Installment five of the trade targets series takes a look at the Pacific division:
It's a hard life when a team pushes for contender status. The window is limited, and the perennial 'other' team in Los Angeles is no exception.
- The Clippers have $45 million on the book for six players next season. They figure Chris Paul re-signs for a max extension. A high lottery pick like Otto Porter would be an enormous boon, especially with Caron Butler's deal expiring the following season.
- Of course, this team is looking to contend right now. Like trying to trade for Kevin Garnett and succeeding in trading for Doc Rivers (yes, that Doc Rivers) "contend right now." DeAndre Jordan was on the table, Eric Bledsoe was not.
- A Caron Butler for Trevor Ariza swap was reportedly shot down on the Clippers end last season.
Not too complicated. The only offer really here is Emeka Okafor/Nene and whoever the No. 3 pick becomes, likely Otto Porter, for DeAndre Jordan. That's a complete non-starter for me.
Up next are the second-round surprise Golden State Warriors:
- Carl Landry plans to opt out, and Jarrett Jack is also a free agent. Even with those two, the Warriors have nearly $70 million committed in salary next season.
- Golden State's strength is obviously their backcourt, as is Washington's, meaning no big targets exist for either team. Regardless of whether you're Team Porter or Team Bennett, a swap for Harrison Barnes is not particularly appetizing, unless you're in love with Festus Ezeli or Draymond Green.
- More than $40 million will fall off their books after next season, so look for the Warriors to be active at the trade deadline if they fail to land Dwight Howard.
The Warriors and Wizards have stellar young backcourts and veterans anchoring the front-court on sizeable deals. These teams are too well-matched to do business.
Finishing a delightful third were the Big 4 and the Los Angeles Lakers:
- Assuming Metta World Peace opts in, this team is deep in luxury tax territory before attempting to re-sign Dwight Howard to a max deal. If they're successful in that, they'll approach the $100 million salary mark again with only seven players on guaranteed deals. I have no idea what in the hell they're going to do.
- One important thing to note is that Steve Nash is the only player currently under contract past next season. This is a team poised to reinvent itself, possibly around Dwight Howard, with a TON of expiring money.
That said, they match up poorly as trade partners. The Lakers will be looking the same kind of cap relief the Rockets are for Thomas Robinson: traded player exceptions, non-guaranteed contracts and possibly (though unlikely) second- round draft picks. Nothing doing unless Ernie Grunfeld covets Pau Gasol enough to do something rash.
Fourth place in the Pacific division, but first in basketball fans' hearts are the Sacramento Kings:
- $40 million on the books next season, with a decision on Tyreke Evans looming.
- DID YOU KNOW JOHN WALL AND DEMARCUS COUSINS USED TO PLAY TOGETHER AT KENTUCKY AND ARE STILL FRIENDS?
- New owner Vivek Ranadive wants to make DMC an "international superstar", which doesn't spell availability in any language. Even if the Kings were inclined to trade him, this isn't the 2003 draft. Whether or not DMC becomes a franchise cornerstone or not, he's going to be paid and is valued like one. Unless DMC threatens to become actively corrosive (the difference between losing your temper and looking for a fight), it's going to take more than the third pick and a role player or two. If Nerlens Noel drops, however? Maybe, though still unlikely. In the end, Cousins has no leverage under the current rules and new management isn't about to set the tone by knuckling under to a known hothead.
- Salary inducements are unlikely to move the needle. The Wizards could take on Chuck Hayes or Travis Outlaw without much issue, but potential franchise players carry enough weight with a new majority owner that some future cap space won't give a trade offer enough bite.
- Outside of DeMarcus, though, I wonder how interested Ernie Grunfeld might be in swapping the No. 3 pick and [insert rookie contract here] for the No. 7 pick and Patrick Patterson. If the Magic don't select Trey Burke, who many observers believe is unlikely to make it past the Pelicans, the Kings may value him highly enough to make a play for him. With Jason Thompson on a reasonable contract befitting a third big and Chuck Hayes on the book for two more years, it's not difficult to imagine new management sees Patterson as expendable in a move for a front-line point guard if they aren't satisfied with Isaiah Thomas.
- Patterson has a motor and can pick-and-pop. If there's a realistic trade target on the Kings, this is it.
Possibly but not probably enough, the No. 3 pick and one of the power forward brigade for the No. 7 pick and Patrick Patterson is as good as it gets with Sactown.
The Phoenix Suns need everything and are fortunate they didn't finish with lower odds in the lottery following a horrifying attempt to remain competitve with the additions of Michael Beasely, Luis Scola et al after Eric Gordon fell through. (For the love of god, I don't want to know what Plan C was).
- $45 million on the cap next year, with $20 plus million owed to Scola, the Beas, Channing Frye and Shannon Brown. They may look to re-sign Wes Johnson for the bench after he showed signs of life.
- Goran Drakic is quite serviceable, as is Marcin Gortat. Gortat, however, has been unhappy and getting louder since the departure of Steve Nash. Also, expiring deal.
- The Suns are rumored to love Victor Oladipo, and I'd be surprised if they did anything besides wait and see if he falls to them before trading the No. 5 pick. It's a bit like the Bobcats drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last year; a big-time defensive prospect with a high motor and potential on the offensive end won't move the needle too much in the all important 2014 NBA Draft.
- That said, if there's a player they really want at No. 3, I don't think it's too out of the question they'd offer Channing Frye. The question is whether or not the Wizards would be interested.
- To be honest, if there's any truth to the teensiest whispers about LaMarcus Aldridge being available, I'd expect owner Robert Sarver to go for broke, offering the No. 3 pick, Frye, Gortat, or whatever else the Trail Blazers want.
- For that matter, the Wizards should do that, too. Wall, Beal and the 2014 first rounder sacrosanct.
- All of that said, new general manager Ryan McDonough hails from the Celtics and is no stranger to effective talent evaluation. He won't feel the pressure to move up and will probably offer less than the Wizards would ask for.
Phoenix is currently a futureless team and laying the foundation for the seasons to come starts with this draft pick. They can offer some complementary pieces in trade, but unless EG is in a Mike Miller-Randy Foye kind of mood, ain't nothing doing.