Due to the constant trade rumors that swirl around the NBA — I’m looking at you, J.R. — I’ve decided to help a few teams out. Below is a list of fantasy transactions all involving players rumored to be on the trading block this season. In a perfect world, at least my world, these trades would happen.
These five potential deals aren’t being rumored specifically, nor are they petitioned with any inside information. But if the teams and GMs involved were smart, they’d make these moves without a second look. Here are five deals I believe should go down before the trade deadline.
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Minnesota Timberwolves acquire: BLAKE GRIFFIN
Los Angeles Clippers acquire: KEVIN LOVE
The Los Angeles Clippers have almost all the pieces to win the Western Conference. They have a championship-winning coach, the top point guard in the league in Chris Paul, good wing shooters in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, as well as a former Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal Crawford. What the Clippers are missing is a dominant low-post scorer. Blake Griffin is not yet fully developed offensively and although his midrange game has improved this season, it is still not on the level of Kevin Love’s. Love is a double-double machine and would expand the Clippers offense beyond the “Lob City” era that has led to the Clippers being bounced out of the playoffs early the past two seasons.
The addition of Kevin Love would allow the Clippers to spread the floor and give Chris Paul more room to work with on the offensive end. Love and Paul would create a tough matchup for defenses to cover because of Love’s ability to shoot from long range. The pick-and-pop game would leave defenses in a bind, forcing them to hedge out on Paul, allowing Love to slip to the basket or step behind the line and knock down a three. Don’t hedge out on the pick and you allow Paul to drive and finish or drive and dish to L.A.’s outside shooters.
For Minnesota, this trade makes perfect sense. Kevin Love could opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season and there’s a chance he won’t return to Minnesota. Love is from Southern California and it would be shocking if he did not re-sign with the Clippers if they traded for him. This trade also allows the Timberwolves to still acquire a top talent and continue on rebuilding an improving basketball team. Griffin is locked into his contract for the next four years, allowing the Timberwolves to build around him. Ricky Rubio and Griffin could be a lethal tandem in a couple years as both are still developing parts of their game. Griffin is also much more marketable and has a bigger fan following because of his electric dunks to help out the organization.
The Clippers acquiring Love gives them a chance to win a championship this year. Blake Griffin gives the Timberwolves something to build around and turns the potential loss of Kevin Love into something valuable.
Boston Celtics acquire: PAU GASOL and Los Angeles Lakers 2014 1st-round draft pick
Los Angeles Lakers acquire: RAJON RONDO and BRANDON BASS
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics were both at the top of the NBA not too many years ago but have now shifted gears and are in rebuilding mode. The Celtics are looking to clean house and free cap space to build a whole new team under new coach Brad Stevens in the 2014-2015 season. The Lakers, on the other hand, are trying to rebuild quickly in order to get the right pieces around Kobe Bryant for one last championship run.
What the Lakers need is someone that can emerge and be the face of the franchise once Bryant is finished in two years. Rajon Rondo would be a perfect fit for Mike D’Antoni and his pick-and-roll system. Last season, Bryant carried the burden of being the point guard in the system and fatigue was definitely an issue for the five-time NBA champion late in the season. Rondo would be able to play that part while distributing the ball to Bryant so that he can go back to focusing on scoring instead of trying to force passes to get teammates involved.
The Lakers would also have enough cap space to make a push for a solid player this offseason and if not, could make a serious push at Kevin Love in the summer of 2015. For the Celtics, the addition of Gasol is only temporary. The contract for Gasol expires at the end of the season, giving Boston even more cap space to go out and rebuild. Also the first-round draft pick could come in handy sooner rather than later, depending on what protection the Lakers would give it. The Celtics have the Nets’ first-round pick in 2014 and another draft pick will only increase the chances for the Celtics to get a high lottery pick. Who knows, maybe David Stern will work his magic in the NBA Draft lottery and give the Celtics a top-three pick for one of the star freshman to rebuild around?