The trade deadline is Thursday, which means the Power Tankings will start hitting their prime. Power Tankings can have a prime, right? Teams heading into the trade deadline are either trying to get better for a playoff run or trying to set themselves up for the draft. We're going to see which teams are desperate enough for this stretch run to offer up the coveted first round pick in this year's draft. We're going to see which teams looking to move players are desperate enough to give up their assets without securing another first round pick in this draft or the next couple.
There will be plenty of bluffs to be called as negotiations get fierce the next couple of days. Will the Philadelphia 76ers part with Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, or all three in a major purge of talent in the search for the future? Will the Cleveland Cavaliers become buyers again now that they're starting to build a little confidence? Will we see the Milwaukee Bucks unload Gary Neal, Caron Butler, or surprise us all by moving Larry Sanders?
That's just the tip of the tanking iceberg. Let's take a look at the teams in Power Tankings who will be looking to deal, what they have to offer, and where there level of compromise might have to fall.
Here are the Week 17 Power Tankings:
|1. Milwaukee Bucks|
Record: 9-43 (0-2 this week), Net Rating: -10.1 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: The Bucks have a few options heading into Thursday's deadline that would be worth acquiring. Their expiring contracts of Caron Butler ($8 million) and Luke Ridnour ($4.4 million) are both veterans that could bolster a bench unit for a playoff push. They've been looking for a new home for Gary Neal ($6.5 million through 2015) and could find a suitor for Zaza Pachulia ($15.6 million through 2016) if they take back a non-expiring contract. If they really want to get crazy and shake things up, we could see Larry Sanders ($47 million through 2018) and his new baggage dealt to get rid of a potential headache.
Level of compromise: The Pachulia signing this past summer was a bad decision because this clearly isn't a playoff team. If you want to move him, you can't expect to truly win that trade outright. Finding a new home for Sanders is doable but you're gambling on him being too much of a headache to make his future worth it. You aren't getting first round picks for your expirings but you can definitely get more second round picks. The Bucks love those.
|2. Philadelphia 76ers|
Record: 15-39 (0-2 this week), Net Rating: -10.1 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: The trade deadline Big Three of Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes could be the most valuable players dealt anywhere around the NBA. Young ($28.2 million through 2016) is the best asset to deal and the biggest impact player available. Turner ($6.6 million, hits restricted free agency this summer) is probably more of a rental but you control his destiny thanks to RFA rights. Hawes ($6.6 million through 2014) is a great third big man to grab for a playoff team because of his shooting and passing.
Level of compromise: The Sixers don't have to deal Young any time soon. With him being signed for a couple of years and being such an enticing player, you can wait to move him at the draft, in the summer, or even during next season. Less than a first round pick for him would be a bad move. Turner and Hawes are trickier. They don't have to get something for these guys but then you're risking losing them for nothing. You'd still have Turner's RFA rights but getting a first for him may not happen.
|3. Orlando Magic|
Record: 16-38 (0-1 this week), Net Rating: -5.4 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: Magic can move Jameer Nelson ($16.6 million through 2015, only $2 million guaranteed for 2014-15 season) to any team in need of a point guard in their rotation, although they love having him around the organization. Glen Davis ($13 million through 2015) and Jason Maxiell ($5 million through 2015, 2014-15 salary not fully guaranteed) would be good bigs to bring in off the bench for any contender. They could also dangle their best player this season in Arron Afflalo ($22.5 million through 2016).
Level of compromise: Unless the Magic can get an asset (unlikely to get a first rounder) for Nelson, they'll likely keep him around. They probably aren't desperate to move him and he wants to be there. Could the Golden State Warriors get desperate and move a future first (this year's goes to Utah) for Nelson? You're not getting much in return for Davis or Maxiell unless you also take a decent sized contract. They have cap flexibility moving forward so they could absorb plenty.
Dealing Afflalo is a little like the Thaddeus Young situation in Philadelphia. They can do it but they probably need a first round pick in return for what he would bring to a contender. Because his contract runs so long, he might be more valuable to move around the draft when you know exactly what pick you're giving up for him and have less commitment financially to what you'll pay him.
|4. Los Angeles Lakers|
Record: 18-35 (0-2 this week), Net Rating: -4.9 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: The Lakers have four expiring deals that could bring back decent value in return. Pau Gasol ($19.2 million expiring) is the hard one to move because it's such a large cap number to absorb and match. They also have Steve Blake ($4 million expiring), Jordan Hill ($3.5 million), and Chris Kaman ($3.1 million) to move to contenders.
Level of compromise: Moving Gasol may not bring back a first rounder in this draft, but a protected first rounder in 2015 when the Lakers owe their pick to the Phoenix Suns could happen. Unfortunately, we're most likely looking at a complicated three-team deal to move such a big cap number with Gasol's contract. It also may mean the Lakers take on one long-term salary, which would be problematic for the cap flexibility they're hoping to maintain.
|5. Boston Celtics|
Record: 19-35 (1-1 this week), Net Rating: -4.5 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: Rajon Rondo ($24.8 million through 2015) is technically always on the trade market but that's just Danny Ainge doing his job. Jeff Green ($27.1 million through 2016) is probably available but that's a tough contract to move, just like Gerald Wallace ($30.3 million through 2016). The Kris Humphries $12 million expiring deal could provide decent value on the market. Brandon Bass ($13.3 million through 2015) and Jerryd Bayless ($3.1 million expiring) would be nice additions for contenders. And will guard Avery Bradley ($2.5 million, entering restricted free agency this summer) be available?
Level of compromise: Ainge isn't moving Rondo for less than two first round picks and it makes more sense to move him at the draft anyway. Green isn't likely to net you a first round pick and the Celtics may have to take back a Wallace type deal in return if they expect to get a valuable pick in return. Humphries' deal is just big enough to make him hard to move, which means getting a valuable pick is hard but you can get a good role player for next year. Bass, Bayless, and Bradley won't get you first round picks.
|6. Utah Jazz|
Record: 19-33 (2-0 this week), Net Rating: -7.5 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: Richard Jefferson ($11 million expiring), Andris Biedrins ($9 million expiring), Brandon Rush ($4 million expiring), and Marvin Williams ($7.5 million expiring) are all available for cap relief if you're willing to give up an asset in return. Otherwise, they're happy to let these guys expire and have the cap relief/flexibility this summer. The Jazz could also get crazy by dangling the Warriors' 2014 pick owed to them as bait for a good veteran that helps them long-term.
Level of compromise: They know they don't need to make a move and they should know that none of their expirings are draft pick worthy. They can stockpile second round picks with any of those guys moving at the deadline but they have more value in just expiring. The Warriors pick is interesting. It's going to fall in the 20's but if they climb up the standings and make it to the top six in the league, the Jazz won't need it as much. It's a risk to deal but the reward could be huge.
|7. Cleveland Cavaliers|
Record: 20-33 (2-0 this week), Net Rating: -5.9 points per 100 possessions
Their best trade deadline assets: Anderson Varejao ($18.7 million through 2015, $4 million guaranteed in 2014-15) is their best asset to move and could be a valuable addition to every contender in the league. Earl Clark ($8.5 million through 2015, not fully guaranteed in 2014-15) and Alonzo Gee ($6.2 million through 2015, not guaranteed in 2014-15) are cap relief options for teams looking to avoid the luxury tax the next two seasons.
Level of compromise: The Cavs are more likely to be buyers in this trade market than sellers to tank. That makes the Varejao situation tough for them. They got their stuff together right before the break with a four-game winning streak and are now suddenly back in the playoff hunt after looking like a complete mess. Getting a veteran from a tax team by using the Clark and Gee deals are their best chance to grab a player for the stretch run, unless they want to deal a future, protected first.