Posted February 17, 2014

Trade deadline: Five deals we want to see

Detroit Pistons, Greg Monroe, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Rob Mahoney, Thaddeus Young
Might the Thunder have the pieces to make a play for Detroit's Greg Monroe? (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Might the Thunder have the pieces to make a play for Detroit’s Greg Monroe? (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

There is no such thing as a quiet trade deadline. Even in its seemingly less active iterations, the official NBA cut-off for team-to-team exchange is marked by constant chatter among league executives. Few stones remain unturned. It’s phone call after phone call and email upon email, some of which manifests publicly through a frenzy of rumor and response.

What might begin as mere inquiry sometimes develops into legitimate exploration or a survey of the market. But at some point comes the pitch — that more specific proposal where discussions over a potential trade begin to take shape. To get in the spirit of this year’s deadline, below are five such pitches for moves we wouldn’t mind seeing, informed by team needs, rumored wants, and general intrigue.

1. Greg Monroe to the Thunder

Thunder acquire: Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, and Kyle Singler
Pistons acquire: Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Perry Jones, Kendrick Perkins, and an unprotected 2015 first round pick

The primary motivation for this hypothetical deal isn’t to accommodate Josh Smith in Detroit, but to alleviate what could be a tricky long-term pairing between Monroe and Andre Drummond. Youth and talent alone don’t ensure their compatibility; over the last two seasons, the tandem of Monroe and Drummond has yielded results ranging from passable to disastrous depending on other lineup particulars. That doesn’t give me much confidence from a teambuilding standpoint, particularly with Monroe set for a massive pay increase as a restricted free agent this summer.

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So instead of seeing the Pistons sign Monroe to a big contract in the hopes of sorting out the rest later, I’m steering them to circumvent the issue entirely. Were there any capacity for ranged scoring between Monroe and Drummond, there might be hope for greater offensive synergy. Were there more promise in Monroe’s slow-footed defensive game, the two might make for a more formidable pair. As it stands, though, Monroe and Drummond are a clumsy enough fit to inspire some serious doubt in their long-term viability, and therein incite just this kind of make-believe move.

That said, it’s never easy to build a trade around a free agent, particularly when a player like Monroe already needs a very specific ecosystem of surrounding skills and rotation pieces in order to account for his limitations. To pile complication on complication, Monroe’s rookie-scale salary also makes it difficult to find a return package that would give the Pistons a fair return while keeping within the NBA’s salary-matching rules. There’s a reasonable market for Monroe, still, though those factors leave it much slighter than one might initially think.

Of those possibilities, there’s something particularly alluring in the prospect of Monroe landing in OKC. The Thunder are a team without defining weakness, and thus without need to make a move of this magnitude. Yet the opportunity to add another quality big while shedding the salary owed to Kendrick Perkins might be enticing enough to keep Sam Presti on the line.

For all the value Perkins still has as a team defender, he’s an easily identifiable and wholly exploitable flaw in the Thunder’s offensive structure. Many opponents don’t even pretend to guard him; defenders are able to stray away from Perkins with near impunity, eating into the working space and angles of the Thunder creators. Swapping out Perkins for Monroe solves this problem entirely, as if nothing else Monroe projects as enough of a scoring threat to keep opponents honest.

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That’s really only the beginning of Monroe’s offensive influence. He’s a natural in the post with good touch and a great feel for putting together fluid moves and counters. He’s just as comfortable setting up near the elbow, too, where he can help to direct traffic and put cutters in scoring position. Within the context of OKC’s greater offense, Monroe’s role would be one of enrichment — to flesh out the Thunder’s options, to stabilize things in moments of vulnerability, and to add an organic complexity to OKC’s basic offensive flow.

Acquiring such a skilled offensive player is not without cost, though the Thunder would also pick up Rodney Stuckey (a veteran guard having arguably his best NBA season while playing out an expiring contract) and Kyle Singler (a competent wing on a bargain deal) for their trouble while shedding a $9.4 million obligation to Perkins in 2014-15.

The Pistons, in exchange, would acquire a host of prospects that both better suit their developmental timeline and make more sense for a roster built around Drummond. Lamb is the most immediately viable among them, and would step in with a three-point percentage (36.6 percent) better than any Detroit regular. He also projects to be a fairly productive scorer long-term, as the 21-year-old Lamb has already broadened his game by selectively taking on more creative responsibility. At worst he’s a nice insurance policy on the far streakier Kentavious Caldwell-Pope; at best he could pan out as the kind of offensive player whose acquisition makes trading Monroe wholly justifiable.

With Lamb also comes Perry Jones and Steven Adams, two players who help Detroit to maintain their emphasis on size and length while getting much quicker at both frontcourt positions. Jones, in particular, makes for a tantalizing complement to Drummond; while every bit as athletic as the Pistons centerpiece, Jones has the ability to work as a shooter (he’s made 41.9 percent of his spot-up threes this season, per Synergy Sports) and cutter to contribute from different spaces of the floor.

All of this makes for a rather dizzying daydream, but only that. The Thunder are far too good and the Pistons far too playoff desperate to make such significant change mid-stream, to say nothing of the tax considerations that would come with OKC taking on Monroe for the next few seasons. Detroit GM Joe Dumars wouldn’t likely touch a deal like this one with his job essentially hanging in the balance. The Thunder would have to needlessly grapple with a shortened rotation for the remainder of the season, despite the fact that they were set to be title contenders as perviously constructed. There are plenty of practical reasons why this deal would never come to pass, though the questions posed by the thought itself (Is it worth Detroit’s time to build around Monroe/Drummond? Should OKC move to do better than Perkins, and if so, at what cost?) make it a worthy enough indulgence.

Thaddeus Young's offensive versatility and defensive chops would make him a perfect fit for Phoenix. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Thaddeus Young’s offensive versatility and defensive chops would make him a perfect fit for Phoenix. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Suns gear up for playoff run

Suns acquire: Thaddeus Young
76ers acquire: Emeka Okafor, Archie Goodwin, Washington’s top-12 protected 2014 first round pick, cash considerations

The rumor mill comes alive to claim Thaddeus Young, who has been linked to countless teams over the past five months of rebuilding. None, though, makes for a more perfect fit than the upstart Suns. Any trade partner for Philadelphia needs to be in a position to offer decent assets atop an expiring contract, a prerequisite that Phoenix could meet without issue. Beyond that, the Suns have a distinct need for a player of Young’s particular profile. Rare are those NBA bigs who can both space the floor to the three-point line and blow up a pick-and-roll as a defender, yet one just so happens to be available to any team willing to give up the requisite assets.

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I see reason for the Suns to take the plunge, and corresponding reason for the Sixers to bite on an offer structured around Archie Goodwin and a late first-round pick for the 2014 draft. Okafor is included strictly to satisfy the NBA’s salary-matching rules, with a cash kickback headed Philly’s way to help offset some of the salary added to the Sixers’ payroll. There are also an a number of permutations to this trade that could make sense, involving any combination of the following:

• Markieff Morris (in place of Goodwin)
• Marcus Morris (in place of Goodwin)
• Jason Richardson (as to make the salary input and output more equal)
• Indiana’s 2014 first round pick (top-12 protected; via Philadelphia)
• Minnesota’s 2014 first round pick (top-13 protected; via Philadelphia)
• Low-cost filler: Ish Smith (PHX), Viacheslav Kravtsov (PHX), Dionte Christmas (PHX), James Anderson (PHI), Arnett Moultrie (PHI), Hollis Thompson (PHI),

Regardless, the basic incentives are the same: A versatile scorer and defender for a Suns team that could use both, an athletic wing prospect (in the case of Goodwin/the Morris twins) and another first rounder for a rebuilding team looking to stock-pile assets. It may not be the kind of offer that would bowl over Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, but there is logic (and cap space) in it.

3. Hawks, Bobcats swap underrated guards

Bobcats acquire: Kyle Korver
Hawks acquire: Gerald Henderson

This is a pretty clean swap from a salary standpoint, making the motivations for this deal almost solely a function of talent and fit (rare in the NBA these days). Charlotte’s angle is simple: A team that ranks 28th in the league in three-point attempts per game and in the bottom half of the league in three-point percentage guns for one of the best shooters in the league. Korver isn’t just a spot-shooting type to park in the corner, but a player who actively creates space for his teammates by curling into potential shots. When Korver moves, so too does the defense; opposing wings have to chase him, opposing bigs have to shade in his direction, and structurally an entire defense can be compromised just by tilting toward the threat of a Korver catch-and-shoot. That makes him one of the league’s foremost facilitators for post play and dribble penetration, both of which are hugely important for a team that features Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker.

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Plus, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the trio of Walker, Henderson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just doesn’t — and may never — command enough attention on the perimeter to keep defenses honest. None among them is even a league-average three-point shooter, though Walker is closest and Kidd-Gilchrist is otherwise Charlotte’s most promising individual defender. That makes Henderson the odd man out for both his and the Bobcats’ sake, as no one in Charlotte is much empowered by lineups devoid of floor spacing. Korver is something of a one-man fix in that department, with the passing skill and defensive competence necessary to round out his contributions.

Henderson, in turn, would land with the Hawks — a team that could make excellent use of his versatile game. Together with Paul Millsap and the injured Al Horford, Henderson would add to an incredibly well-rounded core. None among them is a superstar, though Horford, Millsap, and Henderson can all defend, can all play pick-and-roll, can all move without the ball, can all work from the post, and can all shoot. The basis of their team would be stout and flexible, which would then allow Hawks GM Danny Ferry to chase players at other positions with more idiosyncratic games or specific needs. Korver’s broad offensive value provided some of that same quality, though Atlanta both upgraded its wing defense and imported some creative dynamism in the move wile landing a player six years Korver’s junior. Even without looking too far forward, Henderson’s gradual build would seem to make more sense for a Hawks team with plenty of construction left to do.

Minnesota is desperate for a backup point guard, and Orlando's Jameer Nelson is very much available. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Minnesota is desperate for a competent backup point guard, and Orlando’s Jameer Nelson is very much available. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

4. Wolves add veteran point guard

Wolves acquire: Jameer Nelson
Magic acquire: Shabazz Muhammad and J.J. Barea

With Wolves coach Rick Adelman weirdly insistent on playing Barea for long stretches (often at Ricky Rubio’s expense), we’re forced to take matters into our own hands. There may be no rotation need in the NBA more obvious than Minnesota’s back-up point guard slot, which Barea has filled this season to irritating and awful effect. Few NBA regulars over-shoot their welcome quite like Barea has this year; it’s not uncommon to see the dribble-pounding point guard ignore several options for better offense on his single-minded drives, which in part explains why the Timberwolves have scored 10.2 fewer points per 100 possessions whenever Rubio has checked out of the game.

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That’s a problem worth addressing directly, particularly if Adelman isn’t comfortable trusting Rubio in certain situations. The targeted quality is competence. Minnesota doesn’t need a point guard of the future so much as a useful stopgap in the interim, which they can find easily by raiding the roster of the lottery-bound magic. It’s been a spell since Jameer Nelson was all that relevant on the national NBA landscape, though he’s still plenty capable of helping a team in Minnesota’s position. If the Wolves are going to trust a back-up point guard in tough spots, after all, why not move to acquire one who can do so without upsetting the larger offensive balance?

Nelson wouldn’t be a knockout acquisition by any means, but that’s precisely why he’s attainable. Orlando is moving in a direction that leaves little need for a decent 31-year-old point guard, and thus could wind up waiving Nelson after the season as to save on the unguaranteed portion of his 2014-15 salary. That puts something of a clock on any effort to redeem value for Nelson via trade, which in this case could lead the Magic to accept Barea and 2014 lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad in exchange. Picks or lesser players could be added to move the needle on either side of this deal, but ultimately this is a compromise from Orlando’s expressed interest in netting a future first round pick for Nelson; he may not be worth that, but he could land a recent first-round selection if the Magic are willing to take on the final year of Barea’s contract.

Supposing Orlando likes Muhammad, I don’t see why they wouldn’t. Cap space is only a pressing concern for those teams looking to make use of it, and I’m not sure the Magic are quite to the point where Barea’s $4.5 million hit would present all that much of a problem.

5. Bobcats go all-in on playoff chase

Bobcats acquire: Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes
76ers acquire: Ben Gordon, Jeff Taylor, Portland’s top-12 protected first round pick, Charlotte’s own 2014 second round pick

It’s another trade rumor coming to fruition, albeit at a lesser price than the Sixers have reportedly been asking. Getting first round picks in exchange for both Turner and Hawes is a tough sell; the former might be able to pull a first rounder in light of his terrific offensive showing this season, but Turner’s impending free agency isn’t all that friendly to potential suitors. Should a team angle to trade for Turner and keep him beyond this season, they’d need to pony up an $8.7 million qualifying offer — a ridiculous sum for a player of Turner’s limited abilities. That nearly prohibitive cost needs to then be accounted for in any kind of trade package, as looking for a team to give up a first round pick for the right to overpay Turner might be expecting too much.

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Charlotte does seem to have taken a liking to Turner, though, and while I don’t love the fit I’m willing to play along provided we can bring Hawes to Charlotte to be a stretched-out, souped-up version of Josh McRoberts. He’s the better value and the better player of the two, and the real reason why the Bobcats would theoretically be willing to part with a first rounder in a potential deal.

Nabbing Turner will demand something worth the Sixers’ time, though, which is where Jeff Taylor and the Bobcats’ 2014 second rounder come in. I’m not really convinced that Philadelphia could do all that much better for Turner under these particular salary conditions; he is not an efficient shot creator, not yet a useful defender, and at the moment not of any kind of cap value. For a player bearing that many asterisks, Turner returning a potential rotation player (when healthy) and a second round pick isn’t too bad.

Add Gordon’s contract to make the salary-matching math work, and voila: Charlotte gets its man, Hawes finds a new home, and the Sixers get a few more picks to play around with.

Worth a note: Trades 2, 3, and 5 on this list can actually be collapsed into a four-team, nine-player transaction.


I Would love to see THADDUES YOUNG be Traded to SACRAMENTO for say JIMMER/JASON THOMPSON an a Protected Draft Picks plus some other Non Protected Picks as long as he signs a Extension. My KINGS NEEEEED that Good Defensive Minded, Rebound Grabbing Blocking Machine to play Opposite COUSINS who aside from KEVIN LOVE is the Best Offensive Center in the WEST.


I'd imagine if the T-WOLVES actually had a Good SG and SF plus a Healthy Center they'd be a lot Better but there's No Way Kevin Love Stays after his Deal is over & can u blame him? He stayed for what almost 7 Years at least? HE'LL BE A LAKER an I HATE SAYING this But LeBron should Bail on the HEAT, he gave them what they wanted 2 NBA TITLES in 3 Tries so Far but the Whole Team is just...Old, Team him with KEVIN LOVE & the VASTLY IMPROVED PG KENDALL MARSHALL that's not a Bad Start. 


Finally someone points out the core reason for Minnesota's dud of a season! But maybe the solution isn't trading Barea, but rather trading Adelman. :-/


Monroe to the Thunder is a decent idea, but the actual layout of the trade shows clear misunderstanding of a) how trades work in the NBA, b) the current trade landscape of the NBA and c) the Thunder's organizational model. It basically looks like a let's throw a bunch of young guys together for Monroe and make the salaries work. This wouldn't happen. IF a deal like this were to go down another team would be involved and far fewer young assets would be leaving the Thunder. Something like Thunder get Monroe, Philly takes on Perk contract, Dallas pick that OKC owns, Roberson/PJIII, Detroit gets Evan Turner and a pick makes much more sense


The Bobcats are really blowing it when it comes to the future of the franchise. They should have been a team unloading parts in preperation for the 2014 draft. Instead they are going potentially be a 8 seed, get destroyed by IND or MIA in the first round and end up with a mid-first round pick.

And more mediocrity.


An absolutely awful (and preposterous) idea for OKC to even consider such a deal. 

Lamb is a key component of one of the league's deepest benches, and Adams has provided productive minutes with size.

 The Thunder have too smart of a front office to give this a nanosecond of thought.


I wouldn't mind seeing some but as a Atlanta fan I don't want to see Korver leave, I'm also a Duke fan and I liked Henderson, especially when he busted what was his name... oh yeah in the nose, but why would the Hawks want to do this trade? Makes no sense.


I would NOT want to see that OKC/Detroit trade. As a Pistons fan, I'd be disappointed. I could deal with Monroe being swapped if it's for a nice piece, but don't throw Singler and Stuckey into the mix.

Sam L.
Sam L.

They are insane!!!!  These are the same experts that said that when OKC drafted Steven Adams that he would never make it in the NBA and that he was a project.  They are also saying that OKC will trade Westbrook  to the Knicks.  One of the stupidest trade possibilities is Durant to the Lakers for money,because everyone wants to play in LA.  The experts say that OKC is too small for a NBA Championship, just like San Antonio is too small also. 


Why would the thunder make this trade? They have the best record in the nba, with out westbrook! They don't nw to change anything, except getting him back playing. This would be an absolutely terrible trade.


Have you seen Lamb, Adams, Jones play for OKC?  With the exception of Jones who needs major development, these are budding stars.  Even if you hate Perk, no offense, but your trade suggestion is a bit crazy-talk.


And every trade deadline is silent . Always ends with a wimper . The only thing loud is the rumors that never happen .


Kyle Korver is perfect for the Hawks , 3 and D , type of play . Why would the Hawks want to make this trade ? Gerald Williams isn't lighting it up and no one really showed much interest in him last season . Evan Turner I might see for the Hawks , Gerald Henderson not at all .


@HectorRamirez  That'd be a GREAT Deal for the HEAT but not so sure about the LAKERS since BOSH is Not even close to the Player he used to be, if the HEAT want to keep LeBron they'll need to start shipping out Contracts. since D-WADE isn't getting younger or better.


@Sam L.  Never heard anyone talking about Durant to the Lakers.  If that happens its only in 2016-17 when he becomes an UFA


@jdb95  but even Jones had had some huge plays, and he did a good job guarding LeBron after perk came out of the Miami game


@jdb95 Adams looked OK early on in the year but recently has been not getting as many minutes.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I don't see Adams or Lamb as budding stars, I see their ceiling as solid starters.