Cohen 8-Ball: Stars on the Trade Block?
February 16, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: It’s no secret anymore that Dwight Howard isn’t entirely happy in L.A. From a surprisingly disappointing first half of the season to unceasing injury anguish to chemistry and relationship concerns with Kobe Bryant, Howard’s brief time with the Lakers has been beyond drama-ridden. Dwight still craves Brooklyn and despite its financial commitment (over the cap and luxury tax burned), there is a deal to be made between the Nets and Lakers before the deadline if both teams pressed the "GO" button. If not, there is an expectation if things don’t change in L.A. that Howard will walk to Dallas or Houston as a free agent this summer (even it means taking a little less money). The Lakers should trade him now and terminate all the detrimental theater. It’s in the best interest for both Howard and the Lakers.
Cohen’s Analysis: Josh Smith believes he is a max player – suggesting he expects a contract this summer of five years and around $100 million. The Hawks don’t agree. With Smith, Atlanta is at best a two-round-and-out playoff team. Unless the Hawks believe Dwight Howard would consider signing with his hometown this summer, it’s probably illogical at this stage to preserve Smith for the rest of the season. Fringe title contenders and even a few marginal playoff teams are yearning for the versatile J-Smoove, including Brooklyn, San Antonio and Houston. Do any of those teams have enough to pull a deal off? If the Spurs are willing to surrender Kawhi Leonard or if the Rockets are keen enough to trade Chandler Parsons, it’s possible.
Cohen’s Analysis: Rajon Rondo is out for the rest of the season with a partially torn ACL. We know how talented Rondo is, but with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at the twilight of their careers, it’s win now or rebuild for the Celtics. If the mindset is winning now, Boston needs to deal him for an established veteran who can have an immediate impact (like Dwight Howard). If the objective is more of a renovation, the C’s should keep him and trade KG (if he waives his no-trade clause) and Pierce. If Boston can land Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers, however, then perhaps it’s a complete overhaul and the C’s should deal all three.
Cohen’s Analysis: Danny Granger is about to return for the Pacers from a knee injury. It’s a mystery how he will perform after missing the last few months. If Indiana believes his arrival will interfere with Paul George, who has remarkably transformed into a top 20 player in the NBA, then it needs to field offers for the veteran. If, on the other hand, the Pacers feel they need a boost offensively and can’t challenge for a title without Granger, preserving him is most rational and hoping his offensive arsenal will be the final piece to the puzzle to take down the Heat in the East.
Cohen’s Analysis: Memphis decided the stiff luxury tax penalties were too steep to keep Rudy Gay. It dealt him to Toronto in January. Now it must settle on whether to protect Zach Randolph or trade him away also. Z-Bo is enjoying another marvelous season, but he also is due to earn nearly $18 million next year and about $17 million the year after. Presently, the best the Grizzles can be is a two-round-and-out team. Is that satisfactory enough to keep him? Unless a team is willing to surrender an unprotected draft pick with the potential of it being a lottery selection, it’s probably best to hold onto him for at least the rest of this season.
Cohen’s Analysis: Al Jefferson is such an underrated player – always was and probably always will be. He is Utah’s most menacing offensive player. However, there has been a yearning in Salt Lake City for the two promising and emerging youngsters, Derrick Favors and Enes Kantor, to jump into the starting lineup and become the two primary faces of the franchise. With the Jazz currently a playoff team, it may be worth keeping Big Al and even making an attempt to re-sign him this summer when he becomes a free agent. Perhaps instead Utah should deal away Paul Millsap, its other impending FA in July.
Cohen’s Analysis: It was an unusual decision to unite Monta Ellis with Brandon Jennings last season considering they are very comparable players. It’s been a roller coaster all season for the Bucks, who currently would be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. Barring a miracle, Milwaukee will be ousted in the opening round. Both Jennings (restricted) and Ellis (player option/unrestricted) will be free agents this summer. ESPN.com recently reported that Jennings had “irreconcilable differences” with the Bucks, but he also refuted it over the last few days. Since Milwaukee can match any offer made Jennings, perhaps it’s best to part ways with Ellis instead.
Cohen’s Analysis: Kevin Garnett is one of only four players in the NBA with a no-trade clause. The others are Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan. KG recently stated he wouldn’t waive the clause under any circumstances, but if it was apparent Boston won’t be competing for a title this season perhaps he would change his mind. There have been continuous reports that the Celtics and Clippers may be willing to negotiate a deal that involve KG and Eric Bledsoe. This is an intricate decision for Danny Ainge even if Garnett were to waive the no-trade clause.