Wheeling and Dealing
Five trades that should go down before the trade deadline.
Nets Receive: Kevin Garnett, Reggie Williams
Celtics Receive: MarShon Brooks, Tyshawn Taylor, DeSagana Diop
Bobcats Receive: Kris Humphries, 1st-round pick from Nets
The Financials: The Bobcats send out $10 million between Diop and Williams and bring in Humphries—the $12 million man. Again, under CBA rules, it’s close enough to work for them. Brooklyn ships away about $14 million and brings in about $14 million—easy. Boston saves $2.5 million by swapping KG’s $11.5 million for Diop, Brooks and Taylor’s combined $9 million.
What’s in it for Boston:
The Short Answer: They enter re-building mode.
The Long Answer: If Boston opts to move on from the Big Three era following Rondo’s injury, it’ll likely be with a Garnett trade rather than a Pierce one. I, for one, think Pierce is too much of an iconic Celtic to move for a mediocre replacement package.
After signing KG to a three-year, $34 million deal this summer, they owe him some serious dough moving forward. This deal bails them out from that contract. Diop expires after this season, and all that will be left a year from now are Brooks’ and Taylor’s rookie contracts.
On the court, they get a really solid wing player in Brooks. He doesn’t play much—or, really, any—defense, but he can certainly score the ball. Brooks shined in his rookie season with the Nets. This year, he’s been buried on the bench behind Joe Johnson, CJ Watson and, at times, Jerry Stackhouse. But he’s shooting 48 percent from the floor—good for a volume shooter—and can really produce if given a chance.
Taylor is unlikely to make a big impact, but he was a productive college player and has played very well in the D-League this season. He has good size at 6-3, and there’s nothing wrong with seeing if former point guard Doc Rivers can’t maximize his potential. This is fair compensation for a soon-to-be 37-year-old with a ton of money left on his contract who’s getting moved midseason.
What’s in it for Brooklyn:
The Short Answer: They become legitimate title contenders.
The Long Answer: The Nets are good. Not great—good. They can’t get past the Heat as currently constituted, and would have a very tough time beating the Knicks in a best-of-seven series. This deal would give them a real chance to reach the Finals.
Their main flaw is on the defensive end, where KG could help to sure up the post alongside Brook Lopez, who is averaging a career-high 2.2 blocks per game this season. A starting unit featuring Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Garnett and Lopez would be incredibly tough, and they’d still have Watson, Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans off the bench. They’d give up a good young player, a productive rebounder and a pick, but really it’s a no-brainer for the Nets.
What’s in it for Charlotte:
The Short Answer: A pick.
The Long Answer: Last season, the Bobcats swapped Corey Maggette’s one-year crappy contract for Ben Gordon’s two-year crappy contract, and got a first-round pick from Detroit for paying Gordon for an extra season. They’d essentially be doing the same thing here. Rather than pay Diop too much for a half-season, they’ll be paying Hump too much for a season-and-a-half.
Nobody wants to pay Humphries’ $12 million, but he’ll be a free agent after next season, when Gordon will also be coming off the books freeing a ton of salary cap space. Not to mention he’s actually a decent player. They’re not a particularly active team in free agency even when they do have money to spend, so it’s in their best interest to stockpile picks and wait until their young guys develop before attacking the free agent market.
Nuggets Receive: Josh Smith
Hawks Receive: JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler
The Financials: Neither team has any available cap space, but the total salaries work, anyway.
What’s in it for Atlanta:
The Short Answer: Insurance.
The Long Answer: It’s very rare to get a player as good as Smith, so if the Hawks are absolutely sure they can re-sign him, they shouldn’t move him. The problem is that the to-be unrestricted free agent recently said he’ll be looking for a max contract (and will get one from someone, somewhere). Even if the Hawks want to pony up enough dough, there’s no guarantee Smith will stay in Atlanta, where they’ve constantly gotten bounced early in the postseason. They should make this trade rather than risk losing Smith for nothing.
Plus, this deal allows the Hawks to stay competitive in the short- and long-term. Chandler and McGee are both locked up for three full seasons after this one, meaning they won’t have to worry about losing them. Combined, they’ll earn about as much annually as Smith would under a max contract. The duo would slot in nicely alongside Jeff Teague and Al Horford (who would move to the 4).
Chandler’s numbers have gone down every season with Denver, but his minutes have been extremely limited. If the Hawks kept him in the starting lineup playing 30+ minutes per night, I have no doubt he’d return to his New York form—roughly 16 points (46 percent), 6 boards, 1.5 blocks and a three per game before he got dealt. Those are surprisingly similar to Smith’s ’12-13 numbers—16.3 points (45 percent), 8.3 boards, 2.2 rejections, 0.7 threes.
McGee’s minutes are down, too, but he’s very productive on a per-minute basis. Horford’s numbers are basically the same whether he starts at forward or center, and he should continue to progress into one of the League’s most reliable bigs alongside JaVale.
What’s in it for Denver:
The Short Answer: A star forward who might be able to take them to the next level.
The Long Answer: McGee’s minutes have been limited in Denver since George Karl favors fellow centers Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov. Denver is definitely regretting giving McGee as much money as they did this summer, and would likely move him if they could. Chandler’s contract—which is reasonable for a starter—makes him one of the highest-paid reserves in the NBA.
The Nuggets are very deep—the perfect team to make a 2-1 like this. McGee and Chandler combine for about 36 minutes a night. Smith would shoulder nearly all of those, while opening up a spot for somebody like Anthony Randolph or Evan Fournier to enter the back-end of the rotation.
Most importantly, Smith is an absolutely perfect fit in Denver. He can run, he can fly, he can score, he can rebound—he can do it all. He’d fit right in alongside Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, making Denver a very scary team with a ton of serious weapons. Right now, they’re fun to watch but aren’t good enough to beat the elite teams in the West come Playoff time. This deal would give them a real chance.
Rockets Receive: Paul Millsap, Landry Fields
Jazz Receive: Jose Calderon, Chandler Parsons
Raptors Receive: Donatas Motiejunas, Terrance Jones, Tony Douglas, Cole Aldrich, Marvin Williams
Financial Details: This one’s a doozy. The Rockets aren’t sending out nearly as much as they’re bringing back, but they have some cap space, which absorbs the difference. Meanwhile, the Jazz move about $17 million in contracts and bring in $11.5 million—a nice bonus for a small-market team. The Raptors move roughly $16 million and acquire roughly $16 million.
What’s in it for Houston:
The Short Answer: The best player in the trade.
The Long Answer: The Rockets are giving up some solid pieces here. Parsons has turned into a great find for them. He’s averaging 14 points while hitting 1.7 threes per game, but his production has gone down every month this season after a big November. Jones and Motiejunas were first-round picks in the last two years, but never play for Houston. Losing them does not hurt the team in the short-term. Douglas has been solid as a backup, but it certainly movable. Aldrich came over in the James Harden trade and has made no impact.
This trade would be a fleecing by the Rockets if not for Millsap’s contract status. The forward hits unrestricted free agency at season’s end, making this a slightly risky proposition by Houston. But trading for him now will allow them to go over the salary cap to re-sign Millsap this summer. I can’t imagine Millsap finding a better landing spot or more money than what he’d find in Houston, so this seems like a winning match to me.
It wouldn’t be much fun to take on Fields, who isn’t even slightly worth the three-year, $20 million deal he got over the summer, but he’s not that bad. In limited action this season, he’s shooting 43 percent from the floor and can rack up steals when he gets enough minutes. He can fill in for most of Parsons minutes. Most importantly, Jeremy Lin can finally return the favor and let Fields crash on his couch in Houston until he finds somewhere to live.
Assuming they retain Millsap, Houston will move forward with Lin, James Harden, Omer Asik, Millsap and Fields as starters, with Patrick Patterson, Carlos Delfino, Marcus Morris, and, maybe, Royce White coming off the bench. They’ve always wanted to move their assets for better players, and this trade, as well as the Harden deal, does just that.
What’s in it for Utah:
The Short Answer: Missing pieces.
The Long Answer: They key to this trade is that Millsap and Al Jefferson are headed for unrestricted free agency. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter developing behind those two, there’s no way Utah splurges to sign both impending free agents.
They’re going to lose one for nothing if they wait until the summer to figure things out, so moving one before the deadline makes all the sense in the world. Gordon Hayward has developed into a very solid wing player, but they still need one more. Parsons fits the bill perfectly. More importantly, they have a humungous opening at point guard. Mo Williams was playing well before his injury, but at this point he’s better suited to come off the bench in a Jamal Crawford combo-guard role.
When Jose Calderon starts for the miserable Raptors, they’re an un-miserable 14-16. As a starter, he averages 12.5 points with 9 assists and 1.8 turnovers—an exceptional ratio. He’s vastly underrated, and could run the Jazz offense beautifully. They’re a borderline Playoff team that would be much, much improved with a real point guard. No offense to Jamaal Tinsley, but it’s time for Utah to get serious.
Additionally, Calderon’s contract expires after this year, so the Jazz would have a solid chance to bring him back for a few more seasons with a new contract, likely for less than the $9 million he’s earning now.
An added bit to this is that probably means a lot to Utah is that they get to shed the awful contract of Marvin Williams. Marvin is averaging 8.4 points in 25 minutes per game this season, and is owed more than $8 million next year. Certainly the Jazz don’t want to be on the hook for that, and, with this trade, can use that money, as well as the money they won’t be spending on Millsap, to bring back Calderon, Mo Williams and Jefferson.
By assuming what those guys would get paid (say annual salaries of $5 million for Mo, $7 million for Calderon and $12 million for Jefferson) and subtracting the money Marvin won’t be getting paid, it’s easy to see that the Jazz would have big-time spending money. The payroll comes out to roughly $42 million. That should be enough for a max player. Obviously I made some assumptions there, but even if each guy gets more than I predicted they should have at least $10 million to spend.
They’d also have a really nice roster to build on top of. They’d enter next season with Calderon, Hayward, Parsons, Jefferson, Kanter, Favors, Mo and Alec Burks. They also have the Warriors 2013 pick via the Deron Williams trade as well as their own and the $10-16 million to spend. Top free agents this summer include Chris Paul, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Manu Ginobili, OJ Mayo, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. An already-good team with money to spend could do very well in that market.
What’s in it for Toronto:
The Short Answer: Long-term cap relief and some young talent.
The Long Answer: Before the season, Toronto tried to trade Jose Calderon but couldn’t find any takers. He’s been better than Kyle Lowry this year, but they’d likely have no problem allowing Lowry to start for the rest of this season and beyond (despite his 2-13 record as a starter for the Raptors).
For Calderon, who would surely walk from Toronto at season’s end, they get Jones and Motiejunas—two guys with serious potential to be impact players in the future. They also get a look at Douglas and Aldrich, who both have expiring contracts at the end of the year. If they like what they see, they can bring them back. If not, they can let them go and clear a few bucks.
The other component for Toronto is the Fields-Williams swap. Marvin is owed about $1.5 million more than Fields for this year and next, but then expires. Fields has a third year on his contract, making him a less appealing guy to have. Toronto definitely wins in that 1-for-1.