The NBA All-Star break has almost fallen upon us, so naturally it’s that time of the year that trade rumors start flying around the league. Every year some of the biggest stars in the league are rumored to be heading to a new destination by the weekend’s end, and very rarely is this ever true. The only victims of the trade deadline frenzy are usually bench players and second round picks. With the usual absence of any major deals, the speculation surrounding the trade deadline is usually more exciting than the actual deals. In keeping up with the historic tradition of the hypothetical, I composed a list of NBA trades that should take place, but won’t. I say they won’t because as of now there is no indication that these players are going to be traded, or that these particular teams are in talks for a trade. All of these trades are plausible from a financial perspective, and if you don’t believe me you can check yourself using ESPN’s Trade Machine.
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1. CLIPPERS and KNICKS
Clippers Acquire: Carmelo Anthony
Knicks Acquire: Blake Griffin
In one of the most injury incident you’ll ever hear about in a long time Blake Griffin broke his hand punching a team employee and had to have surgery on it on January 25th. The injury has sidelined Griffin for four to six weeks while the team is left to fend for themselves and their grueling schedule during the second half of the year. While Griffin should be back well before the season ends the effect of his injury will linger as it’ll still take time for it to completely heal and he’ll have to readjust back into the lineup. This is time that the Clippers do not have. Ever since their acquisition of Chris Paul the Clippers have had championship expectations which they have repeatedly failed to achieve. They have never made it out of the second round, but a Griffin-less Clipper team might be their best bet to do so. Since Griffin has gone down the Clippers are 15-5, scoring 107.8 points per game and are beating opponents by seven points a game. On the opposite spectrum are the New York Knicks. Coming off a 17-65 season, which attained the prestige honor of being the worst record in franchise history, the Knicks were happy to be in the hunt for the playoffs. Now that simple expectation seems to have been too lofty as well. As they currently stand the Knicks are 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 23-32. An ankle injury has bothered Anthony as of late which has led to the Knicks losing the last six consecutive games. Anthony is 31 years old. He still has three years and $78,731,280 left on his contract. He currently has the 4th highest salary in the league and he is the only player in the top 20 in salary who is on a team that is not projected to make the playoffs. The Knicks are paying him too much money to be this bad. Anthony is past his prime, and if he hasn’t passed the torch to rookie Kristaps Porzingis it is only a matter of time before he does. The Knicks are projected to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year and they need to be in a complete rebuilding mode mentality. Having a superstar that takes such a hit on their cap when they are that bad makes little to no sense. At 26 Blake Griffin is a perfect piece to build around along with Porzingis. Sending Anthony to the Clippers would give them the best chance to make a championship run right now. His scoring ability would perfectly complement Chris Paul and his defensive deficiencies can be hidden by DeAndre Jordan’s monster presence in the paint. The current formula of Paul-Griffin-Jordan has yet to work and there is little indication this will be the year it does. If the Clippers have any hope of finally breaking the glass ceiling, this deal has the potential to do it.
2. CELTICS and KINGS
Celtics Acquire: Demarcus Cousins
Kings: Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynx, 2 1st Round Picks
The volatile situation in Sacramento has been surprisingly not so volatile. People feared that the Alpha-personalities of Cousins, Rondo, and Karl would clash and blow up in the organizations face, but so far that has not been the case. Even still, the Kings are 4.5 games back of the 8th seed and the situation in Sacramento seems to be a time bomb just waiting to go off. There are also indications that there is a growing rift between George Karl and Cousins. Demarcus Cousins may be the most wasted talent in recent memory. A chronically dysfunctional franchise has stopped him from reaching his potential as one of the most dominant players in the league. A trade to the Celtics could change all of that. Boogie would fit in perfectly with the Celtics as him and Isiah Thomas would be one of the most lethal pick-and-roll combos in the league. Cousins is also good friends with Thomas so there should be no clashes of personality like there has been in the past with Sacramento. They would lose a big defensive specialist in Avery Bradley, but that void can be partially filled by the presence of Marcus Smart. Brad Stevens is also the best young coach in the league and will be able to finally get all of Cousin’s greatness out of him. The Kings will receive a lockdown defender in Bradley, another solid defensive pickup in Crowder who would give them extra depth to their bench, and a solid stretch-four in Olynx. They also wil get two 1st round picks, one of them being the Nets draft pick that may end up being the 1st pick in the draft. The Boogie Cousins experiment has been a failure in Sacramento. This trade will allow them to hit restart as a franchise and give the Celtics an outside shot and the Conference Finals.
3. KINGS and PELICANS
Kings Acquire: Ryan Anderson
Pelican Acquire: Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay is a versatile scorer and defender. He is an excellent two-way player that can also grab rebounds and his combination of 17.9 and 6.7 points per game and rebounds per game respectively is hard to come by in the league. The problem is he is too ball-dominant for a wing and he will stop the flow of an offense unless there is a concrete system in place. Compliment that with a ball-dominant point guard in Rajon Rondo and the Kings offense is sometimes stagnant or downright ugly. This trade cannot only solve that problem, but immediately make the Pelicans better as well. The Pelicans have had a disastrous season so far. Injuries have riddled their entire roster and what should have been the Pelican’s first season of ascending the NBA ranks appears to have gone to waste. One asset they do have is big man Ryan Anderson whose ability shoot and rebound has put him at the top of the trade market. With his contract set to end at the end of the season, the Pelicans are worried they may not be able to resign him during the offseason and now appears to be the last chance they have of getting any value in return out of him. Gay would give the Pelicans a much needed scorer to relieve the pressure off of Anthony Davis. Davis is constantly double-teamed because he is the only scoring option on that team. Gay would put opposing teams in the predicament about whether to double team or not as he could make them pay if left open. Gay’s contract doesn’t expire for another three years so the Pelicans have a long-term scoring threat they could build around to complement Davis. Anderson would give the Kings spacing on the floor and give more room for Cousins to work down low. He has a superb midrange game which can be deadly on a pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations with Rondo at the point. His offensive game resembles that of Kevin Garnett and that combination was extremely deadly when Rondo was back in Boston.
4. BULLS and NETS
Bulls Acquire: Joe Johnson, David Sloan
Nets Acquire: Derrick Rose, Cameron Baristow
This one is painful for me to write. Derrick Rose during his MVP run was maybe one of the most electrifying players I have ever witnessed. His quickness and agility rivaled that of most NFL cornerbacks and he was a magician when it came to finishing at the rim. Now, his entire career has become one big “what if” question. But all is not lost. Rose has slowly succumbed to his new role and is now a solid starter that can still contribute to any team. Still, it’s he gets a fresh start somewhere. With the plethora of superstars hitting free agency over the next two summers his $20+ million a year contract is bogging the Bulls down and it would be in their best interest to get rid of it. The problem is that there are very few teams that could take in that big load of a contract, but the Nets are one of them. Swapping Rose’s contract with Joe Johnson’s would give the Bulls an expiring contract they can dump at the end of the season. In return, the Nets get a player that can help them look like a productive NBA franchise. Usually when a team is as terrible as the Nets they gut their team and start over again using the draft. The problem is that the Nets next two 1st round picks are owned by Boston, so free agency and trades are the only way they will be able to improve. Rose gives them a point guard who can effectively distribute the ball to Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young down low. A starting five of Rose, Lopez, and Young would give defenses some trouble. Sloan is thrown in there because without Rose the Bulls are left with no pure point guards left, and Baristow evens out the payroll.