This is the part of the season where teams start looking to upgrade their roster via trades. Whether it be due to injuries or just more time to see what their team needs after a short training camp, GM’s out there are making calls. Here’s a starting five of guys who have slipped out of their respective rotations and could be had at a bargain…
PG A.J. Price - Indiana Pacers
As the Pacers made their run to the playoffs last season Price played some big 4th quarter minutes. There were times when Darren Collison was still on the bench under 5 minutes to go vs the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Because of his aggressiveness Frank Vogel had a hard time taking A.J. out of games down the stretch. This year is a different story…..Lance Stephenson, last year’s 2nd rd pick, is playing all of the backup PG minutes behind Darren. The Pacers see Lance as a big piece of their future and feel that the time is now to give him consistent minutes. The result? 9 minutes of garbage time per game this season for Price. I think this is more of a management call….if it was up to Vogel, Price would probably be the backup PG. Larry Bird, however, wants Stephenson to play. So if your team needs help at the point, deal for A.J. today…the Price is right.
SG Francisco Garcia – Sacramento Kings
Does anyone know what happened to this guy? This combo guard that dates back to the Webber era in Sacramento…but I haven’t seen him since the middle of last season. The stats say he is playing 13 minutes a night (avg: 3 pts & 1 asst), but I haven’t seen him once on NBA League Pass and I’ve got a Ray Allen-like trigger on the remote. Garcia is obviously no longer in the plans for the Kings. Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton are the starting backcourt while impressive rookies Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette are getting the backup minutes. John Salmons, the starting small forward, is also capable of playing some minutes in the backcourt. It’s a numbers game for Francisco en Sacramento. Despite his history of injuries, Garcia is worth trading for…a future 2nd round pick could get it down.
SF C.J. Miles – Utah Jazz
Miles is still in coach Tyrone Corbin‘s rotation but it’s nothing like his role as starter last season. The Jazz decided to bring back Miles using their team option. They followed that move by signing former All-Star Josh Howard, who fell in their lap after other teams past on him (Boston, Chicago, San Antonio). Howard took C.J.’s spot in the starting lineup to start the 2011-12 season, only to be replaced by Gordon Hayward recently. Now, Howard is the 6th man for the Utah Jazz and C.J. Miles is just a spare wing player getting sporadic minutes. He is no bargain at about $4 million this season, but he comes with no strings past 2012 either. Somebody should rent this talented swingman on their way to the postseason and then use the cap space this summer.
PF Samardo Samuels – Cleveland Cavaliers
Not many people know who Samardo Samuels is so I’m going to say his name again, Samardo Samuels. Samardo Samuels (sorry) is a stocky power forward in his second season. He went undrafted in 2010 out of Louisville and impressed Byron Scott enough to get consistent minutes as last season went on. This year, though, he is struggling and has fallen out of the rotation in favor of Semih Erden. Samuels has a big frame and knows how to use it…he averaged 7.8 ppg & 4.3 rpg in almost 19 minutes per game last season. He can produce if he gets his confidence back, something that could happen on a new team.
C Nikola Pekovic – Minnesota Timberwolves
The positive: Nikola is from Montenegro (as is your truly). The negative: He is firmly entrenched in Rick Adelman‘s doghouse these days. He registered only 4 total minutes of ‘garbage time’ in the first 8 games this season. The Minnesota Timberwolves bigman averaged almost 14 min/gm last season and then starred for Partizan Belgrade during the Lockout. He regularly outplayed established NBA players like Serge Ibaka head-to-head in the Euroleague. In Minneapolis, he may just be caught in a situation where his game is too similar to Kevin Love (minus the perimeter shooting). The team hardly needs any more help on the boards as they lead the league in rebounding at over 46 per game (Love averages 14.9 rpg). A team in the NBA needing physical post play and rebounding should place a call to GM David Kahn.
UPDATE: Nikola Pekovic is no longer in Rick Adelman’s doghouse. He is starting at center and putting up big numbers. In a recent 6 game stretch, Pekovic averaged 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 24 minutes. He also had a career high 27 points at New Jersey recently.
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