NBA Trade Deadline: The Top 10 Deals That Should Have Happened
The 2011 NBA Trade Deadline left a lot of people scratching their heads.
Besides the non-stop Carmelo Anthony media frenzy, there was relatively little chatter heading into this deadline compared to years past.
For instance, the deadline in 2010 was, to borrow a phrase from AC/DC, "comin' on like a hurricane": There were big name stars guaranteed to move, and quite a few clubs feverishly looking to clear cap space for the offseason.
This year was more akin to a flash flood.
Most teams seemed intimidated by the prospects of an impending lockout and new CBA. This hand-sitting produced dought weeks bereft of juicy rumors and even fewer hard leads.
Yet, the 48 hours leading up to the deadline unleashed a torrent of real news: we suddenly witnessed a handful of blockbusters, a few wise moves, and more than one head scratcher.
Plenty has already been written about how each new deal affects the players and teams involved.
Let's not cover that same ground again, but do something different instead.
Maybe it's because I'm never really satisfied with anything, but this trade deadline especially left me wondering what could have been.
So, here are the top 10 deals that should have happened before the NBA Trade Deadline:
OJ Mayo to Indiana
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Indiana gets: OJ Mayo
Memphis gets: Josh McRoberts & First Round Pick
How could we not start with this deal?
Of all the trades that appear on this list, this was the one that was GOING to happen.
I actually think this would have been one of the day's better deals, as it addressed major needs by both parties involved.
Memphis needed to get rid of OJ Mayo.
There's no doubting his skill, or even his past contributions to this rising Grizzlies club. However, this is a classic "change of scenery" scenario.
Mayo had worn out his welcome (and vice versa), and his declining production was no longer worth the headache.
While I surely think there would have been better deals out there than this offer, flipping Mayo for a First Round pick and a "useable" depth forward like Josh McRoberts was respectable in all rights.
In some ways, it would have reset Memphis by a year again, taking away some potential Playoff firepower in exchange for another crack at the Draft. However, making this move in conjunction with their Hasheem Thabeet for Shane Battier trade might have helped the Grizzlies finally reach the Postseason AND be prepped for the future.
On the other hand, Indiana flat out needed OJ Mayo.
This would have been a small price to pay for creating a backcourt of Mayo, Darren Collison and Danny Granger. That's a ton of firepower and versatility for just giving up a pick and a spot starter.
Mayo's former ability to pair with Rudy Gay proves to me that he would have done even better with a more well-rounded player like Danny Granger. What's more, continuing to build that core around Roy Hibbert might have finally shifted this franchise out of neutral.
Trading Brandon Rush for a pick (as Indiana also intended to do with New Orleans) would have gotten the Pacers back in the draft, or been turned into a middling forward replacement for McRoberts.
Apparently, sometimes you just can't dial the phone fast enough.
Missing the deadline here was a costly error.
Shane Battier to Boston
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Boston gets: Shane Battier & Chase Budinger
Houston gets: Kendrick Perkins & Nate Robinson
It's been well established that Boston's bloodletting of Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Luke Harangody, and Semih Erden have left quite a few heads scratched.
Yet, after my own initial "why now?" moments, I think I've come to understand the deal more, even if I still don't necessarily agree with it.
Boston apparently must be prepared to blow this thing up after this year. They must have felt like they either couldn't or wouldn't re-sign Perkins this offseason. Why else would they begin collecting assets like Jeff Green and Second Round Draft picks in return for key bench cogs?
I can understand moving Nate Robinson, explosive as he can be, if Boston feels that Delonte West really is back, and after seeing Von Wafer provide plenty of spark so far.
I can understand feeling like Perkins, oft-injured as he's been of late, might be expendable with so many other proven bigs on the roster. However, what I really don't get was then ALSO trading away Erden and Harangody. I know those two guys didn't play a ton, but they were at least capable low-minute insurance policies if either of the O'Neals go down again.
Which they will.
Jeff Green is a guy that Boston originally drafted and obviously still likes a lot. He now fills the Marquis Daniels utility-man role, is versatile, and gives them a lot of potential. Yet, he's on an expiring contract too, making his long-term future questionable as well.
Making essentially the same deal for Shane Battier, instead of Jeff Green, would have been a clear sign to Boston's veterans that this is the final shot, rather than sending mixed signals about when the rebuilding phase is actually starting.
Jeff Green is an outstanding all around player and a better athlete than Battier right now, but I'll go to war with Shane Battier in the Playoffs any day. Boston's veterans would to.
What's more, Boston could have used Battier's defensive versatility, experience, and floor stretching shots this season, then let his contract expire if they really are moving on.
Chase Budinger would have also given the Celtics a little more athleticism and wing versatility, as well as another asset for the offseason. It certainly would have been okay to keep Harangody and Erden too. If wanting additional picks, why not just package those players together before the draft, but after this title run is done? Wouldn't their value go up if they all have a new ring on their finger?
Finally, this would have been an absolute no brainer for Houston.
If they were wanting a prospective replacement for Yao Ming, doesn't the 26-year old Perkins already do more defensively than Hasheem Thabeet ever will?
Wouldn't it be nice not to wait around for a development that may never come, when you could take a battle-tested, ring wearing veteran and plug him alongside Luis Scola instead?
Plus, Nate Robinson comes along in this deal, giving them a nice young backcourt rotation along with Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic.
Sometimes, this stuff just makes too much sense to me.
Zaza Pachulia to Orlando
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Orlando gets: Zaza Pachulia
Atlanta gets: Chris Duhon & Daniel Orton
Not exactly the sexiest of deals, yet this might have been a really important one, especially for Orlando.
Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass are unquestionably legit. Yet, the Magic now have one of the shallowest front lines in the league after losing Marcin Gortat in a previous mega deal.
I was astounded that they chose to stand pat, being that they are one post injury away from being a complete afterthought in the East.
Do you really want to hand major minutes to Earl Clark or Malik Allen if somebody goes down for the rest of the year?
I'm not saying this deal was going to happen. But it absolutely could and should have.
Pachulia's role has diminished in Atlanta this year. He isn't exactly skilled, but he would bring another dose of physicality and rebounding, while giving Orlando the ONLY other center on their roster besides Dwight Howard. That's foul and injury insurance at a reasonable price. Daniel Orton might be something some day, but the future is now for the Magic.
Atlanta was obviously trying to upgrade their point guard spot at the deadline.
Kirk Hinrich is fine enough, but he doesn't exactly light the world on fire either.
Adding another proven point guard in Chris Duhon, who has been expendable in Orlando since he got there, would have provided useable depth behind Hinrich and Jeff Teague. The chance to check out Daniel Orton would have been worth Duhon's longer, but cheaper deal.
Stephen Jackson to Los Angeles Clippers
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Los Angeles Clippers get: Stephen Jackson
Charlotte gets: Randy Foye & Al-Farouq Aminu
The Clippers didn't keep any secrets about trying to upgrade their small forward spot.
Instead, they spent their final deadline moments shipping Baron Davis out of town for Mo Williams.
Well played. Well played indeed.
However, with a little extra time they might have been able to cover the rest of their bases.
True, adding Stephen Jackson while subtracting Baron Davis might seem a lateral character move at best. However, at this price, Captain Jack's production and swagger would have been an easy fit.
A starting five of Mo Williams, Eric Gordon, Stephen Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman / DeAndre Jordan would be a terrifying Playoff spoiler this season and a credible future contender.
While I absolutely love Gerald Wallace moving from Charlotte to Portland, I question the Bobcats' sanity in leaving Stephen Jackson as the sole major piece on that roster.
If the Bobcats were going to sell low and look again to the future, why not go all the way?
Getting another future first round pick would have been nice, as occurred in the Gerald Wallace trade, but Los Angeles probably didn't have one they wanted to part with here. However, Foye and Aminu are two recent high first rounders with plenty of upside.
Charlotte could have received quantifiable help for this season and beyond.
Instead, they'll have to deal with a disconnected Stephen Jackson driving down his value even further.
Jason Thompson to San Antonio
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San Antonio gets: Jason Thompson
Sacramento gets: James Anderson, Chris Quinn & First Round Pick
A few weeks ago, I suggested that San Antonio might want to mess with the good thing they've already got going. (here)
Spurs fans have busted my chops ever since.
Just remember people, as you slowly lower your vitriol guns, that I'm fully convinced San Antonio could already win the title this year.
However, I would feel a lot better about their chances had they either upgraded Richard Jefferson and/or bolstered their front line depth.
As Spurs fans apparently have the same RJ crush that the organization does, maybe it would have only been reasonable to add another big.
San Antonio simply lacks enough front line length and athleticism to comfortably match up with certain late round opponents.
Thompson would have been the perfect mobile, shot-blocking, above-the-rim finisher that the Spurs otherwise don't have anywhere on their roster. He could have played a lot of minutes, moving Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, and Antonio McDyess to their natural power forward spots, or he simply could have been a reasonable insurance policy and matchup play.
Either way, the Spurs don't have that now.
Jason Thompson probably became less expendable with Carl Landry also departing Sacramento at the deadline. However, he still appears to be the odd man out: DeMarcus Cousins is clearly established and Sam Dalembert is also apparently in the Kings' long term plans.
Sacramento was obviously looking to upgrade their backcourt around Tyreke Evans.
Developing James Anderson along with Marcus Thornton, in addition to picking up a future low first rounder would have been a fine return on an otherwise duplicitous asset.
Deron Williams to New York
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New York gets: Deron Williams
Utah gets: Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov & First Round Pick
Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with the real-life Carmelo Anthony deal from both Denver and New York's perspectives. I completely understand why they both pulled the trigger on it.
Yet, I also buy into the popular questions about why New York gave up so many assets for a guy that was clearly going to sign with them in the offseason.
Why couldn't they have used the same assets they were spending on Carmelo to bring in another available superstar instead?
Why couldn't they then turn around and add Carmelo Anthony over the summer, even if he did have to take a very slight pay cut to make it happen? Why not form a true "Big Three" Knicks squad, instead of an impatient imitation?
It's been well established that the Knicks may have difficulty adding that true third star into their now-crowded payroll.
With no disrespect to Chauncey Billups, adding a true top flight point guard via trade now would have been a better move for New York in both the short and long-term. Teams built around superstar forward tandems have typically not gone as far as those constructed around a guard and post.
Deron Williams would have helped ensure New York's contender status, even if Anthony inexplicably passed them by during the offseason. If so, the open money could have been used to find another bulk-scoring swingman instead.
I have to believe this would have also been a better deal for Utah than what they got from New Jersey.
While they might have fewer future draft picks to choose from, they would have gotten a point guard (Felton) on the same level as Devin Harris, while acquiring the swing-men and shooters that they needed (Chandler & Galinari), rather than another redundant post like Derrick Favors.
Finally, don't you think Deron Williams would rather be in New York right now than New Jersey?
Andrei Kirilenko to Milwaukee
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Milwaukee gets: Andrei Kirilenko
Utah gets: Michael Redd & Second Round Pick
Andrei Kirilenko is most likely leaving Utah after this season.
That's unfortunate, as the somewhat overpaid forward is still one of the most athletic and versatile posts in the league.
Watching him in person, I've often told people that he's the most uncoordinated, yet freakishly athletic player I've ever seen. How you can be both of those things, I don't know, but there isn't another skillset like his around.
However, Utah is clearly moving into a new era, and Kirilenko's contract is another reminder of days gone by. What's more, he's much more expendable, as the Jazz continue to load up on big forwards, while still needing shooter and swingman help.
No matter what Jazz fans believe about Gordan Hayward, CJ Miles, and Raja Bell, they've been lacking a true floor stretcher and knockdown shooter since Kyle Korver was let go.
I am not claiming that Michael Redd will sniff All-Star status again. However, it would have been worth the risk to flip a "probably walking" contract for a chance to see what Redd could offer this season, and then have a chance to re-sign him on the cheap.
Yes, Kirilenko would have contributed more to this season than Redd probably will, but not at a position of need. A 2nd Round pick could have sweetened the deal.
For Milwaukee, the Bucks needed to do something to spark another late-season playoff push. They just don't have an edge, and they look desperately unathletic at times.
Andrei Kirilenko would have been the perfect shot-blocking, floor running fit alongside Andrew Bogut. I've believed for quite some time now that Kirilenko would be more effective as a quick four than a big three. This would have been a place to prove it.
What's more, Kirilenko's versatility would have allowed him to play either forward spot, depending on Milwaukee's personnel choices.
Finally, while he is an expiring contract, a good playoff push might have given the Bucks an inside track on re-signing Andrei Kirilenko.
He just fits there too well, while Redd made equal sense for Utah.
Too bad this idea slipped by.
Al Jefferson to Detroit
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Detroit gets: Al Jefferson
Utah gets: Tayshaun Prince & Will Bynum
Part Three of my Jazz reconstruction could have been made in conjunction with the real-life Deron Williams deal and my aforementioned, albeit theoretical Andrei Kirilenko trade.
Al Jefferson has been something of a missed note for the Jazz. As usual, his impressive numbers betray the fact that Utah is better when he's on the bench than on the floor. His inability to protect the rim means that Paul Millsap is not the right guy to pair with.
This deal would have further bolstered Utah's backcourt. Regardless of whether Utah actually traded Deron Williams to New York or New Jersey, Will Bynum is another "upside" prospect who could have backed up or played alongside Raymond Felton / Devin Harris. Either way, he would have been a tangible upgrade over Earl Watson and Ronnie Price.
What's more, Tayshaun Prince would have replaced Andrei Kirilenko's contributions for the rest of the year. The change in scenery might have done wonders.
My three trades would have provided the Jazz with a starting lineup of: Raymond Felton, CJ Miles, Tayshaun Prince, Paul Millsap and Mehment Okur, with Will Bynum, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Michael Redd, Timofey Mozgov and Gordan Hayward as the core bench subs.
Yes, there is a logjam at small forward, but the kicker is that Prince and Redd's expiring contracts would have given the Jazz +$35 million in freed money, along with a ton of trade pieces for this offseason.
The two veterans could have been reasonably re-signed, or Utah could have gone in a completely different direction. Regardless, this isn't a bad way to rebuild on the fly.
Detroit has been interested in Al Jefferson for the past two and a half seasons.
They could have bought low on a guy who filled a major position of need.
Whether Jefferson could effectively play alongside Greg Monroe was questionable, but it certainly would have been worth a try for this price.
Yet, because of their ownership flux and organizational apathy, Detroit is left with the same roster holes and guys, like Tayshaun Prince, who don't want to be there anymore.
Rip Hamilton to Cleveland
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Cleveland gets: Rip Hamilton
Detroit gets: First Round Pick
Speaking of Detroit, if this story is true, then I've lost my last bits of respect for Richard Hamilton. (Not that he does or should care.)
I do think Rip has felt entitled way too often in Detroit, as most of their former 2004 stars did/do. (Those guys always acted like they were a dynasty, not a one hit wonder.)
At the same time, I had a lot of sympathy for him, as he's been trapped on a truly bad team during the twilight of his career. I certainly didn't agree with his being benched this season, only to not be moved at the deadline.
Wait, so Richard Hamilton re-signed a rediculously overpaid contract (Detroit's fault, not his), but then decided he didn't like the situation... Then, he undermined his coach at every turn because he "wants to win", but didn't take his ticket out of town? (Another critical gaffe by Detroit was putting a "player veto" option into such a bad contract!)
Am I missing something here?
It's obvious Rip wants his money, but how much does he think he's worth? Does he want the money or does he want to win?
If he wants the rest of this contract, then he needs to suck it up and play for John Kuester, whether he likes him or not (and whether Kuester actually plays him or not).
If he wanted to win, he should have gone to Cleveland, played five games with an equally bummed out and underachieving Baron Davis, been bought out, and then had his pick of either Boston or Chicago.
Instead of being a relevant basketball player again, Rip Hamilton has apparently voided credibility for pride. He's choking on the cake that he wanted to have and eat too.
Luol Deng to Dallas
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Dallas gets: Luol Deng & Kyle Korver
Chicago gets: Caron Butler & Jason Terry
Both of these teams needed to get something done before the trade deadline.
The Bulls have pretty well guaranteed themselves home court advantage for at least the first round of the Playoffs. However, they've been trying to upgrade their two guard firepower for awhile now.
Jason Terry would have provided enough scoring punch, while effectively pairing in rotation with longer, more defensive oriented guys like Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans.
In exchange for this future insurance, the Bulls would be asking Brewer, Bogans, and Taj Gibson to man the small forward fort until Caron Butler was ready for the Playoffs.
On the other hand, the Mavericks are battling in a Western Conference that's awfully tight from top to bottom. They've been searching for a way to replace production from Caron Butler's currently vacated spot. Can they wait long enough for him to return?
This deal would have replaced most of their missing offense, while also upgrading defensively with Deng. The tradeoff was getting locked into Deng's longer deal.
Losing a Mavericks mainstay like Jason Terry might hurt at first, but his production has been declining for awhile, and he's going to become even more redundant now that Rodrigue Beaubois is back.
Dallas could have continued to stretch the floor with Kyle Korver, while bolstering their roster in the here and now.
Instead, both teams have chosen to wait and see.
I wonder if they feel as nervous about that as I do.