We are about 18 games into the lockout shorten 66 game season and the effects of the time off is apparent in some cases. Starting from the missing of training camps & preseason games trickling down to team communication in the off season has hit some of the less experienced squads (ex. Knicks, Wizards, Warriors, etc.) while veteran teams or teams with the least roster changes are thriving (ex. Bulls, Thunder, Spurs). Some teams & players are just going to suffer this year no way around it and should start gearing up for the future, but for the other half of those teams their fortunes can all be changed maybe with a player or two. With the trade deadline coming up here my list of players who could use a change of scenery:
1. Dwight Howard – This one is a given for both him and the Magic, the Magic have no legit trade pieces to start rebuilding if Dwight leaves in free agency. So the smart thing for them to do would be getting as much as you can for him now even throw Hedo and his un-cap friendly deal in to make some room for some free spending in the off season. Orlando is 12-6 and a game out of first place this year with 5 players averaging 10+ pts a game (not bad at all) but the current roster isn’t competing for a NBA Championship and Dwight knows this.
2. Deron Williams – Realistically Deron status depends on Dwight it’s no secret they WILL play together in the near future, it’s just a matter of where. For the Nets it was a bold and costly move acquiring Williams last year and giving up multiple assets but now the Nets need to be smart about this and TRADE D.Will! He will have no problem leaving if Dwight isn’t in Brooklyn this summer and has made it clear. They have no trade pieces (besides Lopez and maybe their first round picks) to help build a team around Williams and at age 27 he probably isn’t going to wait until a couple first round picks develop. He wants to win as with every other player and the opportunity to do that with another top tier player in enticing. With Brook Lopez out this will be a long year for the Nets as new owner Mikhail Prokhorov is trying to build a contender going into the $4.9 billion Barclays Center next year. Add in the fact that Lopez wasn’t given a contract extension and will be a restricted free agent, at the rate the Nets are going now they might have a lottery pick as the face of the Brooklyn Nets opening up next season.
3. Steve Nash – Now this may be bias because I think he deserves a ring more than anyone in the NBA right now & he won’t get that in Phoenix… ever. I applaud both parties I really do its actually refreshing to actually see a player & team stay faithful to each other through the trials and tribulations through the years in today’s NBA, however Nash needs a ring and the Suns should start preparing for life after Nash. Nash is 37 years old and still moving like the energizer bunny but he can’t have that many years left. Jason Kidd could be a good counter argument seeing as he is 38 but he & Nash are different tempo players and Kidd hasn’t put as much mileage on his body. With the Suns at 6-11 and a roster only producing 92.7 PPG (their lowest in the Steve Nash era) some changes need to be made to this franchise and they should start by getting some value for one of their best players in team history.
4. The BIG 3 – Boston fans it’s time to let go and start over. The “bar fight” win was very impressive for a team that’s main players are 30+ years old & the fact they hold opponents to 87.9 PPG (2nd in the NBA) shows the Celtics are still a defensive minded team, but they aren’t getting any younger and with the 76ers and Knicks on the come up the Atlantic Division isn’t theirs for the taking anymore. Rondo is now the centerpiece of that organization and it would be wise for them to start building around him. The heart condition of Jeff Green may affect the level of his play when he comes back and he might not be the same player he was in OKC but the off season acquisition of Brandon Bass was a smart move by Danny Ainge, other than Bass no one on the roster is even worth holding onto maybe Moore or Bradley but they are backups to Rondo at best. For the most part none of the Big 3 has lost their edge Garnett’s intensity is on the same level it’s always been on, Allen is still sharp shooting with a 3P% of .563, and when healthy Pierce is a still a solid 17, 5, & 5 guy (giving him a compliment hurt my heart a little). In the midst of a playoff race a contender could use any one of these vets and the logical thing to do is get rid of them while they still hold value. Boston wont will a championship this year unless the 15 other playoff teams boycott the playoffs and because this veteran team will not be able to finish a 7 game series healthy. At 8-9 it’s still early and they can still win games but are fighting through injuries (first with Pierce now with Rondo) now could be the time to change the team before they start losing a step. With the rosters average age at 28.5 being youthful isn’t really the big problem you never know maybe a JaJuan Johnson could develop into something good, but all good things must come to an end out with the old in with the new.