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Transaction Analysis (03/14)

March 14, 2012
Trades Worth Making
Five Ideas

by Dan Feldman

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One of my general NBA philosophies: If you're contending for a title, you should be very willing to sacrifice your future for the present. Getting to the contending level is just too difficult.

I think the 76ers could win a title this year. Of course, I don't think they will. But they could--and not only could they, I think this year might be their best chance to sneak in and steal a championship. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will only learn to play better together, and with more years to use exceptions on free agents, their supporting cast will only get better. The Thunder's young core--Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka--will get even better as it matures. The Bulls are one piece, at most, away, and it's just a matter of time until they add it.

Winning a title is never easy, but for Philadelphia, I think it will get even more difficult in future years.

So, with that in mind, the 76ers could sacrifice future cap flexibility for Gooden, who has three years and more than $20 million left on his deal after this one. By the end, that contract will probably be burdensome, if it's not already, but Philadelphia could use another big man.

The 76ers rank 28th in offensive rebounding percentage and last in FTA/FGA. Gooden, who has a 9.3 offensive rebounding percentage and averages 5.9 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes, could help with both.

Shedding Gooden's contract will give Milwaukee more flexibility going forward to keep Ersan Ilyasova and grow around Brandon Jennings, while Ekpe Udoh is now the Bucks' future in the middle.

View on ESPN Trade Machine

The Thunder can obviously win a title, but with Eric Maynor's injury, Oklahoma City is a backup point guard short. That's a big reason the team ranks last in turnover percentage.

D.J. Augustin is probably good enough to start in the NBA, but on the Thunder, he could be a super sub. New Orleans' Jarrett Jack could also be a target, but because Augustin makes less money, this trade seems more manageable.

Augustin, whose contract is expiring, might end up as a one-year rental, but if he helps Oklahoma City win a championship, he's worth it--even if Eric Maynor would be more desirable next year.

While Maynor is out the rest of the year, the Bobcats can give Kemba Walker even more minutes, and in the process, solidify their spot atop the lottery odds. Hayward probably won't amount to much, but he's the type of player (young, on a rookie contract) Charlotte should look to acquire.

If Walker proves himself and Maynor comes back strong next year, that would be a good problem for Charlotte to have. It at least beats overpaying Augustin this summer or losing him for nothing.

View on ESPN trade machine

In the short term, I think this makes the Grizzlies a little better. Randolph played great during last year's playoffs, and there's a risk in losing him, but I'm worried about Randolph's post-injury conditioning.

The Grizzlies' title window would close a little quicker with the aging Garnett and Pierce, but I think it's likely to close soon, anyway. For one, I don't think Michael Heisley will keep this highly paid core together for long. Also, like I wrote above, I think Miami, Oklahoma City and Chicago will become stronger in the coming years.

With Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen still in tow, the Grizzlies will be fine this year. Plus, to their delight, Randolph's and Gay's long-term contracts will be off the books.

I can't understand why the Celtics were considering trading Rajon Rondo (if they really were). He's young and a special player. They should be building around him. Randolph, Gay and Mayo would give Boston three good and younger players who can play with Rondo.

View on ESPN trade machine

If Dwane Casey wants to recreate the defensive success he had with the Mavericks, Toronto needs a Tyson Chandler-type shot blocker. That could be McGee, especially in Casey's more structured environment compared to Washington.

Maybe McGee leaves as a free agent this summer--although as restricted free agent, Toronto has control over that--or takes the qualifying offer and leaves next summer. This trade presents a significant risk for the Raptors. But I'd rather ride with an athletic big man who compliments the team's top player (Andrea Bargnani) than DeRozan.

Crawford is on his way to being Nick Young 2.0 in Washington, where he just takes a lot of long two-point jumpers. Like with McGee, ideally, Casey could change him for the better.

The Wizards need to get serious about putting fewer jokers around John Wall, and he and DeRozan would instantly become one of the most promising backcourts in the league. Plus, Washington avoids the big problem of what to do with McGee this summer. He has tremendous upside and will likely command a DeAndre Jordan-level contract. Do the Wizards want to get stuck paying him that or losing him for nothing?

Toronto has a much better chance of getting value from McGee in the coming years.

  • L.A. Lakers trade: Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Josh McRoberts and the Mavericks' 2012 first-round pick; Lakers receive: Steve Nash, Carlos Boozer and Luis Scola
  • Houston Rockets trade: Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and the Knicks' top-5-protected 2012 first-round pick; Rockets receive: Pau Gasol and Steve Blake
  • Chicago Bulls trade: Carlos Boozer and the Bobcats' lottery-protected 2012 first-round pick; Bulls receive: Kevin Martin and Josh McRoberts
  • Phoenix Suns trade: Steve Nash; Suns receive: Goran Dragic, the Mavericks' 2012 first-round pick, the Knicks' top-5-protected 2012 first-round pick and the Bobcats' lottery-protected 2012 first-round pick

View on ESPN trade machine

OK, I had to go all out for one last trade.

There's nothing wrong with Gasol, and he fits well with the Lakers. But Los Angeles has too many holes, and trading Gasol is a way to fill them. Steve Nash is a special point guard, and Boozer and Scola could combine to replace Gasol. The trade adds payroll, but the Lakers' make money based on their "mystique." Nothing sells better than winning, and this is the type of deal that would increase the Lakers' value in the long run.

We already know what the Rockets would give up for Gasol, thanks to the very-public-but-never-completed Chris Paul trade. This deal adds Blake to the mix, who Houston could use while Kyle Lowry is out and whose contract the Lakers probably wouldn't mind excising if they're adding payroll and Nash.

The Bulls need a shooting guard, and Martin would be a perfect fit next to Derrick Rose. Try defending those two without getting your guards in foul trouble. Plus, Martin would be a great target on Rose's drive-and-kicks; The Bulls' frontcourt might actually improve with Taj Gibson and Omer Asik receiving more minutes. McRoberts could slide in behind those two.

The Suns would probably like to remove some of their bad contracts if trading Nash, but this trade immediately and significantly slashes their payroll. Plus those bad contracts will ensure Phoenix's own picks remain high during the coming years. With an infusion of young talent, by the time Josh Childress, Channing Frye, Jared Dudley and Hakim Warrick come off the books, the Suns could be the next Thunder.

Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Dan by clicking here or click here to see Dan's other articles.

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Transaction Analysis (03/14)

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