This week in our Trade Watch series, we are taking a division by division look at players who may be on the move. If you haven’t already, make sure to read up on each division we’ve covered so far. In this installment, we check out the Atlantic Division and what players in the Atlantic may be playing elsewhere by season’s end.
The Atlantic Division is filled with diversity in terms of the current state of each organization. Teams like the Celtics and the Sixers are looking to build a foundation by acquiring young talent through the draft. Others, like the Knicks and Nets, hope to secure a playoff berth. At the top, the Raptors are ready to build off a strong postseason. For the Knicks and Nets, their play early on will likely determine their actions at the trade deadline. The Sixers and Celtics, on the other hand, will be looking to add young talent and draft picks from the get go. Here are five players in the Atlantic Division to keep an eye on around the trade deadline.
The nightmare contract of Amar’e Stoudemire is finally nearing an end. The Knicks have been handcuffed financially ever since signing Stoudemire to a nearly $100 million dollar deal back in 2010, a salary Stoudemire never came close to living up to. His deal with the Knicks will come to an end following this season, making him one of the largest expiring contracts in the league. With his contract expiring, Stoudemire will have value to teams looking shed salary this offseason. Basketball Insiders’ own Steve Kyler laid out one possible scenario in reference to a potential Stoudemire trade just a few months ago.
“What’s far more likely is that the long rumored Amar’e Stoudemire to Philadelphia deal gets done at the deadline. The Sixers take on Stoudemire’s $23 million salary cap number, which pushes them way over the minimum. They would only owe him roughly 30 percent of his remaining contract, so they’d end up paying him $7 million in cash and likely extract a draft pick or a rookie scale player for their troubles.” Kyler wrote on August 19.
The one thing that may put a stop to all the trade talk surrounding Stoudemire is a strong start to the season from the Knicks. If the team appears to be a threat in the East, and Stoudemire is playing well leading up to the trade deadline, in all likelihood the Knicks will hold onto Stoudemire and let the season play out.
At this stage in his career, Rondo just doesn’t fit with the current direction of the Celtics. Right now, the Celtics are in the early stages of the rebuilding process and don’t figure to make any noise in the East for at least another couple of years, and that’s with or without Rondo. Considering the team’s current state, it would almost be more surprising if Rondo wasn’t traded. The fact of the matter is both sides would be better off going their separate ways. Not to mention, Celtics Owner Wyc Grousbeck recently voiced concern over Rondo’s temperament.
“He’s super stubborn,” Grousbeck told Boston.com. “I don’t know how coachable he really is.”
It would be a shame to see Rondo waste some of the most valuable years of his career on a team with almost no shot at contending in the near future. For the Celtics, their best chance at putting together a winner will be through the draft. The team selected Marcus Smart this past June and he will be counted on as a cornerstone piece going forward. Even with Smart in place, the Celtics need to accrue more young talent and getting draft picks for Rondo is definitely one way to do so.
There have been quite a few teams rumored to be interested in the Celtics’ talented point guard. The team certainly understands how valuable Rondo is and the type of return he can bring. While it may be best for both sides to part ways, the Celtics have made it clear that they won’t move Rondo unless they feel that they are getting fair value in return.
The Nets will face a difficult decision on whether to keep Brook Lopez, a decision that may come as soon as this summer. Lopez is under contract with the Nets through this season, with a player option for the 2015-16 season. Even if Lopez wanted to remain with the Nets long-term, he could decline his player option if he felt that he could land a more lucrative deal with more long-term security by opting out.
Lopez has struggled mightily to stay healthy over the past couple of years and that is something the Nets must take into account when considering his future. When he is right, Lopez has proven he can be one of the top offensive centers in the NBA. During the 2012-13 season, Lopez started and played in 74 games, averaging 19.4 points per game on 52.1 percent shooting from the field.
Considering the lack of talent at the center position throughout the league, Lopez, despite his health concerns, is still a valuable commodity. If the Nets don’t feel confident in his ability to stay healthy or their ability to re-sign Lopez at a reasonable price, don’t be surprised to see the team consider offers on their skilled center.
The Knicks aren’t short on depth at the shooting guard spot with J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. to go along with Shumpert. All three players have proven that they can be productive when given significant minutes. Unless Shumpert is able to distinguish himself from the others or play well at point guard, it would make sense that the Knicks would consider moving Shumpert to balance out their roster. They tried to do exactly that this past season, shopping Shumpert prior to last year’s deadline. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Knicks, once again, take calls on Shumpert.
Shumpert is relatively young at only 24 years old, so while he has been inconsistent thus far in his career, many teams may still believe in his potential. The Knicks have chosen not to negotiate an extension with Shumpert, meaning the he will be a restricted free agent following the 2014-15 season. If the Knicks don’t plan on matching offers made to Shumpert, the wise move would be to seek out a trade while they can get something in return for him.
To the surprise of many, the Sixers made their recent Rookie of the Year winner Michael Carter-Williams available during the draft. Despite Carter-Williams being one of the few Sixers to play well in the 2013-14 season, the team dangled him out there with the hope of acquiring another top draft pick. While the Sixers were unable to find a taker for Carter-Williams during the draft, it doesn’t mean they have stopped looking. The team has made their intentions clear, and that is to stockpile as many assets as possible.
Although Carter-Williams played well in his rookie season, the Sixers, at this stage in the rebuilding process, are always looking to gather more draft picks. It’s not that they feel Carter-Williams is a bad player, but speaks more to the value they place on high draft picks. A trade of Carter-Williams would certainly not sit well with the fan base that already went through one season of non-competitive basketball. While the fans may not like it, if the Sixers are presented with the opportunity to better themselves in the long-run by moving Carter-Williams, don’t expect them to say no.
Some of the bigger trade targets in the league can be found in the Atlantic Division. The players listed above are just a few potential candidates within the division to be moved. Let us know what you think about the possibility of each player being traded in the comment section below.
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