Amidst all the NBA trade deadline speculation fans love to play general manager and talk about the moves they would make if they could.
Usually, these moves are unrealistic, a fantasy that would drive pay rolls well above what most teams can afford or moves that don’t play to the philosophy of a franchise’s management team. Making realistic moves is an art form and the reason why front office people make bigger bucks than the average Joe.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun and craft some deals of our own. Some of these are high profile moves, others may seem miniscule but play to a team’s advantage in the long term or as part of their rebuilding process, but all of them are pretty realistic.
DEAL No. 1
Luke Ridnour and Greg Stiemsma to Dallas for Chris Kaman.
Dallas is still in need of a point guard if they are going to make a post season push and the T-Wolves are said to be shopping Ridnour. Kaman has been in and out of the Mavericks lineup and his expiring $8 million contract makes him one of the Mavericks best trade chips. While Luke Ridnour isn’t an all-star point guard by any means, he’s as good as any option the Mavericks have and his 12 point and 4 assist per game average in a point guard heavy lineup that limits his minutes in Minnesota shows what he can do. He’s an experienced player and would cost the Mavs just $4 million next season. With a team option on Darren Collison, Mark Cuban could still go after an all-star caliber point guard in the offseason and make Ridnour a back up.
Stiemsma is a player that Minnesota can do without if they get Kaman, who they could possibly resign on a cheaper deal if they like him in the offseason. For the Mavs, the 27-year old Stiemsma is a developing talent that could take the next step under Rick Carlisle as a back up for the Mavs. He is making just $2.5 million a season and has a team option in his contract for this summer if things didn’t work out. Considering he is averaging 1.2 blocks per game in just 13 minutes a night, I’d say it’s worth the risk for Dallas as he could be a direct replacement for Kaman.
DEAL No. 2
Josh Smith to Cavs for Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee and a first round pick.
Atlanta GM Danny Ferry isn’t interested in trading Josh Smith for a Pau Gasol or anyone other than young players with promise and value. Any deal that takes Smith out of a Hawks uniform would likely also include a draft pick, but what team out there with young talent and a first round pick of any value would want Smith, a borderline all-star who is fun to watch but frustratingly inconsistent?
Cleveland. With Kyrie Irving developing into a bonafide star, Dion Waiters proving he could be one of the best two guards in the game in three years time and Anderson Varejao, the Cavs could have a lethal lineup if they can acquire Smith to play along side him. Without Gee or Thompson, Cleveland would only have around $25 million committed to their lineup next season, plenty of room to offer Smith the max deal he covets while still having room to sign a small forward and some depth for their bench. Having Marreese Speights and Tyler Zeller to backup Varejao and Smith, the front court would be set.
Atlanta would receive a promising young talent who can rebound with a developing offensive game in Thompson and an exciting 26-year old play maker in Gee who only costs $3.5 million a season. If the deal included a draft pick, odds are it would be a much higher one than the Hawks have this season as Cleveland is certainly not going to sniff a playoff berth. It’s the type of trade that can help Ferry facilitate the rebuilding process he plans on starting this summer and brings significant value back on a player he might lose for nothing.
Note: This deal is somewhat unrealistic because Cleveland would never commit that much of their young talent and a draft pick without some assurance that Smith would resign, so unless that hurdle could be overcome, this one isn’t possible. Also, Atlanta may be looking to hang onto Smith as they will make the postseason yet again and could use him to lure his good friend Dwight Howard in the summer.
DEAL No. 3
Charlotte sends Byron Mullens and Ben Gordon to L.A. for Pau Gasol.
The ongoing trade rumors for Pau Gasol have chilled out a bit since it surfaced that he will be out 6-8 weeks with an injury, but that should matter little to the Bobcats who have been rumored to be interested in Gasol since their season is already in the toilet.
Ben Gordon’s contract is too much with too little return for the Bobcats to bear, but the Lakers could use some help off their bench which Gordon can provide. His contract expires after next season effectively clearing an additional $13 million from the books at the same time that Kobe Bryant’s massive deal comes to an end. Bryant would likely get an extension or a new deal of some sort, but his backup Gordon probably wouldn’t. An additional up side for L.A. is that Gordon can fill in at point guard for Steve Nash when he suffers injury problems.
By getting rid of Gasol, the Lakers clear space for Earl Clark to assume a starting role, something that might not be so bad in the eyes of their fans since Clark has played pretty well for them. Acquiring Mullens gets them a nice option off the bench as he can shoot from anywhere, a key component to succeeding under Mike D’Antoni for anyone other than a center. His $3 million deal expires after next season assuming the Lakers meet his qualifying offer this summer.
DEAL No. 4
Derrick Favors for Toney Douglas and Patrick Patterson
The Rockets need an athletic four who can offer something more to the starting lineup than Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris. General Manager Darryl Morey could move one of those players in a deal but the market for either is limited.
Utah is said to be looking for some back up at the point guard position due to injury trouble for Mo Williams and Earl Watson and is considering moves before the deadline. The Jazz have a selection of front court players they can turn to if they lose the 22-year old Favors who averages 21 minutes per night for Tyrone Corbin’s team.
The Rockets want youth if they make a deal and Favors fits that bill. By acquiring the third year player, they could have a starting four or someone who could serve as a solid backup for Omer Asik at the five. The Jazz would get the backup they need at point guard in Toney Douglas and a guy to fill Favors minutes in Patterson who averages higher scoring numbers than Favors.
The move leaves Houston a bit thin at point guard, but with James Harden able to handle the ball as well as Jeremy Lin and the Rockets having signed backup point guard Patrick Beverley, they should be fine. To further entice the Jazz, Douglas has an expiring contract this season meaning their commitment to him would be short term.