Fake Trade Friday: Volume 4

Every Friday until the trade deadline I will take a look at the pros and cons of a completely fake, unsubstantiated trade. The last entry in the series for this season features two separate trades involving some of the NBA’s most prestigious franchises.

The (1st) Trade:

Dallas Mavericks Receive
Brandon Jennings (1 yr remaining)
Larry Sanders (2 yrs remaining)

Salary Taken On: $5.2 million
Salary Sent Out: $5.4 million

Milwaukee Bucks Receive
Pau Gasol (2 yrs remaining)
Darren Collison (1 yr remaining)
Earl Clark (1 yr remaining)
Jae Crowder (3 yrs remaining)

Salary Taken On: $23.2 million
Salary Sent Out: $19.8 million

L.A. Lakers Receive
Ersan Ilyasova (5 yrs remaining)
Drew Gooden (3 yrs remaining)
Vince Carter (2 yrs remaining)

Salary Taken On: $17.7 million
Salary Sent Out: $20.2 million

Mavericks Perspective
Everyone knows the Mavs are looking for big trades to bring in top-tier talent, while also keeping an eye on saving cap space for this offseason to make a run at Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. The ultimate goal is for Dallas to flank Dirk Nowitzki with enough talent to remain competitive in the twilight of his career while also initiating a succession plan for the big German.

This move would accomplish both of those goals. Jennings is already a target for Dallas, and he could be a good complement for Nowitzki going forward as a quick guard who can attack the rim. Jennings would be a restricted free agent after the season, but Dallas would be able to either match any offer sheets from other teams or let him walk if a more enticing option came along. Meanwhile, Larry Sanders would be a strong frontcourt mate for Nowitzki with his explosive shot blocking and finishing combined with solid rebounding skills. The added athleticism and defense to the Mavs front line would be welcome changes, and at $2 million he wouldn’t interfere with Mark Cuban’s free agent plans.

Losing Vince Carter, Darren Collison, and Jae Crowder wouldn’t matter for Dallas, as none of them features prominently in the Mavs’ long term plans. In fact, they would have a little extra cap space this summer after removing Carter’s contract.

Bucks Perspective
Milwaukee would be rolling the dice to an extent with this deal, banking on a strong comeback from Pau Gasol to make it worth their while. He would form an inside-out combo with Monta Ellis upon Gasol’s return from injury, with Darren Collison and Mike Dunleavy available to provide spacing off the ball. By shifting the balance of the team from two ball-dominant guards to one perimeter creator and one low post threat the Bucks might be able to improve their efficiency with a more complementary roster. Prior to Gasol’s return Milwaukee would have to tread water and hope that their four-game lead on the 9th place 76ers would be enough to let them hold on to their playoff spot.

Adding Clark and Crowder would provide some youth, depth, and athleticism. Letting Gooden and Ilyasova go would also improve the team’s cap situation in the summer of 2014 (LeBron!), although marquee players are not likely to jump at the chance to play in the upper Midwest (Kris Humphries!). Sending out Sanders would certainly hurt, as would losing a young talent in Jennings, but eventually both players would need to be paid, and it is unclear that either will improve significantly. All told, it is worth it to take a chance to make this team dangerous, if not a real contender, rather than be satisfied fighting for an 8-seed every year.

Lakers Perspective
This deal could end up being very good for the Lakers, who would be adding three rotation players for two (one of which is injured). With depth and shooting at a premium adding an extra rotation player and two shooters could be the key to turning around a disappointing season.

Adding Ilyasova is the real key, as he can immediately slot into the starting lineup next to Howard and provide floor spacing for the offense. Carter can also consistently knock down threes and could be a creator for the second unit, potentially allowing the Lakers to run their offense without a true point guard. Gooden would slot in as the backup center and could also help run a point guard-less second unit with the creative high post passing he showed last season in Milwaukee.

Of course, the Lakers’ real problems have been on the other end of the floor, where none of the players they would acquire in this trade are known for their prowess. However, cutting down the playing time of the likes of Antawn Jamison and Chris Duhon (thanks to the aforementioned bench units that lack a point guard) could give L.A. enough of a boost to ease into the playoffs.

The (2nd) Trade:

Charlotte Bobcats Receive
Amare Stoudemire (3 yrs remaining)

Salary Taken On: $19.9 million
Salary Sent Out: $17.4 million

New York Knicks Receive
Ben Gordon (2 yrs remaining)
Ramon Sessions (2 yrs remaining)
2013 First Round Pick (from Detroit, top-14 protected in 2013, top-8 in 2014, top-1 in 2015)

Salary Taken On: $17.4 million
Salary Sent Out: $19.9 million

Bobcats Perspective
Charlotte is currently angling for yet another shot at the 1st overall pick, currently three games “up” on the Orlando Magic for the highest probability in the lottery (say what you will about the team with the best chance always losing the lottery, ping pong balls have to eventually regress to the mean just like anything else). Suffice it to say they are a long way from the top, or the middle, or some of the nicer parts of the bottom. They suck.

Eventually a team needs to either get extremely lucky in the lottery or take a few risks and hope they pay off. It’s time for Jordan and Co. to take those risks.

Amare has returned from injury and is playing well off the bench for New York, but he could easily be had by a team willing to make a deal. Combine that with the Bobcats’ newfound desire to ship out Ben Gordon, and the framework for a deal reveals itself.

He may not be able to play up to his previous level, and the risk of further injury or decline is ever-present, but Stoudamire is the most talented player Charlotte is likely to see in the near future, and his acquisition would start solidifying something resembling a core. Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all have their flaws, but they could form a nice perimeter trio with Amare down low. Add in a center (pick one from the discount center buffet that features Bismack Biyombo, Byron Mullens, and Brendan Haywood) and the starting lineup at least resembles a potential playoff squad in the East.

If nothing else, acquiring Stoudamire this season is unlikely to hurt their draft pick significantly, and the pick surrendered to New York may not be redeemed until next season anyway. One could reasonably point out that Stoudamire’s contract runs a year longer than that of Gordon or Sessions, but it’s not like anyone was going to come to Charlotte in free agency even if they had cap space. This deal might make the occasional free agent at least look their way.

Knicks Perspective
This one is pretty simple: the Knicks thrived early in the season with a four out, one in system that Amare can’t be wedged into, and which needs shooters. Out goes Stoudamire, in comes a knockdown shooter in Gordon. In addition, current backup point guard duties are handled by middle-aged Argentinian rookie Pablo Prigioni, who, while at least respectable and capable of setting up teammates, shares all of the flaws of Ramon Sessions, and only a few of his strengths.

Gordon and Sessions could anchor the second unit with J.R. Smith and outgun opposing benches until Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler returned. New York’s flotilla of aging bigs could provide enough defense to effectively back up the starters while this troika of gunmen handled the offense, and if more shooting was required in crunch time there aren’t many players as capable as Gordon of knocking down a few jumpers. Throw in a potential lottery pick either this season or next and the added benefits of shedding Stoudamire’s contract and this deal becomes a no-brainer for the Knicks.