Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What pseudo-contender most needs a trade and won’t get it by Thursday’s deadline?
Steve Aschburner: Philadelphia. The Sixers sure could use a closer, a star offensive player who could get his own shots and, better still, earn trips to the foul line late in games. Evan Turner has been a boost to the starting lineup, but he’s not that guy. However, it’s hard to envision them breaking up the crew that has been so productive or tinkering with the chemistry of the ensemble. Getting center Spencer Hawes back is the next-best thing to a notable trade but a surgical move might have this team really pushing the Heat and the Bulls.
Fran Blinebury: Taking you at your word — pseudo-contender — then the biggest fake in the league was the notion that the Knicks could combine Jeremy Lin with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to make noise in the playoffs. In two weeks, we have gone from Linsanity to Linadequate and Linsufferable watching Melo and coach Mike D’Antoni do their dance of mistrust. The Knicks need a makeover. What they’ll likely get instead is D’Antoni’s head.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The Magic (with an emphasis on pseudo-contender, not top contender). I will stick to my belief of several weeks that they are not going to deal Dwight Howard, and there is no sense in the thinking that they will be able to make a major addition to convince Howard they can surround him with a championship roster. The second-best trade asset in Orlando is Ryan Anderson. That doesn’t generate a big return.
Shaun Powell: That would be … get ready … Orlando. The Magic need a co-star to upgrade their chances of beating either the Bulls or Heat to “fair” and to convince Dwight Howard to stay. But nobody’s giving up quality for Hedo Turkoglu or Jason Richardson or Jameer Nelson. Therefore … well, you know where this is headed.
John Schuhmann: I think the Clippers could get over the hump with a big guard who can defend. They’re currently starting Randy Foye at the two and rank 22nd in defensive efficiency. But I don’t know where they’d go for help, or what assets they’d have to offer a team in exchange for a difference-maker. There was a report that they were talking to the Jazz about Raja Bell, but another report denying their interest. He would probably help, but he’s owed $3.5 million next season, when he’ll be 36.
The Magic would be another appropriate answer to this question, because they’re obviously not getting the non-Dwight trade they need to keep Dwight.
Sekou Smith: The Clippers. Losing Chauncey Billups damaged this team in ways that could not fully be appreciated in the days immediately after the veteran point guard went down for the season with that Achilles injury. But it should be clear to everyone by now that the Clippers have a huge void there. I know how they could fix it and his name is Ray Allen. He’s the sort of veteran who could blend in well with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the rest of a rising Clippers team that is one deadeye shooter away from being a matchup nightmare for most teams in a playoff series. The Celtics always answer the phone during trade deadline week, so it’s not like Allen (or anyone else not named Rondo) is untouchable.