And when they happen, good things can follow. Need proof? How about Marcin Gortat’s 11-for-12 shooting performance Wednesday night?
Granted, it came against the woeful Milwaukee Bucks. But Gortat is 17-for-20 in his last two games, and the Washington Wizards – who dealt the injured Emeka Okafor for him prior to the season – appear to be headed to the playoffs as they float near .500 in the woeful Eastern Conference – which has two, count ’em, two! – teams playing better than .500.
The rumor mill has been heating up lately, and one deal went down this past week when Derrick Williams was shipped from Minnesota to Sacramento for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Wolves could have used his defense as he made his debut Wednesday with a DNP-CD on a night when the Denver Nuggets were scoring at will.
Several Nuggets said after the game that they knew they could score against the Wolves. Just two weeks ago, Denver also scored 117 in a win over Minnesota. “They’re more of an offensive-minded team. We just wanted to come out and dominate them offensively,” Kenneth Faried said. “We attacked them. We knew they had slow feet.”
The four names mentioned most frequently in current trade rumors as November comes to a close are Iman Shumpert of New York, Evan Turner of Philadelphia, Dion Waiters of Cleveland and Luol Deng of Chicago.
So let’s take a look at each of their situations and where they might end up as a good fit while providing the teams that are shopping them with the replacement parts they need.
We’ll start in Cleveland, where many fans wore neon green “Come Home LeBron” T-shirts on Wednesday night as Miami visited and cruised to its eighth straight victory behind 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from James, who checked in at No. 5 in our latest MVP rankings.
The man on the bubble is Waiters.
According to former colleague Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, things came to a head with Waiters during a team meeting: “The Cavaliers are looking to shake things up after a 4-11 start. Part of their problem has been the dysfunction in their locker room. Waiters, a 6-foot-4 guard, got into an altercation with forward Tristan Thompson during a players-only meeting after a 29-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 13, sources said. Sources described the following account: “(Kyrie) Irving called the meeting after the game, and every player spoke. When Waiters was given the floor, he criticized Thompson and Irving, accusing them of playing “buddy ball” and often refusing to pass to him. Thompson took umbrage with Waiters’ words and went back at him verbally. The two confronted each other, but teammates intervened before it could escalate into a fight. However, Waiters and Irving are not close. Waiters believes the Cavaliers have a double standard when it comes to Irving, sources said. Waiters feels that while Irving is allowed to get away with loafing defensively, making turnovers and taking bad shots, he is taken out of games for such things. Waiters has shared his views with Brown and Grant.”
Waiters denied the details that Broussard reported, then went out and scored 24 points in the loss to Miami. Waiters is averaging 13.8 points but shooting under 40 percent for a team that has lost nine of 11 games (the two exceptions were OT victories over Philadelphia and Washington) and is getting virtually nothing from Anderson Varejao, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and newcomers Earl Clark and Andrew Bynum.
Clearly, a shakeup is in order.
What kind of a deal would make sense? How about this:
Waiters, Alonzo Gee and a second-round draft pick (the Cavs have three – their own, plus Orlando’s and Memphis’) to Philadelphia for Evan Turner.
One bad apple in exchange for another rotten piece of fruit, but this deal gives Philadelphia another scorer who will not be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, allowing them to get something of value for the player they drafted second overall in 2010 and who has never endeared himself to teammates or authority figures. He needs a fresh start if he expects to get paid on the open market, and the Cavs can use him as a rental and then replace him next summer if his market value exceeds what they are willing to pay.
Think the Sixers can do better if they move Turner?
Well, remember that Philly would be on the hook for $8.72 million of cap space if they make a qualifying offer to Turner, although it would be safe to assume that they will do so just to protect their asset – especially since they can withdraw the offer. They certainly have plenty of cap room – more than any other NBA team – and are looking to accumulate first-round picks to add to the ones they already have (their own in 2014, plus the Pelicans’ pick if it is not in the top five).
If you move Turner, you have to replace his scoring. And with the flexibility to make a lopsided deal, it behooves general manager Sam Hinkie to get his hands on a player who has gotten the job done in the past but has dropped on the productivity scale. That is why we propose yet another deal between the teams that exchanged Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel on draft night.
Turner to the New Orleans Pelicans for Eric Gordon.
Gordon has not done a productive thing for the Pelicans ever since they matched the offer sheet he signed with the Phoenix Suns two years ago. He is arguably one of the most overpaid players anywhere in the NBA.
But it was not always this way. Gordon was a highly productive player for the Los Angeles Clippers as well as Team USA in the 2010 World Championship before his career went into a freefall. He can still fill it up, has 10 times the character of Turner, and the Sixers have the cap space to bring him aboard as a featured scorer rather than a complementary piece.
We now turn our attention to the New York Knicks, who are in a “dark place,” according to Carmelo Anthony.
They have lost center Tyson Chandler to injury for at least another month, they are not knocking down the 3-pointers that fueled their hot start a year ago, and they are at risk of failing to make the playoffs in a Tankapalooza season where they owe their first-round pick to Denver and their second-round pick to Houston. (They also owe a first-rounder in 2016 from the bare cupboard that Steve Mills inherited from Glen Grunwald).
Shumpert has regressed as much as any player in the league, and his box score line (no points, rebounds or assists in 23 minutes) from Monday’s loss to Portland was only marginally better than his line in Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers (2 points, 1-of-5 shooting). That extended New York’s skid to seven games while solidifying its hold on 28th place in the leaguewide standings.
If the Knicks want ‘Melo to stick around after he opts out of his contract next summer, they need to make a move sooner rather than later. It is not just about saving this season; it is about placating Anthony so that he will want to stay for the long haul. Yes, the Knicks would be surrendering another young asset (OK, we are throwing the term asset around a little loosely considering Shumpert’s recent play) who appeared to be peaking in last season’s second-round playoff series against Indiana. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
You like this one?
Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Charlotte Bobcats for Bismack Biyombo
You can count on one hand the number of teams who have a spare center around, and you’d probably have a few fingers left over. Yes, the Houston Rockets have a center they are willing to move in Omer Asik, but they’d have to get a big guy back – and the Knicks are not exactly dealing from a position of strength when it comes to having bigs to toss into trades (longing for the days of Jerome Jordan and Jorts, Knicks Nation?)