As Thursday’s NBA trade deadline inches closer, plenty of big names — from Dwight Howard to Josh Smith — are dominating the rumor mills. It’s easy to get caught stargazing, hoping against hope your team acquires an elite talent, but even though they lack the excitement of their higher-profile counterparts, a deal for one of the league’s many available role players can make a drastic difference. With that in mind, here is a list of seven players who could improve the fortunes of any playoff contender savvy enough to bring them into the fold.
Contract status after 2013: free agent
Possible landing spots: Denver, Utah, Indiana, Chicago, Milwaukee
Describing Redick as “just” a shooter overlooks the fact that his game has expanded by leaps and bounds since entering the league in 2006. For a destitute Orlando team lacking much in the way of playmakers this year, the former Duke guard has averaged a career-high 4.4 assists.
His ability to hit the pocket pass curling off screens or find his teammates out of pick-and-rolls is just the newest evolution to Redick’s game. Already much improved as a defender, Redick can now shoot off screens or after spotting up, run pick-and-rolls, and even handle the point guard spot in a pinch. Redick has raised his game to a point where he could be a full-time starter for a contending team if he’s paired with a bigger point guard (like Chicago’s Derrick Rose) with whom he can cross-match defensively.
Let’s not mince words here — the Lakers are boring. Sure, they’re a flaming train wreck from which we can’t avert our eyes, but their actual on-court product (and even some of the drama off it) is far from enjoyable, in the traditional sense. If you stripped away the star power and franchise mystique, all you’d be left with is a basketball team that’s losing far more than it wins, and there’s not much fun about that. (Again, in the traditional sense.)
But given there isn’t any way to not talk about the Lakers, I went to the ESPN Trade Machine (at least in part) and tried to figure out a deal that, in an alternate reality, would make the team more palatable. The trade I came up with is both realistic (based on some real rumors I’ve heard/read and players’ fair market value in mind) and totally effing bananas (five-team, 15-player trades and unicorns tend have a lot in common). I’d still like to think at least some parts dabble in the vicinity of the plausible.
In the end, I came up with a Lakers team (as well as a Cleveland one) that I would actually enjoy watching on a nightly basis. Of course, it’s built along the lines of my own personal views — fit over star power and great offense over any type of defense — but I think it would make the struggling L.A. team, as well as a couple of the others involved, more interesting.
Either way, there’s enough in there to get people yelling at each other (or at me), which is easily the best part of fake trades anyway. So here ya go: