The New York Knicks' trade for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups is but the first domino to fall before the NBA trade deadline. Here are five more deals that Holding Court would like to see happen, and why they make sense.
Utah Jazz acquire Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox from the Detroit Pistons for Andrei Kirilenko
As covered in this space a little over a week ago, the Jazz need a proven shooting guard with scoring punch, which Hamilton provides. In just 25.7 minutes per game this season, his lowest playing-time average since his rookie year, Hamilton is posting 13.3 points per game and shooting 40 percent on three-pointers, taking nearly three triples per game. His ability to knock down shots coming off screens makes him a natural fit in the Jazz's motion- and cut-based offense, and having Deron Williams feeding him passes -- instead of Tracy McGrady and Rodney Stuckey -- should only improve his output.
Wilcox adds depth to a disappointing front line. Though not better than Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, Wilcox at least serves as an upgrade over rookie pogo stick Jeremy Evans. And if there's one thing Wilcox can do, it's finish a pick-and-roll, making him a solid player to pair with Williams. His contract expires this season, so it's not as though Utah would be making a long-term commitment to the journeyman power forward.
Detroit, a team likely to be sold within the coming days, swaps Hamilton's two-year deal for Kirilenko's expiring one. But this trade isn't a mere salary dump; Kirilenko has diminished with age, but is still productive, averaging 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 combined steals/blocks this season. He might be somewhat redundant with Tayshaun Prince already on the wing, but can play spot minutes at power forward if necessary. Losing Hamilton also opens up more playing time at shooting guard for Ben Gordon, who likely deserves more than the 27.8 minutes per game he's averaged in a Pistons uniform since signing as a free agent in 2009.
Oklahoma City Thunder acquire Brandan Wright from the Golden State Warriors for Daequan Cook and Royal Ivey
Wright isn't exactly a known commodity, but in limited minutes throughout his career, he's produced solid numbers. The 23-year-old, now in his third season, is averaging 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks in a career-low 9 minutes per game this season, shooting 60.3 percent from the field. That's solid production and efficiency, and whichever team he lands with next -- it's clear the Warriors don't have him in their future plans -- will be pleased.
Oklahoma City should be that team. GM Sam Presti has an eye for young talent, which is part of the appeal. But Wright would be, in a way, insurance in case another team signs Jeff Green to too rich an offer sheet this summer. Green's an OK player, but he's also the weakest link in Oklahoma City's core; every GM would rather have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, sure, and Serge Ibaka may have surpassed Green in their esteem as well. Wright's lack of shooting range makes a comparison between him and Green imperfect, but he can nonetheless score without plays being called for him, a plus in the Thunder's Durant- and Westbrook-heavy offense.
SB Nation colleague Mike Prada wrote more extensively about Green's shortcomings in this post several weeks ago.
Golden State can't expect to get much in return for Wright, which this hypothetical trade shows. The benefit here for the Warriors is getting a cheap look at Cook, likely no more than a 9th man on a good team. Like Wright, he's posting a career-low in minutes this season, and the Thunder don't appear to have much use for him. Cook has at least recovered his three-point shot, going a respectable 35.6 percent from the floor after a dismal 31.7 percent mark last season.
Ivey, though a throw-in for salary purposes, could theoretically give Golden State a defensive specialist at either guard position to avoid taxing Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis so much. Ivey does nothing of value offensively, but pairing him with Ellis or Curry for eight minutes per night while the other sits makes sense. In reality, though, the Warriors could simply waive him. If they're going to give a fringe NBA player backup guard minutes, it should be rookie fan favorite Jeremy Lin.
New Orleans Hornets acquire Thaddeus Young, Andres Nocioni, and Jason Kapono from the Philadelphia 76ers for Marcus Thornton, David Andersen, and Marcus Banks
Despite employing Chris Paul and David West, among the most devastating pick-and-pop combinations in the game, New Orleans ranks below league average in offensive efficiency. It needs more scoring if it is to seriously challenge the West's top teams, which is exactly what it aims to do; Yahoo! Sports reported the Hornets inquired about the availability of Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette, for example.
This idea takes a better long-term view in targeting Young instead of Maggette. In his fourth season, Young has blossomed into one of the league's best offensive backups, scoring 12.1 points in just 25.8 minutes while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor. The increase in efficiency stems from his abandoning the three-point shot, which has worked out. The left-handed young does most of his damage in transition and on dribble-drives in the halfcourt. He's a tough cover at 6-foot-8 and can cause match-up problems as a power forward in small-ball lineups.
For the privilege of picking up Young, the Hornets must also take the bloated, relative to production, contract of Andres Nocioni. They also must give up Marcus Thornton, who looked like their star shooting guard of the future as a rookie but is now an afterthought, playing behind the likes of Marco Belinelli and Willie Green, of all people, under new head coach Monty Williams. Thornton's minutes are down from 25.6 as a rookie to 16.2 this season, but he still has promise at age 23.
That's one of Philadelphia's incentives to do this trade. Another is to avoid the potential of overpaying Young this summer in free agency. While they would face a similar issue with Thornton, another free-agent-to-be, Young's track record indicates he should command well over the mid-level exception in the offseason, perhaps a deal in the five-year, $40 million range; Travis Outlaw got five years and $35 million from the New Jersey Nets, and he's not the player Young is. This trade would signal Philadelphia's desire to sell high on a valuable asset.
As far as fillers go, Kapono can help the Hornets stretch the floor in limited minutes, and because he's in the final year of his contract, there's very little risk involved. Andersen gives the Sixers another jump-shooting big man, something they've collected since bringing Rod Thorn aboard as team President; Thorn has acquired Darius Songaila, Craig Brackins, and Spencer Hawes since joining the Sixers, and he inherited Marreese Speights.
This deal would also generate a $6.85 million trade exception for the Sixers.