NBA AM: All About The Upcoming Trade Deadline
The NBA trade deadline for the 2012-13 season is February 21 at 3 p.m. ET. While there doesn’t appear to be many mega deals in the works this season there are still plenty of highly productive guys in play who may be receiving a change of scenery.
Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith is at the top of the list as we approach this week’s deadline, but there are plenty of other names who provide immediate dividends to a new franchise.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Smith is arguably the most talented veteran in the league without an All-Star appearance on his mantle. The ninth-year forward will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and rumors about his future in Atlanta have been swirling ever since Hawks president of basketball operations Danny Ferry took the helm last summer. Smith could demand a five-year deal worth $90 million from the Hawks and has publicly stated his belief that he’s a max-level player.
Ferry’s primary objective when he joined Atlanta’s front office was to clear cap space so the Hawks can be flexible as it relates to the free agency and trade markets. The Hawks will have over $30 million in cap room next season as it stands today. The question is, will Ferry give Smith a max deal after unloading six-time All-Star Joe Johnson to Brooklyn or will the veteran executive shop Smith for assets to build around two-time All-Star center Al Horford and emerging guard Jeff Teague.
Brooklyn, Boston, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio and Charlotte have all been linked to Smith in recent weeks but the Hawks aren’t actively shopping the veteran forward, more like gauging his market value listening to the overtures.
Smith is extremely talented but hard to place a trade value on. Most don’t believe he’s a true franchise type player to build around, but the same crowd also views him as better than most number two options.
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Millsap will be an unrestricted free agent next summer joining a talented power forward crop which includes Atlanta’s Josh Smith, Indiana’s David West and Golden State’s Carl Landry. There is plenty of interest in Millsap throughout the league and Utah has reportedly been open to the idea of moving the veteran for the right package.
Spurring the Millsap rumors has been the presence of former lottery pick Derrick Favors on the roster. Favors continues to make strong progress in his development and is seven years younger than the 28-year-old Millsap. You also can’t ignore the financial implications in play here as well. In free agency Millsap is expected to earn a multi-year deal which could pay over $10 million annually, while Favors is on the books for just $6 million next season and isn’t close to reaching his prime.
The latest rumor linked Millsap to the Los Angeles Clippers for promising young point guard Eric Bledsoe, but Clippers’ management maintains that Bledsoe isn’t at play.
Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Denver are other teams who have shown at least an exploratory interest in Millsap over the past two months.
Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers own the third best record in the Western Conference as we move past the All-Star break. At times the club has looked like the best team in the league but at others the franchise appears to be missing the final piece to their title puzzle.
In recent weeks the Clippers have been rumored to be in the hunt for a highly productive big man. Boston’s Kevin Garnett and Utah’s Paul Millsap’s name have been linked to the Clippers in trade talks. The common thread in those rumored discussions was Bledsoe, who has seen his market value skyrocket this season.
Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks recently told the Los Angeles Times that the team is not and hasn’t been shopping Bledsoe, but did also caution in the same interview that the team could change its mind if the right package was offered.
J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic
Quiet as kept, Redick is having a career season averaging 15.3 points and dishing out 4.4 assists on 40 percent shooting from three-point range per night. The seven year veteran is also an unrestricted free agent this summer and one of the rebuilding Magic’s prime assets with value around the league.
Playoff teams such as Denver, Indiana and Chicago have all shown interest in Redick as we approach the deadline. However the Magic aren’t in a rush to trade the veteran sharpshooter and will only do so for the right mix of assets who fit their rebuilding philosophy. Redick has been assured by the Magic’s front office the team isn’t actively shopping him, but Orlando is still entertaining conversations as they come in.
Executives around the league have maintained the Magic have put a high price on Redick’s value during trade talks. There is strong belief the team looks to re-sign Redick this summer, at a similar cap hit, rather than ship him elsewhere for unproven talent or draft picks.
Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns
For the production and salary on the books, Dudley remains one of the league’s better bargains. Dudley is owed $17 million through 2016 but the annual cap charge is just $4.3 million per year. Dudley is a career 41 percent shooter from three-point range and has proven to be a legitimate double-digit scorer over the past three seasons. Plus, Dudley is a strong locker room asset and a low maintenance player who knows his role in a team’s framework.
The veteran-laden Knicks were rumored to have interest in acquiring Dudley for second=year guard Iman Shumpert. Memphis was another team who showed interest in Dudley early this season but have since made two deals which seemingly puts any more roster overhauls on hold until the summer.
Ben Gordon, Charlotte Bobcats
According to numerous reports, Gordon and Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap’s relationship is becoming more and more strained by the day. Gordon was acquired from Detroit before the start of the season to provide leadership on a team littered with youth. Gordon’s presence has seemingly worked in helping Kemba Walker’s development and he has served as a solid late game scoring for the Bobcats since his arrival.
But Dunlap is a rookie coach (pro level) and Gordon has influence in the locker room. The one thing a coach in Dunlap’s position can’t afford is to lose the locker room.
The Bobcats appear to be shopping Gordon in an effort to land a big man to bolster their thin frontcourt. Gordon has been linked to Brooklyn (Kris Humphries) and most recently Toronto (Andrea Bargnani). Gordon is owed $12.4 million this season and $13.2 million in 2014.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
Trade rumors have swirled around Bargnani, a former No. 1 overall pick, since the beginning of the season. The rumors have intensified since the arrival of forward Rudy Gay to the team last month.
Charlotte is the latest suitor reportedly offering a package headlined by Ben Gordon. There were also reports of Toronto engaging in talks with Chicago for a Carlos Boozer swap earlier this season which didn’t gain much traction.
Bargnani is owed $32 million through 2015.
DeJuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs
Blair has been highly productive as an undersized power forward for the Spurs since entering the league but it appears his time in San Antonio may be coming to a close. This season, Blair is playing the lowest minutes (13.8) of his career by far, which follows up on last season’s playoff run where he also barely left the bench.
Blair is on the books for just over $1 million this season and will be a free agent this summer. Teams such as Portland, Miami, Boston, Golden State and Toronto have been linked to Blair in recent weeks.
Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons appear to have invested in the guard duo of Jose Calderon and Brandon Knight as their future in the backcourt. Stuckey has struggled to find consistency this season and may find himself as the odd man out in Detroit.
The reason could come down to economics. The Pistons currently have just $35 million on the books next season. Stuckey has a player option for $8.5 million next season. If the Pistons are able to move Stuckey without acquiring any long term salary obligations the team will have over $30 million in cap space this summer to work with.
Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets remain high on Mozgov’s skillset but the financial side of the equation may force their front office to explore deals for the third year center. Mozgov is expected to become a restricted free agent this summer and the Nuggets are already sitting in luxury tax land with $73 million in salary commitments on the books for next season. Factor in the fact the team has a logjam at center with Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee both ahead of Mozgov on the depth chart and a move may be in the works as we near the deadline.
Mozgov has been adamant he will be seeking an opportunity to play more minutes in his next deal, which puts his future in Denver at even more risk. Mozgov is on the books for $3.1 million this season, which as a standalone piece might not return a huge piece in a trade, but the Nuggets have plenty of young assets which could draw the interest of a team looking to make a larger deal.
Add Suns’ Jermaine O’Neal To Trade Discussions?
In the first year of the post Steve Nash era the Phoenix Suns look like a franchise searching for an identity. The team is currently 17-36 which is the worst record in the Western Conference. As the trade deadline approaches veterans Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley have been the most prominent Suns names mentioned in talks around the league.
But there may be another veteran on the roster also starting to attract some interest from playoff contenders. Former All-Star Jermaine O’Neal has been playing his best basketball since the 2010 campaign for the Suns this season averaging 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the floor in 37 contests. Over the past two seasons O’Neal has been limited to just 49 games due to an assortment of injuries.
O’Neal says he isn’t actively campaigning for a trade, but wouldn’t be opposed to one if it helped the Suns long term. O’Neal’s top priority is his 13 year old daughter who will need surgery to correct a leaky heart valve.
“I have a tough situation coming up with my daughter,” O’Neal told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. “She’s having heart surgery in Boston on March 5. She has a leaky valve that has to be corrected because her body is having to work too hard. She is having chest pains.”
“For me, it’s one thing after another,” O’Neal added. “I haven’t even had a chance to think about that (trade possibilities). Every time I think about basketball, real life tends to talk to me a little bit. My focus is to finish my job and what I signed up to do. If they want to do something to help the team, I’m for it.”
O’Neal has hinted at retirement in the past on numerous occasions to focus on his budding entrepreneurial pursuits but maintains he still has some game left and isn’t sure of his future past this season.
“Every time I get to the point where I think this it for basketball, something else grabs at me,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know what those signs are. I feel like I can still play. I don’t have the big braces and favoring the knee. What I will do is go back to Germany in the offseason because the (Regenokine) process gives you five to seven years for non-baskeball stuff. I’m going to train like I’m going to play. If I don’t, I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about me in the business world.”
O’Neal would be a solid addition for a playoff team. The veteran center has 90 career playoff games under his belt and has logged nearly 2,500 postseason minutes.