NBA Trade Watch – Eastern Conference
Earlier this week, HOOPSWORLD examined the Western conference trade market. Today we take a look at all 15 squads in the Eastern Conference, attempting to determine what each team might be looking for, and which players they may consider putting on the block…
Miami HEAT (32-14 / #1 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem
Despite possessing the best record in the conference, the HEAT have been far from dominant as they have been more-or-less coasting through the first half of the 2012-13 campaign. Considering that they are coming off their first title together, a mild “championship hangover” was to be expected.
The fact they are still in first despite not playing up to their potential is a testament to their overall talent. Once the postseason commences, Miami will be the overwhelming favorites to once again advance to the NBA Finals. Thus, Pat Riley and company will likely stand pat this month. However, Miami is over the tax threshold, which is why there were rumors that they would consider trading the beloved Udonis Haslem to possibly shave some salary off the books. After starting at center for much of last season, Joel Anthony has fallen out of the rotation of late – playing a total of seven minutes in the HEAT’s last five games. But with two years (after this one) and $7.6 million left on Anthony’s deal, it is extremely unlikely Riley finds any takers.
New York Knicks (31-16 / #2 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Ronnie Brewer, Chris Copeland
It is extremely unlikely that the Knicks make a move any significance between now and the trade deadline, for multiple reasons. First, New York is playing extremely well (the Knicks are 15 games over .500 for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office); thus, GM Glen Grunwald is not in any rush to fix something that isn’t broken. Moreover, the Knicks have very few (non-essential) assets that other teams would be overly interested in. Furthermore, NY has already used the maximum annual allotment of $3 million in cash that teams can include in trades and the Knicks have traded away nearly every first-round and second-round pick possible.
Amar’e has exceeded even the highest expectations since returning from injury, but still no team would be willing to take on his enormous contract. The rest of the NY roster is primarily a hodge-podge of players that have excelled in Coach Mike Woodson’s system, but may not be valued as much in other situations. Veterans like Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby aren’t going anywhere (both have two years and over $6 million left on their contracts). Even if NY wanted to “sell-high” on J.R. Smith (they don’t), J.R. will have the opportunity to become a free-agent this summer and will be looking for a significant raise (diminishing his value)… One player that teams would be calling on (if the Knicks put out feelers) is Iman Shumpert; but there is no reason to believe New York would even consider trading their youngest player, who also happens to be the team’s best perimeter defender.
Long story short, although the Knicks would probably like to add some depth on the front line (they have flirted with free-agent Kenyon Martin) or at PG (they would surely like to pry Will Bynum from the Pistons or Eric Maynor from OKC – as it is currently crucial that both Felton and Kidd stay healthy) this Knicks team will likely remain intact as currently constituted for the near future.
Indiana Pacers (31-19 / #3 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Gerald Green, D.J. Augustin
The Pacers have flown under the radar and quietly established themselves as legit contenders in the East. They are currently riding a five-game win streak and are now a season-high 12 games above .500. Indiana also proved they can compete with the league’s elite by giving Miami a serious scare in the second round of the playoffs last year.
Indy does have just 14 guaranteed contracts, and they are under the tax threshold, so they could easily add a player, but since they are playing their best basketball of the season with the deadline inching closer, it is safe to assume they’ll keep their core intact. Indiana probably wouldn’t mind moving Gerald Green (who received a three-year $10 million contract this past summer), but Green’s value has plummeted as he’s fallen completely out of the Pacers rotation.
The Pacers are also hoping Danny Granger will be cleared for full-contact workouts shortly after the All-Star break, which means – even without the benefit of a trade – they will be getting a major boost from a borderline superstar who has yet to play a minute for them all season.
Chicago Bulls (29-20 / #4 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Carlos Boozer
The fact that the Bulls are near the top of the Eastern Conference and still within shouting distance of the Miami despite playing without their best player (and MVP) Derrick Rose, is a credit to Coach Tom Thibodeau and the entire Bulls roster.
One of the reasons Chicago has exceeded expectations has been the surprising superb play of Carlos Boozer in 2013. Boozer was averaging over 22 and 12 rebounds over the first three weeks in January, before and injured hamstring slowed him down. However, the Bulls are over the cap in firmly in luxury tax territory. Since the lockout ended, and each team was granted the right to amnesty a player, Boozer’s name has often been rumored as a potential amnesty target. While Boozer has been a beast of late, “selling high” on him must be tempting. Chicago would certainly love to entertain offers if they could dump Carlos’ contract ($32.1 million towed over next two seasons) in exchange for cap flexibility in the future.
Brooklyn Nets (29-20 / #5 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Kris Humphries, C.J. Watson
Get used to this roster Nets fans, as it is unlikely to change in any significant way, anytime soon…
Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Joe Johnson are all signed through the 2015-2016 season. All told, they will earn a combined $234 million over the next three seasons. This ‘core four’ will comprise the foundation of the team going forward, and Brooklyn will only advance as far as this group takes them.
As far as the Dwight Howard situation is concerned, it appears that ship has sailed. The Lakers front office has insisted they will not trade Howard in-season. Furthermore, the Nets have proclaimed publicly they envision Brook Lopez as their center of the future.
Kris Humphries was among the league’s top rebounders last season, averaging a double-double (13.8 ppg and 11.0 rebounds); but has lost his starting spot to Reggie Evans and Hump is averaging fewer than 15 minutes a night over the past six weeks. Humphries has one year and $12 million left on his current contract. A change of scenery would likely do him some good, but there won’t be any teams beating down the Nets doors to secure his services.
Atlanta Hawks (27-21 / #6 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Zaza Pachulia, Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro
Of all the teams in the Eastern Conference, the organization most likely to make a blockbuster trade may very well be the Hawks. This is due to primarily the presence of Josh Smith, and his expiring contract. Atlanta shrewdly unloaded Joe Johnson’s monstrous contract this summer and is looking at potentially significant cap space in July. However, they started off the year strongly, and remain in the thick of the playoff chase.
Still, the threat of losing Josh Smith via free agency and getting nothing in return is likely going to force Atlanta’s hand. Either they can commit to signing him long-term (assuming he wants the extra year and guaranteed money the Hawks can offer), or they will shop him hard over the next few weeks, in attempt to secure young, affordable assets to build around. If they do decide to trade Smith, then nearly every player on the roster (save Al Horford) could be lumped in as cap fodder. Atlanta does have a plethora of expiring contracts (each of the players listed above is in the last year of his deal); so even if they don’t move Josh in a blockbuster, they could help facilitate other transactions with an expiring contract or two…
Boston Celtics (26-23 / #7 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
The Celtics are clearly at crossroads.
When Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, many pundits assumed Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office would be forced to begin rebuilding, which meant potentially trading away their heart and soul (i.e. KG and Paul Pierce). However, after pounding the Lakers on Thursday night, the C’s have somehow managed to run off six straight wins since losing their starting PG.
It is also important to note that Garnett has a ‘No-Trade’ clause in his contract. He has previously considered retirement and only agreed to come back to Boston because of Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers. Any deal involving KG would have to have his approval and he has made it clear that he wouldn’t agree to a trade unless the Celtics were breaking up the entire team – meaning trading Paul Pierce as well. On Thursday, KG made it abundantly clear that his preference would be to retire a Celtic.
One somewhat feasible scenario would be Garnett heading to the Clippers in exchange for a package including Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, but L.A. has intimated they would prefer not to trade Eric Bledsoe until they lock-up Chris Paul (who will become a free agent this summer).
Milwaukee Bucks (25-23 / #8 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, Beno Udrih, Samuel Dalembert
Milwaukee inked Ilyasova to a five-year, $40 million deal this summer, but Ersan struggled mightily early in the season (averaging fewer than 7 points and 5 boards in November), and there was some talk that the Bucks would try to trade him. In fact, one rumor that surfaced that speculated Ilyasova would be sent to Brooklyn in exchange for Kris Humphries. However, since Jim Boylan replaced Scott Skiles, Ilyasova is back to the producing the way the Bucks hoped he would (averaging nearly 15 points and shooting 55% from the floor), so it seems he will remain as an important building block. The rest of the roster, however, contains plenty of question marks…
Monta Ellis has a player option which means he may test the free-agent market this summer. His backcourt partner, Brandon Jennings, is still locked into his rookie deal, but will be looking for a major extension in July.
Drew Gooden’s massive contract means he’ll stay in Milwaukee for a couple more years. (Incredibly, Gooden will make over $13 million dollars over the next two seasons.) Beno Udrih and Samuel Dalembert, on the other hand, have expiring deals. With so many teams desperate for a big man, Dalembert will draw interest. Sammy D had the best game of his career earlier this week (35 points and 12 rebounds in just 27 minutes), so the Bucks will look to strike while the iron is hot.
Philadelphia 76ers (21-27 / 9th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Dorell Wright, Nick Young
It’s obviously been an extremely disappointing season in the City of Brotherly Love. Andrew Bynum’s troublesome knee(s) have prevented him from participating in practice, let alone playing a game. This uniquely difficult situation puts the Sixers in a serious bind this summer, when Bynum hits free agency.
The bad luck continued, when the team’s best shooter, Jason Richardson, was also felled by a knee injury which will sideline him for 6-9 months.
The one bright spot for Philly has been the emergence of Jrue Holiday, who is slowly but surely establishing himself as one of the NBA’s elite point guards. Holiday is on pace to become just the second Sixer in franchise history to finish a season averaging over 18 points and 8 assists. With Jrue previously agreeing to a lengthy extension and locked up long-term, the Sixers roster will be built with him as a centerpiece. The only other player currently on the roster whose contract extends out beyond 2015 is Thad Young.
Shorthanded due to injuries, the Sixers don’t have many healthy/valuable assets to move. They could offer one of their shooters (Nick Young and/or Dorell Wright), who both possess expiring contracts.
Detroit Pistons (18-32 / 10th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Jose Calderon, Corey Maggette
The Pistons have some solid pieces already in place. Andre Drummond is a keeper and he and Greg Monroe should anchor a formidable frontcourt for years to come. Brandon Knight has shown some flashes as well.
In addition, Detroit will have plenty of cap space to play with this summer – even more so after unloading Tayshaun Prince to Memphis in the Rudy Gay three-team trade. Corey Maggette (the team’s highest paid player at $10.9 million) will be coming off the books in July; as will Jason Maxiell’s $5 million cap number.
When Calderon was re-routed to Detroit as part of the Gay trade, it was widely assumed the Pistons would flip him to a contender looking to bolster its backcourt. While they’d surely entertain offers, Detroit values Calderon’s expiring contract, so they won’t just give Calderon away unless they can get a similar expiring contract, plus a draft pick, in return.
Toronto Raptors (17-32 / 11th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Andrea Bargnani
The Raptors have already participated in a monster trade this year, acquiring swingman Rudy Gay from the Grizzlies. Might there be another major move on the horizon?
Bargnani has been maddeningly inconsistent since Toronto selected him with the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft. Bargs has never lived up to the hype, and fans frustrations have only increased since he signed a hefty extension in 2009. ESPN reported yesterday than the Raps and Bulls have had preliminary discussions about a deal involving Bargnani and Carlos Boozer. Yes, Toronto would like to replace some of the post scoring they lost by shipping out Ed Davis, but it is difficult to see how it behooves them (a team building for the future) to trade away a 27-year old seven-footer to obtain a 31-year old with an even worse contract. If the Bulls were willing to sweeten the pot, it might make some sense, but it definitely seems far-fetched at first glance.
Cleveland Cavaliers (15-34 / 12th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Omri Casspi, Luke Walton, Daniel Gibson
According to some, the Cavs were considering trading away rebounding machine Anderson Varejao back in November. But when Andy was lost for the year, that rumor died.
Omri Casspi had purportedly made noise about possibly favoring a trade, but he later came out and downplayed that rumor. It seems he’ll stay in Cleveland for now.
The Cavs are about $4 million under the cap, so they can take on some salary, but it remains unlikely they make a move unless they can acquire another pick (Cleveland has done an excellent job stock-piling both first and second round selections…)
Orlando Magic (14-35 / 13th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: J.J. Redick
Redick is currently playing the best basketball of his pro career. He’s averaging career-highs in scoring (15.3 ppg), assists (4.5 apg), rebounds (2.5 rpg), and FG% (45.2). The rest of league has taken notice, and the Magic have fielded plenty of offers for their sharpshooter.
Redick will become a free agent this summer, and the Magic have $22.5 million committed to SG Arron Afflalo over the next three seasons. Although the organization loves J.J., it may make sense for Orlando to trade him away if they can get back picks or young, affordable talent.
Washington Wizards (13-35 / 14th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza
Unsurprisingly, the Wiz have been completely rejuvenated since John Wall returned to the court. Washington has gone 8-7 with Wall in the lineup. And despite their awful record, the Wiz have already beaten five of the six division leaders this season (HEAT, Knicks, Thunder, Pacers, and Clippers). The talent is there and the Wiz seem to be moving in the right direction.
Jordan Crawford put up phenomenal numbers with Wall sidelined, but he’s seen both his playing time and production dramatically decrease since Wall’s return. Crawford has a solid skill set and his contract is extremely affordable (he’s set to make just $2.1 million next season); so if the Wizards were to move anybody, Crawford would draw plenty of interest…
Charlotte Bobcats (11-37 / 15th place)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Hakim Warrick, DeSagana Diop
Warrick contact contains a team option for next season, and Diop’s all-time terrible deal finally comes of the books at the end of this year. The Bobcats would love to dump Tyrus Thomas (2 years and $17.6 million remaining), but nobody would touch that burdensome contract.
Unfortunately, the Bobcats are slightly over the cap and don’t have much roster flexibility in terms of trade bait. The good news for Charlotte is that’ll have another high lottery pick come June (albeit in a relatively weak draft).