2/02/2016 10:09:00 AM
With the NBA trade deadline only weeks away and the Celtics only a half-game back of the third seed in the East, it is time for Danny Ainge and the front office to begin considering potential upgrades for this season and beyond. Last week, I offered 14 potential trade targets from the Eastern Conference, and now we are going to look at 15 potential targets from the Western Conference:
1. DALLAS MAVERICKS
Who: Chandler Parsons, the 27-year-old forward is averaging 11.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 2.5 APG. He is in year two of the three-year, $46 million dollar deal he signed in the summer of 2014. However, the final year of his contract is a player option. Given the projected salary cap increase this summer, he is certainly going to decline his option in order to re-enter the market. By trading for Parsons, the Celtics would be acquiring, at the very least, a rental to help them during their current playoff run. At most, they would be acquiring a player they can eventually convince to make Boston his home for the next five years. I am really high on Parsons. I don't think there are too many better fits for Brad Stevens' offensive philosophy than the 6'10 SF, who is shooting 49% from the field and 40% from three. He presents at the perfect C down the stretch for when Stevens wants to really stretch out the defense and get baskets. Imagine a crunch-time lineup of Smart, Thomas, Bradley, Crowder and Parsons.
Why: Parsons is going to decline his player option this summer and will seek a max-deal. That may seem unrealistic, but look at the players who received max offers this past summer, like Tristan Thompson. Then, consider how many teams are going to be flush with cash as a result of the projected cap increase of nearly $20 million. It is going to be a spending spree and whoever loses on the big fish may succumb to Parsons contract demands. If I can see how this is going to play out, surely Mark Cuban can. If he does not want to sign max to a deal worth over $100 million, especially with his recent injuries, why wouldn't he attempt to cash Parsons exit in for the depth they so desperately need both this year and next? I mean, Ray Felton is their sixth man. That is how bad it is in Dallas right now, which is a credit to the coaching of Rick Carlisle. Lastly, their 2015 first-round draft pick, Justin Anderson has spent this season listening and learning from Carlisle and Dirk, but he should be ready to step-in next season at the SF spot. His per 36 numbers are also fairly impressive: 10.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.5 APG and 1.4 SPG.
How: How about Chandler Parsons, Devin Harris and Javale McGee for Terry Rozier, Jared Sullinger and David Lee? Dallas' current depth chart at the PG position is Deron Williams, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea. Williams is likely to become a free agent again this summer, and Barea and Harris are both role players. Therefore, the Mavericks are in need of a long-term solution at PG. Sullinger can replace Parsons this season and eventually take over the starting PF position in Dallas once Dirk retires. The reason Dallas may view Sullinger's contract situation more favorably than Parsons is he will only be a restricted free agent this summer. With Lee's expiring contract, Dallas will maintain their enormous amount of cap space this summer. As for the two other players the Celtics would be receiving, they can choose to waive McGee right away, and Harris is a solid backup PG who will also turn into an expiring contract next season, i.e. an asset.
2. DENVER NUGGETS
Who: Danilo Gallinari - the 27-year-old is currently enjoying a breakout season and appears to have finally recovered from his torn ACL a few years ago. His per game averages of 19.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.6 APG are the best of his career and, at 6'10, he is shooting an impressive 37% from three. With regard to Parsons, I mentioned there are not many players more perfect for Brad Stevens' offensive scheme; well, Gallinari may be one. He is clearly coming into form and is only 27. Given his 111 defensive rating per 100 possessions, he will definitely need help on the defensive end of the floor and who knows, the presence of ball-hawk defensive guards may help him improve and take his defense to another level. Plus, his offense, which the Celtics need, more than makes up for that. His offensive rating of 121 points per 100 possessions makes that very clear.
Why: This depends on where Denver wants to go next season. Here is why: they not only own their own 2016 first-round pick, which is currently projected to be sixth, but they own the Rockets and Blazers 2016 first-round picks as well, which are currently projected to be the 15th and 16th picks, respectively. If this holds up, the Nuggets will have two choices. First, they can use their picks to acquire NBA-ready players to add to the core of Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay and Wilson Chandler next season. Or, they can decide the current core is incapable of winning together and use the picks to begin the process of moving in a different direction. Plus, although Gallinari loves Denver, next season is likely to be his last under his current contract because he will likely turn down the player option for the 2017-2018 season. Given his performance this season, he will likely seek and receive the max and the Nuggets may be unable to offer that. Why? Well, not only are Faried and Chandler under contract through the 2018-2019 season, taking up much-needed cap space, but they will have to begin talking extensions with Mudiay and Jusef Nurkic, who they love. There may not be enough money to go around. Since Gallinari's value may never get higher than it is now, Denver may decide to cash him in if the right offer comes around.
How: Danilo Gallinari and JJ Hickson for RJ Hunter, David Lee, Jonas Jerebko and the Nets 2018 first-round pick. Lee's contract is included to make the money work and provide the Nuggets with some needed cap space this summer. Hunter provides the Nuggets with a long-term option at SF and has already shown he is capable of contributing right away as well. Jerebko provides them with either an expiring contract this summer, or a cheap option to start in place of Gallinari next season. The Nets pick provides the Nuggets with another asset to use in improving and reshaping their roster. Boston would also be acquiring Hickson to make the money of the deal work, but also because he has fallen out of favor in Denver and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, which means he and Denver are set to part ways in a matter of months any way. Moreover, although he has fallen out of Mike Malone's rotation, he would likely find an opportunity with Brad Stevens given his per 36 numbers: 16.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG.
3. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Who: Harrison Barnes. The Western Conference targets just keep getting better, with Barnes being my favorite. The 23-year-old is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract and will be entering restricted free agency this summer. In his first three NBA seasons, Barnes missed only four regular season games and played in 40 playoff games. The 6’8 SF has also demonstrated a willingness to work on improving his game, as he shot 35% from three during his first two years, but 41% last year and 39% so far this season. He is strong defensively and is able to guard multiple positions on the floor, which is something Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge covet. He can be the stretch-four the Celtics are looking for. How good would a Smart, Thomas, Crowder and Barnes foursome be down the stretch of games?
Why: Money. There have been whispers around the league for a couple years now that they would eventually let Barnes walk. Although the salary cap is projected to increase by nearly $20 million this summer to $90 million, they already have $66 million committed to five players next season. If they were to give the max to Barnes, which is what he is going to receive, they would be at the cap with nine more spots on the roster to fill, including the resigning of Festus Ezeli, which is a priority for them as well. That is why it is very unlikely the Warriors keep him beyond this year. Furthermore, the team needs to begin preparing to extend Stephen Curry, who becomes a free agent after next season. Golden State is going to move forward one of two ways: (1) give this group one last chance at a championship and let Barnes leave this summer; or (2) try to trade Barnes while not messing with the team’s chemistry midseason, so they do not lose him for nothing. In all likelihood, it will be option one that wins out, but if Boston can give them a strong enough offer, who knows…
How: Although Barnes appears to carry a lot of uncertainty with his impending free agency, he is still an enormously valuable asset for the Warriors because he is a restricted, which means any team who acquires him will be getting the right to match any offer he receives this summer. Plus, news flash, he is going to receive the max. Danny Ainge will want to pretend the Warriors have no leverage since he is walking after the season, but that is wrong. Golden State will respond they are the defending champions and have the best record in the NBA right now. They do not have to do anything and will remain the favorites for another title this season. The only way this works is if Ainge can come up with a deal that improves the defending champs this year. How about Harrison Barnes and Jason Thompson for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley?
4. HOUSTON ROCKETS
Who: Dwight Howard. The 30-year-old is averaging 14.4 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG and 1.5 APG. Although his scoring is down this year, a lot of that is due to his 8.6 attempts per game, which is the lowest for him since his rookie season. The Celtics could use Howard for multiple reasons, including their need for a rim protector and one of the top 20 players in the NBA. If the Celtics could have a lineup of Smart, Thomas, Bradley, Crowder and Howard, would that not be a Eastern Conference championship contender because of the defense alone?
Why: His diminished role in the Rockets offense could open up the possibility of him being moved, as could his impending free agency. He has a $23 million-dollar player option for next season that he will surely decline to reenter free agency. It is unclear if Howard wants to stay in Houston or if Houston even wants him to stay. It would be an easier decision if they were in title contention, but they are currently 25-25 and in the seventh seed, only 1.5 games from being out of the playoffs altogether. This roster is clearly not championship material. Trading Howard now may be their best option. It also opens up minutes for promising young Clint Capela.
How: Houston needs a first-round pick for 2016, which Boston has plenty of. They also need a PG. How about Howard for David Lee, Terry Rozier, Dallas’ 2016 first-round pick and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick?
5. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Who: Blake Griffin. This is obvious. Griffin is easily one of the 10 best players in the NBA and at times, like last year’s playoff run, he looks worthy of considered for the top five. The 26-year-old is averaging 23.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 5.0 APG. The reasons why the Celtics would and need him would fill up this entire article. If he is available, he is THE exact type of player Danny Ainge has been hoarding assets to acquire. Blake is under contract next season, but has an early termination option for the 2017-2018 season that he will likely exercise. However, if Boston were to trade for him, they would be able to offer him more years and money than any other team that summer. Plus, it is worth the risk.
Why: This one is easy for anyone paying attention to recent events. Griffin may have finally fallen out of favor in LA as a result of his fight with an equipment manager that put him out of the lineup for one to two months. Plus, the Clippers are 15-3 without Blake in the lineup and 17-13 with him. If they can deal him AND get better for their playoff run this year, maybe Doc will do it.
How: Blake, Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson for the Nets 2016 first-round pick, Jae Crowder, David Lee and Avery Bradley? The price of acquiring Griffin, in addition to the players and pick, is to assume the contracts of Pierce and Lance, the latter of which has a club option for next year that the Celtics can decline.
6. LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Who: D’Angelo Russell. The 19-year-old rookie has had a tough time this season under coach, Byron Scott. However, there is still reason to be optimistic. Not only is he extremely young, but his per 36 minutes are impressive: 15.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 4.5 APG.
Why: He has had trouble getting consistent minutes under Scott, who has publicly questioned Russell’s attitude on multiple occasions. There is clearly a friction between Scott and Russell and it is unclear who Lakers management will ultimately side with. Moreover, do the Lakers need him? Jordan Clarkson’s continued growth may make him expendable, as the two are very much the same player. .
How: Give the Lakers the redo they may covet right now by trading them the Nets 2016 first-round pick. The Celtics can make the money work via one of their trade exceptions. Who says no?
7. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Who: Mike Conley. The 28-year-old PG is struggling this season, but remains one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Although he is shooting only 35% from three this season, he is a career 37% three-point shooter. He is a true point guard and someone the Celtics organization can build around, much like they wanted to with Rondo. Players will come to Boston to compete with Conley and that is what Ainge needs: someone to sell to other players this summer. While it is true the Celtics would be taking a risk since he is entering unrestricted free agency this summer, by acquiring him, Boston will have the ability to offer him more years and money than everyone else.
Why: All indications are that Conley will be leaving Memphis after the season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Although the Grizzlies are currently in the fifth seed out West, they have absolutely no chance of beating the Thunder, Warriors or Spurs in a playoff series. They know that. To let Conley walk for nothing in return in order to chase a playoff run that will surely end in defeat seems pointless and I imagine that is the talk of the Grizzlies front office as well. Plus, they can still be competitive with backup PG and champion, Mario Chalmers.
How: Mike Conley for Jonas Jerebko and Marcus Smart.
8. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Who: Zach LaVine. The 20-year-old is currently averaging 12.7 PPG, 3.1 APG and 3.0 RPG. He is shooting 44% from the field and 34% from three. He is in the second year of his rookie deal and is blocked in Minnesota by PG Ricky Rubio, who is under contract through the 2018-2019 season. The Celtics could use his athleticism on the roster, as they haven’t had someone who could jump out of the building since Gerald Green. LaVine continues to improve, which is shocking considering who is currently coaching him. The thought of he and Brad Stevens coming together is fun to think about.
Why: The Timberwolves have so much young talent. Not only do they have Wiggins and Towns, but they are going to receive a top five pick this year as well. At what point does the youth movement end? 19-year old kids cannot win on their own in the NBA. If Minnesota wants to make the playoffs any time soon, they need to add some players with experience. Why not start with LaVine, who struggles defensively and is blocked at most positions he would thrive at? In addition to Rubio being on the roster, they just drafted Tyus Jones out of Duke.
How: Zach LaVine for Jared Sullinger and the Celtics 2016 first-round pick. The Timberwolves could use a PF of the future and another asset to package this summer in a potential deal for a more experienced player.
9. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Who: Ryan Anderson. The 6-10 PF is having a great season so far, averaging 17.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG. He is shooting 40% from three, making over two per game, which is something the Celtics could really use in their lineup. He would be perfect to pair with Smart, Thomas and Crowder down the stretch of games. Plus, he is only 27-years-old and could be someone Boston is interested in keeping long-term, which is important considering he is set to become a free agent. Having him here for the rest of the year will give them a leg up on their summer competition.
Why: The 27-year-old stretch forward has been involved in trade rumors ever since the Pelicans fell so far back in the standings. Although they have improved as of late, even going 7-3 in their last 10, they remain 11 games under 500 and four games back of the eighth-seeded Blazers. Not to mention, their prize for playing great ball and catching Portland? Playing the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. This is clearly not their year and it would be smart for them to start the process of building for next season. Trading Anderson is the perfect place for them to start due to the fact he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
How: Ryan Anderson for Avery Bradley.
10. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Who: Kevin Durant. It’s Kevin Durant, enough said.
Why: They are not going to beat either the Warriors or Spurs with this roster. They have a ton of talent, but two-man basketball will never beat a real team in a best-of-seven series. He is also going to be an unrestricted free-agent this summer. There would be nothing worse than letting the second best player in the NBA go without getting anything in return.
How: Kevin Durant and Steve Novak for David Lee, Marcus Smart, RJ Hunter, the Nets 2016 and 2018 first-round picks and the Celtics 2016 and 2018 first-round picks.
11. PHOENIX SUNS
Who: TJ Warren. The 22-year-old SF is in his second NBA season and currently averaging 11.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG. He is shooting an amazing 50% from the field and 40% from three on over nine shot attempts per game. His per 36 minutes are even more impressive: 17.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.5 APG and 1.2 SPG. Warren comes with control too since he is only in year two of his rookie contract. The Celtics were reportedly interested in Warren, who drew comparisons to Paul Pierce, prior to the 2014 draft.
Why: The Suns just fired their coach, Jeff Hornacek. They are tied with the Pelicans for the fourth-worst record in the NBA and are only two games back of the Nets, who have the third-worst. There may be some motivation on the part of Suns management to tank the rest of the season, catch the Nets and get a 15.6% at Ben Simmons. To do that, they will need to subtract some talent from their roster. There is going to be a rebuild in Phoenix and they might as well not waste any more time. The Suns currently have Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler and Markieff Morris signed through the 2018-2019 season for a total of approximately $51 million. They need to shed some of that payroll and the Celtics should help them do that for a price.
How: TJ Warren and Tyson Chandler for David Lee and Dallas’ 2016 first-round pick. The Celtics get Warren as the price for taking Chandler off the Suns hands. Although age seems to be catching up to Chandler, he has a championship pedigree, would likely be motivated by the move and is a great defender/rim protector, which Boston could use in their frontcourt.
12. PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
Who: C.J. McCollum. The 24-year-old guard is in his third NBA season and having a career year. He is averaging 20.7 PPG, 4.3 APG and 3.5 RPG, while shooting 44% from the field and 39% from three. He can shoot extremely well and create his own offense, which is something the Celtics need right now, as well as the future considering their 15-man roster.
Why: He is set to become a restricted free agent after next season. Will the Blazers want to commit the max money necessary to keep McCollum, whose skills are similar to that of franchise guard, Damian Lillard? Or, will Portland prefer to trade him, acquire the assets they get in return and then use the money they would have used signing McCollum on signing someone unlike Lillard? Yes, the Blazers are currently in the eighth spot in the West, but they have no chance of winning a playoff series this season and should not be an impediment to a deal.
How: CJ McCollum for Kelly Olynyk, Dallas’ 2016 first-round pick and the Nets 2018 first-round pick.
13. SACRAMENTO KINGS
Who: Ben McLemore. The 22-year-old SG is playing 21 minutes per game this season. He is averaging 7.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 1.1 APG, while shooting 45% from the field and 37% from three. Based on his minutes total, he is clearly an afterthought in Sacramento, which is surprising given his talent. It should be encouraging to the Celtics how much he has improved his shot since first entering the league. If given the opportunity, he may be ready to take the next step. Boston could not only use his distance shooting this season, but he could also be part of the Celtics next great backcourt, along with Marcus Smart.
Why: McLemore has never seemed comfortable in Sacramento and they have never seen comfortable with him. They surrender the most points per game in the NBA and are chasing a playoff spot. They need defense. While they may not have a chance to get out of the first round this season, their owner is clearly interested hosting a playoff game or two this season. If they can help themselves do that by trading, at times, their fourth man off the bench, why not?
How: Ben McLemore for Avery Bradley. The Celtics would use their existing trade exception to make up the money difference. Bradley provides the Kings with defense and has already proven to play well with Rondo. With him in their backcourt instead of McLemore, they have a much better chance of winning the seventh or eighth seed in the West. As for Boston, they unclog their backcourt and brings in McLemore, who is shooting better than Bradley is, has more upside and contains more control moving forward.
14. SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Who: Kyle Anderson. The second-year forward has appeared in 45 games this season and is averaging approximately 12 minutes per game. The 22-year-old is averaging 4.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1.2 APG. His per 36 minutes stats are 11.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.2 SPG and 1.1 BPG. As you can see, he is athletic and capable of filling up a box score. The Celtics, like all teams, can use someone like that. They are also short on wings right now, unless you believe in James Young and RJ Hunter. Why not add some insurance?
Why: No particular reason. The Spurs have a very tight roster as it relates to addressing all the requirements of a successful team, which makes no one player expendable. Hence, how I arrived on Anderson.
How: Kyle Anderson for Terry Rozier and the 76ers 2016 second-round pick.
15. UTAH JAZZ
Who: Gordon Hayward. The 25-year-old forward, and Butler product, is averaging 19.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.7 APG and 1.2 SPG. He is shooting 44% from the field and 37% from three. Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have coveted Hayward for some time and for good reason. The forward was coached by Stevens in college and the two would seem to be a perfect match on the NBA level as well.
Why: Although the Jazz are tied with the Blazers for the eighth seed in the West, they are 22-25 on the season, which is nothing to be proud of. At what point do they decide having Hayward as their number one option is not going to win games in the tough Western Conference? Well, for the sake of Celtics fans, hopefully now. Another reason to trade him now – his value may never be higher, as he has a player option for the season after next that he will certainly decline to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time. Therefore, if they plan on a reboot or retooling at some point involving the trading of Hayward, now is the time to strike.
How: Gordon Hayward for the Nets 2016 and 2018 first-round picks, RJ Hunter and David Lee. Any money needed on the Celtics end will be covered by trade exceptions.
Questions for the Readers: do you agree with the target from each team? do you agree with the trade offer? Please let us know!
Haven't checked out Part One (Eastern Conference)? See it here.
Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Follow Max Sandgrund on Twitter @SotoSpeakz
2/02/2016 10:09:00 AM