Trade speculation is at a fever pitch now that we’re just two days away from the NBA trade deadline. At this point, nearly every team has a rumor or two attached to its name.
Some proposed trades are massive, others miniscule and seemingly meaningless other than to free up salary cap space or acquire an aspiring contract. Regardless, of how meaningful they are or not, let’s take a look at the rumors surrounding the teams of the Southeast division.
It’s been established that no name is hotter on the trade market right now than Josh Smith. All-Star weekend saw rumors surface that the Milwaukee Bucks are an interested suitor, a move that we first explored here on Opposing Views back in early November.
The Bucks could offer a solid back court player in Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings, breaking up a duo that is effectively comprised of two identical players. The problem with dealing Jennings for Smith is that the Bucks would need to send someone with him to make the money side of the deal feasible. That would likely be Ersan Ilyasova heading the other way, a player the Bucks just signed to a five year $40 million deal last summer.
That deal is workable if the Bucks have a guarantee that Smith would resign with them, but given that it was just a few years ago that Smith ripped on the Brew City saying “everyone knows that there is nothing to do in Milwaukee,” it’s doubtful. The Bucks would probably not be willing to deal Jennings, a player they drafted and could possibly resign after the season nor would they want to let go of a guy they’ve invested in by dealing Ilyasova just to bring in a guy that doesn’t really want to be in Milwaukee.
A more likely trade would be Monta Ellis and possibly a draft pick or Mike Dunleavy’s expiring contract for Smith. This move allows the Hawks to get the man they’re interested in and returns a scorer to Atlanta while keeping some of their expiring contract value with Dunleavy. Ellis’s contract has a player option after this year, but he is likely to opt out if he stays in Milwaukee. Atlanta is a much more enticing option and could let him have the two guard position to play alongside either Louis Williams or Jeff Teague. A starting lineup that included Horford and Ellis next season is enough for Danny Ferry to kick start the rebuilding process around.
Why it won’t happen: Smith’s unwillingness to resign with the Bucks and doubts over Ellis as an impact guy that is worth trading for. Ferry may not feel he is worth trading Smith for, particularly considering his team is currently the sixth seed in the East.
The ongoing state of flux the Bobcats are in has to stop at some point. After last week’s dust up in practice between Ben Gordon and coach Mike Dunlap, it seems that Gordon is the primary trade chip being talked about with the Bobcats.
It’s been said for some time that Gordon could be traded, but where to and for what in return changes by the day. I still believe the Bobcats should offer Gordon and just about anything else outside of their young talent to the Lakers for Pau Gasol, but it isn’t going to happen.
Instead, the latest rumor has them trading Gordon for Andrea Bargnani and the $33 million he is owed over the next two seasons. The other big one involving Gordon had the Brooklyn Nets trading Kris Humphries to Charlotte in a straight exchange. Of the two, the latter is more believable as it would at least give the Bobcats a solid defender and rebounder in Humphries.
Acquiring Bargnani is like bringing in an incredibly expensive version of Byron Mullens and would only make the Bobcats interior defense even weaker. By no means is Bargnani an answer to their current problems or a piece that they can build around in the long term. While they certainly have to trade Gordon, it doesn’t make any sense for either side for it to be Bargnani considering the Raptors have plenty of talent at the shooting guard position and don’t need Gordon.
Not so surprisingly, Miami is the one team in the Southeast that would shock people if they made a trade. Defending their title with a cast of stars and solid role players has them sitting on top of the Eastern Conference, so it’s tough to see the Heat really shaking things up. Their weakness is their size, but at this point they won’t be making a deal that changes anything before the summer.
The most popular name on the Magic roster is obviously JJ Redick, but the team has acknowledged a willingness to deal its veterans like Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo and Josh McRoberts. How much interest any of those three would attract is uncertain and the team has said that they aren’t looking to deal anyone, but they did acknowledge that they have to listen offers and would consider any deal that makes the team better in the long term.
Chicago is currently working on the framework of a deal that would see the two teams exchange picks and players. The Magic would receive Hamilton with a team option on his contract after this season and rookie point guard Marquis Teague as well as the expiring contracts of Vladamir Radmonovic and Marco Bellinelli. The Bulls would get Redick and young point guard Ish Smith. Added to that would be the Bulls getting a future second round pick and the Magic getting a future first round pick.
This deal is possible as the Magic have to give up very little in exchange for clearing around $7.8 million in salary at season’s end while picking up a future first round pick in exchange for a second rounder and acquiring a first round pick from last year’s draft in Teague. But, the Magic may still want to resign Redick after the season and he’s made it clear he intends to stay. So why rock the boat when both player and team are happy?
Well, we couldn’t get all the way through this story without getting back to Josh Smith. Shockingly, some NBA insiders have the Wizards in contention for landing Smith, but how the deal would work is a matter that leaves a lot to question.
The most plausible scenario has the Wizards sending Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin and either Jordan Crawford or Jan Vesely to the Hawks for Smith and the cheap contract of DeShawn Stevenson. It’s a deal that essentially dismantles the Hawks for this season, but does provide them with a center that allows Al Horford to move to power forward. They would get a good backup power forward in Kevin Seraphin and acquire a young player they can try to develop in Vesely or Crawford.
The Wizards rebuilding experiment would undergo a major face lift if they acquired Smith to go with John Wall and Bradley Beal and possibly save Ernie Grunfeld’s job. Stevenson is a decent second line player they could acquire for cheap ($2.2 million with a team option for next season) to even out the deal.
Whether or not any of the players mentioned from the Wizards are guys that Danny Ferry is interested in is questionable, but if the trigger was pulled on this deal it quickly becomes official that Atlanta is starting a new era of Hawks basketball. The Wizards essentially do the same, but a new era in any sense would be a welcome concept in the capital.