View Full Version : Chad Ford: Trades that should happen. Nothing about the Pacers.

02-20-2006, 08:52 PM


Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Five teams that need to start wheelin' and dealin'

By Chad Ford
ESPN Insider

For the last seven years, I've spent every February day before the trade deadline with my cell phone surgically attached to my ear, listening for the hottest rumors.

Freed from that obligation this year, I've been able to take a step back and gain a different perspective on what's going on around the league.

Usually, I'm obsessed with what's going to happen. This year, I'm obsessed with what should happen.

Every year, some teams are so good, they aren't going to make any major changes to their team (though you may see minor deals like the Pistons picking up an extra backup point guard). And every year, there are teams that are so bad they're just hanging out, waiting for contracts to expire and the lottery balls to bounce their way.

But there are always 10 or so teams that are caught somewhere in the middle. To borrow from my main man, Bono, they're running to stand still. They aren't good enough to contend or bad enough to overhaul the roster.

Those teams need to change what they're doing. Now.

Here are five teams and 10 big trades that I believe should be made before the deadline. Most of the teams listed here won't pull the trigger. But they'll regret that decision after an early April exit, with only a middling lottery pick to give fans hope that things will be better next year.

New York Knicks
No surprise here. From what we hear, Isiah Thomas is thinking about trading the whole roster -- then trading the guys he just traded for all over again.

Just kidding. But the Knicks are terrible -- no joke. Larry Brown has been an awful fit. The team is going nowhere. They won't have cap room until who knows when. The Bulls have their picks the next two years. What's a GM with a $120 million payroll to do?

Isiah has two options. One is to try to use the expiring contract of Penny Hardaway along with one of his rookies, like Nate Robinson or David Lee, in an attempt to add a legit star to the roster.

Option No. 1:

New York sends Hardaway, Jamal Crawford, Robinson and Trevor Ariza to Seattle.

Seattle sends Ray Allen, Danny Fortson and Vitaly Potapenko to New York.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

This deal gives the Knicks a major upgrade at the two -- an All-Star shooter to replace Allan Houston and balance out the Knicks' offense. Fortson and Potapenko have terrible contracts. But let's face it, when has that ever discouraged the Knicks?

Seattle would be tempted because of the cap relief they'd get with Hardaway's expiring contract (they'd be about $17 million under the cap this summer). Crawford isn't the player that Allen is, but he has some local appeal. Robinson would be a big hit in Seattle (where the Sonics are taking a huge hit in attendance at the moment) and Ariza is a nice young player to develop behind Rashard Lewis.

The Knicks' other option is to stick to the rebuilding mode, hang on tight to the young kids and try to swap expiring contracts and veterans for young players and picks. This is actually harder to do because the Knicks don't really have any players (other the aforementioned young players) that anyone really covets. The upside? If Isiah goes this route, maybe Larry Brown will just up and quit.

Option No. 2:

New York sends Hardaway to Portland.

Portland sends Travis Outlaw, Theo Ratliff and Ruben Patterson to New York.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

Think of this as a Penny for Outlaw trade straight up. The Knicks swallow a couple of ugly salaries to get their hands on a young player with upside that plays a position they need. While Outlaw looked great in the summer leagues, he hasn't exactly shined in Portland. If the Blazers are serious about keeping Darius Miles around, there isn't really a place for Outlaw. Meanwhile, the Blazers get roughly $8 million under the cap this summer.
In this case, the Knicks' core would be Channing Frye, Outlaw, Eddy Curry and Nate Robinson. They would still need to fill in pieces, but this is how the Knicks need to go about rebuilding, if they are committed to it. Quit turning those expiring contracts into veterans with bad contracts, and start turning them into young prospects. With Jalen Rose and Mo Taylor set to come off the books again next year, the Knicks will need to try to make the same play in February 2007.

Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have already made a couple of big moves this year, but neither is paying off. The Sam Cassell-for-Marko Jaric trade has backfired big time. And the Wolves haven't been appreciably better since they swapped Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi for Ricky Davis, Mark Blount and Marcus Banks.

So, what to do? The Wolves also have a couple of options.

One is to try to leverage their remaining assets to bring one more talented veteran onto the team. Kevin McHale believes they are one piece away. Can a combo of Jaric and Eddie Griffin get them what they want?

Option No. 1:

Minnesota sends Jaric, Rashad McCants, Trenton Hassell and Griffin to New York.

New York sends Stephon Marbury to Minnesota.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine. Option No. 2:

Minnesota sends Jaric, McCants, Mark Madsen and Griffin to Orlando.

Orlando sends Steve Francis to Minnesota.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

Option No. 1 is a great trade for Minnesota if they can get it. Marbury thrived in Minnesota last time he was there and might be the piece that could put them in the playoffs. Where Marbury and Garnett would take them from there is anyone's guess, given the lack of playoff experience for both players.

But would New York do this? I'm not sure what this would give them, other than a couple of nice young prospects in McCants and Griffin. Larry Brown would hate Jaric. And I have a hard time believing he'd like McCants or Griffin much either. That means he'd spend all of his time playing Hassell. That's just what New York fans are looking for.

The Wolves could offer this same deal to Orlando for Francis. It works under the cap and Orlando may have more incentive to take it. Jaric would be a good fit in the backcourt with Jameer Nelson. Jaric would provide size and defense, unlike Nelson. McCants and Griffin are nice young players and Madsen would probably be a nice tutor for Darko on the front line.

But is Francis a fit in Minnesota? Maybe. I think he's kind of a poor man's Marbury. Given that I'm no fan of Marbury, you get the picture.

The third option is what I call the nuclear option, because it calls for the Timberwolves to trade Kevin Garnett.

This has been talked about for years. The problem for Minnesota has been that it has never been in their best interest to pull the trigger on such a trade.

Option No. 3:

Minnesota sends Garnett and Jaric to Chicago.

Chicago sends Luol Deng, Tim Thomas, Eric Piatkowski, Chris Duhon, Malik Allen and two 2006 first-round picks (New York's and Chicago's) to Minnesota.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

This is a great trade for Chicago. They add Garnett at the four and add a big guard, Jaric, in the backcourt. The cap space is gone this summer, but who cares when Garnett and Jaric are there to fill the void?

Would Minnesota do it? Depends on whether McHale is ready to blow things up. Thomas, Allen and Piatkowski all come off the books this summer. Deng is a nice young piece and at least one of the picks, New York's, looks like it will be top three, and maybe even No. 1 overall. This is probably about as much as you can get for Garnett -- three young prospects (counting the draft picks) and cap space.

However, Minnesota's trade for Davis and Blount makes a move like this unlikely. Clearly Minnesota is still trying to win. The question is how much longer you have to get it right.

Boston Celtics
Given that Paul Pierce's face graced our Trade Machine debut, you can guess that the predominate opinion around our office in Bristol is that Pierce is going to be traded sooner or later.

Fans and writers have been spawning Pierce trade rumors ever since Danny Ainge came aboard as the Celtics GM. Ainge has consistently denied that he wants to trade Pierce and reiterated that recently after the Celtics traded for Wally Szczerbiak. The Celtics are building around Pierce, Ainge said, not building over him.

We'll see.

Ainge has had two good opportunities to trade Pierce in the past year and passed on both.

His first came last year at the trade deadline. After the deadline, I was told that the Celtics had a chance to get Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert (very close to a trade I actually hypothetically proposed before the deadline) as part of a larger package for Pierce. The Celtics passed.

The second was near the draft, when they had a chance to land Chris Paul and the nonguaranteed contract of Nick Van Exel in return for Pierce. Ainge called that one "ludicrous."

So, when Ainge says he doesn't want to trade Pierce, history says you better believe him.

Of course, part of the problem for the Celtics is getting equal value for a player that is playing the best basketball of his career.

What's the best that they could probably do for Pierce?

Option No. 1:

Boston sends Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz to Chicago.

Chicago sends Ben Gordon, Tim Thomas, Chris Duhon, Eric Piatkowski and a 2006 No. 1 (from New York) to Boston.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

The Celtics get a couple of things out of this. The biggest is cap relief from LaFrentz's terrible contract. With this move, the Celtics would be roughly $15 million under the cap, giving Ainge maximum flexibility to craft the roster however he likes. The second reward is a few nice young pieces for the future. Gordon would step in as the starting two and the pick from the Knicks could be as high as the No. 1 pick in the draft.

That may not sound like equal value for Pierce. But what Ainge has to ask himself is whether Pierce will still be putting up these types of numbers when Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West are ready for a playoff run?

Then, at that point, will Pierce be able to play that way for two or three more years as the Celtics learn how to win in the playoffs? It's doubtful.

Danny's plan is perfect if Paul can keep sipping from the fountain of youth. But history says in another two years, Pierce will be on the decline. Without Pierce dominating, I'm not sure the other three will ever be able to win a championship.

So, if a championship is Ainge's goal, I'm not sure the timing works.

However, Option No. 1 has serious risks.

First, young teams need veterans who can take the pressure off of them, allowing them to develop at a slower pace. With Pierce out of the picture, replaced by more young players, the Celtics would no longer have the veterans they need to balance out the roster. The Bulls have proven that having too many young, inexperienced players on a roster is a bad idea. Ainge doesn't want to fall into the same trap.

The other option is much milder.

Option No. 2:

Boston sends Olowokandi to Charlotte.

Charlotte sends Brevin Knight to Boston.

In a separate deal, Boston sends Gerald Green to Charlotte for Bernard Robinson.

See these trades in the ESPN Trade Machine here and here.

You have to break this trade up because Olowokandi can't be packaged with another player because of trade restrictions.

Charlotte is far enough under the cap to absorb Green's salary.

This trade would give the Celtics a veteran point guard to help out West. Knight could be the steadying force the Celtics need to push them into playoff contention. The cost would be high, given Green's potential. But if Ainge is sticking to his guns on Pierce and Szczerbiak, there isn't a big future for Green in Boston anytime soon.

Denver Nuggets
We've been waiting for the Nuggets to make a trade or free agent signing for a two guard for almost three years.

Two summers ago, they were on the verge of signing Corey Maggette to an offer sheet before mysteriously backing out at the last second. A year later, they decided not to make an aggressive play for Manu Ginobili in free agency. And let's not even get started with their decision to pass on Gilbert Arenas for Andre Miller in the summer of 2004.

So, here we are again. The Nuggets looks solid. But the two guard position is weak. They need not only a shooter, but a defender who can lock guards down on the perimeter without being an offensive liability.

The Nuggets have plenty of trade bait. Either Miller or Earl Watson is expendable. In the past few weeks, Kenyon Martin has been added to the list. And it sounds like Nene's days in Denver are numbered as well.

The Nuggets have pursued everyone from Ron Artest to Steve Francis, but keep striking out. What's it going to take to get it done?

Option No. 1:

Denver sends Miller, Voshon Lenard and Martin to Cleveland.

Cleveland sends Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden and Damon Jones to Denver.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

This would be a huge trade for both teams.

For Denver, the deal would be a bit of a Catch-22. They would get a coveted two-guard in Hughes, but there's a chance he won't play this season because of surgery on his middle finger. Hughes is expected back in mid-April at the earliest, just a week or so before the playoffs start.

But in the long-term, that may not be a problem. The Nuggets aren't getting much production out of the spot anyway. In the meantime, they would add Gooden, who is having a better year offensively than Martin and is a better rebounder (it's a very different matter on the defensive side), and a sharpshooter in Jones. Watson and Earl Boykins can handle the point guard duties, and if they could get Hughes back this year, it would be a bonus.

Gooden becomes a restricted free agent this summer. So does Nene. The Nuggets would have plenty of cheaper (or sign-and-trade) options at the four this summer.

The deal is a better fit for Cleveland. They would get a real point guard to run the show in Miller. They also would get an athletic, defensive presence at the four in Martin to fit nicely next to Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Lenard's contract expires at the end of the season.

The trade wouldn't come without concern for the Cavs. The team would be thin at the two spot (though they've seemed to manage OK without Hughes this year), and there are concerns that Martin's knees will continue to be a problem. But with an energetic backup power forward like Anderson Varejao, maybe there would be no reason to worry.

It would be an expensive gamble for Cleveland because of the long-term contracts, but one the owners might be willing to take.

Chicago Bulls
The Bulls could be major players at the trade deadline if they are smart.

The Bulls have more assets than any other team in the league with which to make a trade. They have roughly $18 million in expiring contracts, several coveted young players and the Knicks' first-round pick this year, which could become the No. 1 overall.

They have two options. One is to do nothing, let the contracts expire, use their draft picks to bring in more young players and then pursue a so-so free agent like Al Harrington in the draft with the roughly $15 million of cap room they'll have this summer.

The other option is throw caution to the wind and get a couple of All-Star players now. You've already read options above that could land Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Chicago.

Here's one more I think they should pursue.


Chicago sends Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Tim Thomas, Eric Piatkowski and a 2006 No. 1 pick (from New York) to Seattle.

Seattle sends Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Reggie Evans to Chicago

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

This is really the nuclear option for Seattle. But given their finances and record at the moment, I think they are considering blowing up the team. It is struggling financially under the KeyArena lease and the payroll is too high for such a low-functioning team.

By making this trade, the Sonics would dramatically lower their payroll, add valuable young players and give them two shots at landing the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft. Considering how hot they are for Adam Morrison at the moment, this trade might make a lot of sense for them.

For the Bulls, this may be the way to get the team back into contention in the East. Allen and Lewis, combined with Kirk Hinrich and Tyson Chandler, would make a formidable core. They'd still be missing a player who can score consistently in the low post, but given the perimeter shooting this team would possess, I'm not sure that would be an absolute necessity.

The main downsides of this trade would be Allen's age (30) and the impending free agency for Lewis (he can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2007). But if the Bulls are ever going to get back into the hunt in the East, it will take a trade like this to get them there.

King Kong
It's time to wrap things up.

Back in the old Sportstalk.com days, when we heard or came up with a gargantuan deal, we called it a King Kong trade.

For those of you who like to think big, here's a four-team, 18-player deal that gives the Trade Machine a serious workout. Here's what it looks like:

The Knicks receive Steve Francis, Sebastian Telfair, Zach Randolph, Ruben Patterson, Theo Ratliff, Eddie Griffin and Keyon Dooling.

The Timberwolves receive Stephon Marbury and Viktor Khryapa.

The Blazers receive Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, Penny Hardaway, Trenton Hassell and Tony Battie.

The Magic receive Marko Jaric, Jamal Crawford, Travis Outlaw and Mark Madsen.

See this trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

Why would the Knicks do it? Because they would replace Marbury with the only other point guard in the league with the street cred Isiah Thomas loves -- Bassy. Because Randolph, for all of his problems in Portland, is a great young rebounder and low post scorer. Because Francis can replace most of Marbury's punch in the backcourt and is more willing to move to the two. Because Griffin still has upside, one word that Isiah loves more than anything else. Because Larry Brown loves Ratliff's shot-blocking ability and because his bloated contract would be a great fit in New York's bad contract heaven.

Why would the Wolves do it? They wouldn't give up anything they really want and they would walk away from the deal with Marbury, a guy who, if he plays the way he's capable of playing, could lead the Wolves to the Northwest division title and the No. 3 seed in the West.

Why would the Blazers do it? Are you kidding? The Knicks would be taking all of their bad contracts (and headaches) off the books at once and replacing them with two valuable young players in Frye and Robinson. The Blazers would go into the summer with not only a high first-round draft choice and a load of young talent, but also heaps of cap space to spend in the summer.

Why would the Magic do it? Because the deal would rid them of Francis' and Dooling's bad contracts. Because Jaric and Crawford would give the Magic a big backcourt to balance out the contributions of Jameer Nelson. Because Outlaw has shown enough upside that he's worth a shot -- especially with the future of Grant Hill up in the air.

This would be by far the biggest trade in NBA history. Although the chances of a trade like this happening are very small, it doesn't hurt to dream.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

02-20-2006, 08:58 PM
Thanks for posting, UB. Some interesting ideas in there, but it just seems to me like it's a way to advertise that new ESPN Trade Checker (see RealGM) thing they've got going on...

Here are five teams and 10 big trades that I believe should be made before the deadline. Most of the teams listed here won't pull the trigger.

See? Chad had lot's of fun with it! Maybe if I get some free time I'll pick some teams and propose some cool deals with their fancy trade checker :-p

02-20-2006, 09:23 PM
Nothing new here......I think this is more of an article to promote their ESPN Trade Machine then "what should XXX team do".

He specifically mentions "Check the ESPN Trade Machine" 8 or 9 times throughout the article.

EDIT - after seeing the above post....my response is...."uhhh...what rcarey said". :rolleyes:

02-20-2006, 09:24 PM
Boy, they sure must have some good weed in Hawaii.

02-20-2006, 09:30 PM
The King Kong deal is cr@p for the TWolves and the Magic.

This entire article is nothing more then what any of us could come up with.

Frank Slade
02-20-2006, 09:44 PM
Is it just me or does sometimes Chad Ford seem the least connected when it comes to the ESPN NBA writers, and analysts..