Man, those NBA Playoffs were pretty great, weren’t they? So who’s up for some free agency and trade talk? Oh, that’s right…no one. Instead, we’ve had the game taken away from us for what looks to be quite awhile as the two sides figure out how to divide the pie. Sure, we could spend all of our time bitching a moaning about who’s wrong and who’s to blame. But I don’t have the energy or the law degree to properly get down into the muck and search for an answer. And frankly, I don’t really care. I’d rather spend my time on things a lot more entertaining this summer, as I’m sure you would too, dear reader.
Thus, I give you ten deals that should get done once the lockout is lifted. For the most part, I’ve tried to remain faithful to the most recent trade rules, trying to match up salaries and the like. But mostly, consider this the basketball version of an online dating service, just trying to create happy relationships. So without further ado, let’s start with…
10. Andre Iguodala for Ben Gordon – For a couple of weeks, hardly a day went by when Iguodala wasn’t rumored to be going to one team or another. Which is probably just as well considering his discontent with the way things are progressing in Philly and the idea that he’s quickly becoming the odd man out on a young, rebuilding squad. His trade value is still high even if injuries caused his numbers to slip a little bit last year, making this the perfect time for the Sixers to move him. For Iggy, a move to the Motor City probably isn’t the situation he’s looking for, but his scoring and athleticism could bring a lot to a team struggling to find an identity. And if he’s still not happy, he has the choice to opt out of his deal in two years and look for greener pastures.
Similarly, Gordon was a big part of the mass mutiny that took place on the Good Ship Piston this past year and has pretty much worn out his welcome in Detroit. He was never the player the Pistons thought they were getting when they signed him to a five-year, $55 million deal in ’09. A change of scenery could do him some good. Playing for a team in need of a long-range shooter could do him even more good.
9. Donald Sterling for Justin Timberlake – Justin Timberlake probably knows very little about running an NBA team. That’s okay, the same applies to Sterling. But after purchasing a piece of MySpace, it appears that the pop star is interested in sinking some of his fortune into losing propositions. With emerging stars like Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan on the roster, the Clips have a brighter future than the website right now. Plus, Timberlake could bring some much needed star power to the Clippers sidelines to help them compete with the Lakers for those nightly TV beauty shots.
As for Sterling…well he’s used to polishing turds thanks to his lengthy fortune-building career as a Los Angeles slum lord. And if you believe the stories that Sterling has bullied and intimidated David Stern on a number of league issues, the Commish could find a bit of revenge by banishing The Donald to the abandoned amusement park of the Internet.
8. Devin Harris for Jason Richardson – The Utah Jazz were rumored to have been shopping Harris, which signals that they could be looking to remake this team in Tyrone Corbin’s image and turn the page from the Jerry Sloan Era. Orlando would be a great home for Harris, where he could be part of a very interesting backcourt with Jameer Nelson. He also gives the Magic that second option at point guard that they’ve been missing since losing Rafer Alston. Only Harris is better. Plus with a team that has been so three-point-happy in recent years, having a guy who can get to the rim would be a nice change of pace for Stan Van Gundy‘s offense.
It does mean saying goodbye to Richardson’s three-point shooting. But that would be more than welcome in Utah where the Jazz could desperately use someone that has the ability to spread the floor and open things up for the glut of big men the team has collected. Now if only one of those big men could be a consistent offensive threat…but you can’t really have it all, can you?
7. Josh Smith for Glen “Big Baby” Davis – These are two guys who just don’t seem to fit in their respective situations anymore. Smith’s problems in Atlanta have generally been from the neck up. His talent has been undeniable, but his general aloofness were a contributing factor to Mike Woodson’s eventual dismissal. J-Smoove can get to the rack just about anytime he wants, but his insistence on turning himself into a jumpshooter was not only confounding, but brought audible groans from the Philips Arena crowd during the playoffs every time he launched anything longer than a five-footer. In Boston, his desire to drift away from basket and take the occasional 15-footer would be tolerated with other big guys there to bang inside.
Of course, Davis would have been one of those big guys, but with Kevin Garnett, Nenad Krstic, Jermaine O’Neal and Troy Murphy already on the roster and the Celtics drafting Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, there’s no room (literally and figuratively) for Davis. In Atlanta, however, Big Baby’s physical style could be what the Hawks need to help them compete in the Southeast division with the likes of Orlando and Miami.
6. Rip Hamilton for Carlos Boozer – Perhaps inspired by the draft stylings of David Kahn in Minnesota, the Pistons have recently begun stockpiling guards, most notably picking up Kentucky star Brandon Knight in the draft. With overcrowding in the backcourt, the veteran Hamilton, with his large contract, is the leading candidate to move on. Plus it’s hard to imagine him wanting to stick around after being exiled to the bench for a long stretch last season. A move to Chicago means Rip gets another solid opportunity to chase a championship before his career is over and gives the Bulls a much needed additional perimeter option to help out Derrick Rose.
Meanwhile, if there’s one thing we learned during the postseason, it’s that Carlos Boozer is expendable. He missed the start of the season with injuries then played at less than 100% during the playoffs. When he was on the floor during the postseason, underwhelming was probably the best word to describe him. All the while, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson did yeoman’s work in his place. The Pistons, with their surplus of guards, could use someone to help Charlie Villanueva along the front line and Boozer could be just what the doctor ordered.
5. Monta Ellis for Lamar Odom – The only name involved in more trade rumors than Andre Iguodala was Monta Ellis. He was constantly being put on and taken off the trading block and was connected to seemingly every team in the league. But with Steph Curry and now Klay Thompson in Oakland, it would seem hard for new coach Mark Jackson to keep everyone happy. Since the W’s have hitched their wagon to Curry, it would mean Ellis is the odd man out. It would eat Warriors fans alive, but he is a good fit for a Lakers team looking to get more athletic at the point guard spot. Ellis is what L.A. hoped Shannon Brown could be, an athletic scorer who can stay with the quicker guards in the league and eventually take over for Derek Fisher. Whether Ellis is ready to give up a lot of shots and defer to Kobe Bryant remains to be seen, but on paper, he fills many of the Lakers’ needs.
Same goes for Odom to the Bay Area. Golden State’s search for a big man has rivaled Pee Wee Herman’s search for his bike. Odom would be a dynamic offensive presence in the paint and would make life much easier for Curry and Thompson on the outside. Plus, Oakland may be close enough that Khloe Kardashian wouldn’t grouse about the deal messing up the couple’s reality show.
4. Steve Nash For Brandon Roy – For Steve Nash, getting traded would be akin to getting a pardon. It would be an unpopular move with the fans since Nash is one of the most beloved Suns of all-time, but he’s done his time and taken that team as far as he can. It would be a fitting gesture for management to give him another shot at a championship run, especially now that his BFF Dirk Nowitzki has a title. With Roy, his steadily increasing salary looks even bigger when placed next to his steadily increasing inability to stay healthy.
Making the deal would give the Blazers an up-tempo floor leader able to distribute to the athletic likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace inside. Nash’s penetration can open things on the perimeter for Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum. Phoenix gets a wing player that can take the place of the departed Jason Richardson. If the Suns can re-sign Aaron Brooks, he teams up with Roy, Vince Carter and Channing Frye as a wide open offensive quartet. As for Roy’s knee problems, well…maybe it’s the dry heat, maybe it’s the training staff, but they just do a good job with knee injury rehabs in the desert. See: Hill, Grant.
3. Tony Parker for Chris Paul – Tony Parker‘s comments about the Spurs being finished were shocking. Not just because some still believe that they may have another run left in the up-for-grabs Western Conference. But also because guys from San Antonio just don’t pop off like that. So if Parker doesn’t want to be there anymore, I’m sure the Spurs can oblige him and there will likely be plenty of takers.
Say, for instance, New Orleans. The countdown clock is ticking on Chris Paul in the Big Easy and with it looking like David West won’t be back, it’s nearly impossible to imagine CP3 wanting to stay. In reality, it’s hard to envision two teams in the same division making a swap like this, but it would give New Orleans a similar-style point guard while San Antonio gets an upgrade while showing Parker how the other half of the league lives – provided they’re actually that vindictive.
2. Dwight Howard for James Harden, Kendrick Perkins & Nate Robinson – If you think the people in New Orleans hear the clock ticking for Chris Paul, the folks in Orlando must be hearing Big Ben chime when it comes to Dwight Howard. Since Superman has said he plans to test free agency, it only makes sense for general manager Otis Smith to start looking for the best deals he can get right now. With Jason Richardson as a free agent, Harden can do many of the same things, but at a much cheaper price. Perkins isn’t Howard, but he can help defend and rebound in the paint as well as score when necessary to help prevent double-teaming on Orlando’s shooters. Robinson’s expiring contract is a bonus for the Magic. Unless they want another Jameer Nelson-type…except for the passing, that is.
For the Thunder, the upside of adding Howard is a no-brainer. A Howard-Durant-Westbrook-Ibaka-Green starting lineup have to be considered an early favorite to represent the West in the NBA Finals and allows Scott Brooks to bring Thabo Sefolosha off the bench. The biggest question for OKC is whether Howard would be interested in signing a free agent deal with the team and who would have be let go to make the salaries work. It likely means the end of Nazr Mohammed in Oklahoma City.
1. David Stern & Billy Hunter for Ari Gold – But…none of these deals can happen as long as the league is locked out and much of that falls on the shoulders of Stern and Hunter. Then again, those two have been like cats and dogs (or Lakers and Celtics, if you prefer) for the better part of their respective tenures. Under Stern’s watch, 22 of 30 teams are crying poverty while Hunter has danced around the issue of whether he’ll take a pay cut during the lockout, something that will earn him some sideways looks from his constituents. How to solve it? Get superagent to the stars Ari Gold on the case. After all, he took Vincent Chase from the neighborhoods of Queens to the pinnacle of Hollywood. He’s just as arrogant and petulant as Stern can be and gives better quotes than Hunter. Besides, with all of the acrimony that’s just beginning with this work stoppage, someone needs to be there to tell both sides to “hug it out”.