We're Headed for No-Man's Land, so Let's Talk Trades

With December 15th approaching, it’s a good time to evaluate some potential trades and contemplate how they would impact the franchise this year and beyond. As this weekend proved, there is definitely a market for expiring deals and unfortunately the one trade that did go through totally nullifies one of the sections I had prepared below. But no worries, let’s break some trades down in three separate sections: pushing for the playoffs, steady roster improvement, and playing for ping pong balls.

The Let’s Go for It Section


Goin Fishin’ (Charlotte and Boston):

Ben Gordon (1/$13MM) for Brandon Bass (2/$14MM) + Keith Bogans (1/$5MM) + Brooklyn 2014 2nd Round Pick


Charlotte gains a productive third big that could play all of Zeller’s minutes (18.5/g) and a good portion of the backup center’s minutes. Bass is averaging 11 and 6 while playing 30 minutes this year while going up against the other team’s starters without much of a supporting cast around him. One might assume he would be more efficient against second units and that he would give Charlotte consistent production as the first big off the bench. Bogans of course, wouldn’t play and the 2nd round pick compensates Charlotte for Bass’ 2014 salary.

Boston gains a huge expiring contract, resulting in an extra $8MM off the books next year despite only sacrificing a 2nd round pick.

Final Predicted Outcome:

Charlotte pushes for a first round matchup against someone who isn’t Miami or Indy, which would give the team a really good chance of making the second round of the playoffs. The team also gains huge credibility, experience, and doesn’t give up any real flexibility for the following year. Also, Zeller has time to develop.


There is a whole post devoted to a Rondo trade (Link) . However it’s worth noting that both of these trades make sense:

Sessions + Gordon for Rondo + Gerald Wallace

Kemba + Gordon for Rondo + Marshon Brooks

Might need to add picks somehow, but I think the players make sense and I know the salaries do.

Landing Rondo would put this team on a whole different level going forward if he returns to his pre-injury form.

Won’t Touch this Pun (Charlotte and Toronto):

**Although Gay has now been traded to Sacramento, I’m keeping this regardless**

Ben Gordon (1/$13MM) for Rudy Gay (1/$17MM plus $18MM 2014 player-option) + 2016 NYK 1st round pick


Charlotte gains a "fringe all-star" to pair with Kemba and Big Al, creating a "Medium Three" ©. The team prays that Rudy can operate as the third option and be far more efficient than his current awful self in Toronto. Rudy has all the potential to be a monster on both ends of the floor but hasn’t lived up to the hype (especially this year). However, if his salary wasn’t so damn high, most teams would love the Rudy Gay from his Memphis years, where he was the 2nd or 3rd option on the team and part of a great defense. Despite the potential for a better team this year, the move uses up all of the cap space in 2014 (because we know Rudy isn't turning down $19MM next year). However, if the team is really going for it, this trade, on paper, could push Charlotte into the 5th seed range this year without sacrificing any flexibility in 2015. In related news, Tom Ziller wrote a great article on the Rudy subject, where he made some of the same points I did about Rudy’s potential if his usage were to drop to Memphis levels. (Link)

Toronto officially clears up $18MM in cap space at the cost of a pick they RECEIVED for trading Bargani, who most thought would cost a draft pick to move. This is a no brainer for Toronto and really helps them get closer to drafting Wiggins (which will be very likely for them if they don’t win the Atlantic Division with a 6-76 record).

Final Predicted Outcome:

Charlotte potentially has a 2nd round play-off team and MKG moves to the 2nd unit where he will be a dominant force on both ends. This also allows for more Taylor as the backup SG, which I really like over Gordon (duh) and Sessions (defensively). The long term flexibility is also still very bright in 2015 and beyond, especially with the extra 2016 first round pick.

Deng it Chicago, stop stealing our picks! (Charlotte and Chicago):

Ben Gordon (1/$13MM) + Portland Pick (Top 14 protected 2014, odds of receiving, 70%) for Loul Deng (1/$14MM)


Charlotte receives one of the top small forwards in the league, but on a one year rental (unless a sign and trade was completed). This is like the Rudy trade but much less risky. Deng is by all accounts, a better shooter, finisher, defender, rebounder, team player, etc. He would immediately step into our Thibs-inspired defense as the team's perimter stopper (having successfully guarded guys like Lebron and George in the playoffs), add 9 to 10 pts a game from the wing position, stretch the floor, and be a veteran presence. If we're trying to win this year (and by win I mean potentially win 2 games in the 2nd round against Indy or Miami), this is the trade you make. A starting lineup of Kemba/Hendo/Deng/McBob/Jefferson would be a top 10 starting line-up in the NBA. However, we would give up a second 2014 draft pick in the process (we already owe Chicago our 2014 if it's outside the top 10, which if we make the playoffs it would be). Charlotte would probably only do this in a sign and trade situation because it's not worth giving up the pick if Deng isn't guaranteed to stay around for a while.

Chicago does this deal all day every day. They know that although they CAN afford to keep Deng, they have other holes that are more important to fill. Especially because they know Jimmy Butler can play the 3. If Deng walks this summer, they've gained nothing but cap space. This deal guarantees something in return AND the same amount of cap relief.

Final Outcome:

Charlotte finishes with the 3rd best record in the East (over Atlanta), and the 4th seed in the playoffs. We play Atlanta in the first round and win a seven game series. We then take Miami to six games. Despite giving up the Portland pick, we still have the Detroit pick which falls in the 14 range. If we don't nail this pick, Charlotte may be staring 2015/16 in the face with tons of cap space, no franchise player, and one playoff run to show for 3 years of rebuilding. Regardless, a dice roll I take all day every day and twice on Sunday. OR playing devil's advocate... Instead Charlotte tanks and gets a top 5 pick going after say Smart or Randle. Then pursues Deng and gets him in free agency. Making a starting five of say Kemba/Hendo/Deng/Randle/Jefferson or Smart/Hendo/Deng/McBob/Jefferson... hmmm I might like option B better.

The Just the Tip Section


WE NEEDZ SHOOTING (Charlotte and Denver):

Jeff Adrien (1/$916k) + 2014 2nd Round Pick for Jordan Hamilton (1/$1.2MM)


Charlotte gains a productive 3&D player to back up MKG and allows Clifford to play Taylor at the back up two (keeping a stronger defensive 2nd unit on the floor to compensate for Sessions). Hamilton is scoring 8 points in just 17 minutes per game this year (just slightly below MKG’s average despite playing close to 30/game). He is also shooting 38% from three on 63 attempts (nice sample size). This is also just a one year rental considering Hamilton is an unrestricted free agent in 2014.

Denver gains a back up "center" to help while McGee is hurt and also a 2nd round pick in a loaded draft.

Final Predicted Outcome:

Charlotte stays competitive during the MKG injury and might get slightly better once he’s back due to an improved 2nd unit. However the loss of a 2nd round pick hurts the team’s options for larger trades and acquisitions.

Just for Focus (Charlotte and Sacramento):

Jeff Adrien (1/$916k) + Anthony Tolliver (1/$1MM) for Travis Outlaw (2/$6MM)


Charlotte gains a veteran scoring wing to help bridge the MKG injury and eventually provide a similar boost as Hamilton did to the team’s current 2nd unit. This trade makes sense as long as Outlaw is a clear upgrade over Tolliver. Outlaw is shooting well from 3 this year (40% on 22 attempts) but has historically been pretty mediocre. Still his Win Shares/48 is one of his best ever so far this season.

Sacramento clears $3MM in salary next year and also receives two high character role players in the process to help continue their culture rebuild.

Final Predicted Outcome:

Slightly smaller gain for Charlotte compared to the Hamilton trade.

Too Small to Ever Happen (Charlotte and Dallas):

Jeff Adrien (1/$916k) for Jae Crowder (1/$788k)


This is a smaller version of a trade that BobcatsBaseline proposed which included Biyombo for Carter and Crowder. I think Adrien for Crowder is more realistic considering how Dallas likes to keep contracts short, has to pay Dirk next year, and wants cap space (again) to chase a free agent.

Charlotte gains a forward to play back up to Jeff Taylor while MKG is hurt and an option to play back up PF over Zeller once MKG is healthy.

Dallas gets a true "center" to back up Dalembert and allows them to play Blair at his preferred position of power forward. The Adrien-Blair pairing is intriguing on the glass, as they are two of the league’s best rebounders by %.

Final Predicted Outcome:

I think this trade is slightly more effective than either the Hamilton or Outlaw trade because Crowder provides serious back up minutes to the team’s two weakest positions (back up SF during MKG’s injury and back up PF once MKG is healthy). Charlotte likely keeps up a very similar level of production all year as it did in the first 18 games.

The Aisander Tank GIF Section


Crashing Towards the Lottery (Charlotte and Boston):

Ben Gordon (1/$13MM) for Gerald Wallace (3/$30MM) + Brooklyn 2014 1st Round Pick


The Bobcats bring back the franchise’s only All-Star to rot on the bench and mentor Scrap (aka MKG, aka Crash 2.0). By taking on a horrible salary, Charlotte is compensated with another 1st round pick, which may prove to be quite valuable. Strangely, the team might actually get a little better this year as Crash can still play back up SF minutes. At the same time, Charlotte has a contingency plan for the possibility of losing the Chicago pick. Regardless, this is a get better later type move, signaling that the franchise will continue to rebuild.

The Celtics stay horrible (and actually get worse), clear up $13MM in cap space next year which they can use to form a Rondo/their own awesome 2014 1st Rd Pick/Free Agent/Sullinger core which will likely compete in 2014 and beyond. The Celtics also hang onto a ton of picks in 2015 and beyond.

Final Predicted Outcome:

Charlotte eats into a large part of their cap space next year but gains another 1st round pick in 2014. Crash won’t be a complete waste of space considering his well known character. Still, this is a tank move and would signal a white flag from the front office in regards to not just 2013, but potentially the core as currently constructed.

The Cat Lady’s Twice Adopted, 15th Favorite Feline (Charlotte and Philadelphia):

Ramon Sessions (1/$5MM) for Jason Richardson (1/$6MM and a $6.5MM 2014 player-option) + a future 1st round pick (earliest 2019) OR Brooklyn 2014 2nd rounder


Charlotte gives up its most productive bench player for a currently injured Jason Richardson who may be straight done. However the $6.5MM hit in 2014 may be worth the draft pick asset in the league’s current CBA. This also really helps Charlotte tank as Pargo (or some other scrub) will be forced to play 20 minutes a night behind Kemba Walker…

The Sixers gain another expiring contract and go into 2014 with only $23MM in committed salary before their two first round draft picks.

Final Predicted Outcome:

The tank gains full steam and Charlotte angles for a top five worst record.

I Told You He Was a Bust (Charlotte and Washington):

Bismack Biyombo (3/$12MM) for Jan Vessely and 2014 2nd Round Pick + New Orleans 2015 2nd Round Pick


Washington needs a true backup center and Charlotte is content riding out Adrien for a year. The franchise gives up on the Biyombo project by selling low, which makes sense when you think about it (who ever sells high in the NBA?). The overall effect on the 2013 record may be minimal but the long term implication is clear, the team is still rebuilding and still looking for the center of the future. This also clears up $4.5MM in cap space for next summer making it possible for Charlotte to land a max-contract player plus another quality role player.

So many options. But while you’re bored at work, feel free to play GM and pick the direction of the franchise…

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