Friday, February 01, 2008

Fire up the Trade Machines!

With news of the Gasol trade still reverberating throughout the NBA, it seems highly likely that the Western Conference is going to resemble a 1980's junk bond trading floor on Wall Street. With so many quality teams closely bunched, who can afford to stand pat when one squad makes a big splash?

And lest we forget, the Warriors tried to address their lack of experience and stagnant half court passing by bringing in Old Man Webber, while the Spurs have tried once again to pull the old "Randy Moss" act by getting a cranky veteran to change his stripes (the Damon Stoudamire signing). The Gasol deal is the blockbuster, but that makes three teams in the West that have tried to improve in the span of three days.

Who might follow suit?

I expect the Suns to try to get their miserly hands on a backup point guard (Dan Dickau, anyone?), the Nuggets to parlay Linas Kleiza into an experienced swingman (namely Ron Artest or Mike Miller), and for the Hornets to take a long look at their shooting guard situation.

Personally, however, I think this puts the greatest pressure on the Mavs and Blazers to complete the rumored three-way trade involving Jason Kidd and Devin Harris.

The Lakers have vaulted toward the top of the heap in the West, but Dallas is still a very credible threat to win it all. That said, the problems that plagued them against the Warriors last year - team speed, inability to defend big point guards, and lack of vocal leadership - are even bigger issues now that another team can match them from a talent standpoint. A few days ago I didn't like the Kidd trade for them, but now I think they have to take a shot. Dirk and Josh Howard aren't exactly old, but Terry has quite a few miles on him and there just isn't a long shelf life for core groups with emotional baggage. Adding Kidd will give this team a new mental makeup and perhaps sprinkle the roster with a dose of confidence. Plus, he can be paired with Terry in a backcourt better suited to defend big guards. I'm just not sure Dallas can afford to stand pat, knowing that they've blown better opportunities.

As for Portland, I remain convinced that Devin Harris is prized acquisition and that they would be crazy not to snatch him up. That said, I'm starting to think that perhaps they can give up less and get more in such a deal. I know the salaries are complex in this transaction, but there are already rumors of Sergio going out and Brandon Bass coming back in the exchange. This already makes it a better deal for Portland. And if they could get New Jersey to take Martell Webster - instead of Travis Outlaw - along with Jack, Frye, and Sergio, I think they have to make the deal. Even if the Nets insist on Outlaw, I in favor of it the move. (For the record, Webster and Rodriguez make nearly $4 million between them, which is Outlaw's salary, so I think this could work under the financial constraints.)

It should be interested to see what happens. Because the Lakers have made themselves a lot better in one move and should remain good for several years. Now is not the time to sit on a flawed roster.

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