Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's The Lockout, We Movin' Like Bernie

After a few Jack and Cokes, and in the moments following Commissioner Stern announcing that the Timberwolves would be creating the logjam to end all logjams by drafting Derrick Williams, I found myself asking, “How the hell does David Kahn get out of this one?” How will Kurt Rambis (or Sam Mitchell. Or Brian Shaw. How about a cardboard cutout of Mike Fratello?) balance minutes between Williams, Love, Anthony Randolph, B-Eazy and last years 4th overall pick Wes Johnson? Only one way to find out... TO THE TRADE MACHINE.!

Now, I tried to approach this situation with a few basic rules in mind, which are up to my discretion to either abide by or break worse than Andrew Bynum’s glass kneecap. For the integrity of the blog, I tried to adhere to my guidelines as best as possible. One, the trade obviously has to work monetarily, especially with the NBA going into labor talks (and what is looking more and more like an extremely ugly lockout. 45 million hard cap? A ⅓ of player salary rollback? Please. We’ll save that for another article.) in the coming weeks. Two, for all teams involved, does it fit their needs? And if not, why? Does it still work? For example, is a star player disgruntled or voiced their desire to leave or be traded? Is Team A rebuilding and is Team B looking for veteran presence? Three, will this trade get more coverage than just a blurb on ESPN’s BottomLine ticker? Basically, I ask myself if it’s worthwhile even opening up my browser to get to the Trade Machine. No one cares if Omer Asik is swapped for Daequan Cook. It has to have some meat, some substance to it. I forgot that Hasheem Thabeet was swapped for Shane Battier mid-season until I
saw the Grizzlies play in the first round of the playoffs.

Trade 1:
Philladelphia 76ers get:
Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh
Minnesota Timberwolves get:
Andre Iguodala
Golden State Warriors get:
Michael Beasley, Andres Nocioni, Martell Webster

Philly clears cap space (Iggy’s 12.3 mil per, Nocioni’s inexplicable 6.9 mil per) and ditch an agitated Iguodala. Minnesota gains the veteran presence they desperately need while making room in their crowded front court. Golden State sets themselves up for a ton of cap space in 2 years (Webster’s and Nocioni’s contracts expire in ‘13) and make room in the back-court for rookie Klay Thompson. Only flaw I see here is that Ellis and Lou Williams make up perhaps the most defensively inefficient backcourt in NBA history.

Trade 2:
Atlanta Hawks get:
Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu
Los Angeles Clippers get:
Josh Smith, Marvin Williams

An indifferent and upset (Atlanta fans booed him. At home. In the playoffs.) Josh Smith joining Milkshake (officially Blake’s nickname. No, you can’t argue this. Deal with it.) means the Clips become the NBA version of Phi Slamma Jamma, the Hawks clear 4+ million in cap, and Al Horford can
finally switch to the four. Everyone wins... wait... Donald Sterling just learned he has to take on an extra four mil in salary and squashed it. Shit.

DeAndre Jordan, Griffin and Smith (don’t forget Eric Gordon) break at least two dozen backboards before the All-Star break, all 3 participate in the dunk contest, hardcore and casual NBA fans alike embrace the whole, “oh look, they’re all teammates and smiling and celebrating and throwing crazy ridiculous 360 alley-oop windmills to each other, the NBA is fun again!” mentality, Clipper jersey sales skyrocket and this years All-Star Weekend becomes the most viewed ever. Someone get Stern on the phone.

Trade 3:
Mempis Grizzlies get:
Steve Nash, Jared Dudley
Phoenix Suns get:
O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley, Tony Allen

Is this not the best offer the Suns get for their 37 year old 2-time MVP point guard? Let me repeat myself. Steve Nash is 37. They are clearly going into re-build mode and getting young players like Mayo and Conley that are able to contribute right away would be a step in the right direction. Who knows how much Nash has left in him, especially without the miracle workers that are the Suns training staff (Grant Hill has played 80+ games three years in a row. If you would have told me that was going to happen in 2009, I would have bet my life against it. Seriously.) Nash would be a perfect compliment to a healthy Rudy Gay and the big man combo of Gasol and Z-Bo. Even though Memphis is a fairly young team, they are still at least one major piece away from seriously contending in the West. If you’re Chris Wallace, don’t you trade away Conley and Mayo (already knowing what kind of players they are and what they can contribute, and we may have seen the best they can offer in the playoffs) for two more years of Steve Nash? Zach Randolph isn’t getting any younger (and with just signing a huge 4-year deal, he’s not getting any more motivated, either) and Gasol’s contract just expired (although Randolph has hinted that one of the reasons he re-signed with Memphis is because they intend to extend Gasol). Convince me that a core of Nash-Gay-Randolph-Gasol doesn’t contend in an aging Western Conference for two seasons. You can’t.

And now for the big mamajama. The "Big Bang" Trade as I like to call it.

 Boston Celtics get: Dwight Howard, Zaza Pachulia
Orland Magic get: Pau Gasol, Jeff Green, Jeff Teague, Devin Ebanks
Los Angeles Lakers get: Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Jermaine O'Neal
Atlanta Hawks get: Jameer Nelson, Lamar Odom, Avery Bradley

I know that was a lot to diguest, so let me break it down for you team by team.

The Magic do this deal because it is apparent that Dwight wants out, and after learning from the Raptors and Cavs, realize that dealing for the future is a better move than watching your franchise guy walk out the door emptyhanded. Picking up Gasol (an All-Star) in return helps ease the drop-off of production that they are losing at the center position. Also, I see it as a resurgence for Jeff Green's career, perhaps even allowing him to break out of his "scared puppy" persona that he developed in Boston. Smaller market, lower expectations and I think we see Green get his groove back. The most important part of this deal though would be the fact that the Magic can finally part ways with Jameer Nelson. It's no coincidence that Orlando's best run in the past 5 years came in 2009 when Rafer Alston was running for the show for an injured Nelson. He just never really jived with this team and I think he, like Green, could use a change of scenery.

The Celtics say yes to this trade faster than Rick Pitino in a restaurant bathroom because it lands them the best player in this trade and arguably the most imposing playing in the league. This move extends KG's career by 2 seasons (taking a huge piece of the defensive burden off his back) and the Celtics go on to win the 2012 title. The loss of Rondo would hurt them more from a chemistry standpoint as opposed to production, but remember that point guard is the deepest position in the league. They would be able to find a serviceable replacement fast.

Now this move gets a little tricky when it comes to the Laker's, strictly because they would be dismantling a core nucleus of guys who made it to the Finals in 3 out of the past 4 seasons. But after their embarrassing sweep in the playoffs to Dallas and the retiring of Phil Jackson, it is essential that they shake things up. This move frees up room in the front court for Bynum to shine, and Josh Smith is a younger and more athletic version of Lamar Odom. Also, Kobe gets to finish out his career with an All-Star point guard (something he's never had before) and they might even be able to get something out of J.O. (not bad in the New York series), whose 5.8 mil comes off the books next year anyway.

And now for the Hawks. Let's face it- the Josh Smith experiment in Atlanta was fun, but it just wasn't going anywhere (anywhere being the Finals). With Odom they get a class act that will provide leadership right off the bat, production at the forward position, and lots of television exposure from Lamar & Khloe. Also, the addition of Jameer is a upgrade at the PG slot (Captain Kirk Heinrich) and would allow them to continue utilizing Jamal Crawford as their 6th man (his most effective role).
Well there you have it folks. These are our deals, but when it comes down to it, the only deal that matters is the one between David Stern and Billy Hunter.
-G and Fresh

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