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.


  1. Kimballer5

    April 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Well unfortunately Jordan Hill is going to jail for 10 years…

    • NO-CHI

      April 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      prison* — there’s a HUGE difference.

      • Kimballer5

        April 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        the article said jail, sorry im just a messenger lol

    • Michael McNamara

      April 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Yeah, don’t know how I feel about a guy who chokes come playoff time


  2. da ThRONe

    April 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Everytime I think about the Rockets I think about how they just gave away Terrence Williams, Jordan Hill, Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn for hardly anything. Not to say any of these guys are the “right system” away from being stars. However there’s a ton of potential with that group of names. If any one of those four pans out it’s win-win. Especially for a guy like Kaman who I don’t think we’ll re-sign anyways.

    • Michael McNamara

      April 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Here’s my question for you:

      If all of those guys had the EXACT same NBA career so far, but were undrafted free agents, as opposed to lottery picks, would you still think they had a “ton of potential”?

      Personally, I say no, and that even includes Hill who I obviously kind of like. The Hornets might not re-sign Kaman, but then again they still might and he could also be a great chip to use in a sign and trade, since most teams that will likely want him (veteran teams that are close to contending) probably can’t give him the contract he will want.

      • da ThRONe

        April 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm

        To answer your question yes I still think they have a ton of potential. I don’t base my opinions on draft selection just what I see when I watch them.

        Terrence Williams is a flat out stud. His head isn’t always in the right place, but he’s one of the most physical gifted players in the league.

        Hasheem Thabeet is a 7’3 guy that moves really well for his height. While he’s overly skilled offensively you can’t teach a player how to be 7’3, long, and with above average agility for his size. I’m actually really surprised he’s struggling so much at this level. I see a lot of Andrew Bynum in Thabeets game.

        Jordan Hill has good size and is pretty skilled around the basket add that to his high motor and he can definitely help this team.

        Jonny Flynn outside of being undersized he has all the skills to be a NBA starter. Flynn just doesn’t have the NBA smarts of a starting PG.

        I ask what kind of legit talent/potential could we get in a S&T for Kaman. I doubt we would get 3 or 4 guys that are cost effective all with starter potential.

      • Michael McNamara

        April 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm

        Fair enough- you and I have a different definition of what a “flat out stud” is, but to each their own.

  3. Jake Madison

    April 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    If the Hornets end up without a top three pick, I’d love it if they made a move for Ibaka. His defensive numbers are fantastic (almost 5 blocks per 36 minutes). He seems like a Monty Williams kind of player. The only issue could be that he doesn’t play defense at center particularly well–though that could be due to small sample size. Plus positions aren’t as important.

  4. Lucas Ottoni

    April 30, 2012 at 9:30 pm


    • Matt

      April 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      I love the Clippers comment

      “we’ll fight for the playoffs with real men”

  5. Matt

    April 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I would love to get Ibaka. He’s a solid defender. I would take the Birdman and Lamar Odom off this list. Birdman isn’t what he was 2 years ago and Odom isn’t what he was one year ago.

    Going back to your previous post on the Eastern Conference players, the idea of Rondo coming to NOLA is growing on me. I’ve never really liked the guy’s personality, but he can play. The Celtics shopped him once already, plus with his ejection and subsequent suspension for game 2, if they lose to Atlanta I think he goes back on the market. The Celtics might look to replace Rondo with Doc Rivers’ son Austin Rivers in the draft.

    • clef504

      May 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

      I have to agree with you……
      Right now the west is stacked but I don’t see any teams willing to give up players that would make a great impact on our team.
      I say we go for the East…..with the Rondo and Stoudemire situations maybe our team will not only be a change of scenery but also a good start for both.
      I can’t sit here and crunch the number but I feel as though we are gonna use one of our pics for trade value……
      We already have two stars in Gordon and Monty, lets build around them.
      If we bring in stoudemire, keep gordon, and add mkg to give rondo the same type of team he has in boston……a good outside shooter like allen, a versitile 3, and a long 4 that can shoot.

      Kaman or Okafor/J smitty

      • Michael McNamara

        May 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        I kinda agree with that line of thinking, though it will take Okafor and Ariza to get Amare, so you will have to take them off your depth chart. And Rondo will cost (at least) the Hornets best pick, so take off MKG. This is the problem going the vet route- Gordon, Rondo, Kaman, and Amare would cost about 55 million next year for just those 4. Luckily Vasquez, Aminu, Ayon, Henry, the 10th pick, and Smith would be pretty cheap. Bring back Belly and find another diamond in the rough like Ayon and that will be a very good, albeit expensive team

      • clef504

        May 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        I agree with you on a lot of points mike……but I posted on another story that if you package jjack, Belli, and that second pick with austin rivers…..that might be enough to get rondo. I really like Kaman but he is offensive minded and with stoudemire you need more of a chandler type center, sign and trade kaman and landry for maybe javelle magee…..that could possibly work…..

        but i am a dreamer

      • NoJoke

        May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

        Everyone’s loving McGee since this DEN-LAL series.

  6. Patthefrat

    May 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    No way Dell goes after Amare with his contract. Do we really want to risk taking on an oft injured overated player after we finally got rid of Peja and likely Okafor. Dell likes flexibility.

    What I would like to see:
    Trade Ariza for a 2nd rounder + Trade exception to LA (assuming they amnesty Metta)
    Draft a stud like Trob at 3 or 4
    Trade 10th pick for a vet
    Amnesty Okafor

    We will have a ton of Cap space to sign Dragic, re-sign Kaman, and get 2-3 more pieces.

    What do you think?

  7. edbballin504

    May 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    If our 1st draft pick isnt #1, I would do what it takes to send it (plus whatever else they want) to POR for Aldridge.

  8. da ThRONe

    May 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I think giving away draft picks is completely the wrong direction for this team. If anything gaining more draft picks should be our direction. If you’re a team that isn’t a desired spot for the league drafting is how you change the franchise. We won’t be able to acquire good appropriately priced FA until we have a winning core. Before that we’ll be forced to overpay for guys that won’t change our fortunes much.

    • NOS-3RD GEN

      May 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      I agree with “da throne.” Only through trade and drafting the right picks will we ever succeed in the NBA, but I do think we need to trade Okafor to a team that’s going somewhere try to sign JMG draft a SF Or PF trade Ricky Rubio. Or Rajon random down the line (prefer Rubio) keep Gordon, find a three pointer w/defense and that should start them off, but don’t trade any draft picks away we need them, but I do think we will trade at least one away on draft night.

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  10. Quinn

    May 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    I would love to have Ibaka if we keep Kaman and Gordon,draft Barnes or MKG and Rivers or Waiters…

  11. Quinn

    May 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    But i also love the Rondo and Amare thing i would give up the 1st pick we have for Rondo and okafor and Ariza for Amare with the next pick we need Harrison Barnes…Rondo,Gordon,Barnes,Amare,and Kaman with Smith, Ayon,Jack,Aminu coming off da bench way to rebuild Demps and handle yo business Monty coach up…

  12. NoJoke

    May 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I don’t think OKC will be willing to trade Ibaka this offseason, especially if they win it all.

  13. Gabe

    May 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Really like the Okafor- Harrington/Birdman trade. Why? The draft picks particularly the 2016 pick. While I have know idea how the Knicks will be playing at that time, 2016 will be their first year without Melo/Amare/Chandler. They are going to have some serious holes on their roster. This is because they shouldn’t pickup any impact players drafting 17-23 every other year, and their cap space is completely locked up. The combined salary of Melo/Amare/Chandler in 2014/15 costs over $61 million. The salary cap is projected to be $60 million the next few years. This leaves New York with a nucleus of a 26 year-old Iman Shumpert (probably elite defender, top 5 sg, but not a star), a teens/20s 2013 first rounder in their 3rd year a sophomore 2015 first round pick in the 20s , an overpaid free agent (borderline all-star; perhaps 30 year old Marc Gasol) and benchwarmers. Thats a lottery team for sure, and most likely a combination of the following happen: A. Shumpert doesn’t improve that much playing in Melo’s shadow. B. They can’t convince a marque free agent to sign with a rebuilding team without a lottery pick. C. Either of the rookies bust. So losing the ability to amnesty Okafor, giving us two bad, but not as bad contracts, in return for this years pick in a deep draft and a future lottery pick is a great deal.

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