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NBA Trade Deadline Countdown – Pacific Division

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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NBA trade deadline team analysis with a view to roster needs, and whether they should be buyers or sellers.

On the final day of the All-Star break teams prepared to return to the hardcourt to finish the official second half of the season. It’s also a nerve racking 24 hours for players and teams each hour draws us closer to the NBA trade deadline.  Wednesday, (February 17th) there was a marked increase in discussions between teams and several National Media scribes were posting rumors of potential trades to expect prior to the 3:00 PM cut-off today (February 18).

Last year the League witnessed unprecedented activity especially in the final 20 minutes prior to the deadline cut-off.

A look back at 2015

Last year on trade deadline had some specific trends arise:

  • Four of the top five Eastern teams made no trades
  • Five of the top seven Western teams made no trades
  • Only seeded teams in West who were active were Portland, Houston and Phoenix
  • Average number of trades on deadline day is 24, today there were forty trades with thirty-seven NBA players!
  • 14 point guards were traded

What changes in 2016

This season it’s less certain what will occur since the circumstances are so different. First there is little argument regarding the upper echelon of teams who’ll reasonably contend for the title and even those few fall into specific categories:

To wit, if I hand you money right now and tell you to bet on one team to win the title odds are you’ll pick one of two teams: the Golden State Warriors or the San Antonio Spurs.

If I tell you to pick a winner with slightly better odds than the 2 teams above you’ll select either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Cleveland Cavaliers.  And if I say who has the best odds of upsetting a favorite to get to the finals again you’ll select the Thunder and in the Eastern Conference the Toronto Raptors would get the nod.

Even in selecting those 5 teams my home town Raptors only make the cut because there is so much confusion surrounding the Cavaliers.  Since firing David Blatt the Cavaliers’ defense has been lacking. Furthermore, the sheer number of players, teams and trade talks the Cavs are rumored to be involved in implies there is major concern in Cleveland over their potential of winning a title.

The other 25 teams in the Association are either lottery bound, middling at best or more than one trade away from entering the above upper tier.

Mirror Questions for bottom 25

Again, I’ll reiterate what does this 2 team dominance mean heading into the trade deadline? In seasons past one move could vault a team upward, but given the prowess of the top 2 teams is that move enough this season? The other major factor is next season will see a huge jump in the salary cap as the Television ad revenue gets divvied up and another free agent summer of new contract standards looms.

What this means is entering the trade deadline fewer teams are in need or desire of purchasing albatross contracts like Joe Johnson’s. It also means with the uncertainty of how teams will navigate this period rookies and therefore draft picks become something of a coup as they are the one contract the team can manage with full knowledge of it’s limit.

Sure all teams will have cap to spend initially, but just like the current situation eventually every team will max out their big deals and inevitably someone (or several players) will get paid beyond their worth which will drive up the mid level and subsequently teams will again be scrapping to stay below the tax threshold.

And so the questions each team must ask itself entering Thursday morning is:

  • Do we make a trade knowing it’s unlikely to take us much further than not making one?
  • Do we try to off load ‘now’ talent for ‘prospect’ talent knowing it won’t help until the future?
  • Knowing we might not re-sign a free agent, do we cut that player now to ensure we get value?
  • Is the team as currently constructed have a core we see being intact in 5 years? If not should we blow it up now to grab draft picks or talent we would deem essential for that future core?

And specifically in the East with so many teams jumbled together from seeds 3 through 10 they have an additional group of decisions to make:

Knowing Cleveland is still very much trying to improve and obviously not a cohesive unit there is potential for a rare opportunity to upset them in the Eastern Conference Finals if they don’t get their issues resolved. Further veteran teams like Miami and Chicago have potential injury (Bosh – more blood clots in his leg and Noah gone for season) and chemistry (Rose and Butler) issues. So if you are one of the other teams seeded in that group do you make one or two moves now with the a finals appearance in your sight lines?  It could mean forfeiting your future for a chance now which is something perhaps Indiana or Charlotte may be willing to do.

But for the team sitting with the best shot of upsetting Cleveland (the Raptors) after so many seasons or not making the playoffs and having demonstrated patience building this core they may not be willing to blow up their future. And in fairness it’s almost like they will be adding a trade deadline upgrade since DeMarre Carroll will return sometime in March and he’s been out most of the season. He’s presence will make the team stronger and better on both ends.

So the Raptors have to decide if they want to upgrade the starting power forward via a trade which may hurt their long range plans, cut a player like Anthony Bennett to add Ronald Roberts from the D-League Raptors 905 squad or simply make a shift by starting the ever improving Patrick Patterson and have Luis Scola come off the bench.

That’s the state of where the Association stands with less than 24 hours to the deadline. So, now I’ll give you a bit of a cheat sheet for each team providing you with the current salary and roster, their draft picks, free agents, roster needs and whether (in my opinion) they should be buyers or sellers. Use it to prepare for today’s deadline.

Next up I look at the Pacific Division:

Next: Stephfortless

November 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 112-108. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
November 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 112-108. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

November 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 112-108. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks: As per Real GM here is a complete draft overview.

Salary:

Warriors Salary
Warriors Salary

Free Agents:  Though the core is locked down two pieces of the puzzle for the future will be free agents this summer in Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.  Another title would like guarantee their return, but a miss might mean Barnes (who if you watched the wins versus the Thunder and Spurs) was essential to the end result.

Depth Chart: 

Warriors Depth
Warriors Depth
Bottom line

:    Just use the KISS principle… keep it simple stupid and in this case that means if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Category:   As per above the Warriors will be HOLDERS

Next: One Last Hurrah?

Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

 

Draft Picks: As per Real GM here is a complete draft overview.

Salary:

Clippers Salary
Clippers Salary

Free Agents:   This summer a key part of the core (Jamal Crawford) enters free agency, in some ways his remaining on the team is more vital than last year’s free agent Jordan. Why? With so few Clippers who can create their own shot Crawford’s ability to do so and provide instant offense can’t be under estimated. Luc Mbah a Moute is also entering free agency along with 3 players who have opt out options and Lance Stephenson who has a team opt out option which won’t matter if Doc can rid himself of the malcontent prior to the deadline.

Depth Chart: 

Clippers Depth
Clippers Depth
Bottom line

:  So when news hit twitter the Clippers were potentially shopping Griffin and had discussions with Denver then Doc Rivers adamantly denied it you knew something was up. Especially when the reporter came back reinforcing the information to be true.  It’s not a surprise given how well the Clips have played with BG, but perhaps the fact Doc wasn’t more careful in the information becoming public.  Perhaps it’s all just a big stunt to shake up Griffin, but then again if the Clippers don’t get to the Conference Finals they’ll need to disband the team anyway.  Channing Frye is rumored to be an all but done deal.

Category:   I have a feeling there could be an early switch up with Griffin leaving maybe even for Miami if Paul desires the change. I also find it funny the two teams most active aren’t teams looking to get into the upper tier, but teams already there (Cavaliers/Clippers). Suffice to say they’ll be BUYERS who are desperately looking to shed specific contracts and players.

Next: The Mamba Tour

Oct 13, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 13, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 13, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks: As per Real GM here is a complete draft overview.  We all know the story… the Lakers need to finish in the bottom 3 or they’ll lose their lottery pick, so …. expect a bottom 3 finish

Salary:

Lakers Salary
Lakers Salary

Free Agents:   Several players will hit free agency this summer and one key player will retire. Hibbert (as I foretold) has been a bit of a disaster so I’m not sure the Lakers even bother to bring him back. Despite the changes to the Association with players now going where talent is and to teams with a solid strategy there will still always be interest in La La land.. it just didn’t happen this past summer.  The only real free agent of concern will be Jordan Clarkson who is on one of the most reasonable contracts in the Association given his production ($845,000).

Depth Chart:

Lakers Depth
Lakers Depth
Bottom line

:   The Lakers don’t have many assets to dangle which is why I’d be surprised if they aren’t aggressively shopping Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert to teams who might return draft picks in return for them especially in the case of LouWill and specifically if they can engage third team who’ll give up another high draft pick.

Category:  Kobe won’t be touched, but everyone who isn’t Clarkson or Russell is probably open for discussion including Julius Randle who despite what the Lakers say hasn’t lived up to where he was drafted. SELLERS

Next: Desert Storm

Nov 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris celebrates after a three pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris celebrates after a three pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris celebrates after a three pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks: As per Real GM here is a complete draft overview.

Salary:

Suns Salary
Suns Salary

Free Agents:  Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer are the only free agents to contend with this summer of substance.

Depth Chart: 

Suns Depth
Suns Depth
Bottom line

:  With so much turmoil in the desert the goal is to trade malcontent Markieff Morris, but as the trade deadline has drawn from days to hours his name has virtually disappeared from discussion. Part of that may be due to his antics and I’m not just talking about the Archie Goodwin rift since media on site claimed that was more Goodwin’s problem. Still, teams may be less anxious to add him to their rosters regardless of his palatable contract fearing the possibility he could mess up their mojo.

One contender who is not interested in Phoenix's Markieff Morris: The Toronto Raptors.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 16, 2016

The other issue is Suns GM Ryan McDonough has vacillated between great (his pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge and luring of Tyson Chandler away from Dallas) and terrible (his handling of Dragic and the Morris twins). He’s also notorious for wanting to win deals, which has left many GM’s antsy to do a deal. As bad as things have been the youngster Booker’s 3 point shot technique falls somewhere between the two Splash Brothers. Better still he’s already able to mix up his offense with drives. This kid is going to be GREAT… remember I told you so in 2 years time!

Category:  The Suns have dropped to the basement and may as well continue their descent by trading anyone they can who they don’t see as a viable part of the future. That means P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, Mirza Teletovic etc. SELLERS

Next: Dethroned

Dec 10, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts after being called for traveling against the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the New York Knicks 99-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts after being called for traveling against the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the New York Knicks 99-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 10, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts after being called for traveling against the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the New York Knicks 99-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks: As per Real GM here is a complete draft overview.   The Kings are in a bit of a quandary because the Bulls own their first round draft pick unless they finish in the bottom 10 where it’s protected. The problem is the owner wants to win and the team has the talent to do so.

Salary:

Kings Salary
Kings Salary

Free Agents:  The obvious question will surround Rajon Rondo in the summer as to whether the Kings want to resign him.

Depth Chart:

Kings Depth
Kings Depth
Bottom line

: So, you see tweets like the one below and have to ask yourself what the hell the Kings are thinking. They’ve got All-Star DeMarcus Cousins at the power forward with 3 deep behind him alongside an up and coming Willie Caulie Stein and an extremely reasonable long term contract for Kosta Koufos and it makes you wonder if the Kings are once again leaning toward trading Boogie to acquiesce Karl.

Trade Deadline Buzz: @ChrisMannixYS reports on Kings pursuit of Gasol, including lowering of protection on '16 pick. https://t.co/gnb4aYtezk

— The Vertical (@TheVertical) February 18, 2016

But then you see tweets like this:

In another Sacramento management salvo against George Karl, assistant Vance Walberg fired. @ChrisMannixYS story: https://t.co/olqhwz1RfF

— The Vertical (@TheVertical) February 18, 2016

And you are left with no choice, but to reconfirm the Kings are the most dysfunctional franchise top to bottom in the Association.

Category:   Who knows at 10 they’ll be BUYERS at 11 they’ll be SELLERS at noon they’ll be HOLDERS, wash, rinse repeat.

Next: Trade Deadline Countdown- Southwest Div. Analysis

Next: Trade Deadline Countdown-Atlantic Div. Analysis

Next: Trade Deadline Countdown-Central Div. Analysis

Next: Trade Deadline Countdown- Southeast Div. Analysis

Next: Trade Deadline Countdown- Northwest Div. Analysis

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