Trade ideas for contenders

Deals that five teams could make to improve their championship odds

Originally Published: December 1, 2012
By Joe Kaiser | ESPN Insider
J.J. RedickRocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesJ.J. Redick could help Memphis improve its outside shooting.

Entering December, there are 16 teams around the NBA playing .500 (or better) ball: Memphis, Miami, OKC, San Antonio, Brooklyn, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston, Utah, Indiana, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee and Chicago.

Five others -- the Denver Nuggets (8-9), Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8), Houston Rockets (7-8), Charlotte Bobcats (7-8) and Dallas Mavericks (7-9) -- are just below it.

Yet when it comes to true contenders with a legitimate shot at challenging the top teams such as the odds-on favorites Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder for the NBA championship, that list shrinks considerably.

Becoming a championship contender, particularly in the era of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, is no walk in the park. It takes at least two to three stars. It takes the depth to overcome injuries and slumps. It takes a coach who can gain the respect of his team while putting all the pieces together.

On top of all that, it takes a savvy front office with a general manager willing to pull the trigger on any deal that can improve his roster for a championship run.

Here are five trade ideas this season's crop of contenders should consider:

Memphis Grizzlies acquire: J.J. Redick
Orlando Magic acquire: Tony Wroten, Jerryd Bayless, Hamed Haddadi

(Note: Bayless and Haddadi cannot be traded until Dec. 15)

Why it works for Memphis: The Grizzlies are supertalented but need to add shooting and depth to their forward-oriented bench to become a team that can contend for the title. Redick would provide an immediate upgrade to Wayne Ellington and Jerryd Bayless, whether as a starter or a reserve, and would give Lionel Hollins a solid combination at shooting guard with defensive wizard Tony Allen.


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Joe Kaiser

Fantasy, Insider