Living in a world where you get to switch the order around would be pretty cool. You get to sit in the control room and pick and choose an event that might slightly alter your path or completely misalign it, causing your future to have a completely different look. Each and every choice has its own consequence and NBA general managers wish they had the power of hindsight to see the consequences of the moves they make.
Luckily they don’t have that hindsight, which makes bad trades and transactions permissible. Fans like to play the trade game and look back in time at opportunities that would have been interesting to execute and times where the execution was an absolutely horrid move. The moves made can be franchise altering and may not have a full effect until years after the move is actually made. Here is a top five of the biggest What If scenarios since 2007.
Remember these situations are completely hypothetical and some have zero backing of any possible rumors. It’s an assumed line of thinking from a general manager or player’s mind after a set of situations manipulates his decision.
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5. What if… DERRICK ROSE didn’t get injured?
On April 28, 2012, Bulls fans gasped in disgust as they saw Derrick Rose hit the court in excruciating pain, crumpling to the floor due to a torn ACL in his left knee. The injury would knock Rose out for the playoffs, along with the championship aspiration of the No. 1-seeded Chicago Bulls. The day is a dark one for the Bulls because it not only affected their championship aspirations for 2012 but for 2013, as well.
So hypothetically speaking, let us assume that Rose stays healthy. We can all pretty much agree that the Bulls with Rose would have been able to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers after having won the first game. The next series would have been against the Boston Celtics and would have been a dogfight, but let’s say that the Bulls win that one. That would line the Miami Heat up with the Bulls and create an incredibly competitive conference final, even though the actual 2012 Conference Finals was a great seven-game series. If the Bulls win that series, which isn’t inconceivable considering they were the No. 1 seed and they were 2-2 against the Heat during the regular season, they would go on to the Finals.
This alters history, regardless of the outcome of the Finals result. The Miami Heat may have succumbed to the pressure from the public of “championship or bust” expectations and may have blown up the core, something that was talked about during the playoffs because of Dwyane Wade‘s struggles. That person could’ve also been Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat team of 2013 might look completely different. The biggest issue raised about Bosh is his lack of physicality, which became more prevalent in the 2013 Playoff series with the Indiana Pacers. But the Pacers and Bulls both have a bruising, physical inside game, which would have inclined the Heat to look for a center. That center may have been Dwight Howard.
The Orlando Magic may have done a trade that included Norris Cole, Chris Bosh, and a couple of first-round picks. This would have given the Heat a dominant center, but would have gotten a less potent, very distracting Howard. This would have changed the dynamic of the Heat and would have caused a tussling of ego checks with three legitimate superstars on the team.
The Bulls would have had another chance at a title this year with their superstar healthy and blocked the Heat from winning another championship.
The one last interesting part about this scenario is, what would have happened if the Thunder beat the Bulls in the 2012 Finals? You would have to think that the Thunder might have tried to ride out James Harden‘s contract to the bitter end, attempting to capture a second title in 2013. This seems slightly more unreasonable because of Sam Presti‘s attempt to stay ahead of the curve, but not at all unrealistic.
Bulls or Thunder win the 2012 NBA Championship
Miami Heat potentially trades Chris Bosh and others for Dwight Howard
James Harden stays in Oklahoma City
Miami Heat become a circus
Lakers have a vastly different team
Bulls, Pacers or Spurs win 2013 championship
4. What if… CHRIS PAUL was traded to the Lakers?
The deal was done. It was in place, set and ready to go. It seemed to be a mega-deal that was getting Kobe Bryant the point guard he had always dreamed of having. Chris Paul was to be a Los Angeles Laker… until he wasn’t.
The lockout-shortened season already had an odd feel to it but it got a bit weirder on December 8 when the commissioner of the NBA shot down the trade. Huh? Yes, David Stern nixed the deal, after reportedly getting a letter demanding that the owners all get a say on whether the trade was fair. The situation was a bit murky because the Hornets were owned by the NBA at the time. This was all preceded by a lockout that had issues with star players going to big market teams. Awkward. Anyway, let’s see what the trade would have looked like had the commissioner allowed it to go through.
Rockets Get: Pau Gasol
Lakers Get: Chris Paul
Hornets Get: Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Lamar Odom and the Knicks 2012 first-round draft pick.
If this trade went through, it would have not only been considered a fair trade but it would have submerged the Los Angeles Clippers further into mediocrity. Eric Bledsoe, an explosive guard who is just now coming into his own, would have to take on a large portion of the responsibility and the Clippers would have held on to Chris Kaman, Minnesota’s 2012 first-round pick, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Eric Gordon. The Clippers would have a weak core and it would be highly doubtful that they would be a 50-win team or have the ability to lure Doc Rivers to coach them.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets would have gotten Pau Gasol, their first major star for their current roster. The arrangement of the roster may have changed but they probably still would have been able to entice the Thunder into trading them James Harden. This would have landed them out of the Dwight Howard 2013 sweepstakes, unless they were able to carve out the cap space by trading Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and Thomas Robinson.
The Lakers would have gotten Chris Paul and would have lost Pau Gasol. So what does that mean? Well, it looks like they would have had to move some pieces around in order to entertain Dwight Howard. They probably would have had to convince the Magic to take Metta World Peace or a combination of Jordan Hill and Steve Blake.
Steve Nash would not be a Laker and it would have been interesting to see where he would have landed. The Knicks were seriously interested in Nash but needed a sign and trade to make it work. The Dallas Mavericks were looking to bring back Steve Nash if they were unable to sign Deron Williams.
Clippers would not have Chris Paul, would keep mediocre core
Lakers would get Chris Paul, possibly Dwight Howard
Rockets would get Pau Gasol to eventually pair with James Harden
Lakers would not have Steve Nash, would sign elsewhere
3. What if… the Portland Trail Blazers drafted KEVIN DURANT?
Most people thought that Greg Oden was the right pick, but it wasn’t unanimous, at least if you ask Danny Ainge. Portland went with Oden at No. 1 and the Sonics went with Durant at No. 2. That argument seems to be a bit one-sided now. As most of you know, Greg Oden would never amount to much, playing in 82 games for his entire career while Kevin Durant has three scoring titles and just recently joined the 50/40/90 club.
What would the fallout be if this actually happened? Both teams would follow completely different trajectories with the Trail Blazers being able to team up LaMarcus Aldridge with Durant. The core of the Trail Blazers would be Aldridge, Durant and Batum. They may have hesitated on trading Zach Randolph. Durant playing the small forward might have allowed the Blazers to keep the troubled star in Portland. It would have been an interesting team, to say the least.
The Thunder would have had an oft-injured center in Oden but would have drafted both Harden and Westbrook. The dynamic duo would become the hallmarks of the team while Sam Presti might have been more inclined to keep Jeff Green on the roster. This could have impacted the Celtics, who could have used Perkins during the Miami Heat series in 2011, even though they seemed overmatched in the series without a healthy Garnett.
Kevin Durant on the Trail Blazers
Greg Oden on the Thunder
Jeff Green, James Harden stay with Thunder
Zach Randolph stays with Trail Blazers
Kendrick Perkins stays on Celtics
2. What if… KOBE BRYANT got traded to the Detroit Pistons?
In 2007, Kobe Bryant demanded to be traded, saying there was nothing the Lakers could do or say that would change his mind. His mind seemed to be changed the next day when he talked to Dan Patrick and hoped that something could be resolved so he could stay in “the city he loved.” Eventually a trade was agreed upon and just required Bryant to waive his no-trade clause. According to Yahoo!, Bryant realized in that moment at Jerry Buss‘ house that he wanted to remain a Laker.
The deal would have sent Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Amir Johnson and a future first-round pick to the Detroit Pistons in return for Bryant. This would have completely shifted the balance of power in the Eastern Conference and would have dramatically affected the future of the Lakers. The Lakers might have taken the “rebuild” approach or maybe they make the trade for forward Pau Gasol. The Lakers would not have been able to compete with just those two players so the Lakers would be inclined to make some interesting moves, having to rely on free agency with their lack of assets.
The Pistons, on the other hand, would have been able to extend their dominance in the Eastern Conference. They could have a core of Chauncey Billups and Bryant with youngsters Arron Afflalo and Rodney Stuckey. It would have ben interesting to see what the Pistons would have done in the upcoming years to upgrade the roster. They would have had major cap relief once Rasheed Wallace‘s contract ran up after the 2009 season.
Pau Gasol might have remained with the Memphis Grizzlies until his contract expired after the 2010 season. He might have ended up with Bryant anyway, just with a Pistons uniform on. Bryant might have been able to convince one of the stars of the 2010 free agency class to join him in Detroit. Who knows?
The Grizzlies would not have had Marc Gasol and would have been without one of the best centers in the NBA.
The Lakers might have developed Marc Gasol or they might have seen him as a future trading chip, seeing a logjam at center behind Andrew Bynum.
Lakers lose Kobe Bryant, gain Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince
Pistons get Bryant
Grizzlies hold on to Pau Gasol and never trade for Marc Gasol
Lakers never win the 2009 or 2010 NBA championships
Pistons continue playoff success
1. What if… AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE got traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
As the NBA trade deadline neared back in 2010, the Cleveland Cavaliers seemed on the brink of acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire from the Phoenix Suns. In exchange, the Cavaliers were to surrender Zydrunas Ilgauskas, J.J. Hickson and a first-round pick, before the trade fell through after the Suns vetoed it. Reports originally surfaced that the Cavaliers were unwilling to part with Hickson in any deal, but that proved false.
Regardless, imagine if the trade had gone through? The Cavaliers would have, in all likelihood, retained LeBron James and everything would have turned out completely differently. We would not have had “The Decision” or the spectacle that took place afterward. The Miami Cheaters would not have existed, and neither would the hate they received from the rest of the NBA. We may have never witnessed LeBron James transform into the best player in the world, by far, a player who learned that vindictiveness and villainous roles are not what represent the kind of player he is.
The Knicks would be without Stoudemire, but would they have been able to coax Bosh and/or Wade to come play in the Big Apple? Let’s say that the Knicks are able to swing it and sign both to max deals. The Knicks would still have had the assets to assemble a trade to bring Carmelo Anthony to New York. The new “Big 3” would reign supreme in the Eastern Conference, serving the role of the current Miami Heat.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would attempt to build pieces around James and Stoudemire, hoping they could grab another star to join them. The Cavaliers had already expressed interest in signing Stoudemire to a max contract, so signing something similar to what he signed with the Knicks isn’t unimaginable. That means the Cavaliers would be hamstrung with an uninsured contract to a bench player playing 20 minutes a night. The Cavaliers might have gone after Tyson Chandler or they might have looked to acquire Chris Paul when he was a free agent. They might have instead avoided the big “max” signing and looked to gain talent by accumulating a couple of middling players.
What position would the Heat be in? Looking to make a splash they might have tried to sway Joe Johnson, but going to a city like Miami would only make sense if you do it in groups of three. Johnson would probably diss the Heat to return to Atlanta, leaving Miami cold and in the dark. Conceivably, the Heat would struggle in that first season of 2010-2011 and may have landed the No. 1 pick of Kyrie Irving. Irving would be the star on a team that would struggle and continue to acquire high draft picks. Sound familiar, Cleveland?
Knicks might have Bosh and Wade
Cavaliers would have James, Stoudemire and possibly another star
Heat might have drafted Kyrie Irving
2012 and 2013 NBA championships would be different
What do you think?
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