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NBA Trades: Kobe Bryant, Anderson Varejao & Andre Miller (And Fantasy Ones, Too!)

by Dave Fuller

Here's a little reality: I think it's safe to say the National Basketball Assocation gets at least one major shake-up per season in the form of teams swapping players just before the trade deadline.

The term "blockbuster" is subjective, especially when dealing with NBA trades. However, the 76ers-Nuggest deal was probably as close as the league came to seeing a blockbuster deal last season.

In December of 2006, Allen Iverson was shipped to the Denver Nuggets for PG Andre Miller, PF Joe Smith, and two (count 'em, two) first round draft picks. Fans and analysts across the nation had been speculating for weeks as to where the league's toughest player would land, with the favorite choice of some prognosticators being Minnesota. This surely would have satisfied Kevin Garnett's desire for a running partner, and would have kept the big man with the Wolves for perhaps the remainder of his career.

Instead, it led to what I'd consider a true blockbuster deal in July of 2007.

The T'Wolves received Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, and Sebastian Telfair from the Celtics in the biggest trade in NBA history. The C's also sent over their first round draft pick in 2009, cash, and the conditional draft pick they lost to Boston in the previous Wally Szczerbiak-for-Ricky Davis deal. Chump change.

Man, and all they got in return was ten-time All-Star and one-time (2004) MVP F Kevin Garnett. What a rip-off. All he's doing is putting up 20 points, 12 rebounds a game as part of the aptly-named "Big Three". They should just rename the Celtics the Boston Triumvirate. Hmm, I think I'll do that in my articles from now on.

Enough detailing, I'm just listing off information you already know by now. Considering you're here to read up on new information, I'll actually try to go out on a limb in the next section.

All that said, there's bound to be at least one more trade involving a big-name player or two before the trade deadline. The following short list is comprised of just a few players who just may hear their names involved in trade rumors for the next month or so:

Kobe Bryant :: SG, Los Angeles Lakers
Hey, just wanted to set your attention on Kobe for a second. He is not going to be dealt to another team this season, plain and simple. If a deal was going to happen with Chicago, it would have been in the off-season. The chances decreased dramatically as the season progressed, and now that Chicago is in the mess they are now, there's no way Bryant is going to be a Bull this or any season soon. Besides, if the Bulls players (supposedly) can't respect Coach Skiles, why would Bryant? The only coach Kobe Bryant currently respects enough to truly listen to is Phil Jackson. Kobe might just remain a Laker his whole career.

Anderson Varejao :: PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers
$10M a year? Seriously? No wonder the Cavaliers haven't re-signed this kid yet. Granted he does all the dirty work, gets loose balls, and is just an overall spark of energy coming off the bench, he's still a sixth man asking for a ludicrous eight figures. As of the 27th, he has officially stated he does not want to play for Cleveland after vilifying Danny Ferry (as if a guy named 'Ferry' needs extra ridicule). So, where does AV land this season? Reports have Miami as interested, but they just don't have the financial means to be dishing out $10M for an extra ego. It seems they've denied having interest in him as well anyway. The scenario that makes the most sense? San Antonio Spurs. They're a defensive-minded team with a desire to give Tim Duncan more and more time on the bench to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Varejao would give the Spurs the means to do so while maintaining the energy and defensive present Duncan brings to the table. If Anderson would only drop his asking price, a sign-and-trade likely would already have occurred.

Andre Miller :: PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Yes, he's getting old. By the time his contract ends, he'll be about 33. His skills have already been on the decline for a little while, and they're paying him over $9M as it is. Andre Iguodala is the face of this franchise, and it would be prudent for them to make sure they can satisfy his financial needs. They have a load of young talents as well, so they would be better suited spending their cash on that pure potential rather than one almost considered a has-been. Who's the most suitable target? Well, Miami's been actively seeking a top-notch point since the '07-'08 season opened. The Lakers don't have a true point guard outside of Derek Fisher (is he even a true point guard anymore?) and have some pieces to work with. If Atlanta remains a contender in the East, they might ship a package over to Philadelphia for the play-making point guard as well. If Atlanta isn't the most likely place for Miller to land, the Triumvirate just might be the best remaining choice. They have young pieces, a team built for a championship run, and Rondo might not be the player they're looking for in a serious playoff push. Miller provides addition veteran leadership (like they need it) and could be just the thing Boston needs to put them over the top.

Of course there are more, but it's a bit early for me to be bringing up every possible trade scenario. Those are just a few to consider, as they'll all have a big impact on the fantasy game if they get done.

Now back to fantasy. you all know how much of an impact KG and Ray Allen have had for Boston. They're nearly undefeated. Rashard Lewis is providing the kind of outside help that Dwight Howard needed to become a truly dominant force in the East as well. As you can see, these two different types of teams made deals for the right type(s) of player(s) for their team. The results are clear. They have quickly become two of the best teams in the league. However, Boston was a lowly team before these deals were made. Orlando was on the rise, but not nearly as bad as Boston. Both teams make moves specific to their weaknesses, and all of a sudden, they're instant contenders.

That's the message that I'm trying to send when discussing trades in fantasy basketball. Any team in the league can continue playing with the roster they have now. For some teams, that would be like contending for the title of League Worst. Even those lowly teams can make deals that put them closer to the top as long as they're trading away their excess strengths to bolster their low points.

The key to that statement is giving up excess strengths. It would be useless to give up your strengths if you're only strong enough to sustain the stats in that category. In other words, if your three shot-blockers are good enough to put you in third place in blocks in your league, you're strong in blocks. It would just be senseless to deal any of those shot-blockers away, though, because that will quickly become a mediocre category for your team.

If you've got five shot blockers and you're first in your league in blocks by a mile, then that's an excess strength. That is one of your trade chips, and if you're a team looking to move up in the standings, your best move is to do some quick research. Find out which team or teams in your league need shot-blockers. Those will instantly be your trade partners.

Now, not everyone will want to trade. I've played with a lot of owners who are extremely obstinate when it comes to trading. You just cannot get them to budge. This is why you look for a few teams who are weak in shot-blocking.

Yahoo! Sports makes it simple for those of you without the time necessary to implement a lot of the strategies I bring up. If you go to the League tab and click Head-to-Head Stats, it brings up the records or total stats of each owner in your league. Just find the teams who are near the bottom in blocks and start the conversation.

And in case you're not positive what you're weak in, go to that same Head-to-Head Stats page and look at what your team is worst in. The four-and-a-half weeks we've played thus far is enough to give at least a decent indication of what we need to do to become top contenders in our fantasy leagues.

The biggest thing to remember, however, is your fantasy trades do not have to be blockbusters. You don't need to acquire Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen, and you don't need to deal away the Allen Iversons on your team. It's actually less beneficial for you to be giving up your big-name players when swapping strengths for weaknesses, as you will suffer much more if one of your players goes down.

Let's say you deal Josh Smith for Ray Allen so you can get your 3s and percentages higher. You have Jamario Moon, but he won't be putting up 2-3 steals and 4-5 blocks per game like Josh Smith does. After the deal, Moon (hopefully not) goes down with an injury. All of a sudden, what was a strength (blocks/steals) is now going to be a weakness because you let go of your top producer in the category(s). Take it from me. I would never deal Josh Smith for Ray Allen again. Learn from my mistake, because mistakes are an integral part of learning. I'm now weak in blocks where I once considered my team dominant. Hey, I'm still making them as I better learn this game.

I'm just here to make sure you minimalize your mistakes as much as possible.

Top Trade Targets ::

FG/FT Percentages:
Ronnie Brewer :: SG/SF, Utah Jazz
Especially after preaching so much about him, I don't expect any readers of this column to be willing to part with the Brewster easily. He's ranked 18th in the Yahoo! game after all. However, he's been shooting lights out from the field and the charity stripe this season. He's not shooting an extremely high value, so it won't be a heavy impact, but the players who shoot high volume are normally impossible to get without giving up a player drafted in the top rounds. Try to take Brewer from the unsuspecting owner who is still questioning how his rank is so high. Also consider Devin Harris or Mo Williams if you can't pry Brewer from his owner. In my league, you couldn't even try to take Ronnie from me.

3-Points:
Keith Bogans :: SG/SF, Orlando Magic
Bogans has the single-game record for scoring in the Summer League with a 38-point-game a while back. His strength is solely 3-pointers with the Magic at the moment, however. He does a few other things respectably well, but his game and biggest fantasy contribution is clearly 3's. If you're weak from deep, it may not be extremely difficult to coax Bogans' owner into dealing him away to you. He's one of the league leaders, thanks mostly to Dwight Howards' stretching of the opponents' perimeter defense from the inside-out. Having Rashard Lewis attract defenders on the other end doesn't hurt Bogans 3's, either.

Points:
Juan Carlos Navarro :: PG/SG, Memphis Grizzlies
The Spanish "rookie" is really beginning to excell now that he's picked up consistent minutes and starting spot. He's got a nice amount of experience from his play in professional leagues overseas, but the NBA is a completely different monster and he's proving he knows how to deal with it. Oh, and while he's scoring 17.8 a game, he's also putting up nearly 3 3's a game and shooting lights out. This is the time to acquire J.C., because if he keeps up this pace, he might soon be considered a better version of Leandro Barbosa.

Rebounds:
Drew Gooden :: PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Gooden picked up his eighth double-double of the season last (Friday) night. That makes one every two-ish games. For a player who wasn't even drafted in a lot of leagues, that's pretty darn solid. I'm sure he's been long gone, but he'll continue to be a solid source of boards. With Anderson Varejao claiming he wants out of Cleveland, that just gives Gooden more minutes even as the season progresses. The No. 4 overall pick out of Kansas in 2002, Gooden has always had a lot of potential. This is the highest minutes-per-game average that DG has ever maintained, and he will continue to play over his career averages as a result. Don't let his services go to waste on another team if you're in the need for rebounds.

Assists:
Jose Calderon :: PG, Toronto Raptors
As a T.J. Ford owner, I can't help but dislike Calderon for giving Sam Mitchell yet another reason to give the Spanish Calderon more minutes when Ford is finally healthy again. Jose as a player, however, is just plain sick when given starters' minutes. He averaged over 11 assists while starting over the injured Ford, and puts up crazy percentages as well. I would have put him under the percentages listing, but I didn't want to have duplicate listings. Overall, Calderon is just plain valuable to own whether you're a Ford owner or not. Wait until Ford has re-established himself as the Raptors' starter so Calderon's value cools off, but once that happens, grab this kid. He's one season-ending injury for Ford away from being fantasy gold at the point.

Steals:
Rajon Rondo :: PG/SG, Boston Triumvirate
Rajon was expected to be near the top of the list for steals before the season began, and he's not disappointing in that category. Unfortunately, that's close to all he does aside from some respectable rebound totals for a point guard. If Boston does intend to acquire Andre Miller to put them over the top, that will severely reduce Rondo's value. Just another reason to monitor those major NBA moves. Until then (if it even happens), squeeze Rondo for as many steals as you can. His rank isn't spectacular and his overall stat line is rather average as well. He shouldn't be extremely difficult to take from his owner, especially if that owner is disappointed with Rajon's play at this point in the season.

Blocks:
Jamario Moon :: SF, Toronto Raptors
I can't say enough about this kid. He was a star in the Canadian National Basketball League (CNBL) not too long ago, and has drawn comparisons to Josh Howard recently. I myself tend to see him as a poor man's Josh Smith, putting up solid rebounding and defensive totals. That's not bad company. Once he refines his scoring abilities (he put up 20.8 points per game in college), he just might become the next Josh Smith. Too bad he's already 27-years-old, or the sky could really be the limit for this kid. Still, his development could be drastically positive in the coming years, and even now he's a great source of blocks. Trade for him while you still can.

Poll

Which NBA Player Is Most Likely To Be Dealt?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Kobe Bryant
    (5 votes)
  • 38%
    Anderson Varejao
    (12 votes)
  • 45%
    Andre Miller
    (14 votes)
31 votes total Vote Now