By Aaron Jackson
With Kevin Love out for a month and a half for Cleveland, and Boston surging towards the top of the Eastern Conference, now is the time to swoop! The Toronto Raptors, who have the talent but have fallen to fifth in the standings, made a deal today trading for Serge Ibaka, (while only giving up Terrence Ross a mediocre scorer that does nothing else) and their first round pick. Here are five players Danny Ainge could target as the NBA Trade Deadline approaches.
- Nikola Vucevic, Magic – Forward: Trading Ibaka for what they did shows that they’re ready to sell the farm and rebuild. I think you could get Vucevic for one of their first round picks next year and a player with expiring contract (Amir Johnson perhaps.) This is my best case scenario, as Vucevic is a double-double machine who would probably put up the numbers most expected from Al Horford.
- Paul George, Pacers – Forward: A perennial all-star that has proven he’s healthy again. This would arguably be the biggest possible deal for the team that is an actual possibility. Getting George would take up most of the assets the Celtics have to land him, and will also be getting max money in the offseason, but he would be the star this team needs.
- Jimmy Butler, Bulls – Forward: He’d probably require as much, if not more as George in terms of return, but he’s not coming off a serious injury and is considered by most to be one of the best defenders in the league. Shockingly (at least to me) he’s actually slightly older than George is. I consider these last two guys to be more or less interchangeable.
- Jahlil Okafor, Sixers – Forward: Any thought of the Sixers making the playoffs (ridiculous) have likely gone by the wayside. That said, they have a log jam in the frontcourt that needs to have something go. Okafor still seems like the most likely to be moved and while he’s been mediocre, this year a change of scenery could unlock his talent. I would expect his return to Philly to be less than Butler or George but slightly more than Vucevic.
- Carmelo Anthony, Knicks Forward: Jeff Solari wants him, and I typically respect Jeff, but in this case, he’s an idiot. The Celtics haven’t been very interested, and for good reason. He’s had an attitude issue, he’s past his prime and will likely cost a lot. If you want to ensure mediocrity for the next 5 years this would be the move to make.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like “Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.