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Good, Bad, and Ugly: Four Potential NBA Trades

The trade deadline is in a day and a half. A couple trades happened yesterday, but a lot more have been discussed, including a few that would effect playoff teams and contenders. Here is a quick look at my take on several trades that have been proposed as well as one I created.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Good:

Toronto Raptors send: Luis Scola, James Johnson, future 1st rounder (maybe two 2nds)

Phoenix Suns send: PJ Tucker and Jon Leuer

Why the Raptors do it: While Toronto has become the clear beta in the Eastern Conference this year, they are still not considered a real contender to unseat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyle Lowry is about to turn 30 and DeMar DeRozan is having a career year. The Cavs are good but not unbeatable, and the Raptors should seize their chance. Leuer and Tucker are both better overall players than Johnson and Scola at each position, and Tucker in particular brings a toughness and energy that is invaluable when facing a tough playoff team. Simply put, this trade gives them a better chance to unseat the Cavs this season while only giving up a future 1st (though if they could only give up a couple 2nds that would be better).

Why the Suns do it: They get out of a year of Tucker's contract, and he is a player they simply have no need for anymore. Leuer is nice, but he is about to be a free agent and is almost 27. The Suns should be entering a full rebuild, which means acquiring as many assets as possible. More picks is always a good thing, and clearing some space for next year could also give them a better shot at a young player or two who slips through the cracks of free agency.

Utah Jazz send: Trey Burke and Alec Burks

Atlanta Hawks send: Jeff Teague and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Why the Jazz do it: The Jazz are in the 8th playoff spot right now, but Houston is lurking behind them. They haven't made the playoffs in years and it would be good experience for their young players to get a taste of the post season. Meanwhile, Dallas is only 1.5 games ahead in the 6th seed, and Memphis will tumble without Gasol (and having just traded Courtney Lee). Jeff Teague would be a huge upgrade at point guard over Burke and Raul Neto while also allowing Gordon Hayward to reign back how much he has to do on the court. Teague is also signed for next year, giving them a bit of stability for another playoff push. While Neto and injured sophomore Dante Exum are lurking in the wings, they are probably still a couple years from being starting quality players. Burke is an ok rotation player but no starter, and Burks is a good 6th man who is superfluous with the development of Rodney Hood and has been plagued by injuries. They also get to see if Hardaway can become anything with a different coaching staff and environment.

Why the Hawks do it: Tiago Splitter is out for the year, Kyle Korver looks old, and Dennis Schroeder wants to start. All those things point to Teague being out and the Hawks not being good enough to compete this year. Burke is a solid backup at point for Schroeder, and Burks would be a nice boost of offense off the bench for a team that lacks creation at times. Both are still young enough to improve in the coming years, and Burks is on a very team-friendly contract. It will be tough to see Teague go, as he has been such a big part of the Hawks for quite a while, but the Hawks need to get younger and shake things up before a tumultuous offseason.

Bad:

Wizards send: Kelly Oubre, Kris Humphries, and a 2nd round pick

New Orleans Pelicans send: Ryan Anderson

Why the Wizards shouldn't do it: While Anderson would be an upgrade over Jared Dudley at the stretch 4 position, Dudley has been good there this season and Otto Porter should be playing the rest of the minutes at that spot anyway. Humphries and the pick aren't much of a loss, even for a rental, but Oubre has shown flashes of future "3 and D ness" this season, and shouldn't be dealt for only 30 games of Anderson. Even if Anderson is re-signed, he is the kind of player who will probably be overpaid this summer, though his game should age well. Meanwhile, while the Wizards could definitely make the playoffs, they just look out of sorts this year, and Anderson isn't a big enough boost to turn them into anything approaching a contender. This is the exact kind of deal that can really cost a team down the line.

Why the Pelicans should do it: Anderson is probably leaving in the offseason anyway, and the injury-ravaged Pelicans aren't going anywhere. They should be selling off all their assets for young players, and Oubre fits the bill perfectly. This is especially true for the Pels, who haven't had a true starting small forward (outside 30 games of Quincy Pondexter last season) in a long time. Oubre is still young and a long way from doing anything significant, but his on-ball defense is already fairly promising, and he has shot decently on a small sample size (beware of the John Wall effect however). He would be about as good a return for Anderson as New Orleans could possibly hope for.

Ugly:

Celtics send: Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a 1st rounder (not the Brooklyn pick)

Cavaliers send: Kevin Love

Why the Cavaliers should do it: Kevin Love is good, and important to the Cavaliers success. That doesn't change the fact that as presently constructed, the Cavs are nowhere near the level of the Spurs or Warriors, and possibly not even the Thunder. The Cavs need athletic defenders who can switch positions and guard the deadly lineups that Western Conference teams can throw at them in a potential finals match. Kevin Love doesn't fit any of those qualities. While his bad defense is somewhat overblown, he is still exploited on that end by good teams, and his offensive usefulness on this Cavs roster just isn't enough to make up for it. In exchange for him, the Cavs get younger, more athletic, and much more versatile. Crowder would start alongside LeBron at the 3/4 spots as interchangeable forwards, and would be able to handle other team's best wing players for 35+ minutes a game. Bradley would help do the same at the 1/2 spots, limiting the minutes of the mercurial JR Smith and the surprisingly effective but still mediocre Dellevadova. Olynyk would help paper over Love's minutes at center, and is actually a much better defender than most people think. While Love will be valuable as a centerpiece as LeBron ages, the Cavs probably aren't winning with an over the hill LeBron anyway. They have a year or two, and then their title chances will start slipping away.

Why the Celtics shouldn't do it: They are gutting their roster for a player who hasn't been near a superstar level in almost two seasons. Yes, it is quite possible that Love's malaise has been due to his situation on the LeBron and Kyrie led Cavaliers, but it doesn't change the fact that his production has not been that of a godfather offer player. Love is a very good rebounder, solid outside shooter, and does a lot of little things. He is an All Star outside of Cleveland and probably a top 25 player. This package is still too much to give up for him, especially because pairing his defense with that of Isaiah Thomas seems like a match made in hell. At the same time, the Cavaliers rightly wouldn't trade him for that much less. I think a trade of this sort would undo all the Celtics have tried to build over the past couple years, and actually make them a worse team both this year and in the forseeable future while sacrificing a fair amount of potential.