What’s In It For Us?
Five trades that should happen before the ’11-12 season kicks off.
by Leo Sepkowitz
With the lockout over and the season three weeks away, there will soon be tons of player movement throughout the League. Free agency will be crammed into just a couple of weeks, and trades could be coming in faster than ever. Rumors have been pouring in over the past week, so it’s a good time to analyze potential “off-season” trades. Here are five deals that work under the salary cap that should happen before the season kicks off, not involving Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.
Trade No. 1:
Jazz Acquire: James Harden, Eric Maynor, Nate Robinson
Thunder Acquire: Al Jefferson
Jefferson has two years and $28 million left on his contract, so OKC needs to muster up some money to balance the deal. That’s why Robinson and his $4.5 million expiring contract is included.
What’s In It For Utah
By dealing away Deron Williams last season, the Jazz brought in power forward Derrick Favors and a pick that turned into rookie center Enes Kanter. With Paul Millsap still around, they have tremendous depth in the frontcourt, making Jefferson expendable. They lack a scorer who can create his own shot, and Harden can be that guy for them. Maynor, originally drafted by Utah, would be nice insurance in case Devin Harris flops. Robinson probably won’t bring much to the table, but there are far worse money-balancers.
What’s In It For Oklahoma City
Harden is a really important piece in the Thunder’s offense, but they need a big man who can score. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison are all strong defensively, but cannot be relied on as scorers. Jefferson, who averaged 18.5 points per game last season, would take a lot of pressure off of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with his ability to put up points in the paint.
Trade No. 2:
Lakers Acquire: Steve Nash
Timberwolves Acquire: Lamar Odom, Lakers First-Round Pick
Suns Acquire: Michael Beasley, Devin Ebanks, Lakers First-Round Pick
The Lakers are way over the cap, so they need to make a dollar-for-dollar trade to land Nash. By sending Odom to Minnesota, a team under the cap, and Ebanks’ small contract to Phoenix, they do just that. Minnesota eats up some money but adds a first-round pick, while the Suns clear up a few million in their payroll this season.
What’s In It For Los Angeles
People liked to say that a star point guard wouldn’t fit in Phil Jackson’s system, but the Zen Master is gone. LA will likely lose Shannon Brown in free agency, leaving them really thin at guard and putting way too much pressure on Derek Fisher. Obviously Nash would be a huge upgrade, and at the cost of a couple of picks, which they seemingly never use anyway, and an aging role player in Odom, there’s no way they could pass.
What’s In It For Phoenix
Nash is entering his contract year this season, so Phoenix has to consider moving him. There’s a pretty good chance he’d re-sign with them a year from now as he seems to love Phoenix, but so what if he does? The Suns don’t have the pieces to win any time soon, and this deal could help them move on. Beasley likes to shoot a little too much, but a lineup featuring him, Aaron Brooks, Robin Lopez and Markieff Morris is one with promise. Ebanks isn’t a bad player to have lying around, either.
What’s In It For Minnesota
Not a whole lot. However, they showed interest in Odom on draft day, so I’m assuming they still like him. Beasley, a free agent at season’s end, will probably sign elsewhere with Derrick Williams now in the fold for the Wolves, so they should deal him while they can. Lakers first-round picks tend to be at the back end, but it’s still a solid piece. Add in GM David Kahn’s ability to make the worst possible move at any moment, and it all comes together perfectly.