Commentary

Trade deadline fixes: Atlantic Division

Ainge unlikely to blow up Celtics, but the obvious move for Nets is Howard

Originally Published: March 4, 2012
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Dwight HowardKyle Terada/US PresswireFor the Nets, the trade deadline is a slam dunk -- trade for Dwight Howard now.

Basketball Prospectus is taking a look at the NBA division by division and suggesting ways each team should tackle the upcoming trade deadline, starting Tuesday with a look at the Pacific Division. Wednesday dealt with the Southwest, Thursday was the Northwest, Friday looked at the Southeast, Saturday was the Central and today ends with the Atlantic.

The NBA trade deadline drops at 3 p.m. ET March 15, and while all eyes remain on Orlando's Dwight Howard, most teams in the league will be simply trying to improve their position. For some teams, it's the immediate future that is the biggest concern, and they will be looking to fill holes for a springtime playoff run. Others are looking more at the big picture, and they'll be looking for young talent, salary-cap flexibility and other franchise-building assets.

The primary statistic you'll encounter will be wins above replacement player. We're presenting WARP for each feature player in two flavors, separated by a slash. The first number measures a player's WARP value based on his productivity for this season to date, prorated to 82 games. The second projects his combined WARP value for the next two seasons. This will give you a quick glimpse of both short- and long-term value.

Philadelphia 76ers

The problem: The Sixers' best offensive players aren't their best defensive players, which leaves Doug Collins with a lot of choices to make down the stretch of close games. Philadelphia continues to lack a go-to scorer, though Lou Williams has been explosive off the bench. The attack is ultra-balanced -- with six players averaging double digits -- just as it was last season. However, Elton Brand is having the worst season of his career and Spencer Hawes' career season has been halted by a strained Achilles, leaving Collins to rely on jump-shooting rookie Nikola Vucevic for interior scoring. Neither Jrue Holiday nor Evan Turner has evolved into a high-volume scorer, so the league's top defensive team is going to need another offensive threat if it intends to make noise in the postseason.

The fix: There are some interesting scenarios you could work with the Milwaukee Bucks that would bring disgruntled veteran Stephen Jackson to Philadelphia, but a more direct route might be to simply deal lottery semi-disappointment Evan Turner to Memphis for O.J. Mayo. Mayo will become a restricted free agent after the season and the Grizzlies won't have space under the luxury tax threshold to keep him around. He has never really adjusted to coming off the bench, but still shows flashes of being the big-time scorer that he once projected to be. The Sixers might be hesitant to pull the plug on Turner, but he is blocked by Andre Iguodala, who still has one season plus an early termination option for another left on his deal. The Sixers would be able to retain Mayo and add another piece over the summer by using their amnesty clause on Brand. Jodie Meeks could shift to a bench role.

Mayo's WARP: 3.8 (this season)/7.3 (next two seasons)