Cohen 8-Ball: Intriguing Questions
January 7, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: If an All-Star caliber talent in his prime or about to be at the pinnacle of his career was available via trade as early as February’s deadline, should the Magic make every attempt to obtain that player or should Orlando not even consider shattering the team’s current nucleus and splinter the plethora of young blossoming talent? This is always the most complicated assessment for any general manager. It can be rewarding, on one hand, to essentially “blow up” a roster to net a “superstar” like when Boston acquired Kevin Garnett & Ray Allen in two separate deals or when New York landed Carmelo Anthony. But it can also be haunting if the young players that are traded prove to be more valuable and quintessential to their new teams. Philadelphia is probably feeling some regret after sending away Nikola Vucevic and Andre Iguodala for an injury-ridden Andrew Bynum. It’s ambiguous whether an established All-Star talent will be on the trading block any time soon, but if one pops up, it’s an intriguing concept to ponder.
Cohen’s Analysis: Dirk Nowitzki recently stated some frustration with Mavericks management and the decisions they have made. Should Dallas be blamed for a tumble in the standings without a guarantee it will make a big splash in free agency or should Dirk look in the mirror and realize that his meager performance since returning from injury is the more pressing issue? The Mavs struck out on Deron Williams last summer, though he hasn’t dazzled in Brooklyn. They still have a plethora of cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul. Nowtizki needs to realize that his team’s strategy is a smart one and his complaining isn’t helping.
Cohen’s Analysis: It’s completely hypothetical and probably could infuriate a number of Magic fans after all the drama that ensued over the last year, but if the L.A. experiment failed and Dwight Howard decided he didn’t want to sign long term with the Lakers and somehow felt a return to Orlando was in his best interest as a free agent, should the Magic even consider an unimaginable reconciliation? Like I said, this is extraordinarily fantastical, although it sure appears there is turmoil and tension building in Hollywood. From a financial standpoint, the Magic would have to do some maneuvering to be able to offer Howard a reasonable contract. But aside from that, was all the strain that transpired last season too much to even consider it? Regardless, even if Dwight wanted to leave L.A., Dallas and Atlanta will have sufficient cap space to sign him. Also, if the Lakers did the unbelievable and traded him by the deadline, the Nets would be the frontrunners to land D12.
Cohen’s Analysis: A few sources close to the Bulls believe Derrick Rose is ready to come back now. Chicago, however, is being extra cautious and won’t be hasty. Should the Bulls be extra patient with their franchise player and wait until late in the regular season to bring him back or should they act more quickly to make a big push for a top seed in the conference? Ricky Rubio’s return from the same injury must worry the Bulls. He has been in an out of the lineup already and his performance has been abysmal. It’s probably best to be safe with Rose, however Chicago’s best chance to beat the Heat or Knicks in the playoffs would be to have home-court advantage. It may need Rose soon for that to be realistic.
Cohen’s Analysis: If a team that was desperate to make the playoffs this season but could easily slip next year and miss the postseason entirely was willing to trade an unprotected 2014 draft pick, should the Magic offer one of their valuable assets to try and attain that pick? By all accounts, the next two franchise superstars will potentially be available in the draft in 2014. League policy doesn’t permit mentioning prospects until they have officially declared for the draft. It’s tempting; indeed, especially if Orlando doesn’t feel it will be in position to net a franchise player via trade or free agency.
Cohen’s Analysis: The Grizzlies are still a fringe championship contender, though most believe it will be tough for them to beat the Thunder, Spurs or Clippers in the playoffs. Should Memphis stand pat with its roster and not flirt with selling off one of its high-priced players or accept being just slightly above average and realize it may be best to trade Rudy Gay for a compilation of assets? Gay has been in the trade rumor spotlight for the last few years, but previously his loaded contract made it difficult to move him. Now, he is playing the best ball of his career and there are teams willing to add on his expensive contract.
Cohen’s Analysis: Once Glen Davis returns and if Al Harrington can also come back and contribute, should the Magic make every last effort to make a postseason push or accept being in a more conventional renovation stage and focus more on developing the youth? If Orlando decides to concentrate on the “future,” that would imply it would be best to give Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn maximum playing time and perhaps be sellers at the trade deadline. Otherwise, if qualifying for the playoffs was still feasible, there should be a concerted effort to get Davis, Harrington and E’Twaun Moore healthy for one big surge in the second half of the season.
Cohen’s Analysis: Utah’s Al Jefferson, Minnesota’s Kevin Love and Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao could all be traded by the deadline. Should any of them get moved and which teams should be standing in line? First off, Love, who re-fractured his hand recently, is a franchise centerpiece. If the Wolves believe they must trade him now, they may get offers from 29 other teams. Jefferson and Varejao, on the other hand, are perfect complimentary pieces to legit playoff contenders. Houston would probably love Big Al, especially since Kevin McHale groomed him in Minnesota and since it needs a governing power forward. Cleveland needs to be careful with Andy if he can be an influence on whether LeBron James would seriously consider a return in 2014.