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The Atlantic, Week 8: The Trade Deadline Approaches

(David Butler II/US Presswire)

Welcome to a special NBA trade deadline edition of “The Atlantic!” Let’s “trend up” and “trend down” the latest rumors.

Will the Big Three be broken up? Can Philly land a superstar to put next to Andre Iguodala? Will the Nets trade Deron Williams?

The trade deadline is a week away: what are the teams thinking in the Atlantic?

Boston Celtics (20-18, 2nd place)

Trending Up: Big Three Trade Scenarios

If the Celtics can get a younger player of semi-equivalent talent to Paul Pierce, Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett, they’ll pull the trigger. I see two possible scenarios: Pierce for Pau Gasol or Allen and picks for Josh Smith. Neither scenario is likely, but neither are they out of the question. In a perfect world:

Trending Down: Rajon Rondo Trade Rumors

Rajon Rondo is a once-in-a-generation player in the way he sees the game unfold. Rondo’s unbelievable performance Sunday put him in elite company. The Celtics’ point guard sees the game in a way even Derrick Rose and Williams don’t see it. Magic Johnson, Walt Frazier and Jason Kidd all had the skill-set Rondo has, and they all played in at least three finals. Rondo isn’t getting traded for Gasol or DeMarcus Cousins. The only way Rondo gets traded (as Danny Ainge has said) is for a superstar. Only if:

Philadelphia 76ers (23-17, 1st Place)

Trending Up: Urgency to make a move

Philly has the pieces to make a huge splash at the trade deadline. Up until the All-Star Break the Sixers were leading the league in almost every statistical category, and their management didn’t see a reason to mess with a good thing. Now the Sixers have lost 8 of 11 and have the Celtics smelling blood as they ascend in the division and the conference. With a plethora of young talent and veteran contracts, the Sixers are a dark horse to land Dwight Howard, Gasol, Williams or Smith at the trade deadline. Not out of the question:

Trending Down: Moving Andre Iguodala

At the beginning of the season, many NBA executives believed the Sixers would look to upgrade their roster by moving Iguodala. Like the Celtics with Rondo, I just don’t see this happening. Iguodala will never be a superstar, but he knows the game in a Scottie Pippen, Manu Ginobli, Clyde Drexler kind of way. He may not be a superstar, but that doesn’t mean Iguodala can’t be a Hall of Famer one day if Philly can put a star next to him.

New York Knicks (18-20, 3rd place)

Trending Up: Contentment With the Current Roster

I don’t think the Knicks feel pressured to make a  move right now. Baron Davis is healthy, JR Smith is newly aboard and Mike D’Antoni is still trying to figure out how best to use the likes of Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak. This team might struggle in to the playoffs because they have yet to figure out what their rotation will be, but they’ll be as dangerous as anybody. The Knicks need time, not more talent. If anything:

Trending Down: Dwight Howard Scenerios

When the height of Linsanity was happening there was mention that the Knicks should explore trading for Howard. These are murmurs now. The Knicks roster is set. Unless:

Toronto Raptors (13-26, 4th place)

Trending Up: DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan will be moved for the right offer. I don’t get Toronto: they perpetually think they’re a piece or two away from contention. News flash: They’re not. Turning DeMar DeRozen into a veteran is not going to reverse the Raptors’ fortunes. The Raptors need to trade Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani and rebuild with DeRozen as one of their building blocks. If they insist:

Trending Down: Jose Calderon

Calderon’s name was coming up a lot a couple of weeks ago, but word now is that Toronto’s asking price is way too high. Toronto wants to keep Calderon. I don’t get it: a contender (say the Lakers) will offer multiple picks and a young player to pry Calderon from Toronto. That should be plenty to acquire the 15th-20th best starting point guard on a team that should be accumulating picks not building around a 30-year-old slightly above average point guard. Mutually beneficial:

New Jersey Nets (12-27, 5th place)

Trending Up: Likelihood Deron Williams Gets Traded

The Nets need to swing and hit big in regards to the Williams situation they’ve got on their hands. Marshon Brooks and Kris Humphries might be enough to convince the NBA Hornets to let Eric Gordon loose. But if not, the Nets are going to have to explore trading Williams because they can’t afford to let the possibility of him walking come to fruition. If they have to trade Williams:

Trending Down: Assets to Make a Dwight Howard trade possible

Brook Lopez is out again, and this time possibly for the rest of the season. A combination of Lopez and Brooks was the only way a deal for Howard was getting done before the end of the season. The Nets could try to find a third team willing to facilitate a Howard trade, but that scenario is highly unlikely. Just for kicks:

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