Trade deadline: Buy or sell?
5-on-5: Which teams should make a move by the March 15 deadline?
It's approaching high time in several NBA front offices to make a decisive move as the trade deadline approaches -- fold 'em or up the ante. Our 5-on-5 crew evaluates whether five teams should buy or sell by the March 15 trade deadline.
1. Should the Orlando Magic buy or sell?
James Herbert, Hardwood Paroxysm: Sell. Sell now. Sell as much as you can. Let's get this Dwight Howard thing over with, lose Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson in the process, and see whether Stan Van Gundy can get his 1999-2000 Doc Rivers on.
Andrew Lynch, Hardwood Paroxysm: Buy. I'm convinced Dwight Howard can be swayed into staying, even if he hasn't been yet. The Suns claim they don't want to trade Nash, but the Magic can offer a first-round pick, J.J. Redick and one of their point guards. The Suns would have to at least consider that package.
Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: Sell. Although the team is giving no indication that it's going to move Howard before the trade deadline, I maintain it would be best for Orlando to do so. Superman or no Superman, the Magic would be wise to do some cap triage and clear space to rebuild the roster.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes Of Hell: Sell, but not because they'll get back a fair exchange for Howard. Howard's departure is inescapable. The big question for Orlando is how does it rid itself of the contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson?
Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: What's worse, buying at an outrageous premium or selling for 50 cents on the dollar? The Magic have done plenty of that type of buying the past few years, but selling Howard under pressure for a deal they don't really like would compound the mistake. They might do neither and just hold, which could be the move with the least amount of risk and the highest upside.
2. Should the Boston Celtics buy or sell?
Herbert: Buy. The teams that would want Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen don't have the movable young talent Boston would need in a trade. Boston still has a solid eight-man rotation -- trying to find some depth on the margins is a better plan than blowing everything up and trading Rajon Rondo.
Lynch: Sell. As long as the price is right, that is. With more than $31 million set to come off the cap when Garnett's and Allen's contracts expire, the Celtics shouldn't be desperate. But those players -- and Pierce -- could improve several teams, most notably the Clippers and Bulls.
Nowell: Sell. I don't see the Celtics competing for a title again with this group, and their roster is filled with large expiring veteran contracts that may well be worth it to a few more serious contenders.
Varner: Sell. The Celtics are done. It's time for Danny Ainge to begin his rebuilding project by moving the pieces of his last rebuilding project. Boston's core four might still possess enough allure to win a young asset in a trade. Rondo, in particular, is sure to bring back a good haul.
Windhorst: Buy. Mark Cuban says playoff seeding doesn't matter in this lockout-shortened year; it's just about getting in, then focusing on one opponent at a time. I happen to agree with him completely. The Celtics just need to get in, then they can try to make a last run. I say buy, try to bolster that horrid bench and let your veterans give it one more try. They have to rebuild after this year either way because Garnett's and Allen's contracts are up. Play it to the finish line.
3. Should the Golden State Warriors buy or sell?
Herbert: Sell. The Warriors are rebuilding, but their record isn't bad enough for a great draft pick. They need to get worse, quickly. Unless you can trade Stephen Curry for a star on the wing or frontcourt, you have to move Monta Ellis. I love watching him play, but Golden State might be better off just dumping him and losing games.
Lynch: Buy. Ignore my No. 1 answer! The Warriors absolutely should make a play for Howard with a package centered around Ellis. They can't -- and shouldn't -- offer much more because Howard has made no sign that he would re-sign in Golden State. But if Orlando gets desperate, the Warriors should be there for the rebound.
Nowell: Buy. The Warriors are severely overrating Ellis in trade talks, but, if they can get a little more reasonable in their demands, it seems that there are teams willing to send back decent talent. I'd think that's an opportunity Golden State wouldn't want to miss.
Varner: The Warriors should sell everything, including Ellis and Curry. Their current team is an eyesore. Ellis is an overrated volume scorer, and Curry is facing durability issues. Golden State needs to clear the roster and start fresh.
Windhorst: Sell. There are four teams between the Warriors and the last playoff spot. How much longer are they going try to make the Ellis-Curry backcourt work? The right move is to move one of them. And it sounds as if they know it, too. Now it is a matter of being realistic about what their players are worth, especially Ellis.
4. Should the Portland Trail Blazers buy or sell?
Herbert: Sell. The team is a mess and in need of a shakeup. Raymond Felton has to go. We already know Jamal Crawford is on the block. If it's me, I'm looking into trading Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace, too. LaMarcus Aldridge is 26 and locked up until 2015; they have time to reload.
Lynch: Sell. One caveat; the Blazers absolutely should feel out the market for Nash. Other than that, Portland has desired commodities in Nicolas Batum (practically untouchable unless Rajon Rondo is available), Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby's expiring contract and Jamal Crawford -- in descending quality. This is another team that should at least answer the phone if someone calls.
Nowell: Buy. I'm not convinced the Blazers are a serious threat in the playoffs, but they seem to feel they have a shot at acquiring a game-changing player. To which I say, in a pretty wide-open Western Conference: Go for it.
Varner: This is tough, but Portland should sell. The Blazers are at their ceiling, and moving Wallace, Camby and Batum for new pieces could breathe something other than mediocrity into the team's future.
Windhorst: It could be argued that Blazers owner Paul Allen never sells, but this team is going the wrong direction. The Blazers don't need cap room -- their attempts to rebuild through free agency in recent years have yielded mixed results -- as much as they need young players and picks. They have underachieving veterans near the end of their contracts -- read: tradable -- and a few young players they can still build around. Seems like a perfect formula for a retrofit, which is certainly understandable now that they know Brandon Roy and Greg Oden are not part of the future.
5. Should the Atlanta Hawks buy or sell?
Herbert: Sell. The Hawks are pretty good, but there's no way they're beating Miami or Chicago in the playoffs. With Al Horford out for the rest of the regular season, it's a good time to tank. Try to package Josh Smith with Marvin Williams or Zaza Pachulia, then exercise their amnesty rights on Joe Johnson in the summer and start over.
Lynch: Sell. With Kirk Hinrich reportedly on the market and Smith's trade demands, the Hawks will be moving at least one player. Whether they can get real assets and build around Horford -- while still having Johnson on the books -- will determine how good they are going forward.
Nowell: Sell. The Hawks probably should unload Smith for some depth and size, but we've been saying this for years, right? I figure that, whether they buy or sell, they'll be doing what they always do: treading water as a first-round team.
Varner: Buy. The Hawks should trade the edges of their roster, including Williams. Atlanta's core of Smith-Johnson-Horford is enough to remain competitive in the East, but the team's surrounding talent needs to change for the Hawks to overcome their constant honorable mention status.
Windhorst: If they can sell Johnson, then they must. The Hawks have scored wins over Orlando, Oklahoma City and Indiana without Johnson (and Horford) and nearly pulled off a win in Miami. Smith is blossoming, and Larry Drew is doing one of the best coaching jobs in the league right now. If they could somehow turn the biggest contract in the league into some supporting players who aren't owed $100 million over the next five years, it could be huge for them.