There's two weeks left until the trade deadline, and one topic that I don't think has gotten much play around these parts recently is how long General Sam Hinkie has waited to trade his obvious tradeable assets, most notably America's 7th most famous Seahawks fan, Spencer Hawes, and America's most famous Evan Turner fan, Evan Turner. The fear is obvious, that another of the NBA's fine array of tanks will surpass the Sixers in the race for Canadian and/or Camerroonian riches while Evan Turner is burying game winners in prime tank situations.
So, the purpose of this is to take a quick look at the rest of the National Bottomingout Association to see what they have left in their arsenal to set on fire in hopes of catching the impressively terrible Milwaukee Bucks. Qualifications to make the list included a) being below .500 and b) not currently being in a playoff spot. It's always possible Charlotte could find their way here as a result of a poorly timed Michael Jordan
gambling debt desire to play baseball that leads to him trading Al Jefferson for a pack of Cuban cigars, but I think it's unlikely. As a result, we are left with eleven teams, including the Sixers, from here on out referred to as the eLOLven.
The big questions for me when it comes to the trade deadline are:
1. Is this team trying to lose basketball games at this point?
2. What assets are their most likely assets to move?
3. Is there one player in particular they could move that would both bring back a nice return and also put them into a different tank bracket?
Let's kick things off with the team we all care most about besides our own.
11. New Orleans Pelicans
21-27, 12.5 GB
Pick conveyed to Philadelphia if outside top 5 (you may have heard about this trade)
Is this team trying to lose basketball games? I don't think so. It's certainly possible they could go on another bad streak and just decide to throw in the towel, but I'm not sure how this team can get any worse besides another Anthony Davis injury. This team has been absolutely ravaged by injuries. Jrue's coming back, Ryan Anderson could return towards the end of the season, and if this team is healthy, they'll be able to beat up some of the East's also-rans down the stretch.
What can they move? They're wild cards. They can move anything with two separate eyebrows. The question is does anyone want what they have to sell. They're probably not going to trade Jrue. I don't see many people jumping at Tyreke Evans or Eric Gordon's contracts. Nobody's trading for an injured Ryan Anderson. And after that, they don't have much that would make a dent.
What's their all-in tank move? Trading the brow. That's not happening.
10. Detroit Pistons
19-29, 10.5 GB
Pick conveyed to Charlotte if outside top 8
Are they trying to lose? Absolutely not. This is a team that's built to win. Unfortunately, it's built like a Sochi hotel. It's possible that if they fall behind in the playoff hunt (they're three games behind Charlotte at the moment), they could try to pull the Golden State memorial tank to keep their pick this year. That's a dangerous game though, because that pick only has top 1 protection next year and is unprotected in 2016. This is your reminder that Joe Dumars traded this pick to rid himself of Ben Gordon's awful contract and has been employed by the Detroit Pistons for 14 years. At least we're not Detroit. We're not Detroit!
What can they move? Expirings. Both Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva are expirings in the $8.5 million range. Seeing as they're completely capped out going forward, I'd expect them to be buyers at this deadline rather than sellers.
All-in tank move? The Greg Monroe conundrum. Monroe is a RFA at year's end, and is really just begging for somebody to throw a max offer sheet at him. The Pistons would prefer not to max out Greg Monroe, likely because Greg Monroe thinks defense is optional. I'm not so sure trading Greg Monroe would put Detroit in the tank race, but it's definitely a legitimate option that could cost them some wins depending on the return.
9. New York Knicks
19-30, 10 GB
Pick conveyed to Denver if sky is blue and water is wet
They're certainly not trying to lose since they sent their unprotected first to Denver in the famous Carmelo Anthony trade back in 1993.
What do they have to trade? Well, the Knicks have a lot of crappy old players on awful contracts, so their natural inclination is to shop their one young asset on a fantastic contract, Iman Shumpert. The Shump trade bandwagon has died down in recent weeks, but I assume it will pop up again soon because THE KNICKS.
All-in tank move? TRADE MELO. Melo's going to opt out anyway. The issue for New York is finding the right buyer. Phoenix's name has been mentioned but really people, there's a better chance of me playing basketball in Phoenix than Carmelo Anthony, and while my jumper is constantly improving, I don't think I have the cardio to play at their pace (and quite frankly, neither does Carmelo).
8. Sacramento Kings
Pick conveyed to Chicago if outside top 12
Are they trying to lose? They are the Sacramento Kings. Regardless of whether they are trying to lose or not, they are going to. Some things are just a fact of life. I don't know that they're actively trying to lose, because I imagine they're really tired of flying into Secaucus, but they certainly aren't making the playoffs, so they might as well lose. Good thing they traded for Rudy Gay though!
What do they have to trade? They've been trying to dangle Marcus Thornton for months, but with two years left at 8.5 per, that's not happening. They could also trade Jimmer Fredette, but interest in him has been practically non-existent. Don't worry, Jimmer. You're a free agent at year's end. You know what the absolute best part about being in Sacramento is? In about an hour and a half, you're gonna leave Sacramento!
What's their all-in tank move? Boogie. They just gave him a max extension, but since he's batshit crazy, you can never count out a Boogie trade. He's playing the best ball of his career, so the time might be right for somebody to gamble on him. I think it's unlikely as a deadline move though.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
17-32, 8 GB
Are they trying to lose? Presently? Yes. The question as always is whether Kobe will be on board with the tank upon his return from injury. If he is, this is a terrifyingly bad basketball team. They finished a game with four legal players, for crying out loud. If the Sixers did this, Adam Silver would be opening an internal investigation.
What can they trade to get worse? This is easy. Pau Gasol is their moveable asset. The Big Expiring could definitely help a playoff team down the stretch. Phoenix has been mentioned lately as a destination, and that makes some sense. I'd also look at Charlotte as a possibility.
What's their all-in tank move? Gasol is it. That's a big piece to move given that the Lakers big man depth has reached the point where if I were Daniel Orton and Dewayne Dedmon, I'd keep an eye on my phone for an unknown caller with a 213 area code. (I assume Spencer already gave both of them Mike's number so they know to screen for him.)
6. Boston Celtics
17-33, 7.5 GB
Are they trying to lose? WE ARE NOT TANKING. THAT'S RIDICULOUS. THIS IS THE BOSTON CELTICS.
(Of course they're trying to lose.)
What can they trade? There's a lot to work with here. They've got a big expiring to move in Kris Humphries, they've got some pieces that ostensibly have some value in guys like Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass, and they've got a massive contract nobody wants in Gerald Wallace. If they stand pat, nobody will be more shocked than me. The question is whether trading any of those guys makes them actively worse.
What's their all-in tank move? It has been and will always be Rajon Rondo. Rondo's got another year and a half on his deal. The talk of a Rondo trade has cooled somewhat because a logical suitor that needs a point guard at the deadline really isn't out there. They can't just give Rondo away to get worse, they need to get value back for him, but the play for them might be just to wait until the offseason to see what chips move around in the process.
5. Utah Jazz
16-32, 7.5 GB
Are they trying to lose? Uh-huh. They came out of the gate firing away loss after loss, but Trey Burke returned to stand in front of the tank for a while. They're definitely a tank team, but if I had to pick a team that will finish strong, it's the Jazz, they have too much young talent to be truly terrible.
What can they trade to get worse? In terms of record, not much. They've got a lot of expirings they can move for draft picks, but it's all players who are not very relevant to their bottom line, the Andres Biedrins and Richard Jeffersons of the world.
What's their all-in tank move? They could definitely trade Gordon Hayward. He's a restricted free agent at season's end, and much like the aforementioned Greg Monroe, he's begging for an offer sheet overpay. The Jazz could decide to sell now to get back assets for him and move on rather than pay him $10 million a year. It's the one realistic move that would put a serious dent in their team and could force some losses.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
16-33, 7 GB
Are they trying to lose? Hilariously, no. FUN TIMES IN CLEVELAND AGAIN. But there has to be a point when they throw in the towel. Right? Right?
What can they trade to get worse? God, they can trade anything, but I'm not sure they can get worse. Dion Waiters has been shopped since about 20 minutes after they drafted the Big East Sixth Man of the Year with the fourth pick in the NBA Draft. Anderson Varejao only has half his salary guaranteed for next year, so he could be an appealing player for a team looking for big man depth and potentially some cap relief. It's also very possible they'll turn around and shop Luol Deng, seeing as there's already been reports that he's not exactly thrilled there and he's a free agent at year's end. They can't package him in a deal with any other player, though. But really, is he going to re-sign with that tire fire?
What's their all-in tank move? Chad Ford laid the first groundwork for this last week, but their all-in tank move would probably result in everyone getting fired. Their move is a Kyrie Irving trade. It would signal a total rebuild and a race to the bottom. But there's no way the GM and coach would survive it, so unless Dan Gilbert starts sending e-mails to other owners (in what I assume would be a more formal Helvetica font), I don't foresee that going down at the deadline.
3. Philadelphia SeventyTankers
15-35, 5.5 GB
Pick conveyed to Boston if team makes plahahahahahahaha sorry just wanted to see if you were still reading
We are trying to lose.
We have several people to trade.
We can and probably will trade Thad. Let's move on before this hits 100 comments.
2. Orlando Magic
14-37, 4 GB
Are they trying to lose? Let's be real here, you don't get to 500 million losses without making a few...OK, I don't know where I was going with this, but yeah, they're trying to lose, and doing so very efficiently.
What can they trade? The two assets that stand out to me are Glen Davis (who nobody wants) and Arron Afflalo (who everybody wants). An Afflalo trade is one of two deals (Pau Gasol being the other) that stands out to me among all of the other tank teams as a very possible trade that makes the team specifically worse. Afflalo is to Orlando as Thad is to us, pretty much exactly. They don't have to trade him. He's signed to a very reasonable contract, through at least next year, at which point he can opt out, and likely will.
Their all-in tank move is Afflalo. They're tanking with or without him, but he is the movable piece that might not fit in their plans long-term, but could definitely command a pretty strong return. This trade legitimately frightens me. I hope they keep him.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
9-40, they are the worst
Are they trying to lose? The best part of this is that the worst team in the league wants to be the 8 seed instead. This team was built to win. NAILED IT.
What can they trade to get worse? I'm not sure that's possible, but they do have pieces they can move. Caron Butler's expiring is both movable and might make them worse. Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova have been kinda terrible, and both of them have big, long-term contracts, but it's certainly possible somebody would buy low on them. You know what, they'll trade anyone who wasn't born in Greece.
What's their all-in tank move? KEEPING THIS CRAP TEAM TOGETHER. Why mess with a losing formula? This team has proven through almost 50 games that they are convincingly the worst team in basketball. And that's when they were trying to make the playoffs! Stand pat, Milwaukee. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.