7 players who must be traded for the good of the NBA

Stephen Dunn

Please, sweet Basketball Gods, free these players from their Earthly shackles!

We spend far too much time worrying about the fate of individual teams in the NBA when it comes to trade season. This is a league of stars. A league of the players, by the players, for the players. Who will advocate for the stars? Who will suggest trades that will make their own lives infinitely better?

This document attempts to deliver our bruised and beaten stars to basketball Heaven. For the love of all that is holy in basketball, free these players.

PAU GASOL, LAKERS

It is incredibly sad to see Pau Gasol stuck on a loser. This is a proud man, an Olympian, a star, a Renaissance jack. To be spending the prime of the twilight of his career on a bad team is profoundly depressing. That his coach is so embarrassed by the state of the team to let Pau lower himself to playing late is just an indication of the wrongness involved.

Pau is among the most skilled big man of this generation or any. He should running offenses, not running screens for misnamed reptiles or boxing out for false superheroes. (Like the real Superman would even need rebounding position!) When a king like Pau must falsify an injury just to clear all of the losing feelings from his system, you know it's bad. (No surprise that the team won his return.)

Free Pau, preferably to somewhere he'll be allowed to share his artistic gifts with the world and also perform surgery on the side. I think Chicago would be a fine destination.

RODNEY STUCKEY, PISTONS

OK, Detroit, enough with the hot-and-cold, yes-and-no flirtation with Rodney Stuckey as a critical piece of the team. You like him or you don't. You had let him become a restricted free agent, making us think you didn't like him. Then you signed him to a ridiculously appropriate deal, making us think you did like him. Now you have him coming off of the bench behind Kyle Singler. KYLE SINGLER. As a result (and only a result, dammit), Stuckey is shooting 38 percent.

Enough! Stuckey has always been considered the next Billups -- so much so that you, Detroit, drafted Stuckey and traded Billups himself to make room in the rotation. We need to see Stuckey reach those heights. Or alternately, we need to see Stuckey and Tyreke Evans abandon the NBA and begin a one-on-one league. Dear Basketball Gods, you must smile on that possibility, no? Does that idea please you?

Otherwise, let's get Stuckey to Washington where he can do whatever the heck he wants (but win).

Speaking of Washington ...

EMEKA OKAFOR, WIZARDS

With all of the good teams in desperate, desperate need of a defensive big man, Emeka Okafor is stuck on the Wizards?!?! There is absolutely nothing in this beautiful world sadder than the thought of a smart, hard-working defensive big man stuck on an awful team. You see, the great defensive big man can't actually change a team's fate. The elite point guard, who has the ball in his hands most of the time, can make an awful team watchable. The star wing can load up highlight reels from a 3-20 perch. Even the hyperathletic big man can turn heads while putting up a PER of 8! Not the defensive-minded big man. His job is to make the game less watchable. How do you make the Wizards less watchable?!?!

To add insult to insult (to insult to insult ...), Meka is only getting 22 minutes per game. So not even fantasy players are interested in him. Randy Wittmann and his cohorts are making Emeka Okafor completely irrelevant. This is bad. The Basketball Gods demand better.

Okafor would be just lovely in Boston, Memphis, L.A. (either team) or, yes, Detroit, where he could potentially help Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond create something worth paying attention to. But if it weren't for that damned salary.

AMIR JOHNSON, RAPTORS

Forget about Bargnani. He'll be a raging disappointment anywhere. (Have you seen Italy in international play?) Let's talk about Amir Johnson for a minute. Amir Johnson is a starter in the NBA in only very specific conditions. Actually, "very specific condition": your team is really, really good and you need a weird, quasi-defensive, quasi-transition bag of fast-twitch to fill out a lineup. If you're a mediocre team, Amir Johnson is just going to mess you up through no fault of his own. You just can't build around something like that. He's not a liquor. He's a liqueur. No one orders a cocktail based around Creme de Menthe! If they do, they have horrible tastebuds, possibly an 8-19 record and are most likely named Andrea Bargnani.

Amir Johnson is a liqueur. Luckily for all of us, there is plenty of space for liqueurs -- even the weirdest ones like Drambuie. You just need good liquor as a base and an expert bartender. So naturally, Amir Johnson would be beautiful on the Spurs.

DERRICK FAVORS & ENES KANTER, JAZZ

For the love of all that is glorious, Basketball Gods, free Derrick Favors and free Enes Kanter! One second more behind Al Jefferson is too many. Al Jefferson and Ty Corbin are conspiring to stunt the growth of America itself. Do something!

MICHAEL BEASLEY, SUNS

Another coach just doesn't get SuperCoolBeas. Enough with these lamestream NBA coaches who can't think outside the court and let Beasley do his thing. Maybe it's time to take the international scene by storm, Beas. I hear Tracy McGrady needs help?

***

The Hook is an NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives.

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