We’ve made it! Two Jimmy Butler teams, 20 James Harden explosions, four Devin Booker Baby Mama’s (in like a four-month span too. Slow down, champ.), and 30,000 Giannis dunks later we have reached the most entertaining time period of the most entertaining league on the planet.
Deadline time bayyyybeeeeeeee!!!!
The NBA has some of the best athletes in the world doing some of the most unique things in any sport. On a given night you could see a legit elastic man take two steps and go from the 3-point line to the rim and dunk on somebody. Or a 19 year old kid with a Dad-bod embarrass well established pros. Or a brick shit house of a man pass and handle the ball like a guard. And to pair with all the amazing things we’ve seen on the court, all of the secondary shit that you see outside of the actual basketball games has been pretty awesome too.
The petty wars, the subtweets, the storylines, the rumors. It’s like the Young and the Restless, but for dudes! And it’s about to get even better.
The NBA Trade Deadline, otherwise known as “Trade Machine Christmas”, gives talent-less hacks like me the ability to play GM and make things more interesting. Because of the way the NBA has structured its salaries and salary cap, the deadline rarely disappoints. Young players and expiring contracts are always at a premium, so you have trades just flying back and forth.
Hell, the last two trade deadlines we have even seen top-25 players change jerseys. It’s wild. It’s fun. It’s #1. So, around this time of year I like to create a little primer. A what if, if you will. Trades that I wish I could see. You get the idea.
To help myself from going completely off the rails, I’ve asked one of my fellow NBA loyalist and Nuggets die hard @C_Nicholas07 to give each trade idea a grade or response. We just can’t have unchecked trades going willy nilly into the ether! So with that, let’s make some deals!
Trade 1: Grit n’ Grind is Dead. Long Live Grit n’ Grind.
Memphis Gets: D. Jordan, Wes Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr.
Dallas Gets: Marc Gasol, Mike Conley
Coming out with the blockbuster right from the start. You may see this initially and think now why in the shit would Memphis do this. Well it’s complicated.
Memphis paid Conley and Marc massive contracts that would keep them in Memphis well passed their 30’s. Marc and Mike are great, but the Griz seem to be moving away from the Grit n’ Grind teams I loved that made deep playoff runs. They also gambled and lost on some complementary player deals (LOOKING AT YOU CHANDLER PARSONS 24 MILLION DOLLAR DEAL. YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’RE A HANDSOME DEVIL BECAUSE YOU STINK) They owe Mike an average of 32 mil for the next 3 years. Marc gets 24 this year and has a player option that he absolutely is gonna take for 25 next season. He’s 33, on the downswing and no one is giving him that on the open market.
Memphis also owes its 1st rounder to Boston UNLESS it falls within 1-8 in the lottery. Making this move for Memphis achieves many goals. You clear 50 (!) million dollars from your books with the expiring deals of Jordan and Matthews. You make keeping your top 8 protected pick a certainty, which means it puts you in high order for the Zion/R.J. Barrett sweepstakes, who as this college season trudges forward are the only real immediate team changers coming out of this year’s draft. You also get a modest young piece in DSjr. Could probably flip DJ and Wes for picks or other young assets if you wanted as well.
Dallas loves this because they’ve already sent their 2019 pick to Atlanta for their Golden Boy Luka Doncic, and I am of the thinking that competing now and getting “Playoff Experience” while Luka is young is going to be important. He’s a special player. So special that he already has Dallas in a rock fight for the last spot in the Western Conference Playoff hunt. Marc and Mike would fit in perfect in Dallas, would have something to actually play for and could solidify Dallas as a sneaky “you don’t want to play us in the first round” type team. Plus we get an official team Euro! Luka! Marc! Dirk! Kostas (kinda)!
The Second Opinion: “On paper I absolutely LOVE this trade for Dallas — three years ago. Conley and Gasol are past their prime years and aren’t the type of guys that are going to drastically impact today and will be carrying heavy price tags with them for a team that is most likely looking to get younger. The only way I see Mavs doing this is if they are looking to surround Doncic with playoff tested veterans. For the Grizz it’ll be about getting the point guard of the future and becoming more athletic with the addition of a high flying center in Deandre to go with the electric DSJ. Look for Wes to either to be moved right away or bought out.”
Well…I thought it was cool…
Trade 2: The Trade That’s So Weird and Interesting I Just Had To Steal From Another Website
I was being a great employee and reading sports articles at work the other day and I came across this dandy that I thought was interesting and a little out of the box.
Orlando Gets: C.J. McCollum, Meyers Leonard
Portland Gets: Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross
AHHH. That’s pretty interesting! It’s one of those wacky trades that you kind of have to look at for a few minutes before a switch in your head flips and it all becomes clear. I love C.J. and Dame. They’ve been super fun to watch! But man at a certain point you have to just admit that it isn’t working. They used to stagger their time on the floor to ensure that they both would have ample time to be the primary ball handler, but they haven’t been able to do that this year. With a Dame and Gordon pairing, Lillard would finally have the athletic and versatile big that they paid Aminu to be. Gordon is still plenty young, and would be super fun in a Dame P’n’R when they blitz Lillard after the screen. Gordon is getting better shooting the 3, and Ross adds an expiring sniper at the wing.
Orlando desperately needs an on-ball creator and scorer to pair with its bevy of bigs, and C.J. given the opportunity to have his own team would thrive. He has every tool to be a star, but is just out shined by Lillard. Gordon has also blocked the development of Issac and Bamba, so this frees them up to figure out if they’re gonna be the guys. Meyers is a mildly athletic shooting big who could slide to the 4 for some fun CJ/Vuc/Fornier/Leonard/ Simmons BIG 3-point shooting lineups. C.J. would be a 25 and 7 type guy in Orlando on day 1.
The Second Opinion: “CJ McCollum has been the Robin to Dame’s Batman for one too many seasons. CJ has shown he is more than capable of being the primary scorer. It’s been fun to watch but at some point you have to realize that that is all it’s been and this team isn’t going places with these two. I’d liken these two to the poor mans version of Steph and Klay if you took away Durant/Green and co. It’s not going to win you anything come playoff time. Orlando would actually be upgrading. A starting lineup of CJ/Fournier/Isaac/Leonard/Bamba is respectable. Bringing in an uber-athletic forward in Gordon to replace McCollum should help space the floor for Lillard. Bringing in Gordon will allow the Blazers to move Aminu back to his natural position in small forward. Terrance will slide right into the starting 2-guard spot in place of McCollum. I like this trade for the Blazers and see this as a win-win for both teams.”
Knew I’d win him back.
Trade 3: Hawks Firesale.
Atlanta Gets: Zach Randolph, Jason Smith, Marquiss Chris, Brandon Knight, HOU top 20 protected 2019, MIL 2019 2nd, Sac 2019 2nd
Milwaukee Gets: Dewayne Dedmon
Sacramento Gets: Jeremy Lin
Houston Gets: Kent Bazemore, Vince Carter
Obviously, a lot to unpack here. Atlanta is the clear front-runner for the “Tanker of the Year” award. They will be in the top 4 of the lottery, they hold Dallas’ unprotected 2019 first rounder, and they have a shit ton of cap space to take on some money for other teams looking to make a move. In this 4-team trade, Atlanta gets another first rounder, some second rounders, and some expiring contracts; it has a little bit of everything. Clearly they’re not going to compete for some time, so anyway they can get assets for established talent they don’t currently need is a win for them.
Milwaukee needs another versatile defensive big who can shoot 3’s to pair with Splash Mountain. Thon can’t be trusted, (although Playoff Thon is a thing) and Dedmon would enable the bucks to roll out a deep 10-man playoff lineup.
Sacramento needs another ball handler who can handle playing at a high pace. Lin can certainly do that. Sacramento is in a good position to actually compete for the 8 seed in what feels like, idk, 10 years? You gotta jump at that chance when you have it.
Houston needs…well anything really. They’ve sustained injuries to some pretty important players and they now have the husk of Chris Paul to pay until 2023. In the immortal words of LeBron James, “Sheesh!” Baze can guard and shoot 3’s at a pretty decent clip and Vince can still contribute which is wild because I also just realized he’s been in the NBA for TWO DECADES. Get this man a ring, god damn…
The Second Opinion: “So let’s unpack this scenario then. For starters, Atlanta becomes a little tougher ala Randolph. He’s going to come in a just continue providing leadership role that Carter will be leaving. Marquiss is an interesting slender forward/center tweener. Jason Smith has been just a solid backup center his entire career and will continue to do just that for the Hawks. Brandon Knight was once dubbed the Point Guard of the Future in Milwaukee but that quickly faded. I’m not sure what Milwaukee is going to do with Dedmon other than hand him 6-7 minutes a game and ask him to just be his athletic self and just bring some energy. LinSanity makes its way to Sacramento. Jeremy Lin is still fun to watch and has still been able to carve out some valuable minutes for whatever team he is on. He is a defensive liability but he can shoot and distribute so it will fit in well with the Kings current formula. Oh Houston, you have a problem, but don’t worry because the Hawks have decided to come to the rescue. The Rockets have been plagued with injuries this year but the remaining walking bodies have just latched onto The Beard by his whiskers and let him carry them to the thick of the playoff hunt and at a historic clip I might add. Kent Bazemore is a good two-way player that could easily be getting 7th man minutes. Vince Carter gets to put on yet another jersey in his storied career and he’ll just continue to provide leadership and 5-6 pts/game. I like this trade for Houston and Sacramento. Atlanta is just looking for ways to assure themselves they will be in the running for Zion and Milwaukee could use a guard more than another big.”
Well…We on the bucks message boards, and there are DOZENS OF US may I add, think they need another floor spacing big!
Trade 4: John Wall Lives On In Obscurity or flips a switch?
Washington Gets: Ryan Anderson, Josh Jackson
Phoenix Gets: John Wall, Sam Dekker
Ahh the death of John Wall. It stinks because for a while it looked like with his speed and developing shot he was going to be a top star for quite awhile. Then the club and Whattaburger came calling.
Yikes! Starting next season, John Wall is going to have an average salary of over 40 MILLION DOLLARS until 2023. My goodness! It already looks like it has “worst contract ever” potential and it hasn’t even kicked in yet. So why would Phoenix trade for him? Couple things.
1. They’ve been mired in obscurity since they traded Steve Nash (I mean jesus christ the owner is getting punk’d on by an 80 year old).
2. They’re very bad and the timeline for competing isn’t until the 20-21 season. Wall won’t play this year and ruin your lottery chances and my god they’re due to at least hit one pick.
3. They DESPERATELY need a play-making PG to pair with Ayton and Booker, and one isn’t coming in this forward heavy draft. When Wall is right, he could be that guy.
4. This might be the only way you get anything of value, even if it’s a gamble, for Josh Jackson who has been a colossal disappointment. Essentially for Phoenix: It’s worth a shot!
Phoenix has already paid T.J. Warren who is blocking Jackson, and he can’t see the floor at guard. Seeing that cap hit every year is going to hurt Suns fans, all 9 of them, but I think it is a necessary gamble to try and do something.
Hell, maybe in two years Booker is at his peak as a super-star, Ayton can provide meaningful production both ways instead of the empty stats he’s putting up now, and if Wall is healthy/motivated/in shape he could slide into a role of a 3rd banana type guy on a competitive team. It’s all on Wall though. It could be the wake up call he needs.
This decision is easy for Washington. You just got off maybe one of the worst contracts ever before it even hits! Who cares what the return is! Throw a parade! Have a 21 gun salute! Well maybe with the team history you stay away from guns. Beal is clearly better as a number 1 option. This makes the Wizards his team and nets you a young guy who at least has some defensive stopper potential. Small sidebar: Man, JJ could learn a ton from Trevor Ariza. I’m guessing that was Phoenix’s idea in the first place when they signed him in Free Agency before they traded him too! Also gives Washington some financial wiggle room this year, and the next when Ryan Anderson clears books.
The Second Opinion: “John Wall desperately needs a reboot, a fresh new jersey fit, new places to eat. What he needs most, to get as far away as he can from the Wiz organization as he can. Although he has been dealing with injuries and some not-so-good eating habits, he is still a Top-10 slashing PG when 100%. I like this move for Phoenix as it finally gives them some stability at the guard position and a stud to pair with Booker. The “best” asset Washington takes back is Jackson. I don’t like any parts of what they are getting back. Anderson is coming back just because it fits salary wise. Jackson is the type of wing that COULD become a solid 3 and D guy but nothing from what I’ve seen so far screams top talent. Phoenix wins this trade easily. Look for Washington to look at buying out Anderson’s remaining contract or immediately trying to move him.”
I think you’re underselling how big of a move it would be to get out from under Wall’s contract.
Trade 5: Denver solidifies it’s chance at a Western Conference Finals
Denver Gets: Josh Richardson
Miami Gets: Trey Lyles, Michael Porter Jr., and a heavily protected 2020 1st-round pick
Denver has been really good this season. Like flirting with the top seed really good. But it still sometimes feels night to night that they’re missing something. The one spot that has been troublesome for them as been the small forward/second wing. They came out earlier in the season and were starting Torrey Craig who lets just say left the Nuggets…wanting. They’ve gone big with Hernangomez, smaller with Will Barton; they’ve tried tons of stuff and it still isn’t quite hashed out. This trade not only eliminates that hole at the second wing, it adds to an already strong staple of solid young players with affordable deals.
Richardson is a fantastic young player. He often gets overlooked because of Miami’s struggles since LeBron left, but he is already so polished in a number of areas that you want from a prototypical 3&D guy. He’s improved his scoring every season, and has proven that he is a knock down 3-point shooter. His contract is wonderful, as he will have an average yearly salary of roughly 10 and a half million. But what separates him the most from similar players is that he is a defensive wizard who consistently guards the other team’s best player.
Guys like Richardson don’t come cheap, and Denver would have to part with a solid package. Lyles is a nice player who is in a log jam at the 4 spot. He just needs more of an opportunity to play through some of the kinks in his game. Miami isn’t set to compete right now, even if they hold a low playoff seed in a very top heavy Eastern Conference, so letting a promising player like Lyles figure it out under a top coach in Spo could work. But the main reason Miami does this is to acquire the enigma of last years draft, Michael Porter Jr.
He pretty much checks every box that you would want a young prospect to have. High basketball IQ, super athletic, nice jumper, versatile defensively; there’s just one problem, he hasn’t seen the floor. Porter Jr. dealt with back injury problems since his days at Missouri and had to have surgery and will not play until 2020. Denver’s has been shown their window to compete, and although you would love to have a prospect like Porter Jr., you have to jump at the chance to contend. Miami would be licking it’s chops to get an opportunity to see what Porter Jr. could become and finally build around a potential young star.
The Second Opinion: “I understand Denver is in contention for a top-2 seed in the West and they haven’t gotten any production from MPJr (recovering from back surgery) but I don’t see them giving up on their future (and for cheap) star forward before he ever sets foot on the court. Denver has been playing great using a combination of Will Barton (when healthy, he’s only played 6 games so far) Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernanogomez at the 3 position. Craig is their current starting small forward as his defense and 3-point shooting ability have improved drastically since last season. Juancho has gone from being a center to a power forward to now the main backup, and depending on the matchup, starting small forward. He too has gotten much better shooting from deep but it’s his ability to get into the post that has served him well. Josh Richardson would of course easily slide into the starting role but I don’t think he fits Denver’s system. Denver is built around Jokic and Murray as the primary ball handlers and J-Rich is the type of player that needs the ball to create his own shot. Miami would be happy to a potentially lethal stud in MPJr. He hasn’t suited up yet after going from being a top-5 pick to sliding miraculously down to 14th into Denver’s lap. They would also be absorbing Trey Lyles expiring contract which would be good for them because he is an inefficient stretch-four that tends to take ill-advised shots. He is more suited for inside 15 feet but he insists on shooting a foot OUTSIDE the three line. Miami would be getting a little younger and getting a cheaper piece in MPJr and would have to make a fairly easy decision on Lyles.”
Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys recap conference championship weekend in the NFL and preview the upcoming Super Bowl between the Rams and Patriots!