Deadline Targets

This season has already seen a number of trades, including some fairly big ones, such as the deal sending Luol Deng to the Cavaliers and the annual Rudy Gay swap. With the trade deadline a couple of weeks away it’s a good time to see who teams should target. These players may be big names or role players, and their presumed availability and contract status have been taken into account. Keep in mind, these are players that buyers should want, not necessarily those that sellers are itching to get rid of.

Pau Gasol | C | Lakers

Before being sidelined by a groin injury that will keep him out for a couple more weeks Gasol had been playing some very strong offense. His per 36 minute numbers – 19 points, 11.5 rebounds, and nearly 4 assists on 47% shooting – look as good or better than they did two years ago, before he was asked to take on an ancillary role behind Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. The injury may be some cause for concern, but for a team looking to add some scoring punch and in possession of some expiring contracts to send back it’s probably a worthwhile risk.

The real risk comes on the court, where Gasol can’t defend anyone, and is a liability against almost any NBA offense. His huge contract and the Lakers’ distaste for taking on future salaries make a deal tough as well. A couple of teams have the pieces to make this work though, including Phoenix, who now seems to be looking elsewhere, but may revisit Gasol if other deals don’t come up. Cleveland could also get desperate and bail on their Deng experiment, giving them a quality expiring trade piece. The other option is for a team to offer a player enticing enough for L.A. to pull the trigger on taking in long-term money, but that’s less likely.

Thaddeus Young | PF/SF | 76ers

Young edges out Jeff Green on this list for me because he is a ball-hawk on defense (averaging over 2 steals per game) and he is a bit more efficient from the field. If a team is looking for a better floor spacer Green may be their guy.

Young is a strong combo forward who can score and rebound while swiping the ball on defense. He is a near-perfect bench option for a contender who can offer a ton of flexibility. He is essentially the player that Golden State hoped to get when they moved Harrison Barnes to the bench this season (minus some of the 3-point accuracy). Young also basically never turns the ball over, though he has seen a bit of an increase in his turnover rate this year due to the increased workload.

His contract runs for two more seasons with an ETO on the third, which may make some teams wary, but his skills could help a team in need of depth, like Portland, strengthen its bench. The most intriguing option might be Indiana, who could trade Danny Granger (and his expiring contract) for Young and another player (such as Lavoy Allen). The Pacers would likely balk at the long-term cap implications (they would be hard-pressed to keep Lance Stephenson after completing such a trade and would be in the luxury tax next season), but they would be absolutely loaded this season and would have another big wing to throw at LeBron James in a playoff series.

C.J. Miles | SG/SF | Cavaliers

The Cavs have been a mess this season, and they traded for Deng in an attempt to right the ship at a position of need. Unfortunately for them there wasn’t as big of a hole there as expected thanks to Miles’ strong play. Miles is what he is – a backup who can play both wing spots and provide shooting and scoring. There are definitely teams that could use that.

He is still seeing playing time with Deng in town, but Cleveland would be wise to try to grab a 2nd round pick for him now. They aren’t going anywhere and his favorable contract, which is expiring and pays a little over $2 million, could attract a buyer willing to spend a pick to get immediate help with a wing shooter.

Beno Udrih | PG | Knicks

Udrih seemed like a great fit for the Knicks before the season, but then again a lot of things seemed better for the Knicks before the season. Working on a one-year, minimum-level deal, Udrih is probably available for anything a team is willing to scrape together at this point. He hasn’t seen significant playing time in a month because Mike Woodson doesn’t want to play him. A team with a need for a solid backup point guard would do well for themselves by trading another expiring or a late pick to acquire his services. He can still handle the backup role and is a decent shooter. His size also helps because he can play shooting guard as well, allowing him to fit with other point guards in bench units.