Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Updated: March 15, 7:49 PM ET
Fact or Fiction: Trade targets
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Should teams begin making a play for Rajon Rondo, Andrew Bogut, Monta Ellis and Josh Smith at the trade deadline, which is just two days away? What should the Magic do over the next 48 hours? Let's play 5-on-5:
1. Fact or Fiction: Rajon Rondo should be a major trade target.
Beckley Mason, ESPN.com: Fiction. Rondo is a major asset, but the Celtics aren't trying to unload unseemly contracts and Rondo is underpaid as it is, so that probably means a one-for-one deal is in order. I'm not convinced the Celtics' front office loves Rondo, but unless you are trading a Steph Curry-level talent, they aren't listening.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: Fact. I'm well aware of the problems you're acquiring when you deal for Rondo -- his surliness, his lack of shooting -- but it's clear enough now that great PGs steer the league. I don't think Rondo is a top-tier talent, but we know that with the right pieces around him he can steer a champion.
Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball: Fact. At his best, Rondo is an All-Star-caliber point guard who can impact the game in so many ways. However, it should be cautioned for any prospective buyer, as Tom Haberstroh of ESPN Insider noted in December, "he owes a significant chunk of his value to his teammates [in Boston]." Rondo needs to be with the right team to fully leverage his talents.
Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: Fact. He's one of the league's best point guards and he's 26. If he's had issues with maturity, there's at least a chance he'll have that under control with a new team. Even if he doesn't, he's still going to produce at an incredibly high level for a long time.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Fiction. Rondo is currently No. 17 in PER among point guards (he was No. 15 last year). His adjusted plus/minus is poor and Boston's offense has historically been mediocre due in part to his floor-shrinking shot-avoidance. In all, Rondo's a slightly above-average player unless he starts shooting and getting fouled (at which point he becomes awesome). I don't get the mythology surrounding this guy, but it certainly inflates his market value.
2. Fact or Fiction: Andrew Bogut should be a major trade target.
Mason: Fiction. Bogut's value is a tough nut to crack. His health is a concern but he's only 27. He is an excellent defender but he literally can't shoot because of his elbow. Even at his reasonable contract, it's stay away unless you're satisfied with the player and risk that Bogut is today.
Nowell: Fact. When he's healthy, which I swear I can remember, Bogut is a top-five center, a genuine two-way player and a great community presence. He's been hurt plenty, but it's not like his game relies on explosive athleticism, and a big like Bogut gives you a long-term advantage over 80 percent of the league.
Rivera: Fiction. If this was the 2009-10 regular season, when Bogut was having the best season of his career (he was playing at an All-Star-caliber level) and was arguably the second-best defensive big man after Dwight, the answer would be Fact. But Bogut's rash of injuries in recent years is a red flag at this point.
Schmidt: Fact. Most teams seem to realize Bogut isn't the kind of player who can be built around. But if he's an extra piece, a defensive anchor on a talented team, he could be the guy who helps get a team over the top. At least he could be that when he's healthy.
Strauss: Fact. There are just so few centers, so gambling on an injury risk is a must for some GMs. You'd better be one of those "My medical staff has a medical staff" teams, though.
3. Fact or Fiction: Monta Ellis should be a major trade target.
Mason: Fiction. Just guessing but there seem to be indications that the Warriors value Curry and Ellis almost equally. If you are going to pony up for a small guard who has some defensive struggles, go for the younger, more efficient one
with the terrifying injury history.
Nowell: Fiction. I know that Ellis has shown flashes of defensive intensity and offensive restraint, but I just don't see him being a major help to any of the teams said to be looking at acquiring him (read: Orlando). Could just be Otis Smith has a soft spot for Golden State gunners -- it worked out so well last time.
Rivera: Fiction. If you're a team that's interested in a high-volume, low-efficiency player that plays little to no defense and has had inflated numbers in previous seasons due to playing in a fast-paced environment, then Ellis is your man. The problem is that Ellis doesn't do much to help teams win games. There's more to the game than just scoring.
Schmidt: Fiction. He's kind of like an inverse Bogut. If a team is solid defensively but needs a little more punch offensively, he could help out. But his pay is crazy for a guy who should be a sixth man and we're seeing really good teams shift away from guys who dominate the ball and can't shoot 3s.
Strauss: Fiction. Unless your roster includes a massive point guard who can check 2s, stay away. Ellis is talented, but his talent requires a roster specificity that most teams cannot provide. Off the ball, he's hyper-efficient lightning. On the ball, he selfishly hoards the rock like the greediest dragon, cupping a diamond.
4. Fact or Fiction: Josh Smith should be a major trade target.
Mason: Fact! Smith is one of the top five defenders in the league, and I think a change of scenery might do him some good in the shot selection department.
Nowell: Fiction. This is not a knock on Smith's talent; as a player, I like him very much. But I've yet to see one Smith rumor that looked like something the Hawks would take, and while you can't discount the Hawks' capacity for mediocrity, I don't see a good deal that could currently get Smith back.
Rivera: Fact. Smith is, without a doubt, one of the most maddening players to watch in the league. His obsession with long 2s continues to be perplexing, as is his career-low free throw percentage (56.2 percent) this season. That has killed his efficiency on offense. But his talent is undeniable, especially on defense, and he can still make a positive impact for a team despite his warts.
Schmidt: Fact. It certainly doesn't seem like the Hawks are all that willing to part with him in-season, but teams should make it difficult for them to say no. He's an All-Star-level talent who would fit perfectly on a team like the Grizzlies or Rockets who could use another close-to-star-level type guy.
Strauss: Fact. People need to separate their frustration with Josh Smith from the real value he provides. Yes, he shoots too many awful jumpers, but that flaw is outweighed by his impact on defense from the 4 spot. He can annoy the hell out of my team any day.
5. Fact or Fiction: The Magic should just hold on to Dwight Howard.
Mason: Fact, unless a "Godfather offer" comes along that they just cannot refuse. Would Chandler-Anthony for Howard-Turkoglu be such an offer? If none of the teams with which Howard will re-sign can afford that kind of deal, it's best just to blow it up. (Sorry, Stan.)
Nowell: Fact-ion. Dwight is gone from Orlando one way or another. If the Magic could find a deal that would help them bottom out and rebuild -- picks, young talent, cap space -- they ought to take it. But the deals I've seen don't do that, and I don't know that it's better to get back middling players to pay than nothing at all.
Rivera: Fact. Unless the Magic come across an offer at the trade deadline that absolutely blows them away, they should just hold on to Dwight. You run the high risk of losing him for nothing, sure, but you're better off bottoming out than trying to acquire assets that will likely put you in NBA purgatory (a fringe playoff team).
Schmidt: Fact. I realize that Howard walking for nothing would be terrible, but getting back a second-rate package of players wouldn't do the Magic any better. He's created a nearly impossible situation for them. The Nets and Mavericks aren't willing to part with much. The Warriors don't have enough talented young players to really matter here. Just take the chance and see what happens.
Strauss: Fact. He's leaving, but why not let him? Play the long game, start from scratch, get a 2013 lottery pick. In the NBA, there are worse fates than being hideously awful and becoming a 10th seed is one of them. And who knows? Maybe Dwight will stay.