We’re five days away from the 2012 NBA trading deadline. Which players are most likely to be packing their bags within the week?
Let’s take a look at some of the most discussed players on the trade market going forward and where they may end up:
It’s still up in the air as to whether Orlando Magic management is willing to concede Howard will not be returning to Orlando. Before any other trade gets made, teams are looking to see where Howard goes and whether or not that domino will fall — unleashing a barrage of moves around the NBA.
Easily the best center in the game, it isn’t hard to understand why Howard is the most sought-after player at the deadline. Howard leads the NBA with 15 rebounds per contest, while leading the Magic in points (20.7), steals (1.5), blocks (2.2) to go along with his league-best rebounding total.
Unless GM Otis Smith and the Magic brass realistically believe they can retain Howard, or at least that the big man will choose not to exercise his player option next season to remain in Orlando for one more year, Orlando must trade Howard. It’s imperative that the Magic get something for the team’s best player rather than risk losing him for nothing in the offseason.
The time is now to sell high on Howard and the ball is in Orlando’s court to pull the trigger. The New Jersey Nets appear out of the running due to Brook Lopez’s ankle injury but the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers are all potential trade partners for Orlando.
The Dallas Mavericks, the other team on Howard’s wish list that includes the Lakers and Nets, don’t have the resources to pursue a trade for Howard.
Contract Status: Howard is owed $17,885,400 for this season and has a player option for next year at $19,261,200.
Reports are that the 26-year old Smith has set the stage for his exit from the Atlanta Hawks by demanding a trade. An Atlanta native, Smith has become increasingly unnerved with Hawks’ management, finally culminating in his plea for a trade earlier this week.
Unfortunately for both Smith and the Hawks, the biggest problem with moving the six-foot-nine forward is that his value has been significantly downgraded because now everyone knows he wants out. The Hawks are immediately at the disadvantage at any bargaining table and might end up keeping the disgruntled Smith simply because they can’t find equal value for him through trade.
Golden State has had interest in Smith all season and it’s no secret the Hawks have fielded trade proposals for their power forward throughout the year. The most glaring weakness on this Atlanta team is at the point guard position. So deals for the likes of Steve Nash (not happening because he won’t force a trade), Rajon Rondo (see below) or Deron Williams (also highly unlikely) would be the best case scenarios for the Hawks.
Atlanta may be better off coaxing Smith to stay and putting off dealing with this mess until next season’s deadline.
Contract Status: $12.4 million this season, $13.2 mill next year.
The best player on the Boston Celtics throughout the 2011-2012 season, Rondo is the Celtics’ best trade chip going into the deadline. Rondo is the type of player that changes the game at the point guard position with his defensive prowess and ability to do just about everything on the court at a high level on a nightly basis.
Even though Boston finds itself on a nice little 5-1 run since the All-Star break, the days of the Celtics being championship contenders are gradually slipping away in the proverbial rear-view mirror.
Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge continues to say Rondo is not being actively shopped, but the fact that he continues to comment on the quality of offers for him seems to rebuke those statements. Knowing that Ainge is already taking those calls and weighing their value suggests the Celtics are seemingly just waiting for the right offer.
The Atlanta Hawks would be an ideal trade partner for Boston. The Hawks could send the disgruntled Josh Smith (see above) to the Celtics along with a few other pieces for Rondo and spare parts. With his outstanding play lately, it will be hard for the Boston brass to sell a Rondo trade to the Celtics’ faithful – even if the swap brings back a player the caliber of Smith.
Contract Status: Signed through the 2014-2015 season, Rondo is owed $10 million this year and gets a one million dollar boost per year every year after that.
Long rumored to be leaving L.A., Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be at an impasse as the Lakers have struggled out of the gate to start the season. There are numerous reports already that L.A. is seemingly just waiting to pull the trigger on shipping Gasol until they can find the best offer.
Gasol, while not the type of player you can build a team around, is a nice second-banana that does a little bit of everything out there from the power forward position. The seven-footer also brings the experience of two NBA titles; something not many power forwards in this league not named Tim Duncan can say.
The Houston Rockets, who’ve already attempted to acquire him once this season, appear to be the most likely trading partner to acquire Gasol’s services with Kevin Martin (see below) and Luis Scola apparently on the table. However, the Lakers desperately need a point guard and it’s unknown whether or not Houston is going to bend enough to insert Kyle Lowry into the deal.
Contract Status: Gasol is signed through the 2013-2014 season and is owed $18,714,150 and $19 million next year.
The biggest piece of trade bait for the young and upcoming T-Wolves, Beasley has been linked to numerous teams throughout the season. Still young at just 23 years old, Beasley is a solid scorer and still has plenty of room to improve going forward.
Off the court issues aside, there’s no question that Beasley has the tools to be a talent in this league. The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets and Orlando Magic have all shown interest in Beasley.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard says the Lakers turned down Minnesota’s offer of Beasley in exchange for a first round pick and the trade exception from the trade of Lamar Odom ($8.9 million). If that’s all it takes to get Beasley (a protected 20+ pick and cash) it appears the T-Wolves are ready to just dump the fourth-year player.
Contract Status: Making $6,262,347 this season and then Beasley has a qualifying offer (restricted FA) of $8,172,362 next season.
Arguably the most explosive offensive player on the market, Ellis is averaging 22 points for the Golden State Warriors – good for ninth overall in the NBA. The development of rookie Klay Thompson at shooting guard seems to have pushed the Warriors to at least discuss the possibility of trading Ellis.
The Orlando Magic seemed to have wanted him, but Golden State wants Dwight Howard in return which is not going to happen. Other than that, the Warriors continue to preach that it’s Dwight or nothing in terms of trading Ellis but that could change as the deadline nears and Golden State (15-21) continues to flounder.
Contract Status: Ellis is owed $11 million this year and $11 each over the next two years with a player option for the 2013-2014 season.
Along with Gasol, Martin was also part of the dissolved trade at the beginning of the season that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and Martin has quietly been the Houston Rockets’ most consistent producer on offense. Martin leads the Rockets with 17.7 point per game and has been an important facet of Houston’s surprising 21-19 start.
This hasn’t changed the Rockets’ desire to bring Pau Gasol or Dwight Howard to Houston, especially after the team’s recent five-game losing streak, which means Martin would have to be a key piece in either of those deals.
There are numerous teams in the market for a shooting guard that can score on a consistent basis including: the Minnesota T-Wolves, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers.
Still, the most likely destinations would have to be either L.A. or Orlando with each of those teams possessing the Rockets’ ideal acquisition.
Contract Status: Martin is owed $12,019,840 this season and $12,939,675 next year.
While it was originally thought that Raymond Felton was the most likely Portland Trail Blazer to be shipped at the deadline, now it appears Crawford is the top name on the block. After playing well enough to overtake Felton in the starting lineup, Felton has played his way back into form while Crawford has struggled.
Compounding his ineffectiveness, Crawford has a player option for $5 million next season that he’s likely to exercise, which has made the Blazers wary that they won’t be able to retain him.
In terms of potential destinations, Crawford has been linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and the Sacramento Kings to name a few; but his opt-out clause may make more than a few teams wary of the combo-guard as well.
Contract Status: Crawford is due $5 million this season and has a player option for another $5 million next season.
The trade winds for the 2011-2012 NBA trading deadline March 15 are stirring, what will your team do at the deadline? Leave your comments below!