It's as much Christmas as it is the Apocalypse for NBA fans right now. The March 15th NBA trade deadline is nearing and many fans are clamoring for a trade. However this trade deadline revolves around one key team. That team is the Orlando Magic. The Magic face the near impossible task of deciding whether to trade the key to their franchise or to try and revamp the roster in hopes to convince Superman (WHAT'S UP SHAQ) Dwight Howard to stay around in the Magic city. Orlando has been rumored to be trying to aggressively pursue Steve Nash and Monta Ellis. Both attempts at this point have seemed to fallen short. Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD says that Orlando's assets aren't good enough to pull in a player like Nash or Ellis. This may or may not be true. Assuming Orlando's assets aren't enough though what are Orlando's weaknesses that they can fill?
- Consistency from wing players
- Bench production
- Frontcourt depth
- Perimeter defense
Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson have absolutely killed Orlando this year. Turkoglu is consistently making a point of not trying to close out on player defensively. Richardson tries to play defense but is laterally challenged. Neither player are scoring on a consistent basis.
The bench unit is possibly the teams most glaring weakness. JJ Redick is the only person in the rotation who can score off of the dribble. Chris Duhon can't create shots for any of the guys off of the bench unit that includes Redick, Q-Rich, Baby Davis or Earl Clark. Most of these players need to play off of other guys to be effective. Recently in the OKC game Orlando's bench unit squandered the lead by not scoring and letting OKC shoot 8-8 to start the 4th quarter. Now defense is a problem for a bench unit who's players mostly consist of defensive mentality players.
Orlando's front court depth has been in serious peril ever since the trade that sent Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns. Plain and simply Brandon Bass and Glen Davis aren't backup centers. Otis Smith has failed to fill out this roster. The truth is the last big man Otis signed was Malik Allen. Orlando needs a backup center that can spell Dwight Howard effectively and fill the role of playing D and grabbing rebounds.
Last but not least is perimeter defense. Orlando has been getting absolutely massacred by wings this season. Recently against Toronto DeMar Derozan went for 23 and today against the Bobcats Corey Maggette scored 29 while Gerald Henderson added 16. Orlando needs perimeter defenders to not just defend mediocre guys like them but also to slow down players like Dwayne Wade and LeBron James
Assuming Orlando cannot come up with either Monta Ellis or Steve Nash I've mapped out an alternative path for Orlando to approach. Keep in mind I try to keep this trades as fair and realistic as possible. I picked players that are on the block according to Hoopshype.com and HOOPSWORLD.COM and in some cases what they'd want in return for such players.
The Portland Trailblazers receive : JJ Redick
The Milwaukee Bucks receive : Hedo Turkoglu
Why this makes sense for Portland: According to HOOPSWORLD Jamal Crawford is on the trading block. The 2 leading teams for Crawfords services are the Minnesota T-Wolves and the LA Clippers. The Clippers have nothing they are willing to part with that matches JJ Redick's value. As for the T-Wolves I would imagine Micheal Beasley is the most attractive asset they can offer. JJ Redick is cheaper option to Beasley and capable of filling his role for Portland. (Assuming Felton continues to start after being benched). Redick is also a better teammate and so far this season a better player than Beasley.
Why this makes sense for New Orleans: New Orleans has put Trevor Ariza on the block according to Hoopshype. New Orleans asking price is a first round pick. Adding Earl Clark and Daniel Orton helps Orlando match salaries and entices New Orleans all that much more.
Why this makes sense for Milwaukee: Honestly Milwaukee is probably the unhappiest camper in the entire process. However Stephen Jackson is riding the bench in Milwaukee while talking trash about his coach and turning the locker room upside down. Hedo's final year of his contract is only partially guaranteed so they can agree to a buyout with Hedo and save money down the line. Will he cost more money than Jackson in the long term yes. However he will also contribute more to the team than Jackson is. Portland could throw in a 2nd to appease the Bucks.
Why this makes sense for Orlando : This one is pretty obvious. Orlando get's 2 wing defenders in Ariza (SF) and Jackson (SG/SF). On top of that Orlando gets a great bench scorer in Jamal Crawford. Crawford can either play SG or PG for Orlando and his scoring is needed for Orlando's bench unit. Kurt Thomas isn't a necessity in this deal. However he played 15 MPG in Portland prior to the signing of Joel Pryzbilla. I would assume Orlando could throw in a future 2nd and get him added to the deal. He would be a nice veteran presence and a solid backup C for Dwight Howard.
I tested this on ESPN's trade Machine and it was successful
The Los Angeles Clippers receive : Jason Richardson
Why this makes sense for the Clippers: The Clippers have been struggling since Chauncey Billups suffered a season ending achilles injury against Orlando. They've been using Randy Foye and signed Bobby Simmons. Neither have been very effective. The Clippers don't have many assets that they're willing to part with. Ryan Gomes is a fringe player for the Clippers who's been bad in his limited time this year. Trey Thompkins is a young player that they like but they have bigger needs. J-Rich is a huge upgrade to Foye and should provide a great fit for that Clippers starting lineup even at the cost of taking on Richardson's contract.
Why this makes sense for the Kings: Salmons contract bigger and worse than Glen Davis. He's struggled much like Davis and is seeing his playing time decrease. The Kings according to Hoophype are looking to deal for veteran leadership in the lockeroom. Glen Davis, Q-Rich, and Duhon all provide that. Whiteside was a project big man that the Kings played yesterday trying to audition him for a trade. His value isn't very high and he'd potentially be a roster cut if not involved in the deal, The Kings have plenty of cap room and these deals shouldn't bog them down.
Why this makes sense for Orlando: As poor and as little as these players have played for their respective teams this season it would improve Orlando's bench. Salmons could play backup SG which is defensively and upgrade to JJ. Gomes could play backup SF or PF. Gomes has the ability to be a bigger Q-Rich. He's a so-so defender that is a decent 3 point shooter and nice rebounded. Thompkins would likely be a project however it'd be up to Stan Van Gundy with which project is going to get minutes (Whiteside/Thompkins/Harper). Lastly we come to Whiteside. Whiteside is a project big man who has freakish length and is a solid athlete. Whiteside at this point in his career should be able to block shots and rebound.
This is also successful in the trade Machine: http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=7axx9x8
After these trades it leaves Orlando with a rotation of
PG- Jameer Nelson / Jamal Crawford / Ish Smith
SG- Stephen Jackson / John Salmons / Von Wafer / Deandre Liggins
SF- Trevor Ariza / Ryan Gomes / Deandre Liggins
C - Dwight Howard / Kurt Thomas / Hassan Whiteside
Now there's a better part to this deal that I have yet to mention. If Dwight Howard opted into the final year of his deal Orlando would shed nearly 20 million dollars in Cap space through these trades for 2013 free agency. If Ariza opted to not take his option that would create and additional 7.5 million. Additionally if John Salmons is bought out or traded as an expiring contract that would free up more space. In 2013 free agents include Chris Paul, Josh Smith and Monta Ellis.
Now realistically I understand these trades won't happen. I just wanted to prove a point that all it takes is being creative to potentially reach a great deal. If Orlando can't deal for a superstar this would be a great route to go down. A good starting lineup. A very improved bench. Lots of depth. On top of that enticing Howard to not opt out.
I also need to point out that Orlando fans shouldn't worry about how quiet it is right now. Teams understand that Orlando is desperate to make a deal. Other teams right now are trying to take advantage of Orlando. They're trying to play down Orlando's players values so they can win a trade big. However the closer we get to the deadline those teams will get desperate and the playing field will level out. So have a happy and miserable trade deadline!
http://hoopshype.com/rumors.htm (If you want to fact check me go through there)