Scouting the Western Conference Playoffs: Potential Offseason Targets

Published: April 30, 2012

On Sunday we took a look at the Eastern Conference guys that could be targets for Dealer Demps this summer. Naturally, today we take a look at the Western Conference teams.

1. San Antonio Spurs

Free agent targets: James Anderson

Trade targets: Stephen Jackson’s expiring contract

If Marco gets a big deal from some other team who was as impressed as I was with his second half, James Anderson could be a cheaper and younger replacement for Monty to develop. Anderson had some moments in his rookie year, but he fell behind Neal, Danny Green, and others in the rotation and now the Spurs are ready to just let the former first rounder walk after not picking up his option. As for the trade market, San Antonio was rumored to be interested in Okafor and you would think that Demps would be interested in the idea of swapping him for SJax’s expiring contract and an asset if he wants to save the amnesty for Ariza (or if Benson won’t let him use it).

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Free agent: None

Trade: Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka

OKC has one more year with this roster before the wolves come out to take their young pups. Next summer teams will throw huge deals at Serge Ibaka and James Harden, and in all likelihood, OKC can only match one. My guess is that they go with Harden, which is why I think they might be proactive in trading Ibaka if they can get the right deal. Or Sefolosha could be a guy that they might be willing to dump if their goal is to keep their payroll down in an attempt to keep both of their budding stars.

The question is: What would it take to lure Ibaka from OKC if they determine they can’t keep him long term, and would the Hornets give up anything if they can believe they can just sign him as a free agent the following season? Perhaps a package of Ayon and his cap friendly contract, Jarrett jack, and the 10th pick could get the trade done- but again, only if OKC knows they won’t be able to keep him past next season.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

Free agent: Jordan Hill

Trade: Lamar Odom trade exception

Jordan Hill was a guy I told Ryan we should target in a trade with Houston for Kaman. Ryan laughed at me, and the Rockets played hard ball with the Hornets, missing out on Kaman and the playoffs. The lesson we all learned? Listen to Mike Mac. But seriously, Hill is a guy the Hornets should consider if they want to go the power forward by committee route. He is just starting to show some of the potential that made him the 8th pick in the 2009 draft and he offers a power low post game that compliments Ayon’s more finesse style and J Smitty’s perimeter game. And before anyone chimes in, Hoopshype is wrong- the Rockets declined his option years, so he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

But the most likely move, if the Hornets and Lakers make a deal not vetoed by David Stern, would be a return to purple and gold for Trevor Ariza. Metta World Peace might have officially worn out his welcome in LA and could be an amnesty candidate this summer. If that happens, the Hornets would gladly let the Lakers take Ariza’s contract off their books and likely wouldn’t want anything more than a second round pick to compensate for the loss. Clearing Ariza would give the Hornets an extra 7 million in cap space if they want to go the veteran route or it would open up minutes for Aminu and Henry if they want to continue to develop their young guys.

4. Memphis Grizzlies

Free agent: Hamed Haddadi, Darrell Arthur (Restricted)

Trade: None

Memphis will have two restricted free agent power forwards this summer in Arthur and Speights, and despite Arthur’s incredible 2011 playoff performance, they will probably focus their efforts on keeping Speights. That means the Hornets can sweep in and get a guy that they drafted (and then sold) four years ago at a bargain price. If Arthur was healthy this season and he continued to progress, he might have been a guy who got a $40-$50 million offer this summer. Instead, he will only get a fraction of that, and the team that gets him could find themselves with a bargain if he returns to form.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

Free agent: None

Trade: None

Monty don’t like Floppers and that’s all this team has to offer. You can keep your Reggie Evans and your Kenyon Martin’s, we’ll fight for the playoffs with real men.

6. Denver Nuggets

Free agent: Javale McGee (Restricted)

Trade: Birdman, Al Harrington

Javale McGee was a guy that Demps pursued at the deadline this year, and he could be had this summer if a team makes an aggressive offer. Denver quickly regretted the deal they gave to Nene this past summer and they likely will balk at matching a deal that starts over $10 million for the inconsistent center. Perhaps Dell throws a big deal at him and hopes that he becomes this regimes Tyson Chandler. Or maybe he knows that he is destined to become another DeAndre Jordan, and just stays away.

As for the trade market, Birdman and Al Harrington are two contracts that Denver would love to unload and the Hornets might be willing to do the Nuggets a favor if they make it worth their while. Harrington is a similar player to Antawn Jamison, a guy the Hornets have coveted for two years, and the Birdman could give that second unit a much needed defensive presence. The Nuggets have their own pick this year (No.20) and the Knicks 2014 and 2016 first-rounders. Birdman, Harrington, and two of those three picks for Okafor might be a trade both teams are willing to do.

7. Dallas Mavericks

Free Agent: Ian Mahinmi

Trade: Roddy Beaubois, Nick Calathes, Shawn Marion, Lamar Odom

Dallas expects to make a huge run at Deron Williams this year, and the expectation is that they will likely have to clear some cap room to sign him and bring back a guy like Jason Terry. Dallas has the 17th pick in this draft and they could use that as part of a package to help convince a team take on a contract like Marion’s (2 years/18 million remaining) or Lamar Odom’s (8.2 million, less than 3 million guaranteed). Roddy B and Nick Calathes are two young prospects who can also be used in a similar fashion, and personally, I would rather have Calathes than the #17 pick. Think Vasquez, but with speed.

As for Mahinmi, he is a guy that I listed as #1 on my “players Hornets should target” way back in the summer of 2010. Back then, he was a no-name guy with very little value around the league and the Mavs took advantage, getting him on a minimum contract. This time around, he should command more, but if the Hornets can steal him for something similar to what Jason Smith got last summer (3 years/7.5 million), they should jump at the opportunity.

8. Utah Jazz

Free agent: CJ Miles

Trade: Paul Milsap

CJ Miles is pretty much the inverse of Al-Farouq Aminu, making him a guy that could be an excellent candidate to rotate with him at the small forward postion. Miles is a talented offensive player who is limited defensively and tends to shoot too much. And Aminu is… the exact opposite! Miles is maddeningly inconsistent because he has a horrible shot selection, taking way too many long two’s. His stats dropped across the board this season because of the fact that Utah’s rotations have been inconsistent, but last year he showed he can be a fairly dependable scorer and at 25 he still has some upside.

Paul Milsap is a guy that a lot of teams will be after this summer and Utah has an interesting decision to make. Do they hang onto him, even though Derrick Favors is their power forward of the future, or do they trade him while his value is at an all-time high? He is a free agent after next year and could command more than 10 million per season, leading me to believe that the Jazz will move him if they can add some quality at their other need positions (PG and SF). There is a 73% chance that they won’t have a first-round pick this summer, thanks to Golden State’s epic tank job, so perhaps the 10th pick and another piece or two (Jack, Ariza, Aminu) will be enough to pry him away.


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