Trades Up High
byon 02-21-2013 at 02:36 PM (5346 Views)
The NBA trading deadline is up in less than 24 hours. Right now nobody is in a hurry to trade any superstars, although the buzz is all over as usual regarding the likes of the LA Lakers' Dwight Howard, the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and the Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith.
Before we get to those what-if scenarios, let's talk about transactions that were in fact consummated. Nobody really cares but the Houston Rockets traded a bunch of their guys to the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns. That should tell you a lot about the quality of players involved. No one would trade a star to a team in the same conference. Houston sent forward Patrick Patterson, guard Toney Douglas and center-forward Cole Aldrich to Sacramento in exchange for power forward Thomas Robinson, swingman Francisco Garcia and small forward Tyler Honeycutt.
They also sent power forward Marcus Morris to Phoenix for a 2013 second-round pick. That deal sees Morris reuniting with his twin brother Markieff with the Suns. The twins played together at Kansas before being drafted one after the other as lottery picks in the 2011 draft. Marcus has been a vital cog in the Houston rotation this season, averaging some eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes per game for the Rockets, including 17 starts.
Robinson for his part was the fifth overall pick in last year's draft but has not gotten much done so far in his young NBA career. He's been averaging a little over four points and four boards in 16 minutes per game. Houston must see a lot more in him to give up a productive rotation guy like Marcus Morris. With Robinson coming in, this might be the straw that breaks Terrence Jones's back. Jones, like Robinson, is a rookie power forward. But Jones has gotten even less of a break in Houston than Robinson got a Sacramento. Two rookie power forwards are just too much for a team looking to go deep into the Western Conference Playoffs.
Moving on to the what-ifs, Howard has attracted the most buzz this season, as the Lakers have gone 24-27 as of this writing. He was expected to give the Lakers that superstar big man they've always had in their title runs, but his bad back has just plain limited the All Star center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has dismissed any such talks though. "We are not trading Dwight Howard. He is the future of this franchise," he declared in one interview.
Away from the obvious soap opera that is the Lakers though, their traditional rival the Celtics have not been spared any trade talks, with no less than their three superstars in the midst of it. Let's start with Garnett, who has been discussed in several scenarios as joining the LA Clippers. The Clippers look good and ready for a return to the NBA Playoffs, and adding a star of Garnett's calibre might finally take them over the hump. But it will mean parting with two vital cogs: pointguard Eric Bledsoe and center De Andre Jordan. There were actual moves from the Clippers reported in various media, although it looks like the Clips have given up on it for now.
Pierce is reportedly being pursued by the Brooklyn Nets. Just like Garnett's case however, that means giving up something of value as well on the part of the Nets, most likely guard Mar Shon Brooks and power forward Kris Humphries. There is no way this deal can work without at least another good rotation player being thrown in by the Nets. Pierce might be that missing piece that helps Deron Williams and Brook Lopez make the Nets an elite team. Giving up too many good pieces might not be such a good idea though, especially since the Nets are far from contending for the NBA title, and thus would not be served in good stead by bringing in an aging and expensive star like Pierce.
Rondo on the other hand still has at least four or five good basketball years ahead of him in spite of his current season-ending injury. If he goes to a good team now he will make that team great instantly, or at least as soon as he gets back in 100% game shape. One other thing holding back good teams though, is that every good team in the NBA now already has a star pointguard. Which means if Rondo does get traded, he might wind up with a rebuilding project, something that will not sit well with him. Or it could also mean the Celtics get a star pointguard for their star pointguard. It may not be an straight talent-for-talent deal, but it sure won't be a huge blow to the Celtics.
Finally we come to Smith, the man who leads the Hawks in scoring and shot blocks and is second on the team in rebounds. Smith is one of the best players in the league, and it is a travesty that he has not yet made an All Star team. His numbers the last three to four years certainly indicate that he is at an All Star level. He signed a five-year contract extension in 2008, which means he becomes a free agent by the end of this year. He seems to want to test his own market, and certainly there will be a lot of interest. If the Hawks do not match anything he is offered, it might be best to trade him now. Getting value however might be tough. Those kinds of numbers, especially on the rebounds and blocks, do not come easy in the NBA.
By the end of this week I don't really expect to see any blockbuster trades. Teams will probably stand pat, even the Hawks with Smith. Summer however will be a better show to watch.