By: Chris Molicki
The teams in the Atlantic Division vary quite a bit. The Toronto Raptors are making an attempt to contend with the Cavaliers in the East. The Boston Celtics are playing at a high level and have the most enticing trade assets out of anyone in the league. The Knicks have fallen off and aren’t sure which direction they’re headed in. The Philadelphia Sixers know which direction they’re headed in, they just haven’t really started moving. And the Brooklyn Nets don’t even have the ability to pick a direction.
For many different reasons, the teams in this division would all love to make a trade before the deadline. So I fired up the trade machine and popped out a trade for each squad that is both beneficial and conceivable.
Toronto Raptors-Patrick Patterson Patterson and a first round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Markieff Morris: If the disgruntled Morris hasn’t shown enough signs of wanting to leave Phoenix, I think choking teammate Archie Goodwin puts the nail in his coffin. Morris will be a hot commodity before the deadline as a versatile forward who can be a starter as long as he tries. He hasn’t this year, but a change of scenery should help. Meanwhile, the basketball team located in the 6 is currently the closest thing the Cavaliers have to competition in the Eastern conference. However, they’re at least a piece away. Morris might not make the teams even, but he’ll certainly help. With DeMarre Carroll out for a while, Morris can fill in for him until he returns, and then be a valuable bench piece when he’s back. Masai Ujiri may decide it’s finally time to deal a pick a make a move that will help the team now.
Boston Celtics-Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and two first rounds picks to the Sacremento Kings for DeMarcus Cousins: If Boston is going to open up it’s chest of assets, they’re going to want to get a true superstar in return (similar to how Kevin Love went to Cleveland). Boogie Cousins has been rumored as a target for months now, but with the Celtics currently playing at a high level, Danny Ainge may pull the trigger and try to upgrade with a godfather offer. Despite having talent and being not as terrible as recent years, Sacramento is still going nowhere, and it may be time to blow it up. This trade, however, will hinge around the Brooklyn pick that Boston has–you know, the one that could be a top-3 pick next year. The Kings need to realize it’s not working with Boogie in Sacramento, and they need to start over with a golden asset. The Celtics need to come to terms that the Brooklyn pick, unless it becomes Ben Simmons, is no guarantee to turn into a star. If the season ended today, they’d have a 15.6% shot of getting the top pick and Simmons. Why gamble on the pick over the sure thing in Boogie?
Image Courtesy of Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports
New York Knicks-Jose Calderon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lance Stephenson: Yes, I am a Knicks fan, but hear me out. Doc Rivers barely plays Lance Stephenson anyways. His backup for Chris Paul is Austin Rivers. And…his backup for Chris Paul is Austin Rivers. Calderon may not be able to defend an elderly woman in a wheelchair, but he can still shoot and is a veteran leader. If the Clippers are really trying to make this team work, they need to make a move, and they need to get a backup point guard. Meanwhile, Stephenson will return home to New York to see if he can rediscover what made him so effective for Indiana. This would be a great low-risk high-reward move for the Knicks, as they can move on from Lance in the offseason due to his team option if they choose to do so.
Note: It’s extremely unlikely the Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony at this deadline, so I avoided him for this article.
Brooklyn Nets-Brook Lopez to the Indiana Pacers for Jordan Hill, Rodney Stuckey, Chase Budinger, and a first round pick: Brook Lopez is having arguably a career year, averaging 20.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and posting a PER of 21.73. This has led to some people saying that maybe the Nets should keep Lopez on board as they prepare for a firesale (ember sale? They don’t have much ). I think the opposite. Lopez is a big man who has had foot problems in the past, and his value will never be higher. Brooklyn won’t be sniffing the playoffs until he’s at least 30. A team that seemingly has zero picks, the Nets should be giddy with whatever first round picks they can acquire. We’ve seen it time and time again where teams get too smitten with a player in the midst of a career year, but Brooklyn needs to look past that. They’d get two expiring deals and a first round pick, while Indiana would put a top center next to Myles Turner.
Philadelphia 76ers-Robert Covington to the Detroit Pistons for Steve Blake and a first round pick: Every so often, we see a team that has been out of the playoffs for so long and tries to make a splash at the trade deadline. That could be the Pistons this year. Detroit would love to help solidify their postseason chances, and Covington may be the answer. Covington is a solid 3-point shooter. Even though he’s shooting under 33% this year, he’s still making two threes a game (and he’s also on the Sixers). The Pistons could use another shooter on a team that doesn’t have much long-distance firepower besides Reggie Jackson and Ersan Ilyasova. As for Philly, they’d love to flip any asset into a better asset, and if they think Covington has reached his peak, they may want to sell him for another crack at the draft.
Follow Chris Molicki on Twitter at @chrismolicki
Image Courtesy of Kathy Kmonicek, Associated Press