Hey! Like the article? ← Do us a solid and give it a share. Everyone wins, especially you!
The NBA Trade Deadline is almost upon us - 3:00 PM on Thursday - and there will certainly be a large number of rumors floating through the league grapevine. NBA fans all want their team to make a blockbuster trade where they get a stud while giving away nothing, with the money part all magically working out. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way.
Here at numberFire, we are breaking down each division to see the trade situations of each team. What exactly does each team need? Can they realistically make that happen? What's the market for their players? Read on and find out.
Los Angeles Clippers
Current Playoff Odds: 99.9% Current Championship Odds: 13.0%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick (Second to San Antonio, protected 31-55)
Cap Situation (Cap this season is $58.679 million): $74.708 million this year, $74.561 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: Backup PF/C
Thoughts: There is no denying that the Clippers are having a championship-calliber season, as they place second in our NBA Team Rankings with a nERD of 72.5 and have the fourth highest championship odds according to our metrics at 13.0% (trailing only Indiana, OKC, and Miami). Picking a shortcoming on their roster isn’t much of a challenge, however, as they have been pegged as thin upfront since before the season even began.
Yes, both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have taken major leaps forward and are having career years, but those two can’t play all 48 minutes per game. The backup big trio of Antawn Jamison, Ryan Hollins, and Byron Mullens has been ineffective and the recent signing of way-past-his-prime Hedo Turkoglu hasn’t exactly moved the needle. If the Clippers want to give it their best shot to win the title this year, they’ll need to acquire someone at the deadline to spell Griffin and Jordan.
They’re not exactly brimming with assets, but they have more than enough wing players to potentially flip one of them for a big. Jared Dudley hasn’t worked out in his first year on the Clippers (he has a team-worst nERD of -2.4 in 42 starts) and his $8.5 million over the next two years is reportedly on the block. J.J. Redick is out the next 3-5 weeks, but there’s still enough depth on the wing to survive until the playoffs if they decide to move Dudley.
There are no players that have been directly linked to a potential deal with the Clippers, but they’ll surely explore as many angles as possible before the deadline. Their first-round pick for 2015 is already headed to Boston because of the Doc Rivers deal and because of a rule prohibiting teams from trading out of the first round in consecutive years, their first-round pick this year is not in play. Even so, a combination of Dudley and one of the aforementioned bigs would be enough to net someone productive like Orlando’s Glen Davis, for example.
Current Playoff Odds: 73.5% Current Championship Odds: 0.7%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick, First-round pick from Minnesota (protected 1-13), First-round pick from Washington (protected 1-12), First-round pick from Indiana (protected 1-14), Second-round pick
Cap Situation (Cap this season is $58.679 million): $53.889 million this year, $36.241 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: PF/C
Thoughts: The Suns were originally thought to be in complete rebuild mode to start the year, so no one expected them to be sitting in sixth place in the hyper-competitive Western Conference this far into the season. They have some of the most tradable assets in the Association and have no real reason not to be aggressive buyers at the deadline this Thursday. Quite frankly, they’d be silly not to make some kind of move, given their excess of moveable pieces.
Emeka Okafor’s expiring $14.54 million deal is made even more enticing for prospective trade partners by the fact that he looks to be out for the year and the majority of that figure will likely be covered by insurance. Combine him with any of the four first-round picks that the Suns have in their bank for the 2014 Draft and it shouldn’t be hard to net an impact player. The fact that the Suns are also approximately $5 million under the cap for this season is icing on the cake, as it allows them to take on a big contract or a salary dump from another team.
Several players have been tied to rumors involving the Suns in the past few weeks, including Pau Gasol, Greg Monroe, and Brandon Bass, just to name a few. The possibility of Gasol heading to Phoenix seems to have the most traction and it would be a good fit for the Suns. Some are wary of Gasol’s age and the wear and tear on his body in his 13th season, but he’s still putting up 17.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Considering the inconsistent play of Phoenix’s frontcourt this season, Gasol’s low-post presence and superior passing for a big man could be just what the doctor ordered. Even if it doesn’t work out, Gasol’s deal will expire this offseason in the same way Okafor’s would if they kept him. They have very little to lose and should be active at the deadline.
Golden State Warriors
Current Playoff Odds: 88.7% Current Championship Odds: 0.7%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick to Utah, Second-round pick to Minnesota
Cap Situation (Cap this season is $58.679 million): $70.361 million this year, $52.141 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: Bench scoring
Thoughts: The Warriors have one of the best starting lineups in all of basketball and that is what has propelled them to seventh on our NBA Team Rankings with a nERD of 62.2. Where their biggest weakness lies is in their bench. Their second unit is currently 29th in the league in bench scoring on a measly 24.1 points per game and they shoot a league-worst .391 from the floor. Gross.
The Dubs tried to address their reserve issue in a recent trade for Jordan Crawford, but he hasn’t exactly maintained the elevated play he was displaying as a starter earlier this season in Boston. As a Celtic, he averaged 13.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.7 assists, in 30.7 minutes per game, while shooting .413 from the floor. In 13 games in Golden State, he has shot only .386 from the field while posting uninspiring averages of 6.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 16.8 minutes per game.
What has Golden State scrambling to make another move is the perception that they are not quite where they were supposed to be at this point. The expectation of them this year after a competitive series with San Antonio in last year’s Playoffs was that they would be a top-tier team in the West, especially with the addition of former All-Star Andre Iguodala. Their record of 31-22, while good, doesn’t quite live up to their elevated standards.
For that reason, they are said to be open to all deals, big and small, including potential blockbusters that would see them parting with their young, budding stars like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. This might be a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” though, as their record isn’t quite indicative of just how good they’ve been. They have the league’s seventh best net rating (4.7), despite having had the NBA’s fourth hardest strength of schedule so far (.515). A more understated move to bolster their second unit might be all they need to put them over the top at this point.
Los Angeles Lakers
Current Playoff Odds: 0.0% Current Championship Odds: 0.0%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick (Second to Milwaukee)
Cap Situation (Cap this season is $58.679 million): $79.324 million this year, $35.344 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: Everything
Thoughts: Another year, another million and one Pau Gasol trade rumors. I believe I speak for NBA fans everywhere when I say that now is the time for the Lakers to get a deal done once and for all.
Gasol’s expiring $19.29 million is an excellent trade piece for a contender to target right now, as he’s currently putting up his best per-36 numbers since the ’07-’08 season. If you consider Kobe’s injury woes this year and the fact that the Lakers are 26th on our NBA Team Rankings with a lowly nERD of 32.2 (with a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs, according to our metrics), the Lakers will soon have to admit that this is a lost season. Their best bet is to cut their losses on Gasol, a player they’ve jerked around for years and who clearly doesn’t fit Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, and turn the page.
Of course, a move of that nature would not please Kobe, but I can think of at least 50 million reasons that he should get over it. As you can see above, the entire Lakers roster outside of Kobe, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and Nick Young is set to come off the books for next season. The Lakers will be constructing a new team essentially from scratch this summer and considering that Kobe’s projected salary will already have them halfway to the salary cap, old guys that still command big bucks like Gasol simply aren’t a good fit.
In the meantime, salary shedding of any kind should be the goal for the Lakers at the deadline and just about any of their expiring contracts could draw interest (Jordan Hill is currently linked to a few deals, inlcuding one with the Nets). Having the league’s second-highest payroll (behind the Nets) and the fourth-worst record simply doesn’t compute. Shedding $20 million to get under the cap would be darn-near impossible, but taking on Okafor’s injury insurance (from a deal outlined in the Phoenix section) and getting out from under Gasol’s money would be an excellent start.
Current Playoff Odds: 0.0% Current Championship Odds: 0.0%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick to Chicago (protected 1-12), Second-round pick to New York (protected 31-55)
Cap Situation (Cap this season is $58.679 million): $62.302 million this year, $54.325 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: Backup PG
Thoughts: The Kings have already pulled off two notable deals since the start of this season, picking up Rudy Gay and Derrick Williams. One would think that would end their appetite for change, but the Kings are currently showing up in just about every trade rumor imaginable over the last few days leading up to the deadline.
Basically everyone on the roster not named DeMarcus Cousins has shown up in some potential deal, with possible returns ranging from Jason Terry and Reggie Evans (for Marcus Thornton) all the way up to Rajon Rondo. Who knows which of these deals actually gets done, but the goal for the Kings should really be to shed the roughly $4 million it would take for them to get under the tax. What’s the point in paying the luxury tax for a team that’s 17 games under .500?
If the season continues to play out the way it has so far, the Kings should retain their first-round pick this year (protected 1-12). Their focus this offseason should be in retaining their young talent (like Thomas) and amassing picks and young assets. They have a decent core of players that could really take off if a top-tier lottery pick is added to the mix this offseason.
For now, if Sacramento is really set on making a deal before Thursday, backup point guard has been identified as a need. They’ve been linked to guys like Andre Miller and Jarrett Jack to fill that role and either guy would be a good fit to serve as a mentor to this young squad and, in particular, up-and-coming point guard Isaiah Thomas.