The February 19th trade deadline is fast approaching in the NBA, but teams have already started to make moves to bolster their rosters. In the East, injuries and inconsistency from the Bulls and the continuing disappointment of the Cavaliers has left the conference up for grabs with the Wizards, Hawks and Raptors looking like the best teams. In the West, it’s all about just getting into the playoffs in a historical strong conference that may take 50 wins for the 8th spot and sees the defending champion Spurs sitting at 7th. With very little separating the teams at the top this is year, the championship is available for the taking and one move could make a difference in a playoff series.
Making this trade deadline even more exciting is that most of the top teams have their first round pick in this year's draft and seem willing to part with a pick that is likely in the mid-20s if it gives them a shot this season to win it all. Teams are already shipping first round picks for current players, the Thunder rolled the dice on the potential of Dion Waiters, Memphis got more versatile and solidified their wing with Jeff Green and the Cavs improved their size and rim protection with the addition of Timofey Mozgov. Teams like the Nuggets and Celtics recognize that there is a strong trade market this season and are looking to cash in now and build for the future through gathering as many assets as possible. The more wide open playoff seedings are by next month, the more moves we might see, as every team will be looking for a leg up on the competition.With none of the playoff teams looking entirely complete, this is a list of one trade target each playoff team’s GM should be looking at.
18 Eastern Conference
17 Brooklyn Nets - Lance Stephenson
It seems so long ago that Jay-Z and the Brooklyn Nets were the talk of NYC. The Nets are possibly the most boring team in the league and they have sacrificed almost all of their assets in a win-now attitude to get Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, KG and Deorn Williams and they are paying for it now (the 6th overall pick Damien Lillard for Gerald Wallace will remain one of the worst in history). This is a team that needs something exciting to offer some hope to their fan base. Smartly they seem to be recognizing they need to get out from under their bad contracts and start over by trading their "star" players.
16 Miami Heat - Gerald Green
The Miami Heat need athleticism and scoring to pair with their veterans. Gerald Green is a good 3-point shooter that makes smart cuts to the basket and can play either wing position. Green would offer solid scoring on nights when Wade can't play and could also play alongside him. Loul Deng has not regained his Chicago Bulls form and those minutes that Thibodeau had him playing may be taking their toll.
15 Cleveland Cavaliers - K.J. McDaniels
Not every mid-season trade needs to be for an established veteran. The Cavs need some young talent with players like Mike Miller and Shawn Marion logging significant minutes. McDaniels bet on himself this year with the Sixers, turning down a multi-year contract as a rookie and instead opting for a one-year non-guaranteed deal that makes him a restricted free agent this offseason, with little reason to remain with the Sixers.
14 Milwaukee Bucks - Kevin Garnett
13 Chicago Bulls - Mo Williams
Call it an overreaction to his inexplicable 52-point game, but Mo Williams has something to offer as a scoring option off the bench. The Wolves are building for the future and with Ricky Rubio coming back shortly from injury the backup minutes are better used to develop Zach LaVine. The Bulls have a history of turning spark-plug point guards into valuable role players (see Augustin, Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks).
12 Toronto Raptors - David West
The Raptors, like a few teams this season, are riding team chemistry and cohesion to one of the best records in the East. The Raps' backcourt remains one the best in the league and is bolstered by the depth of Lou Williams and Greivas Vasquez. It's the front court where the Raps should look to improve their rotation with Amir Johnson's questionable ankles and Valanciunas' inconsistency and foul tendencies.
11 Washington Wizards - David Lee
The Wizards, when healthy, have one of the more complete rosters in the league. Health however, is a significant concern with Nene rarely at 100% and not much depth behind him. This is a team that relied on Drew Gooden for significant 4th quarter playoff minutes last season. David Lee is an excellent passer and a player that you can run the offense through at the the elbow.
10 Atlanta Hawks - Brandon Bass
9 Western Conference
8 Phoenix Suns - Carmelo Anthony
What a difference a 5-36 record makes. Carmelo has looked off all season and his knee issues are a concern but he is still one of the best scorers in the league and the type of star that Phoenix has coveted since new ownership has taken over. Melo proved that he could function in an efficient offense in Denver and the legendary training staff and doctors in Phoenix are sure to help his aging process.
7 San Antonio Spurs - Thaddeus Young
6 L.A. Clippers - Wilson Chandler
5 Dallas Mavericks - Kosta Koufos
4 Houston Rockets - Randy Foye
3 Memphis Grizzlies - Jamal Crawford
2 Portland Trailblazers - Wesley Johnson
1 Golden State Warriors - Jose Claderon
The Golden State Warriors are operating as fluidly on offense and defense as any team in the league. Steph Curry and his shooting ability is an offensive force but their scoring rate has disappointed when he is off the floor. Jose Calderon may be too costly for the cash-strapped Warriors but his ability to run an offense is exactly what Golden State needs. His defensive liabilities will be less worrisome in their defensive scheme and against backups. Calderon functioned well last season in a similar offense in Dallas can still hit three pointers at a high percentage.
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