Cohen: Some League-Wide Trade Proposals

By Josh Cohen
August 29, 2012

ORLANDO -- Although the summer is just about complete and team architecture is usually flat this time of year until the trade deadline approaches, that hasn’t stopped me from pondering league-wide trade concepts and examining why these proposals are beneficial for each team involved.

Keep in mind, none of these proposals have been reported nor have any of them been discussed. These are purely my own ideas based on what I think each team needs for either the present or future.

And while the Orlando Magic could enter trade conversations at any point, these proposals encompass other teams around the NBA.

HOUSTON GETS: Amar’e Stoudemire
MILWAUKEE GETS: Tyson Chandler
NEW YORK GETS: Kevin Martin, Samuel Dalembert, Beno Udrih, and Shaun Livingston (all expiring contracts)

KNICKS: New York must look in the mirror and realize it has a very slim chance of challenging the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics in the East. Some believe the Brooklyn Nets – after re-signing Deron Williams and acquiring Joe Johnson – are the best team in NY.

At first glance, this trade doesn’t seem all that rational considering the two best players in the deal are Stoudemire and Chandler. However, the purpose of this deal for the Knicks is not about the tangibles bur rather the financial flexibility.

Houston’s Martin and Livingston and Milwaukee’s Dalembert and Udrih are all in the final years of their respective contracts. As a result, this proposal would allow the Knicks to conserve roughly $35 million for next summer’s free agent class.

Not long ago, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were linked together as potential future teammates when they referenced such a prophecy at Melo’s wedding in 2010. The Knicks desperately tried to gather assets last December before Paul was dealt to the Clippers, who unmistakably had a much better package to offer for the All-Star point guard.

While he seems generally content in L.A., Paul didn’t agree to an extension with the Clippers earlier this summer and failing to reach expectations in 2012-13 might result in a change of direction. If it has enough salary cap space next summer, New York can attempt to persuade Paul to reposition about 2,800 miles east.

And if the Knicks handle their finances appropriately, it would seem more than sensible to believe they can steal away another Los Angeles superstar. Remember, Dwight Howard, who despite being acquired by the Lakers just a few weeks ago, will also be an unrestricted free agent next summer. D12 and CP3 have expressed their aspirations to unite before.

While it’s true that both Paul and Howard would have to decline an extra year and more money from the two L.A. franchises (Bird Rights), the two impending free agents have repeatedly stated New York (Brooklyn in Howard’s case) is their dream destination.

If, for instance, the Lakers lose to the Thunder in the West Finals and the Clippers are unable to advance past the conference semis for a second straight season, would Howard and Paul ditch and join forces?

Let's be honest if you are NY, a Big Three of Melo, Amar'e and Tyson can maybe get you to the second round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, a Big Three of Melo, Dwight and CP3 can get you multiple championship trophies and banners.

If the Knicks crash on an attempt to lure Howard and Paul, however, they can zoom in on 2014 when it’s possible LeBron James and Dwyane Wade could become free agents.

ROCKETS: Last year Houston desperately wanted Pau Gasol and nearly had him before the Paul-to-Lakers three-way deal was vetoed. Earlier this summer, the Rockets tried to negotiate a deal that would deliver either Howard or Andrew Bynum to southern Texas. Each attempt failed.

Recently, Stoudemire worked with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston to add more to his repertoire. Perhaps it would be advantageous for everyone involved if Amar’e could learn from Hakeem regularly.

It’s no secret that the Rockets are anxious to add a legitimate star to the roster. While Stoudemire didn’t have a successful season last year, it’s possible a change of scenery, the opportunity to continue learning from Olajuwon and one of the best power forwards in NBA history, Kevin McHale, and detaching the pressure playing alongside Anthony in NY would resurrect his All-Star status.

BUCKS: Milwaukee needs to demonstrate to both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, two impending free agents next summer, it is ready to make a serious playoff push.

The Bucks already have one of the most explosive and flashy backcourts in the NBA and after re-signing Ersan Ilyasova this summer they are no longer offensively challenged.

After trading Andrew Bogut, it would be optimal for Milwaukee to plug in an intimidator in the paint. We know Milwaukee will never be able to attract All-Star caliber free agents considering its undesirable location. As a result, if the Bucks can find a way to trade for a justifiable center that can anchor the middle, they can quickly challenge the Bulls and Pacers in the Central Division.

L.A. LAKERS GET: Josh Smith
ATLANTA GETS: Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic and JJ Barea

LAKERS: It would sure seem like a big victory for the Lakers if they can get their hands on one of Howard’s best friends and one of the league’s premier defensive stoppers.

Considering it’s no guarantee Dwight will stay in L.A. after this season, the Lakers should essentially do whatever it takes to appeal to the All-Star center. Smith, regardless, is arguably a more valuable piece than Gasol considering his age, defensive prowess and multidimensional tools.

J-Smoove is also in the final year of his deal. In effect, either Smith can become an integral part of L.A.’s championship sculpt for many years to come or give the Lakers some financial flexibility if he doesn’t remain with the team past this season.

WOLVES: Pairing Gasol with Ricky Rubio seems like a no-brainer considering all the experience they have together while playing for Spain. And with Kevin Love as the centerpiece, the T-Wolves would form a terrific trio to become an instant threat in the Western Conference.

Though it would require Gasol to start at center, Minnesota would rapidly evolve into one of the best offensive teams in the league. It’s been a long time since fans up there could get excited about commuting to the Target Center in freezing temperatures to watch the Wolves play.

HAWKS: After trading Johnson earlier this summer, it’s become more than apparent Atlanta is in an overhaul stage. The Hawks are rebuilding and it would seem cogent to disband the team completely and start over.

Williams, who was the second overall pick in the draft in 2011, has the talent to transform into an All-Star if given the opportunity. With a plethora of salary cap space and rewarding draft picks to look forward to, the Hawks should not allow themselves to stay mediocre. By not trading Smith now, that’s the direction the Hawks would be inevitably headed in.

UTAH GETS: Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler
CHICAGO GETS: Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap

BULLS: Before Chicago fans start raging and ranting about this proposal, just hear me out for a moment.

Bulls enthusiasts get very agitated when anyone tells them that because they have one superstar and one superstar only, they can’t win a title. Listen, it’s in all likelihood true. Chicago does not have enough talent to contend with Miami and quite honestly, it may not have enough even when completely healthy to beat Boston, Brooklyn or Indiana.

Noah and Deng are very good players. They are defensive warriors and are committed on every single possession. They are model NBA players because of how devoted they are to the team as a whole.

However, they, along with Carlos Boozer’s mammoth contract, are destructing any opportunity for the Bulls to grab a second star to team with Derrick Rose. Noah has four years and about $50 million remaining on his deal, while Deng has two years and $28 million left.

The Jazz possess a variety of good players that are in the final years of their contracts. Jefferson and Millsap are two of them and would keep the Bulls very competitive next season but even more importantly would allow Chicago to garner some financial flexibility for next summer and beyond.

If they also were to use the amnesty exception on Boozer, which has frequently been discussed, this trade proposal would open up new life in Chi-Town. The Bulls would instantly become players in the free agent market next summer and if they continued saving could try and lure any of the potential free agents in 2014 such as LeBron and Wade (like a redo of 2010).

JAZZ: Not to be disrespectful, but Salt Lake City is one of those NBA cities that will never attract All-Star level free agents. Karl Malone and John Stockton were drafted by the Jazz and chose to stay the course, while D-Will clearly wanted a bigger stage before he was inevitably traded. Household names won’t voluntarily choose to play in Utah. It’s just the way it is.

As a result, the Jazz need to utilize their assets to create a sustainable group. Though generally unproven and inexperienced, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks all have the potential to become solid NBA players.

Utah is presently overloaded with frontcourt players who are all offensive-minded. A deal that would deliver Noah to Salt Lake would inculcate a defensive attitude, which is critical if the Jazz want to advance further in the playoffs. Deng could handle the responsibility of guarding opposing teams’ top perimeter players.

And perhaps most essential and in complete contrast to Chicago, a city that will always magnetize All-Star talent, Utah would be able to secure Noah and Deng along with all of its young players because of their lengthy contracts.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by Josh Cohen are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

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