NBA Trade Rumors: Cleveland Cavaliers and 10 NBA Teams That Need a Reality Check
They call this week the calm before the storm in the NBA.
The teams are playing their final games before the All-Star break, and the players are planning their weekend vacation getaways.
While the players are planning and the teams are playing, the front offices are busy sorting out their plans for next week.
Next week, for those of you who don't know, brings the NBA trading deadline.
This year's deadline means the answer to the question we have all been asking for months: Where will Carmelo Anthony end up?
But there is something going on in the NBA that people aren't recognizing.
This something is a standing pattern.
We have teams who need to make a playoff push but are not making moves, while teams who are so far out of it (um Cleveland, hello?) not starting the fire sale they should have months ago.
This is why I am here to provide 10 teams with a reality check.
I have already given you a peak at one of those ten teams, the historically terrible Cleveland Cavaliers, but the other nine may surprise you a bit.
I will provide a reality check at the top and then my reasoning why the team needs it, just so everyone is clear.
So without further adieu, let's take a look at the list!
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
Reality Check: It is time for a fire sale!
I figured we would start off with the Cleveland Cavaliers because their situation is pretty obvious.
They are the worst team in the league and would benefit most from a fire sale.
Not only will the team hopefully add young players and draft picks, but they will be able to cut free the dead weight that has been holding them back.
Anthony Parker, I am talking to you!
After a 9-46 start (soon to be 47 after facing the Lakers tonight), the Cavaliers have plenty of attractive assets for playoff contenders around the league.
They have veteran scorers Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison that could bolster a playoff team, and battle tested veterans like Mo Williams and Leon Powe for a team looking for depth.
The team also has Ramon Sessions, who has drawn the interest of a few teams around the league recently with his aggressive play and ability to get to the free throw line.
I'm sure the Cavaliers would rather keep Sessions because he is young and affordable, but if a team like the Atlanta Hawks is seriously interested like NBC reported this morning, it wouldn't hurt to listen.
If this team does not make a deal before the deadline, I will be shocked and disappointed at the same time.
9. New York Knicks
Reality Check: It's Time to Make a Move!
The Knicks were the talk of the Eastern Conference earlier this year.
In year two of their three year plan, the team was way ahead of schedule.
Amare' and Raymond Felton were having an immediate impact and the youngsters were playing well above expectations.
Then the Knicks hit a dry spell in which they lost a bunch of games in a row, and the whole world got a good look at the truth.
The Knicks just aren't there yet.
Now, the Knicks have an offer of Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony for Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and a first-round pick in front of them, and they said no!
Before Knicks fans get in an uproar about this, let's break it down: You are receiving two All-Stars for a bunch of guys who haven't done anything before this year!
Don't get me wrong, Raymond Felton is a nice point guard who fits well in the Knicks system, but is he worth not getting Carmelo?
And before you go and say, "Well 'Melo is coming here in free agency," let me remind you of something: People thought LeBron was staying in Cleveland.
Anything can change between now and the summer, and the Nuggets could ship Anthony off to a contender like Dallas, and 'Melo could change his mind about playing in New York.
So sack it up front office, make the deal and have a Billups-Anthony-Amare' trio to go into the playoffs.
8. Denver Nuggets
Reality Check: Carmelo Anthony is Leaving!
Denver is in a bad situation and doesn't realize it.
They continue to ask for a king's ransom for Carmelo Anthony and keep getting told no.
Any other time they could get that ransom, but right now they have a problem.
That problem is that their superstar has basically told teams that he is not playing in Denver next season.
To make matters worse, he has specifically been linked to reports that he won't sign an extension with anyone outside of Los Angeles or New York.
With that said, the Nuggets have a week to move 'Melo for something or get nothing in return.
They might get lucky and get a team to sign and trade some future draft picks and a trade exception, but who knows if trade exceptions will exist after the new CBA agreement.
The Nuggets need to realize they will not get a fair deal for Anthony at this point, and that draft picks and a few young players might be good enough to keep moving forward.
7. Milwaukee Bucks
Reality Check: Injury-Prone Veterans Don't Get You to the Playoffs!
Remember back when the Bucks were the trendy pick to be the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the east?
Everyone said that the signing of a guy like Drew Gooden and trading for Corey Maggette was going to push the Bucks into non-stop playoff contention.
My contention was that they still have injury-prone guys like Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut who will be hurt at some point in the season.
Not to mention that Maggette and Gooden are injury-prone in their own right.
And look what happened, the Bucks are battling injuries and not in the playoff picture.
Well, you aren't ever out of the playoff picture in the east, but you get what I am saying.
This team needs to either make a move for an impact player or find homes for some of these veterans.
The plan should be to build a young core around Jennings, not surround him with aging, injury-prone veterans.
6. Los Angeles Lakers
Reality Check: This Team Needs a Spark!
I have never seen a more scrutinized 38-18 in NBA history: Something is wrong with Kobe; Pau isn't the same; where has Ron Artest gone?
These are common complaints that can be found in the media, and I'm not sure if they warrant any attention.
These are the Lakers, the defending champions.
Barring an epic collapse, they will be a top three seed in the playoffs.
With that said, this team could use a spark somewhere in the lineup.
Some people seem to think an Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony trade would do the trick, and while it would be fun to see a Kobe-Pau-Melo trio to go with the NBA's latest "big three" trend, I don't think it is warranted.
The addition of a proven scorer coming off the bench would be fine for the Lakers, and infuse some life into the guys that are there.
A guy like Antawn Jamison of the Cleveland Cavaliers wouldn't be flashy, but would be a nice compliment for Kobe and Pau to kick the ball out to.
5. Utah Jazz
Reality Check: Letting Sloan Go Was Wrong!
31-25 in the west doesn't guarantee a team anything at this time of year.
But I can guarantee you this: the Jazz won't win a playoff series this season without Jerry Sloan.
Sloan was the glue that held that team together, the man who developed the youngsters and the team let him resign due to player conflict.
Go ahead, say those were just "reports", but it is true.
I am not sure what Deron Williams said or did, but it shouldn't have cost the Jazz Jerry Sloan.
He is one of the greatest NBA coaches of all-time and the man who has led the Jazz to many winning seasons.
As great as it is to have Deron Williams, he isn't good enough to warrant losing Sloan.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Reality Check: Don't Let Recent Success Ruin the Plan!
Their team is 26-29 and in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoffs, which is actually a bad thing for the team.
The goal this season was to gain cap flexibility, young players, and draft picks through moving larger contracts.
The 76ers have had inspired play out of Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, yet they haven't made a move. And not making a move is a big mistake.
The 76ers need to sell these players now in order to gain salary flexibility for the future.
This team is not good enough to win in the playoffs, so why deter the plan for one first round playoff exit?
The 76ers should be seizing the opportunity to present Elton Brand to a contender with expiring contracts in need of a big man.
They should be throwing their hat in the ring with Andre Iguodala in the Carmelo Anthony talks. I am not saying to get Anthony, but to acquire a young player and a draft pick while making the deal work for everyone.
With only a week until reality sets in, I hope for the sake of Philadelphia fans that their general manager reads this reality check!
3. Dallas Mavericks
Reality Check: It's Time to Make a Move!
If any team should make a move, it's Dallas.
They are loaded with expiring contracts:
Caron Butler: 10.5 million
Tyson Chandler: 12.7 million
DeShawn Stevenson: 4.1 million
J.J. Barea: 1.8 million
Tim Thomas: 1.3 million
Brian Cardinal: 1.3 million
The Mavericks are blessed with an owner willing to spend whatever amount is necessary to win a championship; this is something other teams would kill for.
Yet their general manager isn't willing to make a move with over 30 million dollars in expiring assets that losing teams would kill for.
There are plenty of veterans out there for the Mavericks to attempt to acquire, and I hope for Dallas' sake they do something before the deadline.
Because if they don't, it could be a long off-season of playing second fiddle to the Lakers yet again.
2. Atlanta Hawks
Reality Check: This Team Cannot Win the East.
The Hawks seem to talk a good regular season game.
They have won over 50 games in the regular season the last two seasons, and look like they are on pace to do it again.
But as they have proven in the past, this team is not built for the playoffs.
What is the point of winning 50 games in the regular season if you cannot get to the Eastern Conference Finals?
The Hawks need to make a splash.
They have Jamal Crawford's expiring contract, as well as young players that could be attractive to other teams.
This team lacks an aggressive point guard and depth at the forwards position, both of which are vastly available on the losing teams looking to shed salary.
Yes, that means the Hawks will have to commit salary to a few older players, but wouldn't it be worth it to see if this team can make a run?
1. Houston Rockets
Reality Check: Don't Hold onto Those Expiring Contracts!
The Rockets have been a major disappointment this season, which is largely in part to another season without Yao Ming.
They are 26-30, and probably won't make the playoffs this year in the west.
But that doesn't mean the team can't build for the future.
While all of the other teams out of contention are selling, the Rockets need to sneak under the radar and snag a player or two.
The team has over 30 million dollars in expiring contracts thanks to Yao, Battier, Jeffries and Hayes, so they might as well do something with them.
Offering up Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries to a contender like Memphis could net the team a project big man like Hasheem Thabeet or a lost youngster like O.J. Mayo.
There are a wide variety of players available and if the Rockets play their cards right, they could end up with a nice piece to put with Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola for the future.