Busy Summer For NBA Trades?
It could be an exciting summer of 2012 in the NBA as we’ve got some intriguing story lines and players primed to be moved before the start of next season.
Let’s take a look at five of the players that could be moved in the offseason along with what our guys with the inside scoop in that particular market feel about their prospects of leaving town this summer:
Dwight Howard – Magic:
After re-upping for another season with the Orlando Magic, Dwight Howard put the rumors to rest that he would be heading elsewhere at the 2012 NBA trading deadline. For the rest of this season, at least, Howard is assuring the Magic organization and fans that he is staying in Orlando.
This summer, however, could be a different story.
If Howard is unwilling to sign an extension, Orlando must decide whether or not they are willing to go through the circus of another season with Dwight’s future up in the air.
The behind-the-scenes drama of Howard’s attempts to get rid of coach Stan Van Gundy have already boiled over in the public over the last few days. It’s obvious that Howard is waiting for the Orlando Magic to appease him via a new head coach and an influx of talent around him.
Biting the bullet and paying Van Gundy to go coach somewhere else is something the Magic can do. Acquiring more talent around Howard is going to be much more difficult considering the team will have very little cap space over the summer and not much in terms of trade-able assets.
This makes it very likely that Howard won’t sign an extension with Orlando and the Magic would likely get more value by trading him before the season. The longer the Magic wait, the more desperate they will appear to unload Howard and the less they will get in return.
HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy in Orlando:
The Orlando Magic will try to make a splashy move this offseason to appease Dwight Howard.
That’s their goal.
However, this story has already featured so many twists and turns that nothing would surprise me at this point.
If the situation with Howard takes a turn for the worse and the franchise is tired of dealing with the drama, it’s very possible that he could be traded during the summer. If Howard is put on the block, expect the Magic to look for a package that features young talent and draft picks that they can build around going forward.
Josh Smith – Hawks:
After reports surfaced that Josh Smith demanded a trade from the Atlanta Hawks, many around the NBA felt that Smith would be moved by the deadline. The deadline came and went and Smith is still in Atlanta but that doesn’t mean the disgruntled star is satisfied in the ATL.
What suggests even more strongly that the Hawks will consider trading Smith in the offseason is the fact that the athletic power forward is coming into the last year of his contract. Every team in the NBA saw the circus that followed Dwight Howard around this season and Atlanta would be wise not to let Smith’s impending free agency derail the Hawks’ season.
Much like Howard, if Smith doesn’t sign a contract extension in the offseason, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Hawks try to sell high on Smith before the season begins. The only problem is that’s obviously easier said than done.
Smith is a young and talented forward that Atlanta is going to have a difficult time getting equal value for. The Hawks may decide to take a wait and see approach but that means next season is going to possess a lot of the same drama Orlando dealt with this season.
HOOPSWORLD’s Lang Greene in Atlanta:
If the Atlanta Hawks were to ever seriously consider trading Josh Smith, this summer would be the optimal time. Smith’s value is at an all-time high throughout the league, but that is the very reason I see very little chance of the Hawks actually trading Smith this summer: Smith has finally put the package of his talent together.
The organization has been waiting for years for Smith to undergo this epiphany on the floor. Not only that, but Smith is the heart and soul of the Hawks’ recent return to relevancy. He is the lynchpin of their success as their management team has stated numerous times. If the Hawks were to deal Smith, as things stand right now, it would be at the trade deadline in 2013 after exhausting all attempts in getting Smith to sign a contract extension with the team.
Pau Gasol – Lakers:
One of the key pieces to the Los Angeles Lakers winning back-to-back NBA Titles just a few seasons ago, Gasol seems to be the odd man out in LA. Barring another championship run this season – which isn’t exactly out of the question with Kobe Bryant healthy and Andrew Bynum dominating inside – the Lakers appear likely to go in a different direction with it comes to Gasol moving forward.
Even at 31-years old, Gasol is still a force on both ends of the floor around the basket and his playoff experience and veteran savvy would be invaluable to virtually any team out there. It’s not like Gasol has lost a step, either, as he’s averaging 17 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season – all in line with his career averages.
Not many big men average 17 points and over 10 rebounds a game. In fact, just five other NBA players can match those types of numbers this season.
There’s no doubt that the Houston Rockets are salivating over Gasol (they’ve already traded for him once in the last six months before that trade fell through) but LA may no longer be interested in Kyle Lowry with the way Ramon Sessions has emerged as a legitimate starting point guard.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Michael Beasley was an option at the deadline, but Gasol’s value suggests the Lakers could get more in return.
Regardless of the trading partner, Los Angeles is interested in acquiring younger players with smaller contracts and higher upside. Kobe Bryant isn’t exactly ancient at 33-years old but he is in the midst of playing his 16th season in the NBA and the Lakers need to try to figure out who they are going to pair with Andrew Bynum as the future in LA.
Gasol’s contract ($19 million next season and a little over $19.2 mill for the 2013-2014 season) won’t exactly be easy to unload but the size of it could yield multiple younger players on smaller contracts if LA wanted to go in that direction.
Then again, LA might win it all again this season and this discussion would likely be a moot point.
HOOPSWORLD’s Eric Pincus in Los Angeles:
The Lakers are facing some harsh economic realities under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If they don’t win a title this year, they may look at Pau Gasol as a far-too-expensive third option a $19 million a season. Andrew Bynum has firmly established himself as the Lakers’ primary inside option. To avoid the coming “supertax,” Gasol may simply have to go.
Initially the Lakers had searched for an elite point guard in return for Gasol, nearly dealing for Chris Paul before the season. Other options at the one were considered before the team made a smaller deal for Ramon Sessions.
Now that Sessions has emerged as the possible starter for the next few seasons along with Kobe Bryant and Bynum, the Lakers would need to get a younger, cheaper forward in return. In theory a player like Derrick Williams might be a starting point. The team would also be looking for a small forward and overall depth at nearly every position.
The difficult part is finding a team that can take on Gasol’s massive contract without sending the Lakers back players with big, lengthy deals. LA won’t dump Gasol if the return isn’t right but he could be the key for establishing a younger core while starting to think about the post-Kobe Bryant era.
Kevin Martin – Rockets:
Rumored to be traded seemingly since the moment he set foot in Houston, the Rockets shooting guard will likely have his name again attached to numerous other suitors this offseason.
When the Rockets wanted Pau Gasol, Kevin Martin’s name was squarely in the mix. When it was rumored that Houston was willing to take a chance and try to trade for Dwight Howard, Martin’s name was mentioned in that trade package.
More than a valued player on the court, Martin appears to be viewed by the Rockets as merely a trade asset that could be used to acquire a bigger piece of the puzzle.
The Rockets play since Martin went out would seem to justify Houston’s stance. Houston’s record is 9-5 overall this season with Martin out of the lineup and if the right trade came along this offseason it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Martin shipped away as part of the deal.
HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram:
There was a time not so long ago that Kevin Martin was an indispensable member of the Rockets. They even told him there was no way they would trade him, that he could buy a house and get comfortable.
And then they traded him as part of the Chris Paul/Pau Gasol deal that the NBA rejected.
Now it seems Martin is definitely attainable for the right price, especially in light of how well Courtney Lee has played while Martin nurses a shoulder injury. Lee comes at a fraction the price and plays great defense, which Martin has never done. Given how the Rockets look at production value, Lee could be the starter long-term if the right deal comes along for Martin.
Shawn Marion – Mavericks:
The Dallas Mavericks’ swingman may be on the block this summer if amnestying Brendan Haywood isn’t enough and the Mavs try to get even further under the cap this summer. Shawn Marion isn’t exactly chopped liver in the worth category either, as he’s averaging 11 points and seven rebounds a game while contending for a Defensive Player of the Year title with some dominant defense this season.
Marion’s ability to guard anyone from the likes of Chris Paul to Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or even the occasional power forward in Chris Bosh makes him a top-tier defender.
In terms of his contract, Marion has about $18 million due to him total over the next two years ($8.6 mill in 12-13 and $9.3 mill in 13-14) so that doesn’t seem exceptionally difficult to unload.
Still, with Dwight Howard now off the free agent market this summer, it would be difficult to see a reason why Dallas would need any extra cap space. It’s likely that Dallas doesn’t pick up Lamar Odom’s option for next season.
If that’s the case, they would appear to have plenty of cap space to go after Deron Williams without having to alter the remaining roster too much.
Both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry are set to become free agents – that’s almost $20 million off the books. Then the Mavs could also decline Vince Carter’s $3 million option which would leave them with roughly $40 million committed in contracts and that’s before amnestying Haywood.
The cap is expected to be at least just over $58 million for next season.
What could force the Mavs’ hand in trading Marion is the need to keep Haywood on the team. Ian Mahinmi has been solid as a back-up center but not many people around the Mavericks believe he can be a starting center, at least as soon as next season.
It’s obvious that Dallas wants Deron Williams this summer and, according to sources, Williams may want Dallas but the road to clearing that cap space is still unknown. My bet is that Marion stays put and Haywood get amnestied if Dallas ends up needing more cap space.
It may not have the free agent star power that the summer of 2013 is expected to have (Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Chris Paul) but this offseason could end up being one to remember.
What do you think about your team’s prospects this summer? Leave your comments below!
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