With the conclusion of the 66th NBA All-Star Game and the bargain the New Orleans Pelicans pulled off for DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins from the Sacramento Kings Sunday night, all teams are up against the clock for all trades this season.
There are various teams that need to fill a void in order to make the playoffs. Here are the scenarios that I think should play out for each playoff team before the second half of the regular season kicks off.
Cleveland Cavaliers, backup point guard:
With Kevin Love and J.R. Smith on the shelf until the end of March at the very earliest, the defending champions need to fill one void come playoff time: the backup point guard role. LeBron James isn’t getting any younger and he cannot keep playing almost 37.5 minutes per game, no matter how competitive he is. The Cavs are deep, but having a solid point guard to relieve Kyrie Irving is the key component towards returning to the Finals.
Boston Celtics, all-star anyone:
The Celtics have surprised me with their overall play this year. I knew Isaiah Thomas had game since following him in his senior year with the Washington Huskies, but I wouldn’t have thought his fourth-quarter magic would’ve lasted so long. In efforts to get I.T. some help, I’m thinking the Celtics have the right players to make a trade for another all-star. Whether that’s a wing player or a post presence, getting that an all-star that’s not no. 4 will solidify Boston’s team for a run at Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Washington Wizards, prolific bench scorer:
After watching Washington in person on Feb. 16 at Indiana, I think the Wizards are ready to go deep into the playoffs. However, they are missing that punch off the bench to supplement the dynamic starting nucleus in the nation’s capital. I’m eyeing the backup shooting guard role in particular to help with point production off the bench. Bradley Beal can hold his own, but the options are limited when he comes off the floor.
Toronto Raptors, Serge Ibaka:
Seeing the Raptors start off hot and cool off faster than a boiled egg has been depressing to watch. They are still a force to be reckoned with and made the move I think will turn the Raptors from a headache into a migraine. Serge Ibaka turned into an average Joe in Orlando. Making the move to Canada will give him the resurgence (no pun intended) he needs as that premier defensive threat.
Atlanta Hawks, backup point guard:
Should the Atlanta Hawks keep Dennis Schroder as their starter, that’ll be fine, but Malcolm Delaney isn’t going to cut it with the backup point guard role. The Hawks need to go after a seasoned-veteran that excels in the pick-and-roll game.
Indiana Pacers, various needs:
If the Indiana Pacers pass on a big-name acquisition, they will still need to fill two voids. The starting shooting guard position and the backup power forward position. The Pacers simply cannot rely on Monta Ellis, Glenn Robinson III or C.J. Miles for a starting punch to pair with Paul George. Miles is the team’s best shooter in my eyes but he doesn’t command enough attention to be a starter. Lavoy Allen plays great when he gives the Pacers’ minutes but the Pacers need that second stretch-four to run when Thad Young rests; if he ever comes back from his wrist injury.
Chicago Bulls, backup forward:
Whether it’s the small or power forward role, the Bulls need an upgrade and quick. Who would’ve thought that a team composing of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo would have struggled as hard as they have this season. I still think the Bulls have a chance to pull off the no. 6 seed in the East if they can get the ball rolling, but they need help on the bench.
Detroit Pistons, all-star wing:
The Pistons have played well enough to be the eighth seed but for how long? Adding a former all-star or a current all-star would be the best move for Detroit.
Golden State Warriors, nothing:
Adding Kevin Durant over the offseason to the team that won 73 games a year ago, was all Golden State needed. Sure, you can make the case that if Draymond Green would have played in Game 5 of the Finals, that we would have a repeat champion. Or you could make the case that if GSW didn’t chase the record for regular-season wins, we would have repeat champions but either is not the case and here we are with a team that could very well raise its second banner in three years.
San Antonio Spurs, nothing:
With Pau Gasol due to return as early as Friday and Dwayne Dedmon comfortable with San Antonio’s system the Spurs should be fine with the roster they have to compete against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Their bench can be iffy at times but this Spurs team has the right mix of young/old.
Houston Rockets, nothing:
The Rockets really don’t need to make any trades being a team that has surprised everyone with their style of play. The offensive juggernaut that plays in Houston could benefit from a shot-blocking, defensive-minded center, should they entertain the idea of a trade. Otherwise, I expect Houston to be a tough out in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Clippers, small forward:
Since Chris Paul has been in a Clippers jersey, I can’t think of a dynamic starting small forward he has played with. If you can, please let me know but the Clippers have been disappointing for too long especially with the star power this team has. J.J. Redick cannot continue to be the best wing player the Clippers have starting.
Utah Jazz, backup offensive center:
The Jazz have been flat-out good. Vivant Smart Home Arena ranks first in attendance and has been one of the toughest places to play not only historically but recently. Having someone that can get a bucket at the backup center role will be the best threat the Jazz can get given their talented roster.
Memphis Grizzlies, shooting guard or small forward:
Personally, I don’t believe in the Chandler Parsons hype. Someone feel free to enlighten me but he isn’t the threat that Memphis needs to become a team that will play into and possibly through May. Getting another off-ball scorer on the wing couldn’t possibly hurt the Grizzlies.
Oklahoma City Thunder, anyone with star power:
OKC fans, your best player is averaging a triple-double. He has gone on record for saying that he is doing whatever will help the team win, but come on Russ, we see those eyes staring at the stats during games. Getting Russell Westbrook someone that can command the defense’s attention will push OKC higher up the playoff ladder.
New Orleans Pelicans, Boogie:
Now I realize that New Orleans sits at the no. 11 spot currently but come on now. You’d have to try your hardest not to pay attention to the team that houses Boogie and the Brow. I expect the Pelicans to click faster than expected and give the Warriors a great first-round series in the playoffs.
Let me know who you think will be moved before the trade deadline!