Another year passes with an extremely quiet trade deadline. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, with few trades going down over the course of the season in the NBA. However – with the rumors and reports regarding some of the most talented players in the NBA – when the trade deadline comes and goes without anything substantial emerging, most fans are left un-amused. Teams are now set for the home-stretch as organizations make their playoff push, but we as fans can still dream can’t we? Here are some trades – some more fantasy than reality – that should, or could have gone down at the deadline last Thursday –
*Stats from before trade deadline
Paul Millsap (Utah) for Eric Bledsoe (L.A. Clippers)
During recent years in the Association, big men have been some of the most sought after players for any team looking to establish a solid foundation. The Jazz somehow over the last couple seasons have built up a plethora of talented young athletes at the power forward and center position. With two former top-three draft picks in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors — at only 20 and 21 years old respectively — Utah’s frontcourt has more potential than just about any other team in the league. Millsap is currently averaging 30.5 minutes per contest, while Favors (22.0 MPG) and Kanter (14.3 MPG) try and fight for more minutes each and every game. Trading Millsap alone would have opened up a huge void for the two young big-men to willingly and eagerly fill.
Obtaining Bledsoe from the Clippers also would have been a huge move for the Jazz. Mo Williams has missed much of the season now with a right thumb injury and Utah’s backup point guard situation is almost embarrassing. Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson – Utah’s only two true-point guards with Williams out – are averaging a combined 5.8 points, during a shared 45.2 minutes per game in their last ten outings. Bledsoe alone has averaged 12.0 PPG in only 27.4 MPG over the last ten games and has added almost five assists per game over the same period.
Millsap would have put the final stamp on the Clips as a Championship contender. Though ‘Lob’ City has arguably the deepest team in the league, they lack any real depth behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Ryan Hollins and Lamar Odom are the only two players on their roster averaging double-digit minutes a game off the bench in their last ten – however Hollins and Odom only average a combined 6.5 PPG on the season. Millsap would come off the bench to solidify the premier second unit in the league. Though Millsap’s minutes and numbers would likely dip, the Clippers would certainly have a rise in their wins column.
Josh Smith (Atlanta) for Monta Ellis (Milwaukee)
Josh Smith and Monta Ellis were probably the two biggest names reported to likely be moved by the trade deadline – and it just so happened it was very possible they could be dealt for each other. Josh Smith has been said to looking for a max-contract, one that the Hawks are reluctant to give him. With Smith in the final year of his contract, it seemed like Atlanta wanted to try and get something for him instead of watching him walk away at the end of the season and left with nothing in return. Though it would be hard for the Hawks to part ways with such a young and talented athlete, they surely wouldn’t mind getting rid of countless ill-advised shots.
The Hawks would end up receiving the scoring threat they lost when Joe Johnson departed this offseason. Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings–Monta Ellis backcourt duo hasn’t thrived as management had hoped, and the two players have trouble playing cohesively, as both players are scorers by nature. Ellis would finally be able to get back to the way he knows how to play the game – and score the basketball. After losing Lou Williams for the remainder of the year earlier this season, Atlanta really needed a scoring threat for the playoff push.
Milwaukee would have gotten a great athletic wingman for Brandon Jennings. Smith and Jennings would be able to run the court in transition like few other teammates can in the NBA. Smith would also pair with Larry Sanders to create one of the most intimidating shot blocking duos in the league. This trade could have truly increased both teams’ playoff hopes – although these two teams will likely be battling things out down the stretch for one of the final spots in the Eastern Conference.
Dwight Howard (L.A. Lakers) for Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace (Brooklyn)
The Dwight Howard saga continues in L.A. for the foreseeable future at least. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player turn from hero to villain as fast as Dwight Howard did last year and into this season – okay, maybe LeBron James. Kobe and Dwight just don’t seem to have the chemistry needed for two stars to coexist. Howard is averaging his worst scoring output since his third season, and his rebounding totals are his worst since his sophomore year in the NBA. It doesn’t seem like the player formerly known as “Superman” is still hurting from injuries, as much as he is lacking in motivation. With Dwight on the last year of his contract, this could have been the perfect time to pull the trigger.
It was no secret that Howard wanted to go to Brooklyn last offseason. A departure from Orlando was sufficient at the time however – and who would mind moving to Los Angeles. Before the trade deadline though, Dwight was probably back to praying he would be traded to Mikhail Prokhorov’s Nets. Although both teams stayed quiet at the deadline, this trade could have helped both teams.
If Howard could get back to form, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace could possible be a bargain – although Lopez is finally becoming a premier center in the NBA. Even then, if Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard, you go after him. Howard would cap off the team Prokhorov dreamed of creating when he bought the New Jersey Nets two years ago. Deron Williams tossing alley-oops to Dwight Howard is pretty fun to even just imagine, and I’m sure there was plenty of Brooklyn fans hoping their dreams would become a reality.
The trade also would have been a great move for the Lakers as well. Brook Lopez is a blue-collar athlete who goes out every game and works hard no matter what the circumstances are. He would be a much better fit with Kobe and they could likely create a much better on court rapport. Lopez – as I said above – is becoming one of the best young big-men in the league and was awarded his first all-star selection this year because of it. Not only would Brook Lopez be a great addition for L.A. but also Gerald Wallace would be the perfect fit for Dantoni’s system – with the nickname “Crash” there may not be a player better fit in the game. This trade would have helped one team make a run at the playoffs, and give one team the “star power” their owner had been looking for, and piece that could have made them perennial Championship contenders.
Amar’e Stoudemire (New York) for Pau Gasol (L.A. Lakers)
Are there two players that seem to need a change of scenery than Amar’e or Pau? Stoudemire is averaging less MPG this season than in any of his previous nine seasons where he played more than four games. He is averaging less rebounds and assists per game than in any of his ten seasons in the league, and is having his worst scoring season since his rookie campaign. The Lakers could have jumped on him at an opportune time when his value was at an all time low.
Amar’e has proven his value in the Dantoni system, and a reunion with Steve Nash could help spark resurgence in Stoudemire’s game. In his last five seasons without Carmelo for the full year, Amar’e averaged 23.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 blocks. While his passing has always left much to be desired, those are all-star caliber numbers from a player who is currently averaging 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.4 assists – yeah, that’s four tenths of an assist – and 0.7 blocks per contest. Amar’e would have been smiling ear to ear if he had to book a ticket to L.A. at the trade deadline.
Pau is in a very similar situation as Stoudemire. His stats this year are atrocious compared to what we’ve been accustomed to seeing out of Pau Gasol – and he doesn’t have the MPG excuse. Averaging over 33 minutes per game this season, Gasol is enduring his worst shooting season of his career. Pau is shooting 45% from the field and averaging only 13.4 points per game – both career lows. While eight rebounds a game this season is respectable for a power forward, over the previous three seasons, Gasol averaged 10.6 rebounds per game. Pau used to be Kobe’s wingman, and now he seems more like Bryant’s stepping stool.
Although the Knicks wouldn’t be rewarded right away by trading for Gasol, (he is out until possibly the beginning of April with a torn planter fascia) they would likely be content with the long-term outcome. First of all, Amar’e and Carmelo have never been on the same page together, and it appears Stoudemire is the odd man out – coming off the bench in every game this season. Gasol could come in once healthy and provide a back to the basket and mid-range presence that ‘Melo could work off of. Pau would work well with Carmelo, similarly to how Gasol and Kobe used to coincide in recent years. Gasol is also a more willing and natural defender than Amar’e, and his presence with Chandler would have created the defensive prowess coach Mike Woodson is looking for. This trade would have benefitted both teams in the long term.
Tyreke Evans (Sacramento) for Wilson Chandler (Denver)
This was a possible trade that really didn’t gain any media attention during the trade deadline, but it could have helped both teams dramatically in the short and long term. After a sensational rookie season that gained him ROY honors, Evans hasn’t only hit a plateau, but statistically he’s gotten worse. During his rookie campaign, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game – impressive for any player, let alone a rookie. Since then, he has averaged less in all three of those categories every season he’s played. Evans also has butted heads with coach Keith Smart, along with other Kings’ players. In the last year of his contract, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Evans move on to another city after this year, and it would have been smart for the Kings to try and receive something in return. Moving Tyreke to Denver would have made sense for the Nuggets. He can play the one through three and a player as versatile as him is hard to come by in the NBA. His statistical dip may be somewhat worrisome, but something tells me a coach like George Karl would be able to turn things around for the 23 year old.
In return, Sacramento would welcome Wilson Chandler’s size and athleticism. The Kings starting small forward – John Salmons – isn’t nearly the same player he was in his last stint with the team several years back. In just under 30 minutes per game, Salmons is averaging only 9.2 points per contest. With three more years on his contract after this season, Chandler could come in and instantly improve a team looking for a new face and leader of the future for the franchise.
Josh Smith (Atlanta) for Carlos Boozer (Chicago)
I’m baffled sometimes when a player like Josh Smith is searching for a max-contract. It’s one thing when a shooting guard takes an abundance of ill-advised shots, but a team rarely wants to see that out of their power forward. Many fans think of Smith as a small or power forward who is a decent jump shooter – but numbers say otherwise. Josh Smith outside of the paint this season is shooting an embarrassing 32%. With a star to play off of, Smith doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands in big situations where he may make many of his errors. The Bulls would welcome Smith’s athleticism to pair with Rose’s, once he returns. A combination of Derrick Rose and Josh Smith in transition would be one of the most menacing in the league, and could have helped the Bulls make a genuine Championship run.
At first glance, Atlanta trading Smith to Chicago for Boozer may seem as though the former gets the slim end of the deal, however Atlanta could have benefitted from the deal. Boozer is shooting 38% from mid-range, finishes well at the rim and also boasts a slightly higher defensive rating than Smith. With Smith almost certainly seeking big money after the season, this move could have been at least a preemptive strike against losing Josh Smith for nothing at the end of the season.
**Stats from NBA.com, ESPN.com and NBA Advanced Stats
Contract info from Espn NBA Trade Machine
(Photo Millsap) http://sports-kings.com/passthepill/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/milsap.jpg
(Photo Bledsoe) http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2012/1110/la_lakersclpprs_14.jpg
(Photo Smith) http://www.speculativesports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/joshsmith.jpg
(Photo Ellis) http://sinbapointforward.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/monta-ellis-bucks.jpg?w=610&h=425
(Photo Howard) http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/visual/whatshot/02112013_dwight_howard.jpg
(Photo Lopez) http://ww2.hdnux.com/photos/16/04/07/3686885/5/628×471.jpg
(Photo Stoudemire) http://media.northjersey.com/images/0209S1_Amare_70p.jpg
(Photo Gasol) http://www.gannett-cdn.com/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2013/02/06/2013-02-06-pau-gasol-4_3_rx512_c680x510.jpg?0f5c31de35bf4ef88a50c2e35ee3bc4da4bf3083
(Photo Evans) http://bcnbatalk.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/tyreke-evans1.jpg
(Photo Chandler) http://www.gannett-cdn.com/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2013/01/16/gty-159555270-3_4_r536_c534.jpg?1b79b3da202957124496e3768cfb7b67cdb10c81
(Photo Boozer) http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/AdJ__2F6eziExfP8o5p.Ng–/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NQ–/http://media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/sptusnbaexperts/CBAG2813.jpg