On Thursday, February 24th, the NBA Trade Deadline will come and go. Hopefully, we will see an end to the MeloDrama among some other great deals.
Yet, in all of the craziness surrounding the potential trading of star players, fans seem to have forgotten some very important players. What about key men who come off the bench and can change the game with one basket?
Despite NBA fans being glued to the Carmelo Anthony situation, there is no way it will be the only trade that happens. It may be the only trade involving a key starter, but that remains to be seen. Thus, here are trades the Denver Nuggets and every NBA team can make to improve its bench.
If any of these trades come true, perhaps J.R. Smith (pictured at left) will have a new home!
As I have stated in previous work, third-year power forward Brandan Wright is drowning as a member of the Golden State Warriors. For someone who was drafted eighth overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, he just has not become the dynamic offensive shot blocker scouts thought he would become. This can be attributed to a number of injuries, but also to his style just not fitting into the Golden State system.
Enter the Atlanta Hawks. They could use some help spelling Josh Smith at power forward. Why not trade swingman Maurice Evans (pictured at left) and his expiring contract for Wright?
Sure, Evans and his aggressive defense will be missed in Atlanta, but Wright plays alright defense. Plus, Hawks coach Larry Drew works very well with young players in his forward-based system. In that defense, Wright's shot blocking ability can be properly utilized.
Mark Cuban has plenty of reason to smile. His team is deep enough to be the No. 2 team in the Western Conference, so why upset the apple cart?
Each position has a solid backup, so no moves need to be made in Dallas unless a serious injury happens to a key player in the next three days. Until then (hopefully not), this writer thinks that everything is right in Texas!
Again, no moves are necessary with the Boston Celtics. They are tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and all play together extremely well. Thus, there's no rational reason to break that chemistry.
Plus, they have Shaquille O'Neal...on their bench.
Beneath all of the drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets should seriously consider trading J.R. Smith. He's fun to watch, but on skill alone he is very one-dimensional. He makes crazy dunks and sinks three-pointers. A good player, but lacking on the defensive end.
Thus, Masai Ujiri should consider trading Smith to the Sacramento Kings for Beno Udrih, a multi-talented three point shooter. Udrih may have his good days and bad days on the offensive end, but he makes up for it in his defense. He can rebound the ball and cover ball handlers well, usually getting one or two steals a game.
Udrih would be the perfect man to spell Aaron Afflalo at shooting guard, especially in a close game when tight defense is needed.
Now, he's only 25 years old so it may be a little late to label him a draft bust, but Shaun Livingston just hasn't lived up to his potential after being taken with the 4th overall pick back in 2004. He has only averaged seven points a game for his career, and has missed a number of games over the past few seasons due to injury.
Currently, he's backing up D.J. Augustin at point guard. The Bobcats need help at power forward while Tyrus Thomas recovers from a knee injury, so why not trade Livingston to Phoenix for Hakim Warrick?
Warrick can provide that defensive spark that has been missing since Thomas got hurt, and the money works out on both sides. Let Gerald Henderson switch the the point every so often, and this trade can only benefit Charlotte.
After eight seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting guard Corey Maggette headed north and signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Two seasons later, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric so that Monta Ellis could be signed long term.
Currently, the Warriors are looking to make a final push for the last playoff spot in a stacked Western Conference. Monta Ellis is leading the NBA in minutes per game, and he could use a break. Yet, the team doesn't have a true shooter coming off of the bench!
That being said, the Warriors should trade two of their perennial bench warmers in Vladimir Radmanovic and Brandan Wright to Milwaukee and bring back Maggette. He would provide a spark off the bench and be able to help Ellis with the shooting duties. On top of that, he'd bring a veteran presence to a young team.
Joakim Noah will be back Wednesday, so there is no reason to believe that the Bulls will become any less dangerous. They have a deep bench and one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, so they stay as they are.
In 2003, fresh off taking the Texas Longhorns to the Final Four, T.J. Ford (pictured at left) was drafted eighth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. Scouts compared his skill at the point guard position to that of Magic Johnson and he was doing well, but then a serious back injury hampered him.
Since then, Ford has seen time with the Toronto Raptors and has been an effective point guard, but not the one scouts thought he could be. He is still young, only 27, but he needs a fresh start. With Aaron Brooks having worn out his welcome in Houston, it would be a good idea for the Rockets to trade him and Jared Jeffries to the Indiana Pacers and bring Ford home to the state that garnered him national attention.
In Houston, Ford would share the point guard duties with Kyle Lowry. Combined with Kevin Martin and Rick Adelman's tough front cort, Ford has the potential to revitalize his career with the Rockets.
Just think about it. Aaron Brooks, a guard with a tendency to shoot, backing up Darren Collison, a more conventional point guard. This trade works!.
For most of his career, Martell Webster has had it rough. He was drafted 6th overall out of high school by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2005, and has never become the shooter experts expected him to become.
Yet, Webster has somewhat re-established himself in his first year in Minnesota. He is averaging 10.7 points a game, but is riding the pine on a team headlined by Kevin Love and the Johnson/Brewer/Flynn show. Webster needs to go to a team where he can slowly rise through the ranks, and Cleveland is the prime location for him.
By sending Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker to the Wolves for Webster, the money will work out. At that point, Webster can spell both Daniel Gibson at shooting guard and Christian Eyenga at small forward. On a team in need of a pick me up, Webster has the tools necessary to make an impact on a last place team.
This season, Chris Kaman has missed 45 games with an ankle injury. Yet, it has allowed Deandre Jordan to make his presence known on coach Vinny Del Negro's squad. That being said, Kaman's big contract combined with his injury problems is a liability for the team. Time for him to go!
A team that could use Kaman's help at center is the Sacramento Kings. They currently have rookie DeMarcus Cousins starting at that position, and his backup Samuel Dalembert has not lived up to expectations. Kaman, another young center, could serve as a mentor for Cousins and perhaps keep his attitude in check.
Plus, that team is in sore need of a leader. Kaman may not be the top dog on the Clippers, but he definitely has the work ethic necessary to lead a young team.
Kings coach Paul Westphal (pictured at left) has a very young team on his hands. Even worse, he doesn't have a leader who can help mold his squad into a contender. Thus, it is essential that the Maloof Brothers trade for Chris Kaman.
DeMarcus Cousins is a loose cannon, and the rest of the team is in disarray. Big Chris needs to bring his experience and his calm personality to a group of wild young guns.
If the Detroit Pistons have had one big distraction this season, it's been the uncertainty surrounding Richard Hamilton. He has three years left on his contract, and is owed $12.5 million this season. That being said, the Pistons should unload his contract and send him to New Jersey for big man Troy Murphy.
Hamilton will provide the Nets with a top shooter off the bench, and Murphy would give the Pistons a body in the front court to complement Greg Monroe and Ben Wallace. He may not be the most athletic forward/center in the NBA, but he plays hard! In the event that Carmelo Anthony goes to New York, this trade should happen.
Jay-Z loves Richard Hamilton, so he's considering that move already! Make it happen!
In Detroit, Greg Monroe has proven to be an effective center. In Los Angeles, Andrew Bynum has proven to be an injury prone center still in need of a mentor. Why not four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Wallace?
People can say all they want about how the Lakers need to get younger, but Wallace can still keep up with the best at age 36. He would give the Lakers the shot blocker they need in the middle, and help turn Bynum into an elite big man. Trade underachieving forward Matt Barnes to Detroit, and this trade works!
With these three guys in your starting lineup and the team tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, who needs a bench?
As of now, Grizzlies center Hasheem Thabeet (pictured at left) has not been what the team hoped he would be. He isn't even an effective backup for Marc Gasol. So, it's time to bring in a good one.
It would be a good idea for the team to trade disgruntled guard O.J. Mayo to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Joel Przybilla, who has proven to be a decent big man. Guards Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez would have to be included for financial reasons, but it's a necessary move if the Grizzlies want that last playoff spot in the West.
If there's one man who has gone out and consistently given his all for the Milwaukee Bucks in the absence of Michael Redd, it's center Andrew Bogut (pictured at left). More often than not, he has put the team on his back and sacrificed his body multiple times for a win. Thus, it's time to reward him not with a contract extension, but with a backup center.
In this case, the Bucks would swap one bench player for another. Nothing too fancy. One move that comes to mind would be to send small forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the Philadelphia 76ers for veteran Tony Battie.
Battie is not the best backup out there, but he knows the game and plays tough defense. If Bogut should ever need a break, he will do just fine stepping in.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have some great young players. Kevin Love is having a career season, and the backcourt is loaded with talented youngsters like Corey Brewer and Jonny Flynn. Still, they are last in their division and lack a true shooter to electrify both the fans and the team.
Enter Rudy Fernandez. He, or at least his agent, has stated on multiple occasions how he would like the Trail Blazers to trade him, so why not grant him his wish? Fernandez is a consistent producer who would be a welcome addition off of the Wolves' bench, and he would take some of the pressure off of Kevin Love.
His salary is small at $1.2 million, so nobody big would have to go in order to obtain him. Center Kosta Koufos and some draft picks would more than suffice.
Get the distraction OUT!
Last offseason, the Knicks signed Roger Mason (pictured at left, No. 18) to a one-year contract so that he could be an adequate defender off of the bench who made the occasional three-pointer. Instead of doing that, he has sat on the bench as coach Mike D'Antoni has not been able to fit him into the run-and-gun offense that he runs. I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but Donnie Walsh should make a trade for Rudy Fernandez!
Fernandez, as I said before, is a deadly three-point shooter. A product of the European leagues, his talents fit perfectly into Coach D's system. As good as Shawne Williams is from beyond the arc, he's no Rudy Fernandez. This acquisition would give the team a key player off the bench who stood out among the role players.
Emeka Okafor is currently the starting center for the New Orleans Hornets. He has done a decent job, averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds a game, but he needs some help. That being said, why not make a play for Nazr Mohammed of the Charlotte Bobcats?
Mohammed is not a powerful offensive center, nor is he an elite rebounder. Still, he plays effective defense and is an asset to any team he plays on. He could be a good big man off the bench for the Hornets, whose uncertain future has been a distraction all season. With Mohammed coming off the bench to play lockdown D, the team could go far in the playoffs.
Bench-riding center David Andersen could be the man sent to Charlotte to complete the deal, along with point guard Marcus Banks.
Look at the expression on Dwight Howard's face. He can't wrap his head around why the Magic would try to upgrade their bench when it's so deep already!
But wait just a second...
Let's be honest. The Orlando Magic are all set at point guard with Jameer Nelson. Thus, Chris Duhon (pictured at left) is expendable.
I know I just said the Magic didn't need to make a trade, but this seems like it would be beneficial to both teams. In getting rid of Duhon, the Magic would shed a big contract and bring in a cheaper defensive guard in Thabo Sefalosha. On the Thunder's end, they would receive a good point guard to back up Russell Westbrook and in Sefalosha's absence, be able to insert James Harden into the starting lineup.
This trade is realistic, both team need-wise and money-wise. Hopefully, it will happen!
Even though the 76ers record isn't that good on paper, I wouldn't make any big moves involving the bench if I were the GM. The team is young and learning how to play under coach Doug Collins, so I wouldn't trade for a bench player at this point. Next season, look for the team to improve!
In their heyday under Mike D'Antoni, the Phoenix Suns were one of the top offensive teams in the league. They had men who could shoot consistently both in the starting lineup and coming off the bench. Today, the scoring is present in the starting lineup, but is lacking among the bench players.
Most notably, the Suns need a guard who can act as the 6th man and provide the deadly shooting the fans love. That being said, it's time to bring Raja Bell (pictured at left) home. Bell was a key member of those Phoenix squads of not so long ago and with the Suns fighting for a playoff spot, why not bring back a key member of the glory years?
In sending Mickael Pietrus to the Jazz and taking on Ronnie Price's expiring contract, this deal is doable. If the Suns want to improve the bench, they will make this trade.
I'm sorry, but the Toronto Raptors are so bad that no NBA team should even consider making a deal with them. Sorry, Coach Triano. Looks like you're going to be making that face for a long time!
The Wizards are a young team that have already made a big move this season in acquiring Rashard Lewis, but their bench leaves something to be desired. JaVale McGee has been solid at center, but he could use a more effective backup. That being said, time to cut some dead weight in DC.
Yi Jianlian, a Chinese seven-footer who was drafted 6th overall by Milwaukee in 2007, has been a disappointment since being acquired from the New Jersey Nets. Instead of being a top defender and shot blocker, he has played nearly zero physical game.
It would be a good idea to trade Yi and his expiring contract (worth $4.5 million) to Golden State along with oft-injured forward Josh Howard. In return, the Wizards would receive center Dan Gadzuric. This man would bring experience and toughness to the center position, and help McGee develop even further into a top big man.
Some years back, Mehmet Okur was a devastating big man. He could shoot, rebound, he could do it all. Last season, in the playoffs, he tore his Achilles tendon and just hasn't been the same. With Al Jefferson now manning the middle in Salt Lake City, it's time for the Jazz to unload Okur and his heavy contract.
He has only played in 13 games this season and both his scoring and rebounding averages are at career lows. If the Jazz can find a team who will take on the contract and provide a defensive big man in return, hopefully they will pull the trigger.
Tim Duncan has multiple reasons to smile. The Spurs are the top team not only in the Western Conference, but in the entire NBA! All of the players are communicating well and there are no distractions.
Thus, no need for this team to upgrade its bench!