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With the NBA trade deadline less than 24 hours away – 3 p.m. Thursday – teams are making last minute calls around the league to either aid their case to win or to tank.

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The Lakers and new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson are in tank mode: trading leading scorer Lou Williams to Houston for a draft pick and middling journeyman Corey Brewer.

Whereas Houston is still wheeling and dealing trying to make themselves more formidable for their pending playoff run.

Because of Miami’s 14-2 sprint into the All-Star break, the Heat went from being a team that would’ve had a fire sale during the trade deadline days to being a shopper that is casually browsing the aisles – looking at the price of a few items to see if anything catches their eye.

Today’s deal fits that category. While Miami would be just fine standing pat as games are set to resume at the end of the week, they could do something small that might end up paying dividends in the short and – possibly – long term.

jones-for-richardson

Or

jones-for-mugruder

 

This one is a classic fan “pick ‘em”.

Either one of these deals would work from a financial standpoint for Miami, the question is: which young backcourt player are you more comfortable giving up?

Terrence Jones is very available.

Very.

Available.

His team just pulled off one of the greatest trade coups in NBA history and now New Orleans has a surplus of frontcourt players – Anthony Davis, “Boogie” Cousins, along with 7-footers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca.

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The Pelicans are hard up for perimeter players and would be almost falling over themselves to bring in any quality guys.

The 6-foot-9 odd man out has had a very good season up to this point. He’s averaging 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season – both numbers slightly about his career averages.

Jones, who spent the first four years of his career in Houston, is more of a traditional power forward who will rebound and defend well. He’s not really a floor spacer – shooting .253 from three-point range this season – but he is proficient at just about everything else, including ball-handling and passing.

Bringing in Jones would push Luke Babbitt out of Miami’s starting lineup.

Yes Babbitt is the floor spacer that seems to be the perfect fit next to Hassan Whiteside, but “The Babbs” is the epitome of a one-way player. Babbitt’s is on the floor for one reason, to pitch up outside shots.

He is a very lackluster defender and represents one of the main reasons why Miami’s starting five has such a poor defensive efficiency rating.

Jones would definitely help boost the defensive prowess of the starting five as well as being able to provide minutes at the center position when Erik Spoelstra wanted to go with a smaller lineup.

The added bonus with Jones is that he’s playing on an expiring 1-year deal. He is going to continue to bring his “A game” each night because he wants to strike it big this summer.

Why wouldn’t the Heat capitalize on his hunger, even though they are probably not going to be the one that pays him the big bucks he wants in the end?

Picking who to give up to make this deal happen is the hard part.

Rodney McGruder has become a fan and coach favorite with his relentless effort and tenacity on the court. The former D-leaguer really started to come on towards the end of January – posting double-digit scoring numbers in seven of Miami’s last 10 games before the break.

Richardson has been battling a foot injury for most of this season. He is now on the mend, has been cleared to resume practicing, and should be available to the team right away.

In the 28 games that Richardson has been healthy this season, he has posted an average of 11 points, three rebounds and three assists per game.

Comparing the two, Richardson has the height advantage – 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-4 – and Richardson is probably the more polished player at this point in their careers. The former second round pick out of Tennessee has a bit more to offer despite how much Spoelstra loves McGruder’s hustle and ability to defend.

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So, who would you give up?