NBA Trade Talk: Southwest Division
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.
Note: Analysis of this article was done by Keith Black, while data was gathered by Bryan Mears.
San Antonio Spurs
Current Playoff Odds: 99.9%
Current Championship Odds: 8.1%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick, Second-round pick, Second-round pick from Clippers (only conveyed if between 56-60)
Cap Situation (Cap this season is $58.679 million): $64.081 million this year, $53.027 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: General depth
Thoughts: A mainstay at the top of the NBA's ruling class, the Spurs have been a model franchise for about 20 years. They've drafted extremely well, have developed a winning culture, and are generally what every franchise should aspire to be. A lot of that comes from being somewhat patient - blockbuster trades and moves are not in the Spurs' repertoire. Instead, they sign vets and "character guys" to fill in holes.
The regular season is a formality to the Spurs, as evidenced by their willingness to sit star players with vague injuries. Tony Parker is out "for the foreseeable future", which should not strike fear into the San Antonio faithful just yet. Rather, it seems to be just an artificial way to limit Parker's minutes before an inevitable playoff run.
My only concern with the Spurs' big three - Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan - is that they're all aging vets. Ginobili has actually been very good this year - his 3.9 nERD on the season is even higher than Parker's, and is better than Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade. Duncan's 5.5 nERD puts him behind some contemporaries at center, but the score still more than respectable for the aging big man.
The bench has also stepped up nicely so far for the team, as Patty Mills has a 5.8 nERD on the season, better than Parker and also better than Ty Lawson and All-Star Demar Derozan. The question is whether the bench can continue in the wake of all the injury or "injury" woes the Spurs have faced so far this year. They don't have to go crazy, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a McGrady-esque move for the Spurs, signing an aging, unsigned vet to fill in in case of emergency.
But I'd be more shocked if they did anything more than that. The good news for the Spurs is that they are well positioned to add another meaningful player in the offseason, as they should be between five and a half and six million under the cap with both draft picks. There's no need for them to do anything rash. Knowing the Spurs, they wouldn't even think about it.
Current Playoff Odds: 99.8%
Current Championship Odds: 10.3%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick, Second-round pick from New York, Second-round pick from Philadelphia (won't happen, it's protected from 31-55 and if it doesn't go this year then they don't get it), their own second-rounder goes to Philadelphia
Cap Situation: $57.414 million this year, $71.980 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: A stretch four to not talk about trading Omer Asik all the time.
Thoughts: Last offseason's big players, the analytics-heavy Rockets, have made an expected leap and should be in a better position than their number eight seed last year. That said, the elephant in the room is the Omer Asik's contract, which for some reason Daryl Morey will not stop talking about trading. The issue is that the Rockets simply can't play Asik with their new toy Dwight Howard in an effective way. Asik and Howard's games are too similar, and Asik doesn't want to come off the bench. Quite frankly, he makes to much to continue coming off the bench.
I'm pretty certain the Ryan Anderson for Asik deal - which I think people think makes more sense than it does - just isn't going to happen here. It would have happened if it were going to happen. I'm not sure there's a landing spot that totally makes sense for Asik right now. I could see a trade going down for Thaddeus Young, who is persistently on the block, but that would create sort of a log jam next year at center for Philly. I think Houston is desperate to get a piece that fits better with Dwight - I'm just not sure the trade exists for them to actually do that.
Current Playoff Odds: 86.8%
Current Championship Odds: 0.5%
Expiring Contracts: Dirk Nowitzki, $22.7 million; Shawn Marion, $9.3 million; Samuel Dalembert, $3.7 million; Vince Carter, $3.2 million; Devin Harris, $1.27 million; DeJuan Blair, $941,000; Jae Crowder, $789,000; Bernard James, $789,000
2014 Draft Picks: Second-round pick, Second-round pick from Boston (First-rounder goes to Oklahoma City, top-20 protected)
Cap Situation: $67.939 million this year, $26.556 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: PG
Thoughts: Dallas is in a strange spot. Realistically, they aren't really a contender for the NBA title and are probably better than they expected to be. But they kind of need to be slightly worse to retain their first-round pick.
It's an awkward spot, and in all likelihood, Dallas will lose that first just because the East is so bad. Dallas does have a bevy of expiring deals to upgrade at least one position. Though Monta Ellis has played well so far this year, it's hard to find a true point guard that fits in with Ellis' style because he's so ball dominant. I know that Jeff Teague is on the table, and if Atlanta is looking to cut costs they could take on some of the expiring deals here. It's unlikely, but I think it's at least possible.
The problem for Dallas is they don't have a ton of assets (even if they were guaranteed to finish out of the top 10 in the draft, they can't trade their pick until the end of the season) that could sweeten the pot outside of a cost cutting maneuver, so it'll be hard for them to navigate the trade waters.
Brandan Wright has played well in his minutes, and his 5.3 nERD is in line with Demarcus Cousins, though he's probably slightly out of position if he has to play the 5 when Dirk is on the floor, But that's to be expected when you have such a stretch 4 like Dirk.
Dallas has seemingly always had trouble filling the center role, until they won a title with Tyson Chandler. Though they pushed hard for Howard, who I think would've fit like a glove in Dallas given the current roster, they obviously and ultimately did not land him. Besides the point guard, I think they should target a true defensive center to avoid playing Wright out of position (despite his talent). Presuming they retain Dirk at the max, they should have room to sign a decent center still, as they'll be a good 20 or so million under the cap. I suspect Dallas will be somewhat quiet to maintain that cap flexibility, but if they wanted to make a move I think they could find a buyer for all their expiring deals.
Current Playoff Odds: 42.2%
Current Championship Odds: 0.2%
2014 Draft Picks: First-round pick (Second-rounder goes to Cleveland)
Cap Situation: $71.582 million this year, $64.178 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: SF
Thoughts: If I told you when the year started that Mike Conley, Jr. would be a top-10 guard in terms of nERD at the trade deadline, you would probably have expected Memphis to be better than fourth in their division. But, alas, here we are - the struggling Grizzlies, who became somewhat of a darling team last year, are right now worse than a coin-flip to make the playoffs.
The Grizz's top two players, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, will both be expiring deals next year, and I'm curious to see how that shakes out for them a year from now. This year, though, I think the Grizz are a little bit strapped. They have to be concerned, as I'm sure they expected to be better than they are right now.
Any trade I believe the Grizzlies would make would really have to come in the form of trading out Tony Allen. I know Allen is a tradeable asset, and I think would be a good player for a team looking to get over the hump. The problem, I believe, is no trade where you lose Tony Allen, if you're the Grizzlies, really helps much of anything. Tayshaun Prince makes a little bit too much money to really be a trade-worthy asset to a team looking to cut costs, as he's still on the hook for 2014-15. His contract next year will be a moveable asset for someone looking to slash costs, but by then, the window might be closing. Conley has really been a revelation this year, but unfortunately in the short-term, I don't really see any way the Grizz can get much better.
New Orleans Pelicans
Current Playoff Odds: 0.2%
Current Championship Odds: 0.0%
Expiring Contracts: Anthony Davis, $5.4 million; Al-Farouq Aminu, $3.7 million; Greg Stiemsma, $2.7 million; Jason Smith, $2.5 million; Austin Rivers, $2.3 million; Darius Miller, $789,000; Brian Roberts, $789,000; Luke Babbitt, $375,000
2014 Draft Picks: None (First is going Philadelphia unless it's top-5, Second is going to Minnesota)
Cap Situation: $66.797 million this year, $48.599 million on books for next year
Positions/Areas of Need: Figure out the guard log jam
Thoughts: All-Star Anthony Davis is a truly special talent. He's long but he can handle, he's smart defensively, and he makes plays. He is listed as an expiring contract above, but the next two years are actually team options and then he has a qualifying offer the following year. The Pelicans will obviously pick up his option and lock him up as long as possible, but he technically could be an "expiring" this year if Pelicans didn't pick up his option in some alternate universe.
The problem is the Pelicans have created a log jam for themselves at the guard position. Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans are all talented players and all recent additions, yet the Pelicans can't really play all three of them at the same time effectively. Each one has been woeful this year though: Evans, Holiday, Gordon, have nERDs of -2.2, -2.4, and -3.1, respectively.
I don't think that's a product of any of them being bad though. Rather, I think it's a product of this team just not fitting well together. It's possibly the coach's fault, but it's also at least partially the GM's fault for putting such a mismatched team together. Of the three, I believe Jrue is the anchor, because he can run the point more than the other two can. These guys are owed big money for several more years, so they will be difficult assets to lose for at least another couple of years (though I could see some team trading for Evans to put him in a JR Smith/Jamal Crawford-type role).