The NBA trade deadline is closing in, and if early indications are true, nothing significant is going to happen.
Cleveland's passive robbery of Kyle Korver from Atlanta could very well be the biggest move of the season, which would be a shame.
Because moving players is fun, and there are a lot of guys out there like Korver who could probably turn from role player to lynchpin catalyst if moved to the right team.
With this in mind, I went down the league and took some of the league's best role players—a.k.a non-superstars and young franchise foundation blocks—and dropped each onto the team that currently needs them most. It should be noted we're ignoring contracts, roster obligations and the fiscal machinations that keep these type of moves from happening.
These are the role players (in no particular order) that can complete the puzzle for a certain franchise and unlock its full potential—or, in some cases, at least staunch bleeding effectively.
Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Beverley
This isn’t about the Trail Blazers being mostly a bunch of talented and cheery young guys your parents would inherently trust upon shaking hands. They are that, of course, but this isn’t about their image or distinguished track record of Model U.N. summits. It’s not even about Portland needing some Pat Beverley “nasty.” What they need is a set of Patrick Beverley clamps on defense, and will take the nasty like a curly fry in their regular fries.
Bringing in Beverley also allows Portland to spread out their weapons more. Terry Stotts could mix and match, alternate him with McCollum or Lillard, or let Beverly run the point by himself with less breath-holding.
Bringing in Nerlens Noel addresses the only coverage gap in the Warriors’ Voltron super team formation, which is the lack of a rim protector who knows whose basket is whose.
JaVale McGee, to his credit, has played his weird heart out this season for Golden State after surprising everyone and making the team. That said, Noel is the upgrade button here, longevity and talent ceiling-wise. He’s Macbook Air JaVale with retina display and a new iOS that fixed all the 404 errors and regrettable social media posts.
Fringe Benefit: Every squad needs a dude with an eraser top.
Memphis Grizzlies: Tyus Jones
We must free Tyus Jones and move him far away from Minnesota and those who would have you believe Ricky Rubio is actually good.
We must bring Tyus to Memphis, where the 20-year-old NCAA champion can see the floor and breathe fresh air. He is the basketball version of veal that has never been allowed to stand, and playing behind Mike Conley gives Jones a chance to learn his position from a point guard who doesn’t approach shooting like a last-option cyanide pill.
Fringe Benefit: Additional designated driver for Chandler Parsons.
Brooklyn Nets: Allen Crabbe
Bring. Him. Back.
Brooklyn couldn’t afford to give him all of the money, but Allen Crabbe remains a perfect fit for a Nets team that volume-bricks threes like they’re trying to get back at their parents.
Fringe Benefit: There will be one more familiar face in Brooklyn.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJoe Murphy
Miami Heat: Rudy Gay
Get some firepower in there that isn’t Goran Dragic or Tyler Johnson’s 45 degree sideburns.
Fringe Benefit: Gay will care for and literally carry Dion Waiters around in a pouch.
Philadelphia 76ers: Patty Mills
Veteran leadership, solid ball handling, no more Fix-A-Flatting the point with Sergio Rodriguez.
Dropping in Patty and sliding T.J. McConnell up into the No. 2 spot on the Philly depth chart is a win for everyone except Gregg Popovich, who would probably drive to the Wells Fargo Center and take Mills back by force.
Fringe Benefit: The Patty Mills-Ben Simmons connection means having multiple Australians on your side, which is always good regardless of the situation.
Chicago Bulls: Lou Williams
The Bulls need another ball handler with experience and an ability to create on his own and for others, because, while it would be nice, Chicago cannot build the entire plane out of Jimmy Butler.
Fringe Benefit: The biannual Lou Williams Becomes Allen Iverson God Mode game.
New York Knicks: Taj Gibson
Turning New York around, if it can be done, means setting the team up in a way that maximizes the Knicks' ability to develop and make use of the 7’3” Latvian space kangaroo they lucked into in Kristaps Porzingis.
Bringing in Taj Gibson and letting him play de facto center gives the Knicks additional rebounding and athleticism in the paint, and frees up Porzingis to roam farther and stretch the floor.
He cooks, he cleans glass, he shoots the ball through the circle part.
Thaddeus Young would be a nice addition to a streaky shooting team with a young, athletic core, and would be a distinct upgrade over Aaron Gordon, who needs to develop a trusted jumper before he can truly help this team.
Fringe Benefit: Potential for Young and Serge Ibaka to fuse Dragonball Z-style and become the winged archangel, Thadbaka.
Brian SpurlockBrian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Lakers: Jae Crowder
The Lakers are fun and exciting and [15 minutes of League Pass superlatives], at least when they're healthy. But they’re still toddlers in a china shop.
3-point shooting is the biggest need, and while I’m more than thrilled about the Swaggy Renaissance in Los Angeles, having Nick Young as the most consistent marksman on your basketball team is not a sustainable state of affairs.
So we’re bringing in Jae Crowder, who isn’t Ray Allen, but continues to hone an increasingly trustable three-point shot in Boston thanks mostly to spite.
Fringe Benefit: Like a recently converted Sith Lord, Crowder teaches Nick Young the ways of the Force and hating the ball through the basket.
Rob FoldyGetty Images
Houston Rockets: Jonathon Simmons
The Rockets need a rotation guy behind Trevor Ariza who isn’t 40 years old or Corey Brewer, and Jonathon Simmons is rangy and versatile enough to fit in with Houston’s bucket brigade.
Fringe Benefit: The occasional night when Simmons turns into discount LeBron James.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Channing Frye
The perfect fit for a young team that needs both three-point shooting and adult supervision.
Fringe Benefit: Russell Westbrook passes begin to see worthwhile ROI.
Toronto Raptors: Marvin Williams
Additional outside shooting and a solid change of pace forward for Toronto to bring off the bench and mix and match with a returning Jared Sullinger.
Fringe Benefit: The “6th Man (Marv Will)” remix Drake will inevitably drop.
Boston Celtics: Kenneth Faried
Talent-wise, Kenneth Faried is a fringe player for our purposes here, because he’s uniquely good at what he does and sort of a complete nightmare on the boards.
But we’re moving the Manimal to Boston and setting him loose on Isaiah Thomas’ missed field goals. Because Gordon Hayward ain’t coming and it must be done.
Fringe Benefit: Boston’s dreadlock game becomes unstoppable.
Milwaukee Bucks: Marreese Speights
Mo Buckets gives the Bucks a center that can come off the bench and shoot, which they dearly need. Also, Milwaukee could use some comic relief to pair with Giannis’ general good humor. This team is as oppressively earnest as it young and talented.
Fringe Benefit: “The Milwaukee BUCKETS"
Washington Wizards: Clint Capela
A terrifying rim-crasher whose swag fully unlocks when paired with a top-shelf playmaker. Throwing Capela in gives Washington’s bigs some much needed bounce and hopefully means you never have to see Jason Smith ever again.
Fringe Benefit: “Wall-Capela” puns.
San Antonio Spurs: Dario Saric
KEEP THE INTERNATIONAL PIPELINE FLOWIN’, GREGG.
Fringe Benefit: San Antonio is no longer bottom in the league in hairline +/-.
Getty ImagesMitchell Leff
Atlanta Hawks: Jrue Holiday
Dennis Schroeder needs better backup than Malcolm Delaney and the breathing And1 “What’s wrong? Forgot YOUR GAME?” t-shirt that is current-day Mo Williams.
Fringe Benefit:Sir Foster playing “Holiday Inn” three times more than usual.
USA TODAY SportsDerick E. Hingle
Indiana Pacers: Ian Clark
The Pacers get a long, 6’3” guard who can shoot the three, play defense and help keep some of the miles off Monta Ellis, who is endlessly lost in the sauce when pitted against bigger shooting guards like Klay Thompson.
Fringe Benefit: Clark gets to play for a fan base that doesn’t actively count the seconds until he returns to the bench.
Charlotte Hornets: Jared Dudley
Jared Dudley gives Charlotte a versatile small-power-whatever-forward whose offensive firepower and unemployed-cousin-rooting-through-your-fridge aesthetic will play the perfect foil for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Fringe Benefit: The Hornets learning how to order all the off-menu items at Chipotle.
NBAE/Getty ImagesDavid Sherman
Detroit Pistons: Nik Stauskas
He shoots, he slashes, he sauces.
The Pistons could use an additional shooter/playmaker for Reggie Jackson to find slithering through the trees.
Additional length the Jazz can mix and match with Joe Johnson and Gordon Hayward for clamping down the small forward position.
Fringe Benefit: Watching guards attempt to shoot over the sea of Whomping Basketball Willows that would be Harkless and Rudy Gobert’s combined limbs.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Boris Diaw
Bringing some much-needed experience and finesse to a team that relies heavily on raw talent and Zach LaVine rail gun threes.
Boris Diaw gives Minnesota a pass-first front court player who can find cutters and help shepherd a young team through its third quarter nightmare zone.
Fringe Benefit: Halftime espressos will keep Minnesota from cooling off.
Denver Nuggets: Jamal Crawford
The Nuggets need a ball handler who’s old enough to remember Kazaa and isn’t Jameer Nelson. Which brings us to the Crawdaddy.
Jamal Crawford gives the Nuggets a veteran who can bring their herd of talented child-guards along and isn’t afraid to wave off Danilo Gallinari when he needs to.
Fringe Benefit: Watching the Nuggets backcourt gradually evolve into the And1 Mixtape Tour.
Leon Halip-USA TODAY SportsLeon Halip
New Orleans Pelicans: DeMarre Carroll
A versatile two-way player with playoff experience and length.
DeMarre Carroll won’t fix New Orleans, but he’ll give the Pelicans someone who can guard a top shelf small forward and make teams pay for double-teaming Anthony Davis.
Fringe Benefit: Cajun poutine recipes.
Jason GetzJason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks: Larry Nance Jr.
The Mavericks’ biggest need is for it to be 2007 again, but until Shark Tank produces an actual working time machine, Dallas could really go for an athletic rim protector to guard the paint and spare us the sight of Dirk Nowitzki’s increasingly depressing brand of noodle-armed panic defense.
Dwight Powell is enthusiastic, but he’s only one man. Bringing in Larry Nance Jr. gives the Mavericks a verified bounce monster who dunks like he’s trying to get his picture next to “dunk” in the dictionary.
Fringe Benefit: Deez.
Kevork DjansezianGetty Images
Phoenix Suns: Enes Kanter
The Suns’ biggest need is a “Get Isaiah Thomas back” voucher, but short of that, they could stand to benefit from an inside scorer like Enes Kanter to come in give Phoenix some versatility down low. Tyson Chandler is not the answer, y’all.
This is a joke entry, but not really. The Kings need to go Bob the Unbuilder on their franchise, and if you’re an NBA franchise looking to tank effectively, you might as well bring in the Panzer commander himself.
Fringe Benefit: DeMarcus Cousins getting to see the sun.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Brandon Jennings
A capable secondary ball handler off the bench that can and will shoot the ball regardless of the color LeBron assigns to him on the Cavs’ shooting stoplight.
Because Brandon Jennings is the entire stoplight and the road and the sky above it, at least in Brandon Jenning’s mind, and he’s more than capable of keeping emotions and intensity high when LeBron can’t be on the floor brow-furrowing the second line into gear.
Fringe Benefit: Being able to sub in Jennings for short periods of the NBA Finals solely to harass and piss off Steph Curry.