Trade season! It’s one of the most exciting times of the year for NBA fans. Teams are looking to solidify their playoff push by adding that final piece or trying to ensure an upcoming free agent doesn’t leave for nothing. While any NBA fan will have their own trade ideas to throw out I wanted to see what a computer would say, specifically NBA 2K17. Using the games Trade Finder we’ll look at some teams and players that are popular picks to make deals before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. The major caveat to mention is that I will not be tweaking these trades at all. I will be looking at what the game thinks is a good trade: some may be genius and others not so much. I will also be using the Start Today feature so that the records, stats and rosters are current as of right now. With that out of the way let’s look at one team who has been stockpiling assets for a trade for the last few years, the Boston Celtics.
Boston wants a star
Over the last few years the Celtics have been amassing assets and waiting to swing their own James Harden-type deal for a star player. This season there only seem to be two star players that may realistically be available: Sacramento’s Demarcus Cousins and Miami’s Hassan Whiteside.
The trade rumors have swirled around Cousins for the last several years. While the Kings are telling people they intend to offer him a max deal worth over $200 million I wouldn’t call it a done deal until he actually signs. The game also believes Cousins will remain a King. The Trade Finder didn’t come up with any deals that would send Cousins to Boston.
Whiteside on the other hand has a few deals going to Boston that range from insane to reasonable if you are the Celtics. The most insane deal has the Heat sending Whiteside and veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington to Boston. In return Boston gives up Al Horford, Marcus Smart and their unprotected 2018 first round pick. The Celtics would hang up the phone laughing if Miami called up to offer that deal.
A more reasonable deal is one swapping Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson from the Celtics in exchange for Whiteside and shooting guard Josh Richardson. The Celtics get their third star without giving up any of their intriguing young prospects such as Smart or Jaylen Brown. Crowder is a good and versatile player but he isn’t a star and the upgrade from Crowder to Whiteside is worth it for a Celtics team chasing LeBron’s Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. Amir Johnson is a solid veteran presence on the inside but like Crowder is a justifiable cost of business to acquire a player with Whiteside’s upside.
For the Heat, it allows them to get out of Whiteside’s massive deal while protecting their cap space. While it may seem a bit foolish to trade away Whiteside less than a year after signing him to a max contract this Heat team hasn’t worked and currently sports the league’s second worst record. Johnson’s deal is an expiring contract and will open approximately $12 million in cap space for Miami this summer. Crowder has a reasonable four years, $28.2 million remaining on his deal. The Heat could keep him with little impact on their cap space or package his team friendly contract as part of another deal. While they would certainly love to get a first round pick for Whiteside this deal allows them to avoid taking on any significant long term contracts and keeps them open for their annual free agent push.
Philadelphia has centers for sale
Coming into the season everyone, including the players, knew the 76ers had some work to do to figure out their big man rotation. After taking a center in the first round for three consecutive drafts the team now has a problem finding minutes for everyone, especially with the emergence of Joel Embiid. While Nerlens Noel projects as a better long term fit alongside Embiid, the consensus around the league is that both Noel and Jahlil Okafor are available.
The game finds Noel to be a much more desirable player with 22 potential trades to Okafor’s 10. That follows alongside the real perception; Noel is a mobile shot blocker who can survive getting switched onto a point guard while Okafor is an old school post-up brute who is slow on defense. Noel’s game fits more into the modern pace and space style of NBA basketball.
Most deals the game offers for Noel range from mediocre to just plain silly. One example is the Orlando Magic trading away guards Jodie Meeks and D.J. Augustin for Noel and guard Chasson Randle. Orlando has its own problems with its frontcourt rotation and adding Noel would only make their situation more ridiculous. The game also has the Utah Jazz offering Rudy Gobert, arguably the best defensive player in the game, and center Jeff Withey for Noel and Richaun Holmes. In this case the Jazz would never give up their defensive anchor for a player like Noel. I can’t even try to justify the game’s logic on this one.
The best deal is a swap with the Portland Trailblazers. Philadelphia would send Noel and Randle to the Blazers for Maurice Harkless and Festus Ezeli. Harkless has shown flashes of a future as a solid 3-and-D wing. Ezeli’s contract has a team option next year making it very team friendly and another asset that could be included in a trade. For Portland, this trade gives them a player who can help their horrible defense. While Noel won’t turn the Blazers into the best defense he can at least get them moving closer to league average and for this team that is a major improvement. The only roadblock to this deal is Portland’s rumored desire to keep Harkless and the rest of their core from last year’s miracle playoff run.
Okafor doesn’t have any trade offer that any sane GM would make. In one offer the Jazz offer up Gobert and forward Derrick Favors, two members of their killer starting lineup, for Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez. Another offer sees the Memphis Grizzlies offering a package centered around Mike Conley for Okafor. While I am sure the front office in Philadelphia is dreaming of offers like these I can promise they won’t happen. Again, I have no idea where in the world the game came up with these ideas.
The King’s Rudy Gay problem
Rudy Gay has reportedly already made it clear to Sacramento that he won’t re-sign with them this summer. With that in mind it’s in the team’s best interest to try and work a trade instead of losing him for nothing. Of course, they do have one major factor working against them, any team with cap space that wants Gay could opt to wait for free agency and sign him on the open market. It’s an open secret that Gay wants out and that will make it difficult for the Kings to get a lot in return in a trade. Still Gay can be a useful forward on the right team and has shown some potential as a small ball power forward in the right lineups.
The game still thinks teams will line up to trade for Gay; the computer came up with a whopping 25 trade offers for the veteran forward. The game continues its trend of the Jazz offering up Rudy Gobert for subpar players. I don’t know why but the game really thinks the Jazz want to move their All-Defense caliber center. There is also the ridiculous idea of trading Gay and a second round pick to the Denver Nuggets for Jameer Nelson. That’s right, the Kings would give up Gay, a 19 point-per-game scorer for a point guard who is 4 years older and hasn’t averaged more than 9 points or 5 assists since 2014. On top of that the Kings are throwing in a second round pick. Except for a few outliers, such as the Jazz trade, the game seems to think the Kings will give up Gay for next to nothing.
While NBA 2K17 does a great job of simulating most of the aspects of the NBA the AI looking at trades might need a little work. While the game came up with plenty of goofball trades there were a couple that seemed really sound for all parties involved. Maybe we will see a few of these trades happen over the next few weeks.