otherwise, should not be underestimated.
Why it makes sense for Cleveland:
I do not know, or care, frankly. Sorry.
I will just say that Dragic could be a starter in this league, and both Frye and Childress are versatile and athletic enough to be serviceable role players or sixth men. Why not Cleveland?
2. Andre Miller and Marcus Camby from Portland to Atlanta for Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and Zaza Pachulia
Why it makes sense for Portland:
The Blazers, bit by the injury bug with the same ferocity of two rams, ramming each other, on an open field, just ramming their rams for ram’s sake, ramming away, can afford to mix-up their roster. While I am all for competing for the “now”, they are not going to beat the elite in the West with their current crew.
Crawford provides versatility at the guard position and can fill the void left by Miller. He gives them another outside scorer, along with Wesley Matthews, to compliment LaMarcus Aldridge’s inside presence.
Camby may be one of the better defensive Cs in the game, but a team effort from Zaza and Joel Pryzbilla, along with Aldridge at times, can offset his loss.
Next year could feature a starting five of Crawford, Roy, Nicolas Batum, Aldridge, and Greg Oden, which, IF healthy, could compete with the top teams in the West.
But this year is not necessarily lost. Look at what the Houston Rockets were able to do in the ’09 playoffs after losing Tracy McGrady early in the season and Yao Ming towards the end. Upsetting your first round opponent and taking the defending conference, and eventual league, champions to seven is not too shabby.
(Justin Case: Normally, “Not too shabby” really means “nothing to brag about” or “pretty bad, ak chewa lee”, but not in this case. The Rockets’ effort that postseason was, indeed, not too shabby.)
Why it makes sense for Atlanta:
The Hawks, one of the more entertaining, if not disappointing, teams in the league, are one move away from truly joining the best the East has to offer.
Al Horford and Josh Smith form arguably the most athletic PF/C combo in the league. The problem, despite the moderate success in recent years, is that they are playing out of position.
Camby’s arrival would allow Horford to move down to his more natural PF position and enable Smith to roam the outside more freely. Scary, yes.
In Miller, Atlanta would receive a true point guard who can lead what is already a freight train of a fast-break. This would also allow Mike Bibby and Marvin Williams to come off a suddenly deep bench.
A starting five of Miller, Johnson, Smith, Horford, and Camby? I like my chances- and not just in the East.
3. Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington from Denver to New York for Danilo Galinari, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, and Eddy Curry.
Why it makes sense for Denver:
This season is lost for the Nuggets. They have the talent to make a serious run in the playoffs, as they did in ’09 while reaching the conference finals, but the distractions caused by the constant trade speculation has become more than those players can handle.
Denver has no logical choice other than to trade their superstar and get as much back as possible.
With Dino, the Nuggets receive a young sharp-shooter who seems to enjoy the challenge of guarding the other team’s best player. Picture a more athletic Dirk Nowitzki. Anthony Randolph has shown signs of potential and could, along with the Birdman, serve as nice back-ups to Nene and Kenyon Martin.
Denver could start Chauncy Billups, Aaron Afflalo, Gallinari, Martin, and Nene, with Ty Lawson, JR Smith, and Randolph/Birdman off the bench.
Billups, a Colorado native, would inherit the status of team leader. That didn’t work out so badly for Detroit in ’04, when he was named Finals MVP after helping lead his team to an upset win over Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Shaq, Phil Jackson and Co.
Why it makes sense for New York:
While there was speculation of new super trio joining forces in New York—Amare Stoudemire would be joined by Anthony and eventually Chris Paul, either this season or next—landing Anthony now would give the Knicks more than just a fighter’s chance in the top-heavy East.
Raymond Felton has surprised many with his production this season, to the point that some may suggest he, not necessarily Paul, could fill the role of third-wheel as part of this superstar team, a team ready to rival the Miami Heat for years to come.
Felton, Wilson Chandler, Anthony, Stoudemire, and anyone taller than 6-10 who can chew gum would form a starting five that the majority of teams would envy. The bench would be led by guards Toney Douglas and surprising rookie Landry Fields, along with defensive-minded Ronny Turiaf (a favorite player of mine since his days at Gonzaga) or 7'1 Timofey Mozgov, both of whom can chew gum.
Defense may be an issue, but defense is all about attitude. Stoudemire ranks among the top shot-blockers in the league after being underestimated defensively thanks to an offense-happy Phoenix Suns’ system. Carmelo has the talent to become a lock-down defender, as he has more than held his own during his one-on-one battles with good friend LeBron James.
Maybe a change of scenery and a rejuvenated zest is all he needs.
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