With the NBA’s February 20th trade deadline just around the corner, Ball So Hard looks at several deals that could alter how the postseason unfolds.
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: SG Arron Afflalo
Orlando Magic receive: SG Jeremy Lamb, C Kendrick Perkins and a 2014 first-round pick via Dallas
The outstanding play of Kevin Durant has given the Thunder the league’s best record so far this season, but in the pressure cooker environment of the playoffs, OKC’s superstar could use some help.
Russell Westbrook will be returning after the All-Star break, but even then the Thunder’s third scoring option is the inexperienced Lamb.
Getting Afflalo would give the Thunder another proven scorer who could play as both a third wheel with the starters or lead their second unit.
For Orlando, it could be a good time to sell high on Afflalo, who is having a career year but might not be in their future plans.
If they can get another first-round pick (OKC can offer Dallas’ pick, which is top 20 protected, or their own), it could be worth taking on Perkins contract.
Portland Trail Blazers receive: C Omer Asik
Houston Rockets receive: SF Jeff Green
Boston Celtics receive: SF Dorell Wright, C Joel Freeland, PF Victor Claver, 2014 first-round pick (Rockets)
This trade is a possible win-win-win.
The Trail Blazers have been one of the league’s surprise teams this season. They can score with the best of them, but their defence – especially around the rim – has been subpar.
Adding Asik is a definite upgrade over current starting centre Robin Lopez and gives them a certified rim protector.
Asik is currently wasting away on Houston’s bench after failing to show he could play alongside Dwight Howard.
Although Green is listed as a small forward, he is 6-8 and could easily play a stretch four role in a small-ball line-up.
At the moment, anything is an upgrade over Asik for Houston, and a move for Green could push them into serious contender status.
This season is all about rebuilding for Boston.
They’ve been reluctant to deal Rajon Rondo, choosing instead to build around him with draft picks and young talent.
Green is a good player, but he isn’t the future of the Celtics, so if they can get a first-rounder in this year’s loaded draft class they could be seriously tempted.
Phoenix Suns receive: C Pau Gasol
Los Angeles Lakers receive: C Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick via Indiana
The Suns surprised everyone this season with the success they had earlier in the season.
And even with Eric Bledsoe going down with an MCL injury, they currently sit seventh in the West.
GM Ryan McDonough has made clear his desire to acquire some established talent to assist with their unexpected playoff push, and Gasol could be the perfect fit.
The big Spaniard’s contract comes off the books at the end of the year, so even if things don’t pay off the Suns are only set back to where they started.
The Lakers aren’t heading to the postseason this year, and acquiring Okafor’s expiring deal (80% of which is covered by insurance) would give them better odds of receiving a high draft pick, and some much needed cap relief.
The biggest obstacle the two teams need to overcome is which pick the Suns would send to LA. Phoenix has up to four picks in this year’s draft, but they have been reluctant to part ways with anything higher than Indiana’s 30th overall project pick.
Phoenix Suns receive: PF Thaddeus Young and C Spencer Hawes
Philadelphia 76ers receive: C Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick
If anything could convince the Suns to part ways with a higher pick, it could be this deal from the 76ers.
Phoenix would receive two players that could give them instant help as they head towards the playoffs.
Miles Plumlee has had a breakout year in Phoenix, but he can go missing during games. Spencer Hawes is the best three-point shooting centre in the league, something which could be perfectly exploited in the Suns three-point happy offence.
Similarly, the Morris twins have been excellent off the bench for the Suns, and Channing Frye has had some great games, but Young gives Phoenix options at their weakest positions (small and power forward) that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The 76ers are already bad, but this deal could help make them even worse while also cutting salary in both the short and long term.
Philadelphia 76ers receive: SG Ben Gordon and a 2014 first-round pick via Portland
Charlotte Bobcats receive: SF Evan Turner
Another salary/wins saving deal for the Sixers.
Gordon is far from the valuable bench scorer he was during his time in Chicago, but his $13 million deal comes off the books at the seasons end.
And if the 76ers can land any of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid or Julius Randle in the draft, they could become an attractive destination for free agents.
While jettisoning Turner saves the Sixers from losing him for nothing in the offseason.
The Bobcats are in the race for a playoff spot in the East – currently clinging onto the eighth seed – and if they decide they want to go all-out for the postseason, Turner could be their man.
Its a risky move for the Bobcats. If they don’t make the playoffs, that pick would become a valuable lottery pick.
However, Charlotte are desperate for some postseason success as they transition into becoming the Hornets again next season, and sometimes it takes a risky move to have that success.
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: SG Rodney Stuckey and PF Greg Monroe
Detroit Pistons receive: SF Jeff Green, PG Jarrett Jack and PG/SG Avery Bradley
Boston Celtics receive: PF Charlie Villanueva, SG Dion Waiters, a 2014 first-round pick via Cleveland and a 2015 first-round pick via Detroit
This final trade is definitely speculative, but it makes a huge amount of sense for each party involved.
The Pistons’ front court of Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond have struggle to work effectively together this season. Adding Green would allow Smith to transition to his natural power forward position, and give the emerging Drummond control of the centre position.
While acquiring Jack and Bradley gives them some depth in the backcourt behind the inconsistent Brandon Jennings and the inexperienced Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Cleveland are desperate to make a run at the playoffs this season, and Waiters has reportedly been a distraction in the locker room at times this season.
Monroe would give them a talented young big to work around Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng, while Stuckey would hopefully provide the offensive spark that Waiters and Jack have failed to provide this season.
For Boston, this is another move that allows them to acquire a young prospect in Waiters, some cap relief in Villanueva and some valuable first-rounders to help their rebuild over the next couple of years.