Saturday, March 10, 2012

Last Thoughts As March 15th Approaches

There was a ton of great research to read about from the Sloan Sports Conference last week, and the topic that I found most interesting was the study on how "Big 2's and Big 3's" fit together. Robert Ayer's research paper basically re-categorized players based on their skill-sets rather than pure positions and analyzed how these "clusters" performed together, with the research discovering that the best Big 3 is a combination of a high usage, high scoring point guard, a versatile scoring wing with shooting range, and a dominant center inside. The versatile small forward (cluster 8) actually proved to be one of the best possible players to build a team around, which pleases me on a personal level since those are my favorite kinds of players (*cough*KevinDurant/HarrisonBarnes*cough*).

This got me thinking: who is the best scoring point guard in the league? That's pretty simple: Derrick Rose (with all due respect to Russell Westbrook). And there's no question that Dwight Howard is the best center in the game. If only there was a way to get them on the same team with a versatile small forward who could shoot...Oh wait, that's exactly what I talked about in last week's post! I'd like to augment that trade proposal with this one because it is an even better offer for Orlando, and it keeps the Chicago under the luxury tax threshold since they are currently $2 million (roughly) under the tax.  Hedo Turkoglu isn't the player he once was, but he would mesh well as the second trigger man to get the ball to Howard along with Rose. Alas, the Bulls aren't one of Howard's preferred destinations for whatever reason, and the Magic still don't seem to want to trade their star even though this package is ridiculously better than the wasteland of a roster they'll be left once he leaves.

So enough with that idea; here are some of my last trade thoughts as the trade deadline is just five days away:
(Note: all salary information courtesy of and all trades are independent of each other, as you could probably figure out.)

Warriors trade Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. Bucks trade Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson
View in ESPN's Trade Machine
Could these '05 draftees be traded?
Milwaukee is no longer completely opposed to trading their franchise center, just as long as any possible suitors take back the disgruntled Stephen Jackson and his $10 million contract for next year, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. I've long desired the Warriors to trade Ellis for Bogut but never thought the Bucks would go for it, especially since it would leave them with a small backcourt without the Aussie back there to protect the rim. Chemistry issues with Brandon Jennings aside, this deal would shed Jackson while bringing back a center in Biedrins who is still just 25.

The problem is that Biedrins has two more years left on his contract at $9 million, but the Warriors could place Kwame Brown's expiring contract in the deal instead if Milwaukee prefers the salary flexibility. Sneaky bonus: if Bogut needs to miss more time with injury, it could help the Warriors tank to keep their draft pick.

Warriors trade Monta Ellis. Sixers trade Evan Turner and Andres Nocioni
View in ESPN's Trade Machine
Categorize this one as "unlikely," especially with Turner's well-rounded game shining through in recent games since finally being inserted into the starting lineup. However, there is still the "problem" of an overlap between Turner and Andre Iguodala, so it's not completely out of the question despite Ellis' questionable fit in Philly (he's essentially the same player as former high school rival Lou Williams). The Sixers supposedly considered swapping Iggy for Ellis around the time of the draft, but the deal never happened.

This deal would cost Philadelphia some flexibility this summer, but they would still be able to sign a major free agent after using the amnesty clause on Elton Brand. Furthermore, the Warriors could save the Sixers their amnesty clause (and some money) by including Kwame Brown's expiring contract and taking on that last year of Brand's contract. That would pretty much take away all of Golden State's salary cap space (unless they could Jedi Mind trick Philadelphia into taking back Biedrins instead), but the thought of Turner running alongside Steph Curry as a point-forward is salivating.

Mavericks trade Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, and Dominique Jones. Wizards trade Andray Blatche, Ronny Turiaf, Nick Young, and JaVale McGee.
View in ESPN's Trade Machine
This is a deal based solely on non-basketball reasons. The Wizards want to change the culture of their team, and the Mavericks are trying to shed salaries to make a free agent run at both Dwight Howard and Dallas native Deron Williams. As I've noted before, Zach Lowe considers it a difficult task because both players would have to take a pay cut even if Dallas clears the books to nothing but Dirk Nowitzki. It's unlikely they will be able to find a team to take on all of those contracts, and this deal is likely the closest they can get. They'll still have Roddy Beaubois' $2.2 million on the books while adding Blatche's $7.1 million number, but this deal sheds Marion's $8.4 million, Jones' $1.2 million, and the guaranteed portions of Odom's and Carter's deals ($2.4 million and $2 million, respectively).

Add it all up and this deal gives Dallas roughly $6.9 million more cap space and McGee's bird rights, so they could still try to convince Williams and Howard to take a pay cut to form a Big 3 with Dirk or, more likely, sign Williams and re-sign McGee as a restricted free-agent before filling out the rest of the roster with leftover cap space. Sneaky bonus: this deal gets Dallas within a million or two of getting under the luxury tax threshold, which they could accomplish with another minor move. Also, if a third team could be convinced to help, like maybe Boston, then Dallas could go ahead with their original plans. Speaking of Boston...

Celtics trade Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. Pacers trade Paul George, Darren Collison, and Lou Amundson.
View in ESPN's Trade Machine
This is perhaps my favorite fake trade: the Celtics get a blue chipper in George, a replacement point guard in Collison, an extra big body on an expiring contract in Amundson, AND under the luxury tax threshold while the Pacers make their roster fit better with a massive improvement with Rondo their long-term point guard and a true shooting guard with Allen, who they could re-sign in the summer. As much as I like Collison, he never seemed to be in the right system in Indiana, so he should improve in Boston while Rondo will do a better job of running the offense with a number of weapons around his pass-first style. Allen would open up the floor for Roy Hibbert, David West, and Danny Granger, and while George is a stud, he doesn't quite fit as well with Granger as he would with Paul Pierce on the wing. It's so simple sometimes, yet deals rarely happen just to shake things up.
Could any of these Pacers be on the move?
Pacers trade Danny Granger, Lance Stephenson, Lou Amundson, and a first round pick. Hornets trade Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Trevor Ariza, and Jarret Jack.
View in ESPN's Trade Machine
Now here's a deal with bigger implications. Ever since Gordon was traded to New Orleans, and Indiana was rumored to want to make a run at their native son in restricted free agency this summer, I've thought about how much easier it would be to trade Granger, a New Orleans native, for him instead, especially since EGor (as only call him) would form a potentially devastating wing tandem with Paul George. Now, even with this mysterious knee injury, Gordon is much more valuable than Granger, so the Pacers would have to provide a bigger package.

Voila, here it is: the Hornets shed the long-term salaries of Ariza and Jack, who could actually help Indiana's rotation, get a semi-decent, cheap prospect in Stephenson, and get the first round pick they've been seeking for Kaman's expiring contract. The Pacers have been linked to Kaman because they could use another big and are the only team that can absorb his salary into just their cap space. Jack could help make their offense more cohesive with his passing while also being able to play alongside Darren Collison or George Hill, and Ariza could be a versatile defender off the bench. Alas, this probably isn't a good enough return for the new face of their franchise, especially since they could match an offer sheet in restricted free agency, and Granger potentially blocks Al-Farouq Aminu, although they could potentially play together.

1 comment:

  1. After some new rumors emerged today (mainly that Milwaukee is open to moving Brandon Jennings), I tweeted this trade idea:!/distracteddavid/status/179366039501545472

    Warriors: get Bogut, take on Ariza's salary, and give up Ellis and Brown's expiring contract.

    Hornets: get Jennings, shed Ariza's salary, take on Jackson, and give up Kaman and Jack.

    Bucks: get Ellis+Jack+Kaman, shed Jackson's salary, and give up Bogut and Jennings.

    Milwaukee is probably the one that says no to this, but it's certainly feasible. They'd get a serviceable center in Kaman on an expiring deal, and I think the Ellis-Jack backcourt would work well together, especially since Jack is better at guarding 2's instead of the quicker 1's.

    New Orleans is supposedly trying to work its way into a 3-way deal with Orlando and Golden State, who prefers to make a deal with Milwaukee, so they're definitely talking.