Trade season almost always comes with sweaty, excited anticipation and then leaves with a whimper. There are many reasons for this, one of those being the fear of making a poor move and regretting it. But the climate for this season is such that we may see some movement, although I would bet that we will ultimately be disappointed again after the trade deadline. But in preparation for the trade deadline in just a handful of days, here are the trades that should happen in the Eastern Conference:
Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets
Omer Asik and 2015 first round pick for Paul Millsap
Al Horford and Paul Millsap are both very good basketball players, but from the moment Paul Millsap signed a contract with Atlanta, I've wondered how effectively the two can play together. The Hawks should trade either one for a more defensive minded center that fits better. Paul Millsap and Omer Asik are comparable talents and contracts and this trade would be stylistic fits for both teams. But Asik will be owed $15 million and Millsap will only be paid $9.5 million. Houston will have to include a draft pick to offset this cost and with the makeup of their team and the fact Houston owns 4 second round picks in 2015, they can afford to cough up their first rounder. This trade would make Houston a more powerful playoff team this season and Asik and Horford would be a great frontcourt moving forward. This trade may not happen, but it makes too much sense not to.
Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons
Josh Smith for Jeff Green and Brandon Bass
For Detroit this trade makes a lot of sense. Josh Smith has not worked out as a small forward and the Pistons would trade his remaining 3 years, $40 million for only $25 million worth of contracts and a possible better fit at small forward in Jeff Green. Josh Smith has his issues, but he's a defensive force and would be able to play power forward for the Celtics and be rejoined with his friend, Rajon Rondo. Acquiring Smith would also still allow the talent-poor Celtics to stay on track to add a top 5 pick in the 2014 draft. Smith wouldn't be in the way of any of the top picks other than perhaps Julius Randle. If the Celtics were able to add either Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, either would fit really nicely next to Smith and the Celtics would have pieces to return to defensive prominence. And using the stretch provision on Gerald Wallace this offseason would still maintain enough cap space for the Celts to pursue a second-tier free agent. This trade helps both teams in the short and the long run.
Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings
Carl Landry and Jimmer Fredette for Jason Terry, Reggie Evans, Alan Anderson, and a 2017 2nd round pick
The Kings get a chance to dump Carl Landry's 4 year, $28 million contract and relieve a little pressure from their never-ending logjam at the power forward position. Including Jimmer Fredette would be a favor to him, sending him back close to home and to a winning situation. If the Kings can't get an asset back for Fredette, it would be a move of good faith to trade him. Jason Terry and Reggie Evans would provide some veteran know-how to a team in desperate need of it. For the Nets, they would be adding a talented energy guy off the bench and one of the NBA's best 3 point shooters. It would also allow the Nets to potentially rest Kevin Garnett in preparation for the playoffs. And most importantly, the Nets can afford this deal.
Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets
Ben Gordon for Eric Gordon (no relation)
This trade makes so much sense for both teams. It allows the Pelicans to rid themselves of one of their very bad contracts and fixes the weird Holiday/Gordon/Evans thing they have going on. For the Bobcats, it improves their team dramatically and makes them a real contender for a home court series in the first round of the playoffs. Eric Gordon hasn't lived up to his maximum contract, but he's a valuable player and would especially benefit from the open spot up looks he would see playing with Al Jefferson. Make this one happen, Pelicans and Bobcats.
Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks
Caron Butler and Ekpe Udoh for Carlos Boozer
This is a no brainer for the Bulls, as they are able to rid themselves of Carlos Boozer's contract after this season without using the amnesty provision. But this trade also makes some sense for the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite their record, the Bucks, or at least Bucks ownership, would like to win sooner than later and Boozer is one of those players that helps teams achieve playoff competitive status. His contract is large, but Boozer would make a smart front court pairing with Larry Sanders and wouldn't keep the Bucks from being first in line to land a top pick.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers
Jared Dudley, Reggie Bullock, Antawn Jamison for Dion Waiters
Jared Dudley would improve Cleveland's wing rotation and adds a veteran presence to a team that needs it more than any other. Reggie Bullock is a prospect who could be a good "3 and D" player in the future and sweetens the pot for taking on the Clippers' extra money. For the Clippers, this trade gets them underneath the luxury tax while allowing them to remain as competitive as before. Dion Waiters needs a change of scenery and a team lead by strong leadership in Chris Paul and Doc Rivers would be the perfect fit to try to maximize his abilities. Now that Chris Grant is gone, it's time for the Cavs to undo some of the poor past decisions and move forward to a new era.
Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins for Jameer Nelson, Nikola Vucevic, and Arron Afflalo
I doubt very highly that the Thunder are thinking of trading Russell Westbrook, but now might be the right time to consider it, with how well the current Thunder team is playing in his absence. If the Thunder did put Westbrook on the block, they might be able to get more overall talent back, but this trade, at least to me, gives the Thunder just what they need to make a strong push to the finals. Steven Adams is too young and inexperienced to take over all of Kendrick Perkins minutes, but Vucevic has a lot more experience and starter minutes. Jameer Nelson would also provide veteran leadership in a bench role and has an unguaranteed contract past this season. Arron Afflalo would fit in perfectly this season off the bench as well and would be a natural replacement for Thabo Sefolosha after this summer. Orlando gives up a lot for Westbrook, but he is a top 10 player in the league and would probably look great when he isn't competing for possessions with the best player in the NBA. But the bottom line: MORE KEVIN DURANT! And that's a good thing.
The New York Knicks
The Knicks just need to chill out a little bit and stop trying to put a band aid on to fix Pneumonia. The last 2 or 3 moves they have made have just worsened the problem. No matter what happens with Carmelo Anthony this offseason, the Knicks are mostly stuck with the team they have until the 2015 off season. They should focus on bettering their team through better schemes and small, peripheral moves and be patient. I know this is the last thing any Knicks fan wants to hear.
They made their move trading Joel Anthony and saving a load of cash. They also just need to focus on prepping for the playoffs and getting healthy.
The Pacers would love to either add a bench scorer or get rid of future contract obligations (I'm looking at you Ian Mahinmi and Chris Copeland), but they also have almost no wiggle room with the luxury tax this season and are short on assets. All this adds up to the fact that the Pacers probably made their playoff push move by signing Andrew Bynum.
They are really in the same boat as Indiana, although they would be more willing to take on future money. They could trade for a guy like Mike Dunleavy Jr, for instance.
The 76ers have done a remarkable job making Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes appear more valuable than they are, but any team would be silly to give up very much for them, especially Turner. Stay the course Philadelphia. Secure a nice pick in this upcoming draft and then make the right draft picks. I don't see a lot of trades that make sense or should happen for Philadelphia.
The Raptors are caught in such a silly situation, realizing that they aren't championship contenders, but playing the 3rd best basketball in the Eastern Conference over the last 30 games. I'm not even going to tell Toronto or Ujiri what to do here. I'm not sure. But I will say, that it would be nice for the Raptor faithful to have a playoff team to cheer for.