Now that the Carmelo Anthony trade to the New York Knicks is finally completed, we can finally focus on what the rest of the teams will do at the NBA Trade Deadline. The Anthony saga was very clearly holding up any potential movement that would occur. Now that it's over, we can start to consider which teams may be active this week.
Here is Part 1 of a team-by-team breakdown of what we should expect as the NBA Trade Deadline draws near. We will start with the Atlantic Division.
Record: 40-14, first in the East.
Holes/weaknesses: Backup small forward
Trade assets: Avery Bradley, Semih Erden, Marquis Daniels' expiring contract ($2.8 million, but has to agree to trade), first-round draft picks.
Other pieces involved in rumors: Jermaine O'Neal (one more year for $6 million left).
Targets: Anthony Parker, Shane Battier, Josh Howard, Roger Mason, Dahntay Jones, Rasual Butler, Rip Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich.
Summary: With Daniels sidelined due to a neck injury, the Celtics need another wing player behind Paul Pierce, and have combed the league for anyone that's relatively cheap. They also would like to get Hamilton on a buyout if the Pistons elected to go that way. They don't have a ton to trade, but they also aren't targeting major-salary players, so they should be able to work something out.
If I were GM, I would ...: Engage the Wizards and ask about Josh Howard, first and foremost. Howard's game is similar to Daniels', except better. Howard would have to agree to the trade, and the Wizards value Howard as a leader, but they are also rebuilding around picks and prospects. The Celtics could offer Erden, who is promising, but likely to be buried on the bench in the playoffs if both Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal are healthy.
New York Knicks
Record: 28-26, sixth in the East
Holes/weaknesses: Size, depth, defense
Trade assets: Most were used to acquire Anthony, unless you consider Toney Douglas an asset.
Other pieces involved in rumors: None, really
Summary: The Knicks made their big move, and now must hope for the best.
If I were GM, I would ...: Hope that someone big gets bought out and will join the team in March.
Priority: Contend for the playoffs, though fans may want them to rebuild.
Holes/weaknesses: Size, rebounding, shot creation in the half court.
Trade assets: Expiring contracts of Jason Kapono and Darius Songaila, Thaddeus Young (an upcoming restricted free agent), Marreese Speights,
Other pieces involved in rumors: Andre Iguodala ($44 million for next three years),
Targets: Dante Cunningham
Summary: The 76ers have decided they want to play for this season instead of starting a long rebuilding effort, so Andre Iguodala is off the table. That said, the 76ers do have an interesting situation on their hands with Thaddeus Young, who has been big for them, but also is a restricted free agent and may get overpaid this summer.
If I were GM, I would ...: Swing for a big trade. The 76ers have a lot of assets -- two expiring contracts and a lot of young players. There may not be something like that out there, but as long as they want to contend, they should try. Failing that, looking for a clear upgrade, even on a long-term contract, is wise given their position, so long as they don't sacrifice too much.
New Jersey Nets
Record: 17-40, 12th in the East
Priority: Acquire young talent while maintaining their dignity.
Trade assets: Expiring contracts of Troy Murphy, Kris Humphries and Sasha Vujacic, two 2011 first-round picks (their own, the Lakers'), three 2012 first-round picks (their own, Golden State's, Houston's).
Other pieces involved in rumors: Devin Harris ($17 million for next two years), Travis Outlaw ($28 million for next four years), practically everyone in Anthony chase.
Targets: Andre Miller, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Andrei Kirilenko, Aaron Brooks, Joel Przybilla,
Summary: Spurned by Anthony, the Nets will try to rebuild the slow way and hope to convince the star free agents of 2012 to join them, even though the star free agents of 2010 and 2011 didn't. That means they're going to try to get young assets like Gallinari and Brooks while trying to offload Harris, who has a long-term contract, and Murphy, who is a veteran that's not needed. They also may use some of their picks to acquire those players.
If I were GM, I would ...: Do what they are doing, and fully commit to building the slow way, a la the Oklahoma City Thunder. None of the stars want New Jersey, so stop embarrassing yourself while going for them.
Record: 15-41, 14th in the East.
Priority: Continue to rebuild, or at least you'd think.
Trade assets: $14.5 million trade exception from Chris Bosh situation, two first-round picks in 2011 (their own, Miami's), Reggie Evans' expiring contract.
Other pieces involved in rumors: N/A
Targets: Danilo Gallinari, other young players.
Summary: Toronto is very much in the same boat as Cleveland, with a big trade exception as its biggest asset. The only difference is their veterans are less tradeable. Still, look for them to try to get some youth with that exception.
If I were GM, I would ...: Use the trade exception to try to take on bad contracts in return for having draft picks and/or young players attached to them.