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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Padanilam: Examining NBA trade possibilities as deadline approaches

The calendar has flipped to February, which means that among several key sporting events — including Super Bowl LI — over the next few weeks, the NBA trade deadline is fast approaching.

It is an opportunity for teams on the cusp of the playoff to make final improvements to their rosters, whereas other teams will be looking to rebuild and move on from contracts or players who they might be losing come the offseason anyways.

So in preparation for the weeks ahead of the deadline, here are some trades that would be interesting to see happen.

Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Clippers; Rajon Rondo and Austin Rivers to the New York Knicks; Jamal Crawford and Paul Pierce to the Chicago Bulls

Anthony needs out of New York. The Bulls need to part ways with Rondo. And the Clippers have the pieces to make it happen.

Although financially difficult for them, the Clippers acquiring Anthony is the best basketball move the team can make as it looks to compete with the Warriors and Spurs in the West. Losing Pierce could hurt in the locker room, but he’s the piece that gets this trade done. The Bulls can clear some of the tension in their locker room by swapping Rondo for Pierce and Crawford, and getting out of the Rondo contract allows them to absorb Crawford’s large contract for one extra season.

For New York, the deal removes the drama and distraction the front office has created with Anthony. They also get a good young scoring guard in Rivers, and Rondo — who would only be under contract for one season — makes Rose expendable, which the Knicks — though they won’t admit it — would love come the offseason and impending decision on Rose’s future with the team.

DeMarcus Cousins to the Phoenix Suns; Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, T.J. Warren and a 2018 first-round pick to the Sacramento Kings

The Suns are an exciting, young team with a number of young players on the roster due to the large number of first-round draft picks from previous seasons. What they do lack, however, is a star player to complement the talent of Devin Booker on the wing. Enter DeMarcus Cousins, who clearly doesn’t fit in with the Kings, despite the gaudy numbers he is producing from the center spot.

For the Kings, they get a still relatively young Brandon Knight who would more than likely outpace the current production they’re getting from Ty Lawson. The true prizes, however, would be the 19-year-old Chriss, who has shown flashes of his immense potential this season, and the 23-year-old Warren, who is the type of scorer on the perimeter the Kings thought guys like Ben McLemore and Jimmer Fredette would be when they drafted them. And a future first-round pick — although it's not the likely top-five pick the Suns will end up with this year — doesn’t hurt either, given the Suns own both their first rounder and the Miami Heat’s top-seven protected pick next year.

Paul Millsap to the Boston Celtics; Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller and a 2017 first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks

The appeal of this trade is simple: Millsap is an under-appreciated superstar on a Hawks team with no chance for upward mobility in the East. Sure, the Hawks are a playoff team, but they are nothing more than that. The first-round pick from Boston — which looks like it will be a top-three pick this year, since it actually belongs to the bottom-feeding Brooklyn Nets — provides them the perfect opportunity to begin to rebuild and eventually dump salary in Johnson this offseason and Zeller next offseason.

The Celtics, on the other hand, appear one piece away from setting themselves up to dethrone the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers as potentially the best team in the East. Millsap gives them just that as a strong two-way player with the ability to play both inside and on the perimeter. Zeller and Johnson merely make the trade work financially but cost the Celtics nothing more than two decent role players.