(The 2013 NBA trade deadline is February 21st at 3PM ET. WTLC is exploring potential trade ideas that could bolster the Thunder's chances during their playoff run.)
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According to reports from various sources, the Thunder are aggressively shopping reserve guard Eric Maynor. The Jazz were suggested as a potential partner, and within the last hour a Maynor for Pistons PG Will Bynum has been suggested.
(Update - the Pistons-OKC proposal came from veteran NBA reporter Chris Sheridan)
Meanwhile, Ken Berger reports:
The Thunder are listening to offers for backup point guard Eric Maynor, who is eager for more playing time. Maynor will be a restricted free agent this summer. Utah needs a backup point guard and would be a good fit, but sources say the Jazz front office is consumed with the dilemma of whether to trade Jefferson or Paul Millsap.
While the Jazz would make a solid place for Maynor to land with the potential to sign a long term deal if he can play well, do they have the pieces OKC could use? SB Nation reports:
So who will move for Maynor? Berger mentioned the other team he's played for in his NBA career, the Jazz, who are on the lookout for a backup point guard with Mo Williams still hurt and Jamaal Tinsley's primary backup Earl Watson. Maynor would certainly be an improvement over Watson - and perhaps even Tinsley - but the Jazz might not have the pieces to land Maynor, for whom Broussard reports the asking price is high.
With regards to Jefferson and/or Millsap, why would the Jazz be so eager to trade one of them? Berger notes:
The only area of increased urgency to complete trades by Thursday's deadline as opposed to this summer would be deals involving prospective free agents. With players like Al Jefferson and Josh Smith, Utah and Atlanta, respectively, might want to consider moving them now because there will be far fewer potential trade partners in July. Why? Starting this summer, teams whose post-trade payrolls exceed the luxury-tax line by more than $4 million will not be permitted to acquire a player in a sign-and-trade.
In other words, if the Jazz cannot move one of those bigs now, the available market come summer time will be much smaller because potential trade partners will have their purchasing power restricted by their own salary cap management issues.
With that in mind, what might a Jazz-Thunder trade involving these players look like?
This trade would free up the Jazz' cap situation by moving a $15mm a year guy off the books. That said, Jefferson is in his final year, so anything they get back had better be a) good and b) cheap. Do the Thunder players qualify? Perkins is a championship-tested center but would be a definite downgrade from Jefferson. Meanwhile, Lamb is a talented but unproven wing scorer. Maynor would shore up the Jazz's backup PG situation with the potential for him to become the starter down the road for a good price.
Sherm says: Even though I hate to lose Perkins' influence on the team, I like this deal because it addresses so many of OKC's needs and OKC would not be on the hook for Jefferson's salary past this season. This would leave them with plenty of cap space along with their draft picks to chase another cheaper big man.
Trade scenario 2: Paul Millsap to OKC in exchange for Maynor, Lamb, and Nick Collison (gasp).
This trade would really shore up OKC's front line issues as well as give them a bona fide low post player who can punish the likes of the Heat down low. Millsap would also likely be coming off the bench, which would go great lengths to building a more consistent offensive unit. Lastly, he would allow the Thunder to easily adjust their 4th quarter team between offense and defense, depending on their opponent.
While the thought of trading away fan and team favorite Nick Collison is borderline blasphemy, the fact is that he is an extremely valuable trade asset, despite nearing the final stage of his career. He's a productive and smart power forward who comes dirt cheap, so this trade would essentially be an upgrade of Millsap over Collison.
The downside is that Millsap is in the final year of his contract and will likely want a pay bump next season, so this could amount to a 1-year rental, and OKC would lose a talented rookie and a dependable bench big man in the process.
Sherm says: I'd like this deal if Collison were in the final year of his deal, but he's still got a few years left at a ridiculously cheap price, whereas Millsap would be likely to bolt. Long term, I think the cost would be too great.
As noted, within the last hour or so a possible Maynor-for-Bynum trade has been building steam. While we're still looking for a reliable source for this over mere conjecture, we can at least look at the trade mechanics:
Scenario: straight up trade of Maynor for Bynum
Wait, what? Why would the Thunder trade one PG for another?
It actually is not a bad idea, with qualifications. It is less a trade of Maynor for Bynum but instead Bynum for Jackson, and Maynor is the price. Bynum is the starting PG for a bad Pistons team but is on the final year of his contract and will be looking to make a splash in the free agent market for what will likely be his last decent payday.
Think of this as the Derek Fisher experiment part II, but without the ridiculous expectations. Last year the Thunder tried Reggie Jackson as their backup PG, weren't fully confident in the rookie, so 'upgraded' to Fisher. If OKC did this kind of move again, they'd still be playing with a cheap player whom they don't have to re-sign, but would get a player who has been in the league longer than Jackson and may never find himself in a better situation as his career nears its nadir.
The downside of course is that OKC would essentially be giving up on Jackson forever. That would make 2 consecutive years where the franchise is says to Jackson, "We don't believe in you." Besides, there's no guarantee that Bynum, not exactly playoff tested, would perform materially better.
Update - Sheridan's trade proposal - throw in the Thunder's protected Raptors pick.
Sherm says: It would be one thing if Bynum were known as a great defender or something, but his body of work is so marred by the Pistons' struggles that it's impossible to conclude that he'd help OKC's roster for a playoff run and be an upgrade over Jackson.
Sheridan thinks more highly of Bynum than I do, but I freely confess my sample size in watching Bynum is small. He makes the argument that Bynum is such a significant upgrade for the backup PG role that he's worth the pick. While Bynum may be a slight upgrade over Jackson, the prospect of giving away what could be a very good lottery pick for what might amount to a half-season rental is foolhardy, methinks.
What do you think?