As the title teases I will be making "Bold Predictions". I will only be dealing in trades that would contain relatively higher profile players. No prediction will simply involve a swapping of role players. Some will be very realistic, but others, not quite as much. None, however, will be impossible. If any of these predictions come true I will be henceforth known as "Meade the Soothsayer, Oracle of the NBA". And everyone will have to say the whole thing, no nicknames.
Each prediction's link will take you to the ESPN NBA Trade Machine. It will show you what players each prediction involves, where they are going, and the statistical impact each team would face based on Player Efficiency Ratings (PER). But most importantly, it confirms that the trade would be allowable monetarily accompanied by each team's change in cap room, luxury tax, and other NBA financial jargon. I will also give each trade a likelihood rating from 1-10. 1 being "never going to happen" and 10 being "definitely going to happen". In each prediction's accompanied paragraph I'll try to explain in as few words as possible why this trade would/should happen, and why each team would say yes. Then, why it won't happen and which team says no.
Likelihood: 3. (Note: Knicks get 2016 Nets first rounder and 2016 Celtics first rounder from Celtics, Clippers get 2016 Dallas first rounder from Celtics.)
Clippers would remain the same level of contenders for this season and future seasons with the addition of Melo, as well as separate themselves from the Blake Griffin hysteria that has plagued their club recently. And Jared Sullinger is no "just throw him in there" guy, Sullinger is an integral part of what the Celtics do and would prove to be a useful asset to the Clippers at either big man spot. Celtics reap clear benefits of swapping their plethora of valuable assets for a superstar in Blake Griffin, very similar to what the Rockets did to acquire James Harden in 2012. And finally the Knicks would make the bold choice to alter the course of their franchise to suspend contending and begin a process of rebuilding their club around Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks are five games out of the playoffs. Melo is 31, has probably exited his prime, and is not getting any younger. Also, the clearance of Melo from the payroll would open $35M in the offseason (enough for KD and/or Conley). But the Knicks are first to say no in this trade. I can't see the Knicks moving Melo, or making the decision to commit to a rebuilding process. Clippers probably aren't shipping Blake out either. Only chance they move Blake is if they think he won't back for the playoffs, and they don't want to waste a season of contention (like Melo, CP3 isn't getting any younger).
Dwight goes to DC Likelihood: 3. (Note: Rockets get a couple second round picks from the Wizards as well.)
The Rockets well publicized implosion so far this year has the media, and even people within the team pointing fingers. Many of those fingers have been pointed at Dwight Howard. One of the first names out of any NBA analysts mouth after being asked about big moves before the deadline is Dwight's name. And what better place than DC? Houston would get a big man that would work well with alongside Harden and the rest of the Rockets in Gortat, and Nene's expiring contract. Not a bad deal for them if they really do want to move Dwight bad enough. And only a team trying to contend will go after Dwight, but almost every contending team is set in the middle and wouldn't swap for Dwight and his $23M/year contract. But I think the Wiz would be willing to make major changes. The Wizards have also been disappointing this year, and are very delusional. Delusional enough to think they have the talent to make a playoff run; and delusional enough to think KD could be persuaded to move back home to DC when his contract is up at the end of the year. Even with the addition of Dwight, the Wiz could still chase KD come summertime and fall under the cap limit. Wizards wouldn't pull the trigger on this trade, however, considering they would have to choose between KD and Beal if they were to trade for Dwight. Rockets are first to say no though, because they would probably be fielding much better offers than this, and I'll get to that.
Boogie and Rudy Gay reunite with Mike Malone Likelihood: 4. (Note: Kings get Trailblazers 2016 first rounder from Nuggets.)
There were reports that the Nuggets were pursuing Blake Griffin, so why not Boogie? Probably a better idea anyhow, considering Blake would likely flee in free agency if the team isn't winning, whereas Boogie is a seasoned vet at the art of missing the playoffs. Plus Mike Malone, current coach of the Nuggets and former coach of the Kings, is rumored to have been Boogie's favorite coach he has had in the NBA thus far. Kings would get a few good young players, and a pick. They finally exit their dreadful and unsuccessful "Boogie Era" and can begin the process of rebuilding with new pieces. However, the cooperation of Sacramento is where the problem lies with the trade. Kings are far too haphazard to make any big move. I can't see the Kings' front office agreeing on anything, especially as big of a move as this would be. Trade rumors will likely surround our friend Boogie Cousins again next February.
Horford to Milwaukee Likelihood: 6.
Al Horford, Greg Monroe, and Michael Carter-Williams have all been the subject of trade rumors as we near the deadline. So why not for each other? The Bucks rolled the dice on a player like Monroe being the missing piece that would put them into contention in the East, but the club has been disappointing so far this season at thirteenth in the East. Five and a half games out of the playoffs still, however, puts them in a spot to go after a player that could assist in taking a playoff spot back to help their young core acquire more postseason experience, an invaluable resource in the NBA. Horford, an all star the past two seasons, could definitely be that guy. And if he isn't? He is on an expiring contract anyway, just don't re-sign him. A big reason he is on the block is because the Hawks wish to take advantage of the value of a good player on an expiring contract. Also, with the Hawks' slip from grace this year they are starting to believe that Horford, who will be 30 at the end of the season, might not be one of the star players to help them accomplish their goals of an NBA finals. Greg Monroe could hop in and fill the Horford void pretty well right away, and could potentially be the Tim Duncan type that Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks, who have been dubbed the "Spurs of the East", have been looking for. Plus they get MCW to replace Jeff Teague's minutes if they intend to trade Teague as well. But Hawks are first to say no, as they do not want to commit to a player or contract of Monroe's magnitude.
Trailblazers roll the dice Likelihood: 4. (Note: Rockets get 2016 Nuggets first rounder from Trailblazers.)
The more I look at teams to send Dwight to, the less I think Dwight will get traded. Only a team trying to contend would go for him, and I only count five teams that could fit him into what they do: Wizards, Trailblazers, Celtics, Hawks, and Mavericks. I would be surprised if he goes to a team and it is not one of these five. On top of that, I believe the Celtics, Hawks, and Mavericks are all long shots to commit to him. So I put together this Trailblazers trade that I think will only happen if the Rockets want to get rid of Dwight bad enough, and if the Trailblazers think their current standing at seventh in the West is no fluke and that Dwight can boost their club into contention.
Jazz go after Teague Likelihood: 3. (Note: Pelicans get 2016 second rounder from Jazz)
Jazz have to see if they're going to be the real deal with their current core or not. This trade would do exactly that without them going all-in on Teague and/or Korver as a part of that effort. Would sort of just be a test run for this year and next year, and if all falls right then it could lead to a few years in contention. Jeff Teague has one of the friendliest contracts in all of the NBA relative to talent, and Jazz could take advantage of that for a couple years. The Hawks would get a few young guns to settle into their organization, not sure if that would be enough for Hawks to say yes, however. And this is where my hesitations lie with this trade.
Suns clean house Likelihood: 2. (Note: Suns receive 2016 Heat first rounder from Sixers, 2017 Pistons first rounder from Pistons, and 2017+2018 Rockets first rounders from Rockets)
Remember that they're "bold" predictions. There is the possibility that Suns could clear house completely, take the young players they have, and accompany them with tons of first rounders for years to come. Suns definitely need to gut their entire franchise, but won't. If they did, however, these are some likely destinations for their star players.
The trade deadline insanity this week could match the fun and insanity that ensued Saturday night in Toronto during the Dunk Contest. Not kidding. Set your phones for NBA breaking news notifications to keep up, and if you don't understand what the hell is going on it is okay, I will be equally muddled. Remember that if any of these predictions come true it will be "Meade the Soothsayer, Oracle of the NBA" for now and forever.