Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge should take a bow. By dealing Rajon Rondo to Dallas last month, Ainge set in motion an incredibly active trade period that has seen teams taking a more aggressive approach on the trading block and unwilling to wait until the Feb. 19 deadline to improve their rosters.
Houston responded to the Mavericks’ acquisition of Rondo by getting Josh Smith and Corey Brewer. Cleveland decided to go all-in on chasing a title this season by trading for J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mosgov. Oklahoma City scooped up Dion Waiters from the Cavaliers in an attempt to get more talent around Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. And Ainge made two more deals over the weekend that will influence the outcome in the Western Conference.
The Celtics sent Brandan Wright – the key piece in the Rondo deal – to Phoenix and agreed to a three-team deal with Memphis and New Orleans that will result in Jeff Green and Russ Smith landing with the Grizzlies, Quincy Pondexter joining the Pelicans, and Austin Rivers, Tayshaun Prince and a first-round pick going to Boston. Rivers could wind up with the Los Angeles Clippers in a seperate deal, according to several published reports.
With the time required for chemistry to form, two months might not be enough for contenders seeking an edge with a dramatic shakeup. And for the first time in recent memory, the NBA is approaching the midseason without a clear-cut favorite in either conference. League-wide parity has intensified the urgency and hope that this could be the year for an unexpected breakthrough, so teams aren’t afraid to take chances and are finding greater risk in standing pat.
The trade deadline is nearly six weeks away and several more players are expected to be on the move. Here are five more players who could possibly use a change of scenery and the teams that should consider going after them.
Why he should get moved: The Denver Nuggets have had a maddening up-and-down campaign but they might need to commit fully to taking a different direction after dealing Mosgov and losing Danilo Gallinari to another knee injury. Brian Shaw has been coaching George Karl’s old team for a while now and needs to start getting players that work for him. Chandler is a versatile forward who can score, stretch the floor and defend multiple positions.
Team that needs him: Portland reportedly could have Chandler by sacrificing a first-round pick but the Los Angeles Clippers should do whatever it takes to move to the front of the line. The three teams directly ahead of the Clippers in the standings – Houston, Memphis and Dallas – have all made bold moves in the past month. Doc Rivers can’t settle for simply acquiring his son, Austin, if he wants to avoid falling too far back.
Other teams that could use him: Portland, Miami, Oklahoma City
Why he should get moved: Charlotte experienced buyer’s remorse shortly after signing Stephenson to a three-year deal last summer. With a locker room full of laid back competitors, the addition of Stephenson disrupted the chemistry the Hornets developed during a surprising playoff run last season. Detroit has taken off without Josh Smith but Stephenson’s absence has led to success for the Hornets. They have gone 9-4 since Stephenson was sidelined with a pelvis injury and the defense has been third in defensive efficiency without him after starting the season 24th in that category.
Team that needs him: Pat Riley doesn’t want to miss the playoffs this season lest LeBron James get all of the credit for the Miami Heat’s most recent four-year run. Stephenson is the kind of fiery personality the Heat needs to break out of a season-long malaise.
Other teams that could use him: Brooklyn, Indiana
Why he should get moved: Green is a valued reserve whose above-the-rim acrobatics have been essential to helping the Suns have the third-highest scoring bench in the NBA. But Green will be a free agent this summer and has earned a significant pay raise from his $3.5 million salary after averaging nearly 15 points in two seasons in Phoenix. There might not be enough money or shots to bring back Green with the team leaning on a three-point-guard set and hoping to bring back Goran Dragic in free agency.
Team that needs him: The Wizards have considerable depth in big men and wing players but are lacking a dynamic athlete off the bench to create is own and shot and possibly catch a few lobs from John Wall. The East is the most wide open it’s been in years and Washington could use another weapon to push to another level.
Other teams that could use him: Brooklyn, Charlotte
Why he should get moved: What did Thaddeus Young do to deserve this? He went from a tanking Philadelphia team last season to a snake-bitten Minnesota squad that has the worst record in the West after losing three starters to serious injuries. Young is a skilled offensive player who could help a contender with his ability to score inside and out.
Team that needs him: Toronto has the second-best record in the East because of incredible chemistry and camaraderie and its recent slide has coincided with the absence of DeMar DeRozan. But Young could help the perimeter-oriented Raptors generate some easier scores inside and take some pressure off Kyle Lowry, who has had to take on more of the offensive load in addition to his play-making duties.
Other teams that could use him: Portland, San Antonio, Brooklyn
Why he should get moved: Boston is clearly starting over and has little use for the veteran forward who turns 30 in April and becomes a free agent next summer. Bass is not a part of the long-term future, with the team focused on developing Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk. The 6-7 Bass is a tad undersized but has a decent mid-range game and also brings intensity on the defensive end.
Team that needs him: Jabari Parker’s season-ending knee injury and Larry Sanders’s personal problems have placed the surprising Bucks in a bind up front. Milwaukee has added Kenyon Martin with a 10-day contract but Bass could help the Bucks gain some needed separation from the teams trailing them in the standings.
Other teams that could use him: Los Angeles Clippers, Portland
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