Should these players be on the move, or are their teams better off holding on to them? Our panel examines six high-profile names who could be dealt this summer.
1. Trade him or keep him: Eric Bledsoe.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Keep him. The biggest impediment to Bledsoe's success with the Clippers was a lack of playing time. With Doc Rivers reportedly keen on using him in an Avery Bradley-type role alongside Chris Paul, the Clippers should keep Bledsoe and let him wreak havoc for 30 minutes a night. Plus, it's not as if his potential replacement -- Arron Afflalo -- is a better player.
Tom Haberstroh, ESPN.com: Trade him. A talent such as Bledsoe is more valuable on another team than one with a perennial MVP candidate at point guard. The Clippers likely will balk at paying him the money he deserves when he becomes a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season, so better to exchange him for a position of need. Bledsoe to the big-stacked Utah Jazz makes some sense for both teams.
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves: Trade him. You've got Chris Paul most likely coming back to the Clippers now that Doc Rivers is there, and Bledsoe will be too expensive to keep once he's a restricted free agent after next season. You can maximize your value for him now. You could even package him with DeAndre Jordan to bring in a third banana to put next to Blake Griffin and Paul.
Michael Pina, Celtics Hub: Keep him. It feels like a foregone conclusion that the Clippers will look to unload Bledsoe before he hits restricted free agency (and a probable eight-figure, multiyear contract), but if Doc Rivers inserts Bledsoe into the starting lineup (mirroring the undersized backcourt he had in Boston with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley), the Clippers could be onto something special, playing a frenetic brand of basketball that no defense (or offense) will have fun facing.
Robert Silverman, KnickerBlogger: Keep him. While Bledsoe is clearly the Clippers' biggest trade chip and Chris Paul (assuming he re-signs) is craving proven veterans, it would behoove the Clips to see what kind of production Bledsoe might provide under Doc's tutelage as a very wealthy man's Avery Bradley-type starter at 2-guard, assuming they've seen enough of Willie Green and Chauncey Billups.
2. Trade 'em or keep 'em: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Buha: Trade them. It's not fair to subject these Celtics legends to mediocrity and first-round exits during the twilight of their careers. The market value of both players is murky, but some team will be willing to unload a combination of picks, cash and/or other assets. At the very least, Pierce should be bought out (Garnett likely would retire then).
Haberstroh: Trade them. If the Celtics hold on to Garnett and Pierce, the C's risk fading into the horizon and getting stuck in the hamster wheel of mediocrity. Now that Doc Rivers has left town, the Celtics would be wise to unload their veteran pair. What happens if Garnett and Pierce struggle under their new coach and their trade value plummets? Not a gamble I'd be willing to take.
Harper: Trade them. The run is over. Convince Kevin Garnett to head elsewhere and try to move Paul Pierce for even 60 cents on the dollar, which is probably a lot less than what Celtics fans are expecting for him. Time to start rebuilding, and you don't rebuild with expensive veterans at the ends of their respective careers.
Pina: Trade them. It's obvious these two are not as good as they once were, but both are capable of going out while playing at an All-NBA level. Danny Ainge will be looking for first-round draft picks in exchange for his two future Hall of Fame veterans, and if he finds a trade partner, they're as good as gone (pending Garnett's willingness to waive his no-trade clause).
Silverman: Trade them. Boston has ridden the Big Three to six years of contention/playoff relevance. With two years left on his contract, Garnett could still garner a fairly sizeable haul. Ditto for Pierce, either as the final piece to a contender or cap relief. Time to hoard assets and rebuild around Rondo, Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, et al.
3. Trade him or keep him: Luol Deng.
Buha: Trade him. As currently constructed, the Bulls are a notch or two below the Heat and Pacers. Their ideal scenario would be trading Deng for either the No. 3 pick (netting Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo) or another young asset. The goal should be synchronizing their championship window with the apex of Derrick Rose's prime.
Haberstroh: Trade him. Simple math: Jimmy Butler could provide 90 percent of Luol Deng at 7 percent of the price in 2013-14. Considering his strong reputation and defensive efforts, some team will be willing to take on the two-time All-Star no matter how dubious those selections might have been.
Harper: Trade him. Luol Deng is still a pretty good player and an expiring contract. That's the perfect time to maximize his trade value before he starts to decline. You can plug Jimmy Butler into his spot and maybe grab a scoring 2-guard with a role player off the bench in the process. You could even swing for the fences with Deng and the Bobcats' pick for a big-time weapon.
Pina: Trade him. Deng is 28 years old and heading into a contract season after leading the entire NBA in minutes per game for the past two years. The physical demand he's placed on his body is a very real thing, and with 23-year-old Jimmy Butler more than ready to step in, now might be the time to deal Deng and get something of value before we see a decline in production.
Silverman: Trade him. If only because the cost-conscious Bulls are always looking to trim the bottom line and it has been proved they can get similar production for far fewer dollars from Jimmy Butler. If Chicago won't use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, dealing Deng is the only logical move.
4. Trade him or keep him: DeAndre Jordan.
Buha: Trade him. Jordan's career can still be salvaged, but he'll probably need a change of scenery. His paint-bound offensive style conflicts with Blake Griffin's strengths, which often makes the Clippers' floor spacing atrocious. The Clippers should act swiftly -- if Rivers' guidance doesn't exponentially improve Jordan's defensive awareness, his decreasing trade value will take a nosedive.
Haberstroh: Keep him. See what Doc Rivers and Alvin Gentry can do with him and go from there. If that coaching duo can't make Jordan earn his money, someone else will surely try. To some, Jordan looks like an overpaid, one-dimensional player. To others, he's a 24-year-old athletic marvel who just needs a change of scenery.
Harper: Trade him. You have the chance to add a Martin Short to the Big Three Amigos with the Los Angeles Clippers. I know he's friends with Blake Griffin, but Griffin will get over Jordan's departure if the Clippers are a title contender. Teams love athletic big men, so the Clippers should be able to package him with Bledsoe to bring in a really good player.
Pina: Trade him. Jordan is overpaid, can't shoot free throws, trusts only one move in the low post and struggles to execute back line defensive rotations. Of equal importance, Jordan's skill set doesn't complement frontcourt-mate Blake Griffin, and that's an obvious long-term issue the Clippers need to sort out before they can become an elite team.
Silverman: Trade him. Even though he carries a hefty price tag, young, uber-athletic centers aren't exactly lining NBA shelves. The Clippers desperately need a defensive-minded big they can confidently play in the fourth quarter, and while Jordan could eventually be that guy, last season the Clippers were often forced into using Lamar Odom. 'Nuff said.
5. Trade him or keep him: Rajon Rondo.
Buha: Keep him. Rondo's value is impossible to quantify, as his style of play is heavily dependent on the talent and system around him. He's still a franchise point guard, though, and contrary to popular belief, those don't exactly grow on trees. Boston should shop him around, but it's unlikely the Celtics will find a team that values him as highly as they do.
Haberstroh: Keep him. Rondo's trade stock couldn't be lower than it is right now after major knee surgery, so this isn't the time to receive top dollar in return. As long as Rondo is on board with the rebuild, better to be patient with his rehab, deal Garnett and Pierce, and lose as many games as they can while Rondo is sidelined. Andrew Wiggins or some other 2014 star draftee could be walking through that door.
Harper: I'll go 5-for-5 with my trades. Trade Rondo, too. If you're the Celtics, the goal with rebuilding should be to bring in a phenom from the 2014 draft class. If Rondo fully recovers from his ACL tear during next season, you'll probably be too good to have great odds at getting someone such as Andrew Wiggins. Jettison Rondo, KG and Pierce for pingpong balls.
Pina: Keep him. Pending a full recovery from his torn ACL, Rajon Rondo possesses more basketball skill than is required to strain any defense in the league. Boston has him under one of basketball's best contracts for another two years, in a league in which controlling top-tier talent is increasingly vital. If Garnett and Pierce go, for the first time in his career, Rondo will be indisputably the best and most important player on a roster built to elevate his style of play.
Silverman: Keep him. With him coming off ACL surgery and with rumors swirling that he and his former coach were literally at each other's throats, this has to be the nadir of Rondo's perceived value. While it'll take until the trade deadline before Rondo returns to full strength, it's time to finally find out whether he can be the focal point of the Celtics' offense.
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Tom Haberstroh covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Jovan Buha, Zach Harper, Michael Pina and Robert Silverman contribute to the TrueHoop Network.
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