Since I did one for the NHL, it would only do justice to follow up with one for the NBA. Here are my five players to watch out for at the NBA trade deadline March 15.
1. Dwight Howard, C Orlando Magic: This is literally just the Shaquille O’Neal situation back in 1996. The Orlando Magic have this superstar center and are refusing to trade him. Based on the way trade talks are going currently, Howard might terminate his contract after this season and test the free-agent waters.
General manager Otis Smith doesn’t intend to trade his star, but rather hold on to him and win now.
Howard has let the public know he’s interested with playing on other teams. Such examples Howard has stated are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, and the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets.
Some of the offers we’ve heard include trading Howard to the Orlando for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Howard for Brook Lopez and two first-round draft picks, and Howard for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
Instead of trading their star, Smith has plans to go out and acquire another star to compliment his big man. That other star’s name will come up later in my article.
Come March 15, Dwight Howard will stay in a Magic uniform. There may be lots of speculation about a potential trade, but this is just history literally repeating itself. The Magic will hold on to Dwight Howard, make their playoff run, lose before the conference finals, and lose him to free agency. And you would’ve thought they learned from the Shaq days.
2. Ramon Sessions, G Cleveland Cavaliers: When the Cavaliers drafted PG Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, it was obvious Sessions would be the odd man out. This season, Sessions has had a pretty solid season, averaging 15 points and 7.5 assists per 36 minutes off the bench.
Sessions’ play has attracted the likes of several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Atlanta Hawks. Making four million dollars each year off the bench, general manager Chris Grant should deal him. And it sounds like it might happen too. Sessions might only require a few second-round draft picks to acquire.
I see Sessions eventually becoming an Atlanta Hawk. The Hawks backcourt is weak, with Jeff Teague being the only productive guard this season. If they want to make a deep playoff run when Al Horford comes back, another guard would be the solution. The deal would involve Marvin Williams for Sessions straight up with a few money insets. Williams would be an upgrade over Omri Casspi, while Sessions would fit in well with Teague.
3. Stephen Jackson, G/F Milwaukee Bucks: Can a player-team relationship get any worse than this? After being acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats on June 23, 2011, he’s been vocal about not being happy with his current situation. He doesn’t even like the franchise in general and is demanding a trade.
The 33-year-old is considered by coaches as an all-around player who is a team player and makes everyone around him better. There have been a few reports surfacing about the Orlando Magic possibly trading for him, but talks have died down. Another team interested is the New Jersey Nets, only because Dwight Howard wants to play with him and Deron Williams. Jackson won’t be hard to acquire since the Bucks are desperate to get rid of him. It might take a second-round pick at the least.
I see Jackson being traded to the Nets. This would be a big step in the right direction for New Jersey in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. It would also be fitting to see Jackson end his NBA career where it started, as well as helping them win a title or two if Howard decides to go to New Jersey after this season.
4. Steve Nash, G Phoenix Suns: It’s truly a wonder how someone who’s 38-years-old still perform on a star level like Steve Nash has. Always a pass-first guard, Nash has been one of the more loved players in the league. In his career, Nash has averaged nine assists and 15 points.
Although stats don’t show it, Nash is a very good shooter. He’s one of the best free-throw shooters in the league currently and can still drain it from behind the arc.
Unfortunately, once Amar’e Stoudemire left for the New York Knicks, the Suns haven’t been the same. Nash has had similar numbers, but the team around him hasn’t stayed consistent, and general manager Lance Blanks would be smart to get some value out of him now. Nash’s contract is up at the end of the season as well.
As recent as Feb. 27, reports have surfaced that the Orlando Magic are “aggressively” pushing to acquire Nash. A reason for this would be to hopefully keep Dwight Howard in Orlando. If a deal was going to go down, I’d expect Hedo Turkoglu to be involved since he has an expiring contract, Jameer Nelson, and a draft pick.
This one is tough to figure out, since Nash doesn’t mind being traded or staying in Phoenix. He’s publicly stated he’s willing to be traded if it helps out the team.
I say Nash will stay with the Suns. There isn’t a reason why Blanks should trade a star guard (who’s the only reason why they’re relevant) for a package like that. Keep Nash and sign him for two more years and let him finish where he started would be the best option for the Suns.
5. Pau Gasol, F Los Angeles Lakers: Ever since the Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Playoffs last season, Gasol has been labeled “soft.” This label has also been the reason why the Lakers have seemed desperate to ship him out of town.
It confuses me why they would want to trade someone as productive as Gasol, who’s averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds this season. But then again, the Lakers have the worst bench production in the league along with an aging point guard. They need to get some value out of the 31-year-old.
Some teams linked to Gasol have been the Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Houston Rockets.
I see Gasol becoming a Houston Rocket in a few weeks. The Rockets were notably going to acquire Gasol in the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade before the season started, but commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal. Houston has been rumored to request Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry for Gasol. This trade benefits the Lakers because they get that young point guard to run Mike Brown’s system, while getting someone to fill in the void for Gasol who can be just as productive.