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NBA Trade Watch – West
Posted By Eric Pincus On February 6, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
As the NBA’s trade deadline nears (Feb. 21), action around the league should heat up. It’s been relatively quiet this season on the trade front, except for the Memphis Grizzlies who recently completed a pair of deals.
Of the 15 teams in the Western Conference, some are happy where they stand – others are itching to make a deal:
San Antonio Spurs (38-11, 1st seed)
The Spurs have the best record in the Western Conference. They’re under the tax by a small margin and have 15 guaranteed players. There’s no compelling reason for the Spurs to make a trade.
If anything, the San Antonio might want to open up a roster spot. DeJuan Blair isn’t a major part of the rotation and is unlikely to stay with the Spurs beyond this season. Perhaps San Antonio looks for a second-round pick from a team with a trade/disabled player exception (like the Lakers).
MOST LIKELY MOVED: DeJuan Blair
Oklahoma City Thunder (36-12, 2nd seed)
The Thunder made their big play before the season in the James Harden deal. How well that plays out may not be clear until May and June. Like San Antonio, Oklahoma City is slightly under the tax threshold. It’s hard to see where the Thunder would find a player that would actually crack the rotation.
Eric Maynor has fallen behind Reggie Jackson in the rotation but is there a market for a guard shooting 28.7% on the season?
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Eric Maynor
Los Angeles Clippers (34-16, 3rd seed)
Both the Clippers and Boston Celtic have shot down rumors that Kevin Garnett could be headed to LA. That may or not be true – teams tend to downplay rumors regardless of veracity. The Clippers did have interest in Garnett prior to acquiring Lamar Odom in trade. Garnett has a no-trade clause but he might be willing to lift it to play with Chris Paul and the Clippers.
The Clippers are under the tax but they are hard-capped at $74.3 million. Any deals they might consider cannot put them over that mark. Currently the team is at $69.4 million in payroll.
At some point the team will cash out Eric Bledsoe, who is highly sought after around the league. The question is when – and that might mean waiting until after Paul re-signs. Presently the team would like to foster the existing chemistry, but if an opportunity comes before the deadline – the Clippers may be open to a move.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler.
Memphis Grizzlies (30-17, 4th seed)
The Grizzlies were deep into the tax until two trades significantly shifted their position economically. Now Memphis is about $8.2 million under the threshold. The team still needs depth and outside shooting.
There’s been some speculation that Zach Randolph could be on the block but that’s more of a long-term question than one by the deadline. The Grizzlies may not have anyone to offer but they are loaded with trade exceptions (the largest of which is $7.5 million). With tax no longer a concern, Memphis may be a buyer – looking to add a shooter.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Not a player, but one of many trade exceptions.
Denver Nuggets (31-18, 5th seed)
Timofey Mozgov was a key component in the Carmelo Anthony trade but he’s been outplayed by Kosta Koufos and the Nuggets are paying JaVale McGee $44 million. Mozgov is in the last year of his contract, making $3.1 million and can be a restricted free agent this summer.
The Nuggets are about $6.3 million under the tax and playing some of their best basketball, winning seven straight. Denver may be another team thinking subtraction more than addition. Wilson Chandler hasn’t lived up to his contract, making $5.9 million this year. Mozgov, as sweetener, probably isn’t enough to make Chandler attractive.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Timofey Mozgov
Golden State Warriors (30-18, 6th seed)
The Warriors have been a pleasant surprise this season after multiple years in the lottery. The team certainly has pieces they’d be willing to move in Richard Jefferson and/or Andris Biedrins. The problem is finding a team willing to take on Jefferson and/or Biedrins.
Golden State is about $850k over the luxury tax threshold – If they could trim, they will. Perhaps they can pawn off Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler, who are both on minimum contracts. Any team can trade for a minimum player without sending anything back, as long as they’re under the hard cap (if applicable).
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Jeremy Tyler, Charles Jenkins, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins
Utah Jazz (27-22, 7th seed)
The Jazz have real assets to offer by the deadline. They have two high-quality bigs in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, both on expiring contracts. Utah is grooming Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter but Jefferson and Millsap are the main reason the team is five games above .500.
Utah doesn’t have much on the books next year but can they lure a high-level free agent? Would they be better served restocking via trade? Probably so – unless they want to sign Jefferson and Millsap back. One, perhaps – but both seems a stretch.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Houston Rockets (27-23, 8th seed)
The Rockets have been one of the most active teams over the past few years, finally striking gold in the James Harden trade. Harden is joined by Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik as a solid foursome. Houston is an impact big away from being a serious contender.
Do they wait until the summer to make a run at Dwight Howard or will there be a more sure-fire opportunity before then? Keep an eye on Josh Smith with the Atlanta Hawks.
A solid player like Patrick Patterson could be attractive bait as a young, inexpensive four (currently at $2.1 million).
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, Marcus Morris, Royce White, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith (the Rockets are a wild card)
Portland Trail Blazers (25-23, 9th place)
The Blazers are basically a five-man roster, at least by statistical production. Given the lack of depth, wouldn’t it make sense for management to move out some of the younger prospects to bolster the team’s playoff hopes?
Probably not. The kind of depth the Blazers are likely to find on the trade market probably pales to the fact that they lose their first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to the Charlotte Bobcats if they’re in the playoffs (technically top-12 protected).
The players are going to try to win every night but management is likely to hold firm with the big picture in mind.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Jared Jeffries, Sasha Pavlovic
Los Angeles Lakers (23-26, 10th place)
If the Lakers were given a knockout offer for Pau Gasol, they’d make a deal. Now that Gasol appears to be injured (foot), the slim chance the Lakers make a big move just shrunk.
Long-term the Lakers need to trim salary if they want to avoid major tax next year but that will probably be an issue addressed around the draft or in July.
The Lakers may need to add a center if Gasol is out any significant amount of time – but they don’t have a lot to offer other than Devin Ebanks (who can block a trade), trade/disabled player exceptions and second round picks.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Devin Ebanks, $1.78 million disabled player exception.
Dallas Mavericks (20-28, 11th place)
The Mavericks are a selective shopper. They will have cap room this summer but would like more. That could mean deals sending out veterans like Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, who both have another year left their deals (Marion’s is an early termination option). Equally, if Dallas can get a key piece now, they’d jump at the chance.
Elton Brand, who was claimed off amnesty, cannot be traded. The Mavericks are well under the luxury tax.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Jared Cunningham, Brandon Wright, Dahntay Jones
Minnesota Timberwolves (18-27, 12th place)
The Wolves vowed to their fans they’d be a playoff team this year but injuries have seemingly derailed that goal. The future of Kevin Love in Minnesota isn’t entirely clear but it doesn’t look like a decision that will be made in the next few weeks. A knockout offer might net Nikola Pekovic, who the Wolves may have trouble re-signing next year (even as a restricted free agent).
Derrick Williams has been on the block forever although he’s starting to earn some attention in Minnesota as of late. Louis Amundson wants out.
For the right return, quite a few Timberwolves could become available.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Louis Amundson, Nikola Pekovic, Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour, Brandon Roy, Dante Cunningham, etc. (Minnesota always seems to be involved around the deadline).
Phoenix Suns (17-32, 13th place)
The Suns went shopping this summer and while they brought in Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson (via trade) and Luis Scola – they don’t have a lot of wins to show for it. The Suns are under the cap by about $6.5 million, which makes them a viable partner for a team looking to dump salary.
Phoenix has 15 players under contract, so they’d have to waive or trade a player or two to open up room for a deal. One player that would like out is Marcin Gortat, who is a solid center making $about $7.5 million a year.
The Suns could be an involved team before the deadline his.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Jared Dudley
Sacramento Kings (17-33, 14th place)
A pending sale has crimped the market for the Kings. If they’re open to making deals, there’s an added layer of approval in the potential new owners.
DeMarcus Cousins is having a tumultuous season but isn’t believed to be on the block. Tyreke Evans will probably hit restricted free agency this summer. The Kings are right at the cap but they may sit out this trade deadline.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia
New Orleans Hornets (15-33, 15th place)
The Hornets are rebuilding but when they’re healthy, they can be a potent young team. They’re over the salary cap but a good $6.9 million under the tax.
Look for New Orleans to be opportunistic at the deadline but not necessarily active. There may not be any player on their roster that the Hornets are actively looking to move.
MOST LIKELY MOVED: Xavier Henry, if any.
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