This week’s column is going to be a little bit different than usual. For starters, it’s not about football. With the season over, I can finally admit I’ve neglected the other major sports for quite some time now.
While my primary attention has been locked in on all things dealing with the National Football League for the last six months or so, I’ve been paying more and more attention to the pro basketball game of late. Seeing mega trades sending Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd and Pau Gasol to the Western Conference has me wondering if fantasy basketball owners have hijacked the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers, respectfully.
I love the newfound testicular fortitude that NBA general managers have discovered, but there’s one problem with the way things are heading. The Western Conference is already vastly superior to the East, and deals like this aren’t doing anything to close the gap. So it’s with that in mind that I present to you nine deals that should be made before the trading deadline to help the Eastern Conference out. (I say nine because the Atlanta Hawks getting Michael Bibby is exactly the kind of trade I’m ordering for the East). Chances are none of these nine trades will actually happen, but let’s dive in anyways:
1. Boston Celtics get guard Sam Cassell from Los Angeles Clippers for forward Kendrick Perkins and center Brian Scalabrine.
Cassell has already let it be known that he’d love to play in Boston with Kevin Garnett and friends. They’re a veteran bunch hoping to win a championship in the next year or two, so why not solidify your depth by adding a clutch shooter like “Sam I Am,” who could clearly use a change of scenery? Perkins is a solid players, but the Celtics should jump at this move if they were able to add a veteran like Cassell while dumping a stuff like Scalabrine.
2. Chicago Bulls get forward Al Harrington from Golden State Warriors for small forward Andres Nocioni and point guard Chris Duhon.
Technically players like Austin Croshere and Kelanna Azubuike would have to be thrown in to make a deal work, but the Bulls need do to something. Adding Harrington would give them the big man Ben Wallace hasn’t been, and would give players like Ben Gordon and Luol Deng more room outside to work.
3. Orlando Magic get forward Kurt Thomas from Seattle Sonics for forward Pat Garrity, point guard Keyon Dooling and a conditional draft pick.
Orlando is already a talented team, but adding another solid big man to help Dwight Howard would push them from the good, to really, really good level. And it would also allow them to better match-up with opponents. The Sonics would add two expiring contracts and another draft pick to their rebuilding process.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers get forward Tracy McGrady from Houston Rockets for guard Larry Hughes and forward Drew Gooden and two first-round draft picks.
I’m not a Cavs fan, or even a LeBron fan, but even I know he’s been shafted long enough. While Kobe and D-Wade have had their share of talented teammates, James has been stuck with “Boobie” Miles and a WNBA-caliber roster. Honestly, it’s no wonder he openly wears New York Yankees attire to sporting events in Cleveland – he’s sending a message. Get him help or lose him the first chance he gets.
So why not make a monster deal to finally give LeBron the help he absolutely desires? Houston is never going to win a playoff series, so they should do something to shake things up. Cleveland would guarantee James remains a happy camper and continues to solidify his status as the best player in the NBA today. It’s a win-win. It’s a win-win that will never happen, but it’s a win-win, all the same.
5. Washington Wizards get forward/center Elton Brand from Los Angeles Clippers for forward Antawn Jamison and a conditional first-round pick.
I could talk about the Wizards for days. They’re one of the most fun teams to watch, but there’s one serious flaw in their make-up – they’re lacking a true inside presence. Sure, Brenda Haywood has done fine this season, but any team that truly believes they can win with her is sorely mistaken. I understand the value of having a locker room leader like Jamison on a young and inexperienced team like Washington, but if they don’t do something to get some inside toughness this team of jumpshooters will be destined for first round failures for as long as they exists.
Once Brand returns from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, this trade gives guard Gilbert Arenas and forward Caron Butler a true dominant big man they desperately need. Make the deal and watch this team face the best the Eastern Conference has to offer for the foreseeable future.
6. Toronto Raptors get forward Chris Wilcox from Seattle Sonics for center Rasho Nesterovic’s expiring contract and a first-round pick.
Seattle is rebuilding with young studs like Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Wilcox seems to be lost in the shuffle, and best as I can tell, is left searching for answers. While Seattle might not have a basketball team much longer, they’d be wise to continue building with a young movement in mind. Stockpiling salary cap room and draft picks is a wise way to speed up the future, and whatever city that gets the Sonics will have to feel good about the team they’re stealing.
Random sidenote about Toronto – they have to be the most laid back team in the history of the NBA. At the All-Star break, they only had three technical fouls. That’s an entire team for the first half of the season. This is the point I mention that Resheed Wallace has nine technical fouls by himself.
7. Miami Heat get forward Mike Miller and forward Brian Cardinal for the expiring contracts of forward Ricky Davis and guard Jason Williams.
Memphis would be wise to collect as many expiring contracts as possible, if for no other reason than to make people accept the fact that they traded for Kwame Brown. Sure, they’d be giving up a nice player in Miller, but they’d also be dumping Cardinals’ terrible deal (three years remaining at $5.8 million for less than three points and two rebounds per game). The Heat, on the other hand, would replace sharpshooting small forward Jason Kapono with Miller, who hits 43 percent of his three pointers.
8. Indiana Pacers get forward Ron Artest from the Sacramento Kings for forward Mike Dunleavy.
Okay, okay, okay. I know there’s no way in a million years they’d ever let Artest even back in the state, but isn’t it fun to dream of sending him back to the Pacers? They’d call in the National Guard the first time Indiana returned to Detroit to play the Pistons, but it’d be a welcome break from all the Middle East deployments our troops are getting stuck with. Although if we’re being honest, they’re more likely to catch a stray bullet in Detroit than in Iraq, so maybe we should just move on …
9. The New York Knicks need more help than I could ever offer. Fire head coach Isiah Thomas and then maybe the healing can begin.
Honestly, why waste our time coming up with ways to improve the Knicks when they’re still being run by the worst general manager in professional sports? What the hell do New Yorkers care? They’re still trying to figure out how the autistic Manning just won them a Super Bowl.
Brian Murphy is an award-winning sportswriter, and still doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.