1. Artest to Denver
The Sacramento Kings should trade Ron Artest to the Denver Nuggets for Linas Kleiza, Eduardo Najera and a draft pick. I know the cons here: The combination of Artest, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
But A.I. didn't come to Denver to tread water in the middle of the playoff pack; he wants a ring. The Nuggets' rehabbed-thug identity is set, and Artest fits perfectly into that image.
Artest would make the Nuggets scary on both ends of the floor (and in more ways than one), a Golden State-esque wild card but with 10 times the talent.
2. Miller, Lowry to Cleveland
The Memphis Grizzlies should trade Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ira Newble and Eric Snow. The rebuilding Grizz have no need for Miller, and Lowry's the odd man out in a three-headed young point guard feud.
Newble's contract comes off the books this summer, and -- in the kind of perfectly poetic twist of fate that makes me smile -- Snow and Aaron McKie, former Sixers stalwarts, can hang around and player-coach together. McKie's $6 million annual contract disappears the following summer.
Sadly, the Cavs have to work with the Larry Hughes problem because his contract does not expire until after the 2009-2010 season, as does LeBron James'. A trade for Miller and Lowry would put the Cavs into serious luxury tax territory, but it also would allow the team to re-up on talent and maybe even avoid firing anyone important -- coach Mike Brown or GM Danny Ferry.
3. Kurt Thomas to Orlando
The Seattle SuperSonics should trade Kurt Thomas to the Orlando Magic for Keyon Dooling, James Augustine and Pat Garrity. Thomas has been a trooper in Seattle, and Ol' Crazy Eyes is currently standing in the way of all those unproven big men like Robert Swift and Johan Petro.
This trade would open up minutes for the kids and would allow Thomas one last shot at a ring and the Sonics to keep what they crave most -- a strip-mined roster full of expiring contracts (and more cap room than Thomas alone would provide).
Why this trade matters? Pairing Thomas with Dwight Howard, aka Young Thunder, could have major, major playoff implications. Remember, Thomas is a guy who can defend Tim Duncan.
4. Jermaine O'Neal to Chicago
The Indiana Pacers should trade Jermaine O'Neal to the Chicago Bulls for Ben Gordon and Ben Wallace. This is not the most obvious deal, so work with me. O'Neal no longer is a franchise player but sits on the Pacers' roster like he is. Gordon and the Bulls never have seen eye-to-eye on his worth, and he is a free agent this summer. Wallace has done nothing for Chicago.
So what we have here is a classic change-of-scenery trade: O'Neal would head to Chicago, where he could contribute some low-post scoring. Then next year, he would become an extremely tradable asset. Wallace is basically useless with the Bulls and is holding back a certain zany-haired rookie with a similar modus operandi. Gordon in Indiana, well, could fire away and audition for a big contract -- he is to become a restricted free agent, so if the Pacers love him they could get the first go at him.
One catch: As Matt Watson just pointed out, Wallace did start The Brawl, effectively ending the Pacers' days of contention. However, Artest and Stephen Jackson were far more at fault and long since have been shipped out of Indianapolis, so Wallace's role in the melee probably is a distant memory.
5. Pietrus to Toronto
The Golden State Warriors should trade Mickael Pietrus and Austin Croshere to the Toronto Raptors
for Juan Dixon and Joey Graham. This possible trade was first posed by my former associates at FanHouse.
It's pretty hard to argue with this logic, though. Both Pietrus and Dixon are unhappy and as good as gone come the offseason. The Raptors
could use the player we've always suspected Pietrus might be -- an athletic defender with a slasher's mentality on offense.
Dixon, well, he can sort of play point guard and can jack up 3-pointers, which makes him what Troy Hudson was supposed to be. The best part of all this? Everyone's contract expires this summer, except for Graham, whose is up next year. It's a low-risk, why-the-hell-not deal that just might help both teams.
6. Nobody to Boston
The Boston Celtics badly need point guard help but lack the ammunition to make a run at the Clippers' Sam Cassell. Instead, they'll go the imaginative route and build a magical point guard out of socks and glue.
7. Ricky Davis to San Antonio
The Miami Heat should trade Ricky Davis to the San Antonio Spurs for Brent Barry. I know Barry has on occasion cropped up to help the Spurs' intermittent dynasty. And yes, Davis never really has stuck as a quality, committed NBA player. But remember, Stephen Jackson was central to the Spurs' 2003 title. San Antonio officials almost traded Barry for J.R. Smith at one point, proving they're not afraid to bring in players with issues.
Now that we've gotten past that: This trade makes sense for both teams. With that arms race in the Western Conference, the Spurs could use another weapon -- and Davis, for all his foibles, is most definitely still a weapon. He is more versatile than most NBA analysts acknowledge and can pass and rebound when not single-mindedly focused on buckets-gettin' (remember that triple-double?).
Miami has marginalized Davis. Wade and Dorell Wright keep Davis out of the starting lineup, and when Udonis Haslem is back, Shawn Marion slides to the three and really keeps Davis down. So why not trade for Barry, a veteran who can be a marksman, a playmaker or whatever a team needs around the margins.
Put simply, the Spurs need a presence and the Heat need less of one. Oh, and both contracts expire this summer. So if it doesn't work out, who cares?