With the NBA trade deadline looming this Thursday, the Los Angeles Clippers seem to the center of a lot of trade rumors. And almost all of those rumors feature Eric Bledsoe, who is one of their building blocks for the future. That being said, it’s been hard for him to pick up a ton of minutes playing behind Chris Paul, and the Clippers could use help pretty much everywhere but at the point guard position, where they also have wily old veteran Chauncey Billups.
Although another swingman to pair with Jamal Crawford makes sense, LAC would immediately benefit from bringing in a forward to play alongside Blake Griffin, and could also part ways with center DeAndre Jordan if need be. Given that they are third in a loaded Western Conference, the Clippers are without a doubt a legitimate title contender. But they have struggled at times though, so maybe it makes sense for LA to find that one final piece to the puzzle.
VERDICT: The Clippers decide to take the leap this year and go for the immediate home run. Bledsoe is sent packing.
Although his name has been fairly quiet over the past few weeks, don’t be shocked to see Brandon Jennings shipped out of Milwaukee. After a fast start, the Bucks (8th in the East) are fading anyway, and word on the street is Jennings would be ecstatic if this were the case, because apparently he has had beef with the Bucks front office over their decision against offering him a contract extension. As a result, it appears that both Jennings and Monta Ellis are set to his free agency this summer, so until then, you would think that Milwaukee should try and get whatever they can for at least one of them considering it looks like they are both bound to leave anyway.
Ellis would be pretty hard to move given his reputation as a black hole, but there has to be a contender or two interested in grabbing Jennings for a playoff run, right?. The problem is that, even with all his potential, Jennings has been wildly inconsistent at times and isn’t necessarily considered the ultimate team player. Still, watch out for a team like Orlando or Dallas that lacks a franchise player and has the cap room to trade for Jennings and then promptly offer him a monster long-term contract.
VERDICT: The Bucks decide to take their chances on re-signing one of their two polarizing point guards and refuse to sell Jennings for 50 cents on the dollar. Meanwhile, the rest of the league waits for the summer to swoop in on both Jennings and Ellis. Milwaukee, not considered a popular destination for free agents by any means, is once again screwed.
Atlanta began its shake up of the franchise last off-season when it sent Joe Johnson out of town. Now, it might be time to part ways with Josh Smith too. The Hawks (6th in the East) are clearly not a title contender this season, even if they are in line for a playoff berth, and Smith has openly claimed he wants a “max contract” this summer, something the Hawks aren’t willing to give him. Somebody in this league will shell out a lot of dollars on Josh Smith in the off-season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that has to be the team that trades for him right now.
Smith would be the perfect playoff rental because he is such a unique player. It might be a little tougher for a team to “rent” a point guard like Brandon Jennings for a title run because it could negatively effect the chemistry of your offense. A player like Josh Smith who is so versatile and valuable at several positions could slide right in and play for any team in this league right now. As of right now, word is that the best offer on the table for Smith is from Brooklyn for Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks. That won’t be hard to top at all, especially if you are a legitimate title contender that needs that one final push to put them over the top. Even if you are only getting him for four months.
VERDICT: Mark it down, there will be a blockbuster trade involving Smith, and there will be a team, such as the Thunder, the Clippers, or the Spurs, that get a LOT better this week.
So maybe it’s not the sexiest name on the trading block, but Paul Millsap gets shit done down low. He is a beast on the glass and solid on the defensive end, while adding some scoring touch at the power forward position as well. The Utah Jazz are, in my opinion, the most obvious shoppers of any team in the league. They have a glut of nasty big men (Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Millsap) and absolutely no one in the backcourt. Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks are decent prospects, I guess, but at the same time, Jamaal Tinsley and Mo Williams are currently seeing the most minutes out of anyone at the guard position, so you do the math.
Odds are the Jazz won’t part ways with Favors or Kanter, making Jefferson and Millsap the most logical trade chips. Both Jefferson and Millsap are also set to be free agents this summer, but Big Al, in particular, has been playing out of his mind this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Utah gives him a lot of money this summer, leaving Millsap as the most obvious trade piece. If the Jazz (7th in the West) want to get serious about a playoff push this season, they’ll make a move for a veteran guard. On the other hand, they could also ship Millsap out of town for a young prospect in the backcourt and give them one of the brightest futures in the league.
VERDICT: Millsap is gone, quite possibly in a deal that sends Bledsoe to Utah and gives them a young point guard in return to pair with Favors and Kanter for the long run.
This might come as a surprise to some considering how well the Bulls are playing without Derrick Rose, but much like the way Memphis dealt Rudy Gay in the midst of a successful season, Chicago may be forced to the do the same thing with Boozer because of the salary cap. Boozer is in the third year of a five year, $75 million dollar deal, which has become a burden for the Bulls. If they freed up that money, they would be able to get under the luxury tax threshold, something that pretty much every team in the league is trying to do. Paying the luxury tax in the NBA because you spent too much money on your current roster can set teams back more than you think.
More importantly, Boozer’s contract doesn’t give Chicago room to do much of anything as far as free agency and such going forward. He has been an instrumental piece to their success for the last few years, but again, with Rose out of the picture right now, this would be the time for the Bulls (5th in the East) to shake things up, despite their continued success.
VERDICT: There aren’t too many teams willing to take on Boozer’s contract. A Boozer for Andrea Bargnani deal has been discusses repeatedly, but I doubt that’s enough to sway Chicago into breaking up the current rotation. Boozer stays put for now.
Other possible trade chips to watch: Al Jefferson, Dwight Howard, Tyreke Evans, Evan Turner, DeMar DeRozan, Zach Randolph, Eric Gordon, LaMarcus Aldridge, JJ Hickson, Danny Granger, Andrea Bargnani, Derrick Williams, Marcin Gortat, JJ Redick, Ben Gordon,
and of course, the entire Boston Celtics roster.