2) J.J Redick (Orlando)- Redick is in the last year of his contract on a team that is just starting a major rebuild, and the centerpiece player they acquired for their franchise center plays the same position as Redick. This is more than writing on the wall, this is block letter graffiti on a white building. Redick will be very marketable because he’s such a good shooter who’s not necessarily a minus on the defensive end. He’s not going to be a hard player for Orlando to move, and you can bet Rob Hennigan will shop him around.
3) Luol Deng (Chicago) - My caveat with Deng is the fact that I truly don’t believe that the Bulls are going to be anything better than average. They’re most likely going to extend Taj Gibson before Wednesday at a significant number. They’re committed to Joakim Noah for the next 4 years at a cool $47 million. They’re still paying Carlos Boozer over $15 million a year for the next three years or whenever they put him on amnesty waivers, whichever comes first. They’re going to be without superstar guard Derrick Rose for the better part of this season. Deng has a bad hand. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has run him into the ground minutes-wise the last two years, plus the Bulls owe him $27 million for the next 2 years. He’s a very good defensive player and respected around the league. The short duration of his contract makes him appealing to a contending team with deep pockets and could bring the Bulls back something extremely useful.
4) Anderson Varejao (Cleveland) – Varejao is owed $17 million over the next two years with a 3rd non-guaranteed year attached to the contract. The Cavaliers are rebuilding and their future front court will be anchored by 2nd year big forward Tristan Thompson and rookie center Tyler Zeller. As the season wears on, no matter how well Varejao plays, he’ll be blocking playing time for a young guy who is most likely much more part of their future than Varejao. Varejao is an effective enough player that the Cavs should be able to bring in a decent package for him. Varejao specializes in the dirty work and is contract is actually quite reasonable for the job that he does.
5) Paul Millsap (Utah) - Millsap is in the last year of his contract, and Utah’s two best young players are big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. I don’t anticipate Utah being anything more than a playoff bubble team. Considering that both Millsap and Al Jefferson are in the last year of their respective deals, the likelihood of Utah keeping both through he end of the season is quite low. If they’re not going to contenders for a home playoff series in the West, why keep a guy who’s most likely leaving when you have young guys waiting behind them that need the experience. The same argument could be made for trading Jefferson, but because of his excellent low-post game, I actually think Utah will find a reasonable way to keep him. Millsap on a rental could help Utah accumulate another asset, whether it’s a pick or player.
And a quick word on the James Harden trade….
By the timing of the trade, it’s obvious that Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti had no interest in paying Harden a max contract. He certainly could have started the season with him and tried to create more of a market, but for a team with title aspirations, starting the season with no distractions was the best scenario under the circumstances. I actually like the haul they brought in. Kevin Martin on an expiring deal.
He’ll replace a lot of Harden’s scoring off the bench and by the time the Thunder fans notice that he doesn’t play much defense and is afraid to get hit, he’ll be gone. Jeremy Lamb will be a very good fit as a replacement for Martin when he leaves after the season. The two first-round picks they received were the guaranteed Toronto lottery pick(top 3 protection only) and a top 20 protected pick that originally belonged to Dallas.
My only problem with the deal is that is that the Thunder have been a franchise who’ve done everything right. To have to trade a core guy they drafted because they are concerned with the punitive luxury tax is a failure of this new CBA. What was advertised as a system that would help small markets has robbed a small market team who’s personnel decisions have been virtually perfect.
From Houston’s standpoint, I can’t rave enough. They’ve been chasing stars ever since Yao Ming retired. They finally got one and they still have plenty of young assets to get another one. The thing about this era in the NBA is that it becomes infinitely easier to bring in a star to stay long term when the team in question also has a star committed there long term.
Harden is a game-changer for the Rockets. They get better in the present and lay out a much more promising future on a faster track. This is a team that still has Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin plus highly regarded rookies Terence Jones and Dontatas Motiejunas. After what was a little bit of a rough offseason, Rocket GM Daryl Morey landed on his feet as the cat who ate the canary.
Brian Geltzeiler is the executive producer and co-host of soon-to-launch SheridanHoops radio. He is the editor of hoopcritic.com. His father, Burt, was an elite college basketball player for Newark Rutgers in the late 40′s and was drafted by the Tri-City Hawks (now Atlanta) in 1950 by their GM Red Auerbach. You can follow Brian, who lives in Livingston, N.J. with his wife and 4 children, on Twitter.