Cohen: Some League-Wide Trade Proposals

By Josh Cohen
June 20, 2012

ORLANDO -- Every summer teams evaluate their rosters and decide if there are any moves they can make to improve for the future.

Though there is still some time before any trades can happen, I have started to conjure up some potential deals that simply make a ton of sense to me.

Keep in mind, none of these proposals have been reported nor have any of them been discussed. These are purely my own concepts based on what I think each team needs.

And while the Orlando Magic may decide to shake up the roster after hiring a new GM this offeseason, these trade ideas encompass other teams around the league.

DETROIT GETS: James Harden & Kendrick Perkins
OKLAHOMA CITY GETS: Greg Monroe & Tayshaun Prince

Well, you probably wouldn’t have expected to read about trade proposals regarding a team in the NBA Finals. However, OKC has one obtrusive deficiency: it can’t score in the post and aside from Russell Westbrook’s electrifying drives, it relies profoundly on perimeter shooting.

Way too often, moreover, Kevin Durant is portrayed as the Thunder’s third option. It just defies all logic when it’s indisputable that KD is a top five player in the NBA.

Many times the ball is handed to James Harden, who tends to escapade around the arc in search of space to create his own shot. While Harden is blossoming and is certainly a top 20-25 player in the league, it seems periodically that his needs rebuff Durant’s importance to the Thunder.

At some point if the Thunder do not win the championship, balance may become more essential than individual talent.

Both Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are above average defenders, but aside from an occasional shooting exhibition from Ibaka, they have no absolutely no fluidity scoring down low.

As a result, with Durant and Westbrook present to provide a slew of production along the perimeter, adding a legitimate, and in these days atypical, back-to-the-basket center would definitely improve OKC’s stability.

Harden has one more year left on his contract before he can become a restricted free agent and while an extension is probably inevitable, this may be the perfect time to puff up a potential trade.

One team out there has a budding center but without a dependable scorer in isolation is Detroit.

Greg Monroe made significant strides this past season and assuming he continues to improve, he will almost certainly be a top five center in the NBA over the next few years.

So you may ask, why should the Pistons get rid of such a promising big man like Monroe?

Well, it’s very difficult to assess Harden right now because he is in the shadows of Durant and Westbrook. He has not shined in the Finals, but demonstrated throughout the season that he could be one of the best wing players in the league.

If you shift him to the East where aside from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade there are very few elite shooting guards and small forwards, Harden could prove to be a perennial All-Star and exceptional leader.

To establish a more balanced trade that meets all of the financial and salary cap obligations for both teams, delivering Perkins to the Pistons and Tayshaun Prince to the Thunder would make this package very appealing for both teams.

Prince, for one, could alleviate some of the defensive pressures on Durant and Perkins could help stabilize some defensive and intimidation needs in Detroit.

This is a very daring and bold trade proposal, especially since it involves an already superior team in the NBA Finals. But when you analyze the specifics, such a deal seems very rational on a basketball level.

SACRAMENTO GETS: Luol Deng & Future First Round Draft Pick (Top 3 Protected)
CHICAGO GETS: No. 5 pick in 2012 NBA Draft

There are two goals the Bulls must address this offseason:

1) Try and acquire a player to team with Derrick Rose that if not already a proven superstar can develop into one

2) Alleviate some of the financial burden currently making it very difficult to attract future free agents

Many feel this upcoming draft is deep. I, quite frankly, think it’s a bit deceptive as many of the prospects that were thought to be eventual stars in the NBA have seen their stock drop considerably.

But if you are Chicago, it may be worth the risk to jump into the lottery side of the draft and try and groom one of these highly touted prospects.

The Kings, on the other hand, must look into the mirror and realize enough is enough with being a substandard team. They must make a run at the playoffs in 2013, especially with the future of the franchise in potential flux.

While Luol Deng is not necessarily a top-tier type of star, he is one of the best wing defenders and can provide a certain leadership that Sacramento has not had since Mike Bibby was traded in 2008.

A deal involving Deng for Sacramento’s No. 5 pick in next week’s draft may be enticing for both teams.

Chicago could take a gamble on Andre Drummond and hope he evolves into the next Dwight Howard, who some feel he could be if he hits the weight room and augments his natural gifts. Or, in contrast, the Bulls can play it safer and select one of the several perimeter players available such as Harrison Barnes, Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers, Bradley Beal, etc. (whomever is still around by the time they would be on the clock) and hope he can be the perfect long term sidekick to Rose.

If the Kings are somewhat uncomfortable accepting a borderline luminary like Deng and his massive contract, the Bulls should make it more enticing by including a future first round draft pick that would only have slight provisions (ex. top three protected).

Sacramento is well under the salary cap so it can take Deng’s contract without much compromise.

UTAH GETS: Joe Johnson
ATLANTA GETS: Al Jefferson, Raja Bell

While it’s generally unwarranted to insinuate a team has “excess” size, in Utah’s case, it may actually be true.

As currently constructed, the Jazz have to be creative in finding ways to spread minutes around to Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

While all that depth down low helped Utah advance to the playoffs this season, its glaring flaw is perimeter deficiency. The Jazz just simply do not have a player who can score in isolation and persistently attack the rim. They also lack outside shooting.

Joe Johnson, who some argue is one of the more overpaid players in the league after signing that mega contract in 2010, would solve all these problems.

In spite of some statistical reduction the past two seasons, Johnson remains one of the elite shooting guards in the NBA.

The Hawks, on the other hand, would probably love to exterminate the nearly $90 million remaining on Johnson’s deal from their own payroll.

Utah’s Jefferson, who enjoyed a very productive 2011-12 season, is about to enter the final year of his contract worth $15 million. The Jazz have to decide if they are willing to make Big Al their franchise player or shift their attention to helping Kanter and Favors blossom.

Jefferson would give Atlanta tremendous size up front and would offer the Hawks financial flexibility next summer. Pairing Jefferson with Al Horford in the paint would be very menacing in an undersized Eastern Conference.

Recently, Raja Bell blasted Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin by describing him as “unprofessional” and called the relationship irreparable. It would only make sense for Bell to be included in this proposed deal to match up the incoming salaries.

MEMPHIS GETS: Pau Gasol, Andre Iguodala

You may not get more “blockbuster” than this, but is it just me, or does this deal make complete sense for every team involved?

Let’s start with the reunion in Memphis. Pau Gasol was the Grizzlies’ prime attraction from 2001-08 before he was traded to the Lakers.

But even more appealing than a return to the city that groomed him into an elite power forward, Pau would unite with his brother Marc to form one of the more intriguing frontcourt tandems in the league. This is a marketing dream.

While Philadelphia is still playing unlike most teams, it’s very apparent it has some major flaws. Elton Brand’s past injuries have deflated his skills and the Sixers don’t really have a threatening inside presence.

Adding a rebounding machine like Zach Randolph and trading the inconsistent Andre Iguodala – though defensively stifling – would indisputably balance out Philly’s roster.

Evan Turner, who is starting to flourish, would not have to share the spotlight with Iggy in the backcourt and Thaddeus Young, who is owed a lot of money over the next several years, could hop into the starting lineup.

Finally for the Lakers, they are obviously in disarray after losing to the Thunder in the conference semis. It would be an interesting blend, but a Kobe Bryant-Rudy Gay tandem would be one of the most electrifying in the league.

Remember, L.A. is all about “Showtime” and Gay definitely fulfills that label. By dealing Gasol, it would also allow Andrew Bynum to own the spotlight down low.

HOUSTON GETS: Amar’e Stoudemire
NEW YORK GETS: Kevin Martin, Samuel Dalembert

It was almost two years ago when Stoudemire was one of the marquee free agents available in 2010. He eventually signed a mega contract with the Knicks to become the chief in charge of a hopeful city that had been starving for a successful hoops team.

And in his first year, Stoudemire was worth it. He delivered sensational numbers and had New York in a positive direction.

But a combination of injuries and dubious chemistry concerns with NY’s other superstar, Carmelo Anthony, has dampened all that optimism.

Considering he still has three more years on his massive contract, the Knicks would probably love to remove that obligation and either get valuable assets back or take back some financial relief.

It was no secret that Kevin McHale and the Rockets desperately wanted Gasol last year when they were in discussion with the Hornets and Lakers about an eventually vetoed three-team deal involving Chris Paul.

McHale is one of the all-time great power forwards and seems to have a fascination with working with other top-tier players at that position.

Although Houston doesn’t really have too many desirable assets, it does have “cap relief” benefits – particularly Kevin Martin and his expiring deal.

Despite his stats slightly plunged this past season, Martin remains of the premier offensive players in the league and would certainly fill a hole at the shooting guard spot in New York.

And even more critical for the Knicks, they could quickly be in a salary-cap-friendly situation by the summer of 2014 when the next crop of premier free agents become available.

TORONTO GETS: Tyreke Evans, John Salmons
SACRAMENTO GETS: Andrea Bargnani, James Johnson

It’s extremely infrequent for a budding star to go in reverse after one of the more impressive rookie campaigns in some time.

Tyreke Evans averaged better than 20 points per game en route to claiming Rookie of the Year honors in 2010.

But his last two seasons have been substandard and many are starting to wonder if Evans is not quite the blossoming luminary that many assumed he would become.

Evans has one more year on his rookie contract before he will become a restricted free agent. Perhaps it’s best now to move him for something more proven.

Remember, the Kings secured the biggest surprise of the 2011 NBA Draft with Isaiah Thomas and could easily slide him into the starting role if they decided to trade Evans.

One team that could upgrade its point guard situation is Toronto, which has previously attempted to deal away Jose Calderon.

Injuries have denied Andrea Bargnani from being dependable enough to catapult the Raptors to the next level. And remember, the Raptors are expected to get Jonas Valanciunas next season after he was forced to stay in Lithuania this past year because of a clause in his contract.

Perhaps a fresh start in Sacramento would enliven Bargnani and give the Kings a very formidable one-two punch down low with he and DeMarcus Cousins.

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