I expect a flurry of activity before next Wednesday's NBA trade deadline for three major reasons:
*This is one of the weakest drafts in recent memory. To me, there are only two All Star caliber players available - Ricky Rubio and Blake Griffin. General Managers realize this and figure to use their first round picks as bait to acquire a difference maker for the stretch run.
*Teams are getting ready for the summer of 2010. This could be the most overhyped story this year, but there will be some top notch talent available after next season - Lebron, DWade, Steve Nash, and Chris Bosh to name four.
*With the injury to Andrew Bynum, the West is wide open. Teams (cough, cough Hornets, Blazers) that would have had no chance if Bynum were healthy may consider themselves legitimate contenders to win the conference.
A Trade That Would Work for Everyone (and work under league rules)
*Portland sends Raef Lafrentz and Joel Freeland to Sacramento for Brad Miller.
Why would Portland do this: The Blazers are currently tied for fourth in the Western Conference. Miller offers dependable production and front court depth. He averages over three assists per game and can hit the three. With Miller, Portland can make a legitimate run at the conference title especially with Bynum on the shelf. Miller's deal expires after next season, just in time for the Blazers to sign Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge to long term deals.
Why would Sacramento do this: Blake Griffin. By trading Miller, the Kings become the favorite to finish with the NBA's worst record. The deal also allows the team's young stars - Spencer Hawes, Kevin Martin, and Jason Thompson - the opportunity to play together without any stress. Also, Lafrentz's contract comes off the books after this season. As an added bonus, an insurance company will pick up 80% of this year's contract. In total, this deal saves the team about $20m over two years. Lastly, they get a lotto ticket in Freeland who currently plays in Europe. For a team that has no chance of being competitive, this may be the most attractive option.