The GM’s Corner: 5 Big Trades That Could Happen In The NBA

As of December 15th, free agents who were signed over the offseason became trade eligible. On January 15th, players who signed following an amnesty and players who were signed under their Bird Rights can be dealt.

It is less than two full months into the season, but teams already know who fits their system and what upgrades need to be made.

With trade season officially underway, we examine potential deals.

Dec 11, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) celebrates a made basket in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Kendrick Perkins, Toronto’s lottery-protected first round pick
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Anderson Varejao

Varejao is having a breakout season at thirty-years old and his stock will never be higher. He provides a huge upgrade over the offensively challenged Perkins and will also be able to run the floor with the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Meanwhile, Perkins will be huge for the development of Cleveland’s young talent at the defensive end. This is especially true for second-year power forward Tristan Thompson. Perkins knows what it takes to win a championship and at twenty-eight years old, will be able to serve as the team’s defensive anchor even when the Kyrie Irving-Dion Waiters combination is ready to be playoff competitive.

Toronto’s lottery-protected pick also provides the Cavaliers with another valuable asset. Whether they use it to add another piece to this young roster, or combine it with their own pick in order to move up in the draft, it is another piece that can go a long way towards the team’s resurgence.

Dec 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol (16) dribbles the ball against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Bobcats 101-100. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers receive: Andrea Bargnani, Linas Kleiza
Toronto Raptors receive: Pau Gasol 

New head coach Mike D’Antoni envisions a power forward who can be a thee-point threat from the corner. He has discussed bringing Metta World Peace off the bench at the four spot, while starting Kobe Bryant at small forward, and inserting Jodie Meeks into the starting line up at shooting guard.

Gasol can stretch the floor but not to three-point range. Having him run to the corner on a fast break or after setting a screen is a terrible idea. While D’Antoni would be wise to adjust his system to his current personnel, at the moment, it appears more likely that LA and their seven-foot Spaniard will part ways.

The addition of Bargnani gives D’Antoni the three-point shooting big man he so covets. It also stretches the floor and ensures that Dwight Howard will have plenty of one-on-one opportunities in the post; if doubled he will be able to easily kick it out to a threat from beyond the arc, such as Meeks or Bargnani.

However, the deal is also a major step-back for the Lakers defensively, something that has never seemed to bother the team’s new coach.

Meanwhile, despite the hodgepodge that is the Toronto Raptors, the addition of Gasol is likely enough to get them a playoff spot in the East.

Pairing Gasol with Olympic teammate Jose Calderon should provide immediate results. The would-be former Laker could also do wonders for the development of rookie center Jonas Valanciunas. Gasol would help to create scoring opportunities for the twenty-year old Lithuanian and the combo would provide Toronto with a dual-threat in the low-post.

Dec 12, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings (3) during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 98-85. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks receive: Paul Millsap, Alec Burks
Utah Jazz receive: Brandon Jennings, Mike Dunleavy, Ekpe Udoh

The Jazz is loaded with young talent and cap space. In a few years, this team could pose as Oklahoma City’s biggest threat, forming a long-standing rivalry atop the Western Conference. In order to do so, Utah needs an upgrade from Mo Williams at point guard.

There are persistent rumors of Jennings finding his way to the Big Apple, should he hit the market in the offseason. Milwaukee does not want to lose Jennings for nothing, and the price tag may be too high to retain his services.

Despite Millsap being in the final year of his contract, the Jazz is the most realistic of trade partners. The Bucks have the money to retain Millsap, who could help to comprise a formidable trio of him, Monta Ellis, and Ersan Ilyasova, if he too is not traded.

Even if Millsap were to walk away in free agency, the Bucks still come away with Burks, an extremely talented, 6”6 point guard. The second-year guard out of Colorado doesn’t get to play too many minutes in Utah, and would come to Milwaukee on a rookie contract.

Dec 7, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) holds his leg after falling on the court against the Orlando Magic during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Orlando Magic 91-82. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics receive: DeMarcus Cousins
Sacramento Kings receive: first-round pick (from Boston), first-round pick (from Indiana), Tyler Hansbrough
Indiana Pacers receive: Brandon Bass

It is no secret why the Celtics would covet Cousins and Indiana is looking for an upgrade off the bench from Psycho T.

Sacramento meanwhile, rids itself of one headache and receives two first-round picks in the process. Of course, the picks would come in different years, giving the Kings the flexibility of having multiple first round selections in multiple years. Whether it is moving up in a draft, or using the picks to acquire a valued player, Sacramento would have options to help accelerate the rebuilding process.

While he is certainly a handful, Cousins would be put in position to thrive in Boston. He would have a large role on a championship contender, while also being under the tutelage of Kevin Garnett.

Dec 17, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick (7) celebrates after scoring a three point basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves receive: J.J. Redick
Orlando Magic receive: first-round pick, J.J. Barea

Thanks to Alexey Shved, Barea is expendable. The Timberwolves would not think twice about moving him in exchange for Redick, who provides the team the three-point threat they need and is a nice complement to Kevin Love.

Orlando acquires another first-round pick while also obtaining an energetic backup point guard, who provides scoring off the bench.

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