The NBA trade deadline is still almost two months away, but there sit a lot of determined mediocre teams in the landscape that probably don’t want to wait until the final buzzer to improve their playoff odds. Three that immediately come to mind are the New Orleans Pelicans, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves... and it just so happens that there exists an obvious 3-team deal to be made among the trio.
The best thing about this proposal is that the main pieces are all twinkles in each participant’s eye: Jason Kidd has long salivated over Ricky Rubio, Dell Demps has been keen to add Greg Monroe for some time, and Tom Thibodeau is reportedly interested in a veteran or two as well as desperate to improve Minnesota’s defense.
This trade proposal is just one variation that centers around an Asik-Monroe-Rubio combination. One can play around with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine to devise a number of other legitimate scenarios or tweak it with the addition of draft picks; however, I settled on this variation because Thibodeau would probably like to add a little more than Asik, say some Kris Dunn insurance in the form of a tough-nosed guard that reminds the head coach of Kirk Hinrich.
Why the Pelicans do it:
This one’s the easiest of the bunch: New Orleans has long been enamored with Monroe and he’s still very much available. In addition, the front office needs to correct at least one of their mistakes when Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca were both re-signed at the start of Alvin Gentry’s tenure.
With Greg Monroe playing well — he’s in the Bucks’ ten best lineup combinations that have played at least 15 minutes together — the Pelicans probably need to make a deal for him sooner rather than later because there may be additional suitors the season.
Even if Gentry discovers Anthony Davis is best suited as a starting center, Monroe would fill a sizable hole behind him. Terrence Jones is currently proving he is far from the answer for backup minutes at the 5, and it appears the coaching staff doesn’t believe Cheick Diallo is ready yet for a permanent role in the rotation.
Why the Bucks do it:
The Bucks have so many weapons on the wings: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and when healthy, Khris Middleton. Matthew Dellavedova has been okay, but Milwaukee would love to get their hands on a stronger ring leader, especially if they can add one without losing a young piece from the core — something they’d probably need to do since they’re unlikely to finish low enough in the standings to score a point guard in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Although the Michael Carter Williams experiment blew up in their faces, I assume Jason Kidd views Rubio in a much different light. MCW has always had a poor record with turnovers and his effort levels were often suspect. On the flip side, Rubio only needs work on his perimeter shooting game, and I suspect Kidd believes he can be of some assistance based on his own personal past experiences.
Why the Timberwolves do it:
Thibodeau needs veteran reinforcements and a familiar face at the rim and a similar personality on the perimeter would make for a great start. Just as Monroe has bounced back in Milwaukee, Asik’s defensive rating stands at 103.3 on the season, markedly better than his 107.9 showing in 2015-16. Delladova could function as either the starting point guard in the interim or enter close games for the Wolves as Dunn continues making adjustments to the league.
In trading away just Rubio, Thibodeau gets to keep his vaunted core of Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Gorgui Dieng together.
Although there exist a lot of fans at the moment who would prefer their non-upper echelon teams start looking towards the future, general managers often don’t empathize. I’m honestly a little surprised by the fact that no one else has suggested a similar trade proposal. A deal centered around Asik-Monroe-Rubio makes enough sense for all the involved teams that at least a variation of it seems rather plausible.
What do you guys think?