Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NBA [Print without images]

Thursday, March 8, 2012
Updated: March 9, 11:56 AM ET
Trade deadline: Take it or leave it?

ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network

Rajon Rondo
Trading for Rajon Rondo is a no-brainer, right?
The March 15 trade deadline is quickly approaching. So we brought a team of six this time to evaluate whether the following players are worth the risk.


1. Take it or leave it: Rajon Rondo.


Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Take it. What I don't like is that the team that knows him best is willing to part with him, that he might never learn to shoot and that he has gotten injured. What I love is that he plays out of his mind every second. Does anybody really expect him to lose a lot of NBA games? To my mind, he's too headstrong to let that happen.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Take it. I can't believe the assassination of Rondo's ability in the public eye the past year. Maybe the Big Three in Boston made Rondo who he is, but now Rondo makes the Celtics go more than any other player. They're nearly 10 points per 100 possessions better on offense with him on the court. He is the reason they score most nights.

Rahat Huq, Red94: Leave it. When a 25-year-old walking triple-double, who also happens to be the league's best defender at his position is being heavily shopped … umm, that's probably a red flag.

Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: Take it. Say what you want about his attitude, his jumpshot, and/or his propensity to gamble on the defensive end, but Rajon Rondo is an elite point guard. Not only is he elite, his contract situation (three years, $36 million) allows teams to both build around him or add him as piece to an already successful puzzle. All the more reason it's unlikely that he'll go anywhere.

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: Take it. What is Rondo doing? Lighting fires in teammates' lockers? Eating Danny Ainge's leftovers? I know he's surly, but unless he's turning on all the faucets before he leaves the Garden every night and letting them run for hours on end, he's worth the headache.

Jared Wade, 8 points, 9 seconds: Take it. Mainly because neither Oscar Robertson nor Wilt Chamberlain is on the trade market and those are the only other guys to post at least 15 points, 20 assists and 15 boards in a game. The only question is whether Danny Ainge will demand too much because he also will be fielding offers for a few Hall of Famers.


2. Take it or leave it: Josh Smith.


Abbott: Take it. I'm a big fan of bigs who aren't afraid to chase littles. He also rebounds and blocks well, while winning a place in my heart with a game-winning putback dunk. As for all the horrible jumpers? Well, if he could hit those, he'd never be available, you know?

Harper: Leave it. Josh's defense is spectacular most nights, and his highlights are fun for the whole family. But he won't stop shooting bad perimeter jumpers, and it's keeping him from being a special player in this league. He takes six attempts from 16-23 feet every game despite making just 31 percent. Only five players take more attempts from that distance, and none of them is nearly that bad at it.

Huq: Take it, although they'll miss the longest tenured member at the "on the trade block" club. Smith has made huge strides in his career to rein in undisciplined ways, carefully avoiding the footsteps of Antoine Walker.

Jackson: Leave it. Despite playing well in spurts, his numbers are not far off from his career averages, averages that don't really add up to $13 million a year. A team could do far worse than snagging Smith for the remainder of his contract, but then that team has to decide whether to re-sign him for at least the same amount of money or risk only getting a little more than one season from J-Smoove.

Schmidt: Take it. As long as a team has its star or stars established, Smith is a perfect addition. He's miscast as the Hawks' second-best player. A team isn't going to go any further than the Hawks already have with him in that role. But as a third or fourth guy? Smith could swing a title as a third or fourth guy.

Wade: Take it. Take it. Take it. The should-be three-time All-Star is the one guy on this list who can improve any team instantly without altogether changing its makeup. In a good way. His ability to finish in the half court, detonate buildings on the break and wreak havoc on defense would fit into any system. Smoovely.


3. Take it or leave it: Monta Ellis.


Abbott: Leave it. Walking proof that a high points-per-game total does not equal high productivity. Also, and I realize I'm digging in the archives for this, but: Explain that moped injury to me again?

Harper: Leave it? I keep wanting to think if you found a way to pair Monta and Dwight Howard, Ellis would find a way to be really incredible for a team. He can't be the best guy on the floor but can be the best scorer, if that makes sense. If Monta is the best guy on the team, I'll leave it every time.

Huq: Take it, depending on the circumstances. Are there mopeds coming back in the deal, and do we have a point guard? Ellis is one of the most explosive scorers in the league but also one of the game's most erratic players. I want him, but only if I already have a 1 I can trust to keep things under control.

Jackson: Leave it. Ellis is an amazing athlete with equally amazing skill. The things he's able to do on a basketball court are worth far more than the price of admission. But then there are the things he doesn't do, like consistently take good shots or make good decisions. A team could do far worse than trading for Ellis, but I have doubts as to how well or quickly he could integrate into most offenses.

Schmidt: Leave it. There is no way he can be as good as his scoring numbers indicate, and that's going to create an issue on a good team. In a perfect world, he's essentially the Lou Williams on a contender. After scoring 20-plus and getting almost 40 minutes a night all these years, that probably will take too much getting used to for him.

Wade: Leave it. Monta can flat score, and that is a great asset. But I think the Warriors will want more than he's worth. If a deal took only picks, expiring deals and some youth with upside, sure. But with new owners, Mark Jackson talking playoffs and Steph Curry in tow, they're in a position where I wouldn't know what to offer.


4. Take it or leave it: Pau Gasol.


Abbott: Take it. He has always been great, and people have always fixated on his flaws. For that reason, he's probably available at below market value.

Harper: Take it. Is there anybody better in the post? I get that he doesn't seem as aggressive as he used to be and that he had a bad postseason after being instrumental in two straight championships. But that doesn't mean this guy isn't one of the best big men/players in the NBA. Any team would be crazy not to want him. I dare you to trade him, Lakers!

Huq: Take it. It's chic now to call Marc "the better Gasol" -- and horrifically unoriginal. Pau's still the man and, with two more years still remaining on his deal, an attractive target. I'd gladly take the most skilled center in the game.

Jackson: Leave it. It'll be hard enough financially to trade for Gasol and not completely gut your roster. If that is the case, then you're banking on being able to build around Gasol for the next couple of years with your leftovers and whatever cap room you have left. It's possible for savvy GMs because Gasol is that good but it's probably not worth the headache.

Schmidt: Take it. Pau Gasol is really, really good. Last year, he was talked about like one of the league's finest players. Now the Lakers are tossing his name out there as if he's the current Raef LaFrentz. This man is no Raef LaFrentz, people.

Wade: Take it. Not the right guy for a rebuild, but could -- and has -- taken a midtier team to the next level. There just aren't many better two-way bigs in this league.


5. Take it or leave it: Eric Gordon.


Abbott: Leave it. See whether you can identify the trend: 2,677, 2,229, 2,112, 78. That's the number of minutes Gordon has played in each of his four NBA seasons. Will be delighted when he proves me wrong, but, at the moment, I'm worried about his ability to stay on the court.

Harper: Leave it. His talent is ridiculous, and, when he's healthy, he looks like one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. But until he shows he can be healthy, I just can't take him on the team for long term. It's weird that Chris Paul was the big injury concern in that trade despite Gordon's having missed more games over the previous two seasons.

Huq: Take it. Basketball reasons.

Jackson: Leave it ... but only because the league owns the Hornets. The only way to secure Gordon from the Hornets is to get 50 cents on the dollar, which is unfortunate. Gordon's season-long injury makes signing him for reasonable money a real possibility for teams with nebulous cap situations. At the same time, giving up a lot to get Gordon when you don't know when he'll be healthy is a gamble at best.

Schmidt: Leave it. Restricted free agency is coming up, and Gordon's been out all season. He's not coming back and making a difference one way or another for a team this season. Take the chance he's not interested in being a part of what New Orleans has to offer and check on him in July.

Wade: Take it. He is a very good, if oft-injured, guard, so who wouldn't want him if the price is right? But mostly, I would try to trade for him just to see the media report it as a done deal, then watch it not happen and the whole world lose its mind. Again.