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Trade Season in the NBA

December 15, 2018

 

Has the NBA trade market begun to move before that of the MLB? Though the deadline for deals in the Association lies on February 7th, we have already seen one team try, then fail, then somewhat succeed in boosting their middling roster.

And while we’re on that subject, can I point out how absolutely ridiculous the whole Suns-Grizzlies-Wizards trade drama was? Not that I really need to, but this is professional basketball with guys who make millions to do things such as, I don’t know, correctly communicate which players are being sent to which team in a trade. For those unaware, yesterday it was announced that the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards were engaging in a three team trade. Phoenix would receive Wayne Selden and Marshon Brooks from Memphis (as well as Austin Rivers from Washington), Memphis would receive Kelly Oubre Jr. from Washington and Washington would receive Trevor Ariza for Phoenix. However, the deal was shortly called off, and you know why? Because the Suns thought they were getting Dillon Brooks from Memphis, not Marshon. Apparently Memphis and Phoenix never directly talked about the details of the trade, rather using Washington as a go-between (a capacity in which they obviously failed, as they have in so many other aspects this year). The fact that something so trivial could not only occur but also nix the entire trade (Memphis was unwilling to chip in Dillon Brooks to solve the problem) is so laughable and mind-boggling at the same time.

In the end, Memphis was (rightly) cut out of the deal and Phoenix sent Ariza to Washington in exchange for Oubre Jr. and Rivers, a trade that in my mind works out fine for both parties involved (and includes no misnomers).

But all that aside, this trade brings up the classic question: buy or sell? Washington, sitting at 11th place in the Eastern Conference with an 11-18 record, chose to buy (rather foolishly). What other teams out there are on the proverbial trade teeter-totter, and what is their best course of action? Note: I will not include teams such as the Wizards who are clearly out of it but still think they have a chance.

 

Eastern Conference

Miami Heat: Though many might point to this year as a severe regression for a team that missed the Playoffs by one game last year, the Heat are an okay 12-16. In reality, injuries have been suppressing them so far, and once all their players (hopefully) return to full healthy they should vault right back into the running for a Playoff spot.

Verdict: Stay put

 

Orlando Magic: The fact that they are even in contention right now is surprising to everyone, and seeing as how they still have multiple young players to develop it would be best to give them their minutes and let the cards fall where they may.

Verdict: Stay put

 

Detroit Pistons: They thought trading for Blake Griffin last year would put them over the edge, but they’re still learning to play as a new team (with starting point guard Reggie Jackson returning this year). They may be at an underwhelmingly perfect .500, but as the season progresses they should find more chemistry and more wins. One big move is enough Detroit.

Verdict: Stay put

 

Charlotte Hornets: Whatever you do, just make sure you re-sign Kemba Walker. Please. That might actually entail selling off some of their contracts ($24 million to Nicolas Batum, $17 million to Bismack Biyombo, $14.087 million to Marvin Williams) in an attempt to free up desperately-needed cap space.

Verdict: Sell to whoever’s buying

 

Western Conference

Houston Rockets: It has been an ugly season for last year’s runner-up in the West, and releasing Carmelo Anthony hasn’t seemed to help much. Without a true wing or at least some defense, the Rockets are going to stick in this state.

Verdict: Buy some defense

 

Utah Jazz: I said they were going to turn it around, and I still believe that. Some guys have just had rough starts to the year, and with the same roster as last year’s surprise they should be able to climb back into relevancy.

Verdict: Stay put

 

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis is quietly putting up the best numbers from a big man I have ever seen in my generation (28.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.8 BPG, 1.7 SPG) but it has gone unnoticed due to another mediocre year from the Pels. It’s tempting to splurge and limp into the Playoffs, but like the Hornets New Orleans needs to focus on resigning their star this offseason (New Orleans Hornets?...)

Verdict: Prepare your sales pitch

 

San Antonio Spurs: They’ve done well for themselves (15-14), but we all know their backcourt tandem of Dejounte Murray (out for the season) and Lonnie Walker IV (rehabbing in the G-League) is the future. With a similar roster returning next year, the Spurs should wait until their youngsters are back at full health.

Verdict: Stay put

 

Sacramento Kings: Stop it. Seriously.

Verdict: Stay put and develop

 

Portland Trail Blazers: Sure, some wing help would be nice, but as long as Dame and C.J keep up the strong work and Lillard doesn’t fade in the Playoffs (which by the way was a one-off, see First Round, Game 6, 2014) then Portland should be fine.

Verdict: Stay put

 

Memphis Grizzlies: With Mike Conley back and running the show, the Grizz have returned to old form and sit at a comfortable 16-12, good enough for 6th in the Western Conference. One of the many teams that could use some wing help, Memphis blew their chance at landing Kelly Oubre Jr. (as mentioned above) and now has to hope both of the Brooks on their team are still willing to play hard. I’m sure the Grit and Grind will charge into the Playoffs.

Verdict: Fire your stupid G.M, then stay put

 

One last note: I didn’t mention the Dallas Mavericks in here, but my man Luka Doncic is BALLING. Not to toot my own horn but I did predict his success, and now he’s proving me right every time he touches the court. Who needs elite athleticism when you have fun?

 

 

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