To trade or not to trade these six stars

Our NBA writers share their advice for the Magic, Nets, Hornets, Suns and Celtics

Updated: July 11, 2011, 10:58 PM ET
ESPN.com

Nash/PaulLayne Murdoch/Getty ImagesWould Phoenix and New Orleans be better off parting with cornerstones Steve Nash and Chris Paul?

The 2011-12 season isn't the only thing in limbo in NBA land. So are the futures of Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, as well as their respective teams. The six stars are set to become free agents in the summer of 2012.

So ... should the Magic, Nets, Hornets, Suns and Celtics deal them now or hold on to them?

Here are 25 takes:

1. What should the Magic do with Dwight Howard?


Howard

A. Trade him this offseason.
B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline.
C. Hold on to him.

Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: A. Trade him this offseason. Similar to Denver's situation with Carmelo Anthony last season, Orlando should try and move Howard sooner than later. The longer the Magic wait the more likely they'll be forced to lower their asking price.

If and when the Magic lose Howard, they will have no one to blame but themselves for poor decision-making.

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: C. Hold on to him. Orlando is more or less where Cleveland was a year ago -- riding the back of the tiger. They're buried under too many other contracts and basically have to win it with Howard, or die trying.

Matt McHale, By The Horns: C. Hold on to him. There aren't many true centers left on this planet, and Dwight is easily the best. He could have -- and some would say should have -- won the MVP last season. You're not going to get comparable value without cloning him. Whether Howard leaves in free agency or gets traded, it's rebuilding time anyway.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: C. Hold on to him. Although Dwight has been completely inconsistent in his public comments about his future, president of basketball operations Otis Smith is convinced Howard wants to stay. The question is whether the Magic can swing a deal to get him enough help to contend with Miami and Chicago.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: C. Hold on to him. Even if you told me that Howard was going to walk in 2012, I think having him for one more season and therefore having one more decent chance at a title is worth dealing with some painful rebuilding if he were to leave.

We're talking about one of the top three game-changers in the league here. Just another 82 games (or however many games there will be in 2011-12) is worth far more than whatever Orlando could get in return for him.


2. What should the Nets do with Deron Williams?


Williams

A. Trade him this offseason.
B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline.
C. Hold on to him.

Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: C. Hold on to him. With the upcoming move to Brooklyn, a good young center in Brook Lopez and loads of cap space, New Jersey has become one of the more alluring NBA franchises. I expect Williams to ultimately re-sign and try to recruit other marquee players (I'm looking at you, Dwight).

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: C. Hold on to him. New Jersey committed to Williams when it made its play last winter. The Nets have got to try to build around him and make it work, or the entire exercise will have been just taking a few steps backward.

Matt McHale, By The Horns: C. Hold on to him. Would the Nets get another stud player in exchange? Probably not. If Mikhail Prokhorov is going to change this team's culture -- and few NBA teams need a culture change more than the Nets -- holding on to Williams could be the key.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: C. Hold on to him. The Nets acquired Williams to be the cornerstone for their future. They have the money, the willingness to spend and the momentum of moving into a new arena in Brooklyn. What they need is for Williams to embrace the recruiting role in order to convince a veteran wing scorer to join him.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: C. Hold on to him. It was a calculated risk for the Nets to go after Williams. But just conceding and accepting failure wouldn't be just devastating in the sense of having to restart with the roster, it would also be a terrible message as the team starts anew in Brooklyn.


3. What should the Hornets do with Chris Paul?


Paul

A. Trade him this offseason.
B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline.
C. Hold on to him.

Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline. Barring a miraculous trade, the Hornets have no chance at keeping Paul. Nonetheless, they should try to showcase a healthy CP3 for at least part of the season, in hopes of eliminating doubts about his brilliant playoff run's sustainability throughout the course of the regular season.

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: A. Trade him this offseason. Let David West walk. Deal Chris Paul for a whole lot of youth and picks, and get the franchise in position to be sold and probably moved. Normally, I'd be opposed to that approach, but this is a unique financial situation.

Matt McHale, By The Horns: B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline. The team has financial problems and won't be going anywhere with or without him. And there have been some indications that he may want to leave and team up with another star or two. The Hornets should spend time next season shopping for the best deal (young talent and expiring contracts).

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline. But this will be a tricky process, considering the fact the league owns the Hornets. You already have owners lining up to cry foul on any move the team makes if it gives another team the advantage of landing Paul.

If the ownership issue remains the same, the only fair thing to do might be to let Paul walk in free agency and do an after-the-fact sign and trade to get draft picks and a huge cap exception.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: C. Hold on to him. Really, just see my answer for Dwight Howard above and insert Paul's name there. We're talking about the top point guard in the league.

The Hornets aren't likely contenders right now, but at least force CP3 to make a decision. If you trade him, there's not even a chance he's part of your future. Take the risk.


4. What should the Suns do with Steve Nash?


Nash

A. Trade him this offseason.
B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline.
C. Hold on to him.

Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: A. Trade him this offseason. Please Phoenix, I beg you, let Steve go. You've placed him in the land of mediocrity, surrounded by small forwards and lesser-skilled twin brothers. Alleviate his pain as soon as possible and send him to the Knicks or some other pseudo-contender looking for its missing piece.

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: C. Hold on to him. Unless he requests a move, I would hold on to him, hopefully until retirement. I don't think he will demand the booty that Howard or Paul would, and I don't think you'd get a big head start toward a turnaround in return for him. Why sell arguably the most important player in franchise history for 30 pieces of silver?

Matt McHale, By The Horns: A. Trade him this offseason. The Suns are clearly in rebuilding mode. Nash is near the end of his career. Why keep him? Nash should get to compete for something in his twilight years. Watching him waste away on a non-playoff team is painful for everybody.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: A. Trade him this offseason. Nash isn't getting any younger. And after attending the Finals and seeing his peer Jason Kidd finally win a title in Dallas, it's only natural for Nash to want a shot to win it all in the year or two he's got left in him.

Miami, a win-now team in desperate need of a PG, would be a perfect fit for Nash. But most teams in that category lack the assets to make that deal.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: B. Deal him at the 2012 trade deadline. The most value Nash has is in a trade in the offseason. The closer the clock ticks toward the 2012 deadline, the less Phoenix would get in return for Nash.

But you never know what kind of start you might have with Nash, so the Suns should see if they can make a playoff run first. If they can't, they should do the right thing and finally move on from the Steve Nash era.


5. What should the Celtics do with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen?


Allen

Garnett

A. Trade them this offseason.
B. Deal them at the 2012 trade deadline.
C. Hold on to them.
D. Trade one, keep the other.

Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: C. Hold on to them. Why blow up and start over when the Celtics still have 1-2 years left of contention? Yeah, they'll need an infusion of size and athleticism to eventually beat Miami and Chicago, but squeezing out one more title from this motley crew is more important than preparing for the Rajon Rondo era.

Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: C. Hold on to them. At this point, I think these two players are worth more on the court than as trading assets. There's enough left in this group of players to make one more serious run at the East, and I don't see enough value coming back to start the rebuild one year earlier.

Matt McHale, By The Horns: C. Hold on to them. Sure, with the Bulls and Heat out there, making it back to the Finals is a long shot, but Danny Ainge should give his core group one last shot at another title. That's why he brought them to Boston.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: C. Hold on to them. This core deserves one more shot to chase another title -- even if this lockout lingers well into next season. Coach Doc Rivers provided the stability by signing a long-term contract. It would help if Boston fixes its issues at center.

KG and Ray are clearly in transition to becoming more role players and less key cogs. A painful rebuilding process is coming. But the C's -- in the short term -- are much better with them than without them.

Royce Young, Daily Thunder: C. Hold on to them. Danny Ainge has appeared to make it clear that everyone on the roster is available. He has the future always in mind in Boston and is willing to make a tough decision if it helps the long-term. But it's not time to move on from Garnett and Allen yet. The summer of 2012, yeah, probably. But give it another run.


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