One third of the way through a truncated NBA season, several teams have already gone into panic mode with fans and some players alike clamoring for trades.
Former power houses like the Lakers and Celtics are struggling to stay afloat while up and coming teams like the Knicks have failed to meet lofty expectations.
Magic center Dwight Howard could be a solution to each of those three team’s problems should he opt for a trade out of Orlando. After getting whooped by the Hornets Friday night (93-67… ya. You read it right), the Magic have lost three of their last four games and their star player is furious. Howard, whose agent has received permission to talk trades with the Nets, Lakers and Mavericks, said after the loss to New Orleans, “”I look at guys and they don’t look like they want to play. I told them at halftime, ‘If you don’t want to play, just stay in the locker room, because it don’t make sense for a team who we should beat to just demolish us.’”
OUCH. There was a stretch of a few games where the Magic (12-7) looked on point and many guessed the team would keep Howard in hopes of making one last title run. But now that the seesaw seems to be stuck in the down position, one would guess Howard will find a way out of town.
One team that might want Howard’s services is the New York Knicks (7-13). Amare Stoudemire is only shooting 42 percent from the field, a significant drop from his 53 percent career average. Sure, Amare is scoring over 17 points per game, but his rebounding is dismal, grabbing 8.2 balls per game and blocking less than one shot per game on average. I’m sorry, but when you are 6’11, you should have no less than 10 rebounds per game. When Kris Humphries Kardashian is killing Amare on the boards, there’s a problem. I’m well aware of the fact that perhaps Carmelo Anthony isn’t dropping the ball down low enough, but when he does decide to share, Stoudemire has to make the most of it and shooting under 50 percent won’t get it done. Plus, with $83 million remaining on his contract, Stoudemire is going to be very tough to move.
But would Howard even want to play for the Knicks under Mike D’Antoni? Probably not. The fact that a big guy has yet to really succeed in the D’Antoni run-and-gun system is likely a turn off for Howard, whose agent has not received permission to negotiate with the Knicks (as far as we know). In that case, shouldn’t Howard just go to the Lakers (11-9) like many had originally assumed as early as two years ago?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, lets take a few steps back. I know the season is short, putting pressure on teams to win fast and often, but what if we’re all jumping the gun? Without an organized off-season and a poor excuse of a training camp, it’s only logical that many teams (especially those with new coaches and/or key players) might take longer than normal to get in the swing of things.
I keep seeing Kendrick Perkins in my head with flashing red lights surrounding him, reminding me of what a terrible trade that was for the Celtics (9-9) last year. Yes, that situation is different in the fact that Boston opted to get something in return for Perkins, who the team was not willing to pay top dollar to re-sign after his contract was set to expire. The gamble was that the Celtics, in theory, coming off a game 7 loss in the NBA Finals, were still equipped to make a playoff run with that same roster primarily in tact. Instead, they saved money but lost the heart and defensive presence of their team and fizzled out in the playoffs. I would hate to see any team make the wrong move in haste because of the unique situation caused by the lockout.
Now that we have that spiel out of the way, lets go back to various trade scenarios of this season. I don’t think Dwight Howard is the answer for the Lakers. Yes, he’s a fantastic player, but the majority of the Lakers issues are not down low, but at the guard position. Steve Blake got off to a fantastic start before injuring his ribs, which has the point guard out and missing significant time. The Lakers are more in need of a facilitator than a big man, given that they already have two.
If I am Orlando, I would LOVE a trade with the Lakers. With the choices being to keep Howard this season then let him go, or trade him in return for Andrew Bynum (and another player, draft pick, cash, whatever…) who could become our franchise center, I’m going with the “give something to get something” approach.
Bynum is third in the league in rebounding, he is blocking 1.9 shots per game and averaging 16 points in 21 minutes per game. I have watched every Lakers game this season and Bynum, while playing well, isn’t playing up to his potential. He’s shooting 53 percent from the field, but he has the shot and footwork to be even better. The sixth-year Big has missed several easy, uncontested shots in nearly every game, which in my opinion, is completely mental. He has been through a lot in his career and aside from injuries, I think the only thing stopping him from being an all-out monster is his psyche. Moving out of LA may very well be the key to unlock Bynum’s inner-beast.
Yes, Pau Gasol has been inconsistent since last season but I wouldn’t give up on him just yet either. Had the Lakers original trade with the Hornets been accepted by the league, yes, it would have been worth it to let go of Lamar Odom and Gasol for Chris Paul. That would have worked beautifully in the non-triangle offense under head coach Mike Brown.
As we know, the trade didn’t go through so unless the Magic are willing to throw in Jameer Nelson along with Howard (which will not happen), I say the Lakers stay put and hold out for a guard via trade or find a different way to weather the storm, perhaps utilizing a developing Andrew Goudelock until Blake is healthy and available to help Kobe Bryant run the offense.
Sure, trading Gasol to the Nets (7-13) for Deron Williams sounds like a pretty sweet deal, but with the way Pau is playing at the moment, I don’t see New Jersey making that move. Williams leads the Nets in points and assists so bringing in Gasol isn’t going to replace that level of production. The Nets have some good pieces, but it seems like they each fit different puzzles instead of all coming from the same box.
Then we have the Boston Celtics. Oy Vey.
It’s quite sad watching the once-almighty Big Three get older and suffer loss after loss as the team around them just doesn’t seem to mesh. If Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen each played for different teams, each would probably be the difference-maker that could take his team to new heights. When Jermaine ONeal is your starting center, well, that can’t bode well for your team. O’Neal has already missed a few games and he’s scoring less than six points per game. Garnett is the team’s leading rebounder with a whopping 7.7 per game. 7.7 rebounds a game to lead the team? No bueno.
Word on the street is that Danny Ainge isn’t opposed to trading away any of the Big Three who brought the Celtics a championship in 2008 after a 22-year drought. If he gets a good offer, Ainge must let anyone on that roster go, well, anyone aside from Rajon Rondo who has turned into one of the league’s premiere players in the last few seasons.
As much as fans would hate it, I could see Pau Gasol playing well in Boston and imagining Paul Pierce in is hometown purple and gold isn’t a stretch of the imagination by any means. I think Doc Rivers is the type of coach who can motivate anyone and positively reinforce Gasol in order to squeeze the best game out of him. Although, Garnett might eat Gasol for lunch one day, but theoretically, Rivers could get those two on the same page. Because of injuries to Bynum, Gasol is used to playing center despite being a natural power forward and the Lakers could use Pierce’s versatility. I’m not sure that Bryant and Pierce could play together, but that’s another story.
Will trades go down this season? Yes. Which teams will be involved? I have no idea. Will we see a blockbuster? Probably. I love the trade deadline as the NBA typically has at least one exciting move providing us fans with tons of drama, but I sure hope each team really does its homework before signing the paperwork.