There are some teams ready to throw the towel in, while others are making hard pursuit for an NBA title, even if it means hurting their future. Teams like the Lakers see their window closing, while teams like the Celtics see a closed window.
Trades make it all happen.
Here's 7 trades that should go down before the NBA trade deadline on March 15.
1. Celtics start youth movement, deal Pierce to Wolves for Beasley and more.
Paul Pierce is heading to greener pastures in Minnesota, where he will team up with Love and Rubio.
MIN receives: Paul Pierce G, E'twaun Moore G
The Celtics know they can't win the title with the Big 3 anymore, and with Allen and Garnett ready to be FAs, this is the last season. They might as well break the thing up, and send Paul Pierce away for a decent returning deal. Beasley is an expiring contract, Wes Johnson is a good starter with decent upside but appears to be a bust, Lee is a rook who should be a good rotation player down the road, and the 1st rd selection. The Celtics don't want to pay Pierce his 14 million/yr over the next 3 seasons. Moving him would allow them to have very little (less than 20 mil) money towards the cap next season, giving them the money to offer Dwight Howard a maximum contract.
The T'Wolves aren't necessarily going for it all this season, but next year could be their year. Pierce will still be there, Love could make subtle improvements, Rubio and Williams will be more seasoned as sophomores. That's one hell of a core, and it could potentially win it all. And the price to get Pierce won't be staggering.
2. Gasol to the Rockets, balance to the Lakers.
The Lakers take a very slight downgrade at the PF spot, from Gasol to Scola. But it's worth it considering they get Flynn and Dragic to upgrade the PG position, plus Courtney Lee who can play and guard the 1, 2, and 3. They give up a 1st rounder, but they have another 1st rd pick.
The Rockets like Scola, but realize they're getting an upgrade with Gasol, and he's under contract for the next 2 seasons. Morris is a decent young Point with some upside, and Kapono is an expiring contract that makes the deal work. Plus, they can take that 1st rounder and get a young player in a very strong draft class.
3. D-12 dealt to New York in exchange for Chandler, youth, draft picks.
NYK receives: Dwight Howard C, Chris Duhon G, Quinton Richardson G/F
Not trading Howard would be an awful move for Orlando. His value is staggering, and they can't just let him walk away. So they deal him to the Knicks, in return for a nice haul. They get a very good replacement center with Tyson Chandler, an expiring 6 million (can help this season) with Smith, and young assets with Shumpert (a good-looking rookie) and Landry Fields. Plus they receive a 1st and 2nd round picks. That's WAY better than nothing.
Now the Knicks side: Chandler is playing great, but Howard is undoubtedly a significant upgrade, and is unarguably the best center in the game. He could change the Knicks. Plus, the Knicks aren't giving up their whole roster, as they will still have some depth left over, and Duhon and Q-Rich are decent off-the-bench options (although they carry unfavorable contracts).
MIL receives: Devin Ebanks F, Darius Morris G
The Lakers get what they want without having to give up way too much. The badly need a real starting PG, and Augustin is just that, averaging 12 points and 6 assists with the Cats. He'll be a FA when the year's up, but he'll be restricted so they will probably retain him. Delfino meanwhile is just a half-year rental, but he's a great fit with the Lakers. He could start at SF, or come off the bench playing either wing spot, and stretch the floor with his shooting.
The Bobcats don't have much reason to have both Augustin and Walker, who are true PGs and too small to play SG. Augustin will be a RFA this off season, but they probably won't even match any offers. They'd rather get something for him now. Goudelock is good as a young backup to Kemba, McRoberts is just frontline depth, Kapono makes the deal work with his salary (expiring). Plus LAL's 1st round pick, which should be in the mid-late 20s but is still pretty valuable.
The Bucks have nothing to shoot for this season. They have Delfino who's playing decent, but he's ready to be a FA and probably go elsewhere. They get 2 young prospects with decent upside in Morris (rookie) and Ebanks (sophomore). And if Delfino likes it there they may be able to sign him this off season.
5. The Heat finally get big, adding Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick from the Suns.
MIA receives: Robin Lopez C, Hakim Warrick F, Ronnie Price G
The Heat are rolling right now, but they could literally become unstoppable if they actually get bigger up front. They still get out rebounded far too often, and Joel Anthony being on the floor is like 4.5 on 5. Lopez brings legit size and some decent skills to the table, while Warrick is a good fit for their run-and-gun offense. The Heat stress defense, and Warrick happens to be a great shot blocker who brings a lot of energy to that end of the floor, and is an upgrade over Haslem offensively. Price is a backup PG replacing Cole. They'd like to keep Cole, but Chalmers is capable of playing 30 mins per game, and Spoelstra puts LeBron at PG sometimes. Price can log some decent minutes.
The Suns are in need of an heir to Steve Nash, who won't be in Phoenix past this season. Cole has looked really good as a rookie, and should be a good 12-16 PPG, 5-7 APG starter a couple seasons from now. Jones is a decent role player who isn't expensive and makes the deal work. Anthony also makes the deal work, but the Suns actually might like him (although 3.5/yr is a little too much). The 2nd rd pick is a nice bonus.
6. Ellis is traded to the Jazz, who give up Al Jefferson to the Warriors
GS receives: Al Jefferson F/C, C.J. Miles G/F
The Warriors are missing only a centerpiece big man in the middle, and they actually are stacked with Guards. They can get Jefferson or Ellis, and let Klay Thompson grow into the starting 2-guard spot and let Steph Curry take over as the main man in the backcourt. They still have Brandon Rush, as well as a rookie Charles Jenkins.
The Jazz have a lot of young, talented big men who are ready to bloom, and thus Jefferson should be somewhat expendable in the coming years. Until Enes Kanter blooms, Biedrins is a solid center to have. Meanwhile, Burks is the only young and talented guard they currently have, and currently not much scoring is coming from the backcourt. Ellis isn't just for now...he's good for the future, as he's young and has 3 years left on his current deal.
7. Dwight Howard is sent to New Jersey in return for Brook, Brooks, and more (Alt. to #3 for ORL).
Prokarov made it clear that he was going to spend some $$$ and bring superstars to New Jersey. Howard should be available, and he'll make a deal ready. They get franchise centerpiece Howard, along with a bad contract (but a decent player) with Richardson, and a young, cheap Earl Clark.
The Magic get a pretty nice return for Howard. The get a young replacement center in Brook Lopez, who could be an All-Star in the coming seasons. Marshon Brooks is a good rookie with natural scoring ability. Humphries is a decent player, and carries 8 million expiring this off season. Okur carries 10 million set to expire. That's 18 mil of cap space, a great thing for the Magic. Plus they get a 1st and two 2nd round picks.
That's it. Different teams have different intentions, some should be giving up and building for the future, while other poise for playoff runs. These trades reflect the intentions and situations of each of the teams.
Thanks for reading, and you should try NBA Trade Machine if you haven't yet, it's pretty cool.