As you’ve probably heard, the NBA’s trading deadline finally arrives next Thursday, March 15th. This is the final chance for contending teams to add the missing piece, and the last opportunity for lottery-bound squads to acquire something in return for that aging star. While I’m sure all 30 teams are pondering at least one move or another, here are the three teams that I feel should be working the hardest to make something happen by next Thursday.
The Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers have the basic pieces in place to compete for a title. They’ve got an elite scorer on the wing, imposing size in the paint, and a guy (or two) who can provide provide some buckets on the block. However, after what happened to the Miami Heat last season I don’t think it’s ever been clearer than three players cannot win a championship… and that’s what the Lakers have; three players. The biggest holes in their roster are at point gaurd and small forward, obviously, with their lack of depth on the bench also presenting a problem. With Kobe and Pau at over 30 years of age and the Western Conference being as wide open as it is, it would be a damn shame ( from a Laker perspective, of course… the rest of the league wouldn’t mind) if they didn’t make a real push in 2012.
Suggested Solutions: I think Stephen Jackson would be an excellent addition to the LA Lakers, and I don’t think he’d be a tough piece to acquire. Jackson has all but certainly played his final game for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he’s got another season left on his deal. I think he’d be happy to start for a winning team like the Lakers over the next season and a half, and he brings some much-needed scoring ability to the table. While Jack may not be the most efficient player of all-time, it’s impossible to be any worse than Ron Artest. To add Jackson would be a major upgrade, and I think it could be done fairly easily. The Lakers have a trade exception that damn near matches Jack’s contract (within $500,000). I don’t see why the Bucks wouldn’t take it… I’m sure they just want Jackson out of their hair.
Another player the Lakers could look to acquire using their trade exception is Devin Harris. Harris was an All-Star with the Nets, but he’s been a huge disappointment for the Jazz. Relative to his current production he’s definitely overpaid ($9 million this year), but only for one more season. I think this would be a riskier move than Stephen Jackson (what if Harris continues to play like crap?), but one that I could see happening.
Another point guard who’s been involved in Laker trade rumors is Cleveland’s Ramon Sessions. Sessions is one of the best backup points in the league, but he doesn’t make that much money and there are only two years left on his deal. Although Cleveland is obviously going in a different direction at the one, I don’t think they’re desperate to dump Sessions or anything like that. LA would probably have to send a couple of first round picks… which may not be a bad idea. They’re in win-now mode anyway.
If the Lakers could sling that trade exception for Stephen Jackson and a couple of draft picks for Ramon Sessions… I think that changes everything. That’s what I’d be trying to do right now if I was running the Lakers.
The Orlando Magic: First of all, I don’t think we see Dwight Howard go anywhere this Thursday. I think he plays out the season in an Orlando Magic uniform and makes a decision this summer. So, what the Magic need to do is, well, absolutely everything in their power to convince him that Orlando is where he wants to play out the prime of his career.
Suggested Solutions: It’s tough to find a deal for Orlando because they have so little to offer. Outside of Ryan Anderson they don’t have any young talent. They don’t have any big expiring contracts or lottery picks that I’m aware of, either. That being said, there are players who want out of other situations. The aforementioned Stephen Jackson could probably be had for peanuts (in this case, peanuts might be J-Rich and a filler). Josh Smith has requested to be traded by the Atlanta Hawks, and while he will be a pretty costly player, he’s good enough to make Ryan Anderson expendable.
The Orlando Magic need to do something simply to show Dwight that they’re still trying. If Otis Smith allows the deadline to pass without making a move and Dwight walks out the door he’s really got no one to blame but himself.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Randy Foye does not start at shooting guard for a championship-caliber team. Neither does anyone else on their roster. It’s really that simple.
Suggested Solutions: Rumor has it the Blazers phoned in an offer of Jamal Crawford for Eric Bledsoe… and the Clippers hung up. Neil Olshey must have forgotten that his franchise is no longer building for the future. Finally, after decades of false hopes and broken dreams, that elusive future has arrived. Young talents with no place in the rotation should now be treated as trade chips, and Jamal Crawford should be starting at the two for the Clipps.
Another guy who has been brought up in trade talks that would fit perfectly with the Clippers is Boston’s Ray Allen. However, the Celtics have stated that they don’t plan to make a major move at the deadline, and it would take more than Eric Bledsoe for the Cs to trade a key player whose deal expires at the end of the season anyway.
Another player who I think would be a decent fit in LA is Milwaukee’s Carlos Delfino. He’s got size, athleticism, and an above-average three-point stroke. I’m not sure if he’s on the block, but the Bucks will have to re-sign him this offseason if they want to keep him around. If they aren’t interested in doing so maybe they’d take some draft picks or something.