Five Mutually Beneficial Trades to Ponder


By JT.

Who says there has to be a winner and loser in every trade. I propose five trades where both teams could benefit.

And yes, they all work under the current cap system (via ESPN’s Trade Machine).

Minnesota’s Kevin Love to the Clippers for Blake Griffin

It’s a sure bet – Kevin Love’s a goner in 2015 when he can opt out of his deal (KAHNNNNNNNNNNNN!). So, if the T-Wolves were smart (typically, they’re not) they would give serious consideration to making a pre-emptive strike, similar to what Utah did with Deron Williams.

A straight swap of Love for Griffin could make sense for both sides. For the T-Wolves, the younger Griffin would be a great consolation prize and set them up for a promising and exciting future (imagine the highlights from a Griffin/Rubio pairing). And the added bonus – Griffin is under contract until 2017 so he can’t escape is not going anywhere.

For the Clippers, Love’s more polished offensive game and his long range shooting would be the perfect complement to Chris Paul. Don’t get me wrong though, Blake Griffin is a terrific player but Love’s skillset and the fact that he’s a bona fide top ten player in this league makes him a better match with Paul, who is desperate to win NOW. With these two leading the way the Clips would be on track to do some major damage in the playoffs. (However, until they can add that third competent big man they will fall short of a title – more on this later).

And considering Love’s ties to LA and stated desire to play for a winner, getting him to sign on for the long term should be a sinch.

Orlando’s Arron Afflalo to Cleveland for Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles

Houston’s Omer Asik to Cleveland for Anderson Varejao

For the Cavs, here’s my reasoning:

1) The trade for Luol Deng signals that they have zero interest in tanking for the draft and that they want to win now. (Whether that’s a smart approach is another matter.)

2) They’ve pretty much screwed up every high draft pick they’ve made since Kyrie, so we can forget about them building an OKC type team based around their young talent.

3) Dion Waiters can clearly play but he is a terrible fit next to Kyrie. And he needs an attitude adjustment.

4) The presence of the rock solid Arron Afflalo at the two-guard spot would do wonders for Kyrie’s game.

5) The proposed starting line-up of Irving, Afflalo, Deng, Thompson and Asik will be a beast defensively (they resemble the Indiana Pacers in some respects) and that would be their new identity.

waitersoladipoIn regard to re-signing Deng in the offseason, by putting a serious team on the floor such as this it would hopefully go a long way towards securing his signature. Forget about LeBron James returning to Cleveland, he ain’t comin’.

For the Magic, this deal gets them to where they should be – unashamedly tanking for the draft – whilst adding another talented young player. For the rest of the season they could kick the tyres on an Oladipo/Waiters backcourt. Look, just throw them out there – at the very least it will win you more ping pong balls and improve your chances of landing that game-changer in the draft. C.J. Miles is a throw in to make the salaries match and he has an expiring contract.

For the Rockets, adding Varejao to this group as the first big off the bench would definitely improve their team.

Detroit’s Josh Smith to Dallas for Shawn Marion and Wayne Ellington

Like most switched-on basketball scribes as soon as it went down I thought the Josh Smith signing was absurd. The situation in Detroit was wrong for him on every level and essentially it was just a misguided attempt by Joe Dumars to save his job. Yes, the Pistons are currently sniffing a playoff spot but that means nothing in the putrid east – your eyes do not deceive you, they are a horrible basketball team.

Joe Dumars would never pull the trigger on this deal because it means admitting that he stuffed up (again), but it would allow them to undo the damage and get back on to the right path. Marion has an expiring contract and Ellington one more year after this at $2.5 million, so going forward they wouldn’t be burdened by Smith’s contract (three more years at $42 million) and with that flexibility they could build around Andre Drummond to maximise his talents (by acquiring as much shooting as possible, similar to the Dwight Howard-era Orlando Magic). And really, that should have been the plan all along.

The Pistons’ 2014 first round pick is owed to the Charlotte Bobcats (from the Ben Gordon trade – nice one, Joe), but it’s top 8 protected so the trade should also assist them to reclaim this pick. (But then again, getting rid of Josh Smith might actually improve the team, similar to the Toronto Raptors minus Rudy Gay.)

With the Drummond plan in mind, I would also look at trading Greg Monroe for some young shooters or picks.

For the Mavs, it’s not the perfect answer but they need some more talent and Smith would help. Here’s the thing with the Mavs – they’re an average team with some serious flaws, and unfortunately by dolling out generous contracts to Ellis and Calderon in the offseason Mark Cuban has essentially committed down this path and to this group (unwisely, in my opinion).

It’s a dicey situation in Dallas because Dirk Nowitzki is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and he has said in the past that winning will be a big factor in his decision to stay or go. So, if they want to keep the big German they have to construct a more dangerous team because at this rate there is a very real possibility that they will miss out on the playoffs, which would be a disaster.

joshsmithWith Smith, let’s be honest, unless he’s reined in he can be cancerous to team basketball. However, there are some (very specific) circumstances where he could actually play a valuable role. Firstly, he needs to play under a tough-as-nails coach who will kick his arse when he plays up (which he will). Secondly, he needs to play on a team that already has a franchise/star-level player who has total command over the team. And thirdly, he cannot play the small forward position because it encourages all of his bad habits.

The Mavs have the first two covered with Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki. In regard to the third point, the Mavs would need to transition to primarily a small-ball team, with Dirk and Smith manning the 4 and 5 spots when it counts (they could juggle their defensive assignments depending on the matchups).

With a stern brief from Carlisle to a) concentrate on defense, b) score around the rim and c) cut that long range shooting crap out of his game, Smith could give this Mavs team a nudge to the next level. But boy, would they need to ride him HARD.

Having Monta Ellis and Josh Smith on the same team is definitely a concern, but hopefully the presence of Carlisle, Nowitzki and Cuban can neutralise the dangers there.

Some people will look at this deal and think it’s a poor return for Josh Smith. To that, I say unless Smith is working under these very specific conditions (and there aren’t many of these in the league), then overall he’s a negative presence on the court, and thus, has very little value. There’s a reason why Atlanta couldn’t trade him at last year’s deadline despite seeking to do so, and that’s because no one offered them anything of value. Slowly, people are wising up to him.

San Antonio’s Aron Baynes to the Clippers for Reggie Bullock

aronbaynesDo the Clippers really believe they can win a title with Byron Mullens, Antawn Jamison and Ryan Hollins as their only reserve bigs? C’mon now. They need to address this problem because it will be their undoing in the playoffs when they’re matched up against elite competition in a seven game series.

So what do they need? It’s pretty simple – someone who can give them 10-15 minutes a night at the 4/5 spots, a banger/defender/rebounder/energy guy, and someone who is not totally useless on the offensive end.

Enter our man Baynes. With a year’s seasoning in San Antonio I think he’s up to the job and could actually thrive in this role with the shackles off.

On the the Spurs end, ok, i’ll admit it, it’s debatable whether this deal is beneficial to them (then again, if they were sold on Baynes then why did they sign Jeff Ayres in the offseason?) but I just want to see Baynes get a crack in a situation like this. He would absolutely be an upgrade on what the Clippers currently have.

 JT is the former Editor of the now defunct NBAMate. One of Australia’s original & most successful NBA blogs. You can find him on twitter @JThoopin.

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