The Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans exploded Twitter feeds everywhere Sunday night when they officially got the Trade Deadline week started with a bang. (Super?)Star DeMarcus Cousins was finally shipped out of Sacramento after years of controversy and tension.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 20, 2017
The last two months have been fueled by trade rumors for the Mavericks. When they got off to a start as miserable as they did– 2-13, 4-17 and 6-20 are all notable records Dallas had earlier this season– it’s natural that a team with the number of veterans they do will have trade speculation follow them every step of the way.
Obviously Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut have had the most trade speculation surrounding them. They’re both big name players on the last year of their contracts; making them perfect candidates to be shipped to any contending team looking for an extra push as they pursue the Larry O’Brien trophy in the coming months.
The Mavericks aren’t in that same class. At the same time, it seems as though they’re not interested in being “sellers” at this Trade Deadline either. It’s a tough position for Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban to be in and they only have a few days to decide.
The worst choice for the Mavericks to make would be to just stand pat. They either need to swing for the fences and try to acquire talent right now and for the future, or hurt in the short term by dealing pieces that will net you assets that benefit long term. Letting assets like Andrew Bogut and/or Deron Williams just pointlessly stay on your roster for these final two months, 8th seed playoff run or not, is not something this team can afford to do with some of the pieces available on the trade market this winter.
A reminder for the casual NBA fan: trades are not just a matter of matching talent for talent. Player salaries have to match within 25% of each other. That often makes swaps much more complicated.
With all that said, here are a few trades that go in both directions: being a seller and a buyer.
D-Will Back to Utah
Jazz Receive: Deron Williams
Mavs Receive: Utah’s 2017 First Round Draft Pick
“There’s no way Utah will take Williams back after how he left!”
Take a chill pill, bro. That was six years ago. There’s a different coach and GM than when D-Will’s ugly exit occurred back at the 2011 Trade Deadline. Gordon Hayward is the only player still on the team from that 2010-2011 team that had to endure the tension between Williams and legendary coach Jerry Sloan. It’s a safe bet that a rising star like Hayward would be willing to put that negative experience aside if there was a chance to gain a talent like Deron Williams for his team’s first playoff run under his leadership.
Utah is a great partner for taking on either Williams or Bogut because they have cap space and could just absorb the salary of a player without having to give back any additional players to make the trade work. They also have multiple first round draft picks in this year’s draft, their own and Golden State’s, so their own would be expendable, right? Currently, their two picks are slated to be picks number 23 and 30 in the first round of this year’s loaded draft. Obviously, Mavs management would want Utah’s own pick over the Golden State pick since the Warriors will easily have the league’s best record.
For Dallas, you get another first round pick in the draft that is being lauded as possibly the best class in over a decade. Either you can be happy with your two picks, possibly a pick somewhere between 7-12 plus this new one between 22-26, or you could pair them together to get into the top 5. Of course you’d be willing to give up more if that’s what it takes.
For Utah, George Hill is your obvious starting point guard and Dante Exum is hopefully still the long term answer at the position, but Williams is definitely a valuable piece to make up for the shortcomings of both. Even though Deron Williams has missed 16 games of his own this year, that still doesn’t match the 25 games that George Hill has missed in his first season in Utah. When Hill is unable to play, Exum simply hasn’t met expectations yet for the high lottery pick he was back in 2014. Having Williams’ expiring contract there will give him another veteran point guard to learn from and won’t hamper his minute opportunities next season.
Mavs Take Advantage of Sacramento Chaos
Mavs receive: Rudy Gay
Kings receive: Andrew Bogut (second round pick, if necessary)
Take a second and breathe before you think this is the dumbest trade idea ever.
Sacramento’s move of Boogie Cousins is clearly the signal that this team is realizing it needs to just bottom out and rid itself of every non-fit player they’ve acquired in recent years, right?
In acquiring Bogut for Gay, they gain a player who won’t be on their books for next year. Rudy Gay has a $14.2 player option for next year that he will surely exercise after injuring his Achilles last month and ending his season. Bogut’s contract expires at the end of the season and any player that has a chance to get out of Sacramento should, and will, take it. This way the Kings can clear more cap space and have room for their potentially two top ten picks in this summer’s draft. No need for a then 31 year old scorer, Rudy Gay, to be taking the ball out of the hands of your young players.
So why in the world would the Mavs be interested in what was just described above? It’s a low risk move. If Gay is able to recover at a rate even close to similar that of Wesley Matthews‘ Achilles injury recovery, then he should be ready in time for the regular season or only miss the early part of it. Call Gay what you want… or don’t… but the guy is a career 18 points per game scorer and probably the most underrated 2K player in that game’s history. Obviously the latter doesn’t matter, but just try playing with him in that game. He turns into Michael Jordan.
Adding Gay allows you to confidently slide Harrison Barnes to the power forward position where he has played well this season with the addition of Seth Curry to the lineup. Matthews, Gay and Barnes as 60% of your starting lineup isn’t bad. Pair that with maybe Yogi Ferrell at point guard and a big man found in this year’s draft. Or a point guard picked in the draft and another stop-gap at center? Either way, it’s not too bad. If the team is in a similar spot next year at the trade deadline and Gay is playing well, he could be another piece used to fetch assets via trade with his expiring contract.
The first two trades have the Mavs trading for a player/asset that won’t positively help them for the remainder of this season. That probably doesn’t sit well with most fans. The following trade might be a bit more up your headline-grabbing alleys.
Hail Mary Alert: Mavs Land Paul George
Mavs receive: Paul George
Pacers receive: Wesley Matthews, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavs 2017 first round draft pick (future first round pick, if necessary)
How ’bout them apples?
In a trade that has a .00000001% chance of happening by Thursday or at all, Dallas lands the superstar it has so desperately been seeking by taking advantage of the fact that Paul George is on a team that has lost six straight games and has grossly underachieved after making some big moves last summer. With George having an out in his contract after next season, Indiana might want to pull the plug now and get what they can for the All-Star wing.
George desperately wants to get back to contending for a championship like he and the Pacers did back in 2013 when they went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the Miami Heat in a thrilling 7 game Eastern Conference Finals. If that’s what he wants, is it wise for the Mavs to try to convince him they could do that within a year? Probably not, but if there’s the chance to land a guy like George, you take it.
For Indiana, you land a quality veteran player in Matthews, a guy with potential in Dorian Finney-Smith and another pick in this year’s loaded draft. The big gain would be Seth Curry.
The Mavericks could get something big by including Curry in a trade right now. The 26 year-old is averaging 14 points per game in February and is just narrowly missing having a 50/40/90 month. Plus the name Curry is going to make teams and fans salivate all around the league. It’s doubtful that Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban would want to give away a diamond in the rough they’re very proud of unless it netted them a star like Paul George.
While it’s insanely unlikely a trade for George by Dallas could be made this week, don’t scoff at the possibility of it this summer. Perhaps after Indiana misses the playoffs entirely or is quickly pushed aside by the likes of the Cavaliers or Celtics, Paul George will be even clearer with his desire to play elsewhere.
NBA Trade Season truly is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The afternoons just feel better. It is legitimately exciting to scroll up and down your Twitter feed just hoping for the next “Woj Bomb” or other breaking news. The next 48 hours should certainly prove to be an exciting time for not just NBA fans, but sports fans in general.
We all love trades.
Let me know what you think of these trades on Twitter: @DylanDuell