Leborts Report: Volume 1 – NBA Trade Deadline

This is our inaugural Leborts Report!  This will be a new weekly column on what will include the latest topics on sports, booze, news or anything else on my mind.  The NBA trade deadline is an interesting topic since it just passed last week, so here’s the first one.

Last Thursday marked the end of, what some would say, a fairly unexciting NBA trade deadline.  Many thought there would be little action between teams, and well folks they were right.  Despite the rumors that some superstars could be on the move, our most interesting trade featured Channing Frye.

According to Paul Flannery at SB Nation, there were 27 players involved in trades during the final week of the deadline – exactly the same number in 2014 and one fewer in 2013.  That leaves the crazy outlier of what happened last year.  There were some people that expected the crazy high profile trades that 2015 gave us which moved the likes of Goran Dragic, Danny Granger, Kendrick Perkins, Brandon Knight and Kevin Garnett, but that just didn’t happen.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any action with Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Ricky Rubio, Demarcus Cousins or even Derrick Rose. This year, the GMs just traded the standard amount of situational players with no real stardom expectations. Here are a couple reasons why this year’s trade deadline was nothing like last year.

Disparity between good and bad teams this year
Simply put, there are just four good teams this year that have a legitimate chance of competing for the finals. In no particular order, the Warriors, Cavs, Spurs and Thunder.  Ah, who are we kidding – that is the order.  The mid-season trade deadline is usually for GMs to get that extra guy who can add value that would push them above the rest to compete for a title.  If there was less of a gap between the really good teams and others this season, there could be more buyers at the deadline. Having said that there are only four good teams, which makes the buyers in this given trade market scarce. Fewer buyers equal fewer chances for players to move. General Managers of teams in this lower tier just didn’t see the talent with enough value to consider taking that risk.

2017 Salary Cap good-timeness
The salary cap for next season is supposed to be the largest increase we will have seen in a while. This almost certainly decreased the value of players at the end of their contract which could have turned a short term rented player (via a trade) into a long term investment. In other words, these players would quickly become expensive handcuffs. Danny Ainge said it best, “We’re not in the business of making a 27-game gain for a long-term price to pay.”

This all makes a ton of sense for teams in the lower tier that I’ve been talking about to just wait until the off season for all of their moves. But that’s not fun, right?

Let’s pretend that GMs in the NBA aren’t so damn smart these days, and let’s get to some trades that I would have loved to see happen. One rule first – there isn’t a team on this list that is one of the top tier teams, so I’m sorry Durant, Love or anyone on the Warriors.

Let’s play some what-ifs.

Blake Griffin
I know that I’m not going to be a fan of many in Los Angeles, but it could be time to say goodbye to Blake Griffin. This could sound crazy because they were just one game away from playing the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, but personally I don’t know how much of that was to the influence of Blake Griffin.

Here’s a quick stat for you guys:
Blake starts: 17 – 13
Blake is out: 20 – 6

There’s too much talent on this team, and I don’t think Lob City that includes Griffin is going to take them to a title.  You know what would even be better than Griffin in Lob City? Aaron Gordon in Lob City.  Almost had a Nantz-gasm (coined from Bill Simmons).  Thanks to NBA Trade Machine, it would take a lot to off load Griffin’s massive salary, but here’s the successful trade:

Griffin and Prigioni for Watson, Smith, Gordon and Hezonja.

Al Horford
This one is a long shot because of my reasoning for why not much happened at the deadline since he’s in his last year, but many speculated he could be dealt. Let’s see here. I know that Danny Ainge would probably have to pay an arm and a leg this off season, but Amir Johnson + draft pick for Al Horford doesn’t sound too bad. Horford is better, but Atlanta needs to get younger so they would benefit from another draft pick.

Pau Gasol
Even the Bulls know that acquiring Pau Gasol put some pressure on the organization to become either a guard-centric team to a dynamic big man duo. Gasol is another player that wouldn’t be that difficult to move at a two-year $7 million contract, but the only question is who would want him. I have one idea. The Grizzlies have expressed interest to reunite him with his brother Marc (who just went on IR for an injury). This one would be tough, but possibly Wright and the other J. Green could do it.

Jahlil Okafor
This was the Sixers plan all along, right? 1) Get as many first overall picks as you can 2) Have one sprout into somewhat of a legitimate player 3) Then move him for as much value as possible for a complementary piece. Unfortunately, I see the latest acquisition, Okafor, at the top of this list. He can be moved fairly easily with only a four-year $4.5 million contract, so basically take my pick. Jahlil for Amir Johnson with the Celtics straight up works on the NBA Trade Machine, however there’s little value that the Sixers are getting in return. Possibly a trade pick (perhaps one of the Brooklyn picks) could even out the value? The only uncertainty is that the Sixers organization aren’t yet ready to commit to Embiid or Noel, because they don’t need all three. Nevertheless, this is a great trade that should have been done before the deadline.


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Featured Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison