|If I ever decide to do a "Least Trade Value" rankings, Charlie V. will be my star.|
Even though the Finals are far from over, this past NBA season is done and over with for 28 teams. For those clubs, the focus has shifted from the practice facility to the combine, from game planning to cap management. From now until next fall, the game is a radically different one, one where mere competency seems to be a rare luxury and one where panic and stupidity typically rule the day.
Yes, it’s the NBA offseason, the time of the year where fat players like Big Baby Davis get even fatter contracts! Why do they get these contracts? Perhaps the Magic also own a struggling chain of local buffets…we may never know. (If that is the case, then I expect them to throw BIIIIIIIIG money at Boris Diaw)
It’s no secret that the offseason is not always the NBA’s finest hour. Draft picks are constantly wasted, max contracts handed out to secondary players, and role players courted like superstars. It really is a mess. A big, giant, tragic mess. And even with a new CBA in place last fall, the league’s top executives STILL couldn’t stop making idiotic moves!
Since common sense is such a struggle for these people, I thought I’d take the time and offer a helping hand this offseason. Each team needs to make a move or decision of some kind, whether it be big or small, and I’m going to give each and every team one such move they should make. We're now on the Central Division, slowly making our way through the NBA.
In case you missed it, here were my tips for the Atlantic Division.
2012-2013 Cap Number: $76M
The Move: Trade Luol Deng for Tyreke Evans
Chicago has consistently said they’re not looking to shake things up, and I think that’s a big mistake on their part. As good as they’ve been in the regular season; I’m just not sure they have that extra gear that Miami, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and even Boston have. That’s almost entirely due to the highly predictable one-man offense that is Derrick Rose. That’s not to blame Rose or call him out for being a ball-stopper, there just isn’t anybody else on the roster that can create offense. The addition of Evans would go a long ways toward solving that, giving them a second dynamic playmaker who can get the rim (and finish) at will. And while Evans isn’t as good a shooter, let’s not pretend Deng is a knock-down guy either. After all, he shot just 41% last year. All in all, the presence of Tyreke would take a ton of pressure off Rose. It would deter the constant double teams thrown his way, it would allow Rose to play off the ball a bit more, and it would give Chicago a much needed second pick-and-roll option. Plus, I’m willing to bet that Evans’ development would take a huge leap in the stable, structured Bulls environment. I’m also willing to bet that he could turn into a strong defender under Thibs’ tutelage.
Look, there’s obviously risk involved for Chicago. I admit that. Evans has struggled to find both his position and his role in the league, vacillating between a ball-hoarding PG and an out of position small forward. Meanwhile, Deng has developed nicely in Chicago’s system as a defensive ace and three point marksmen. However, the talent disparity between the two isn’t all that close, and the opportunity for a contender to add a player of Evans’ caliber – especially one that is just 23 – is very rare. If the Bulls are to take the next step from “good” to “great,” they’re going to have to roll the dice at some point, and this could be a huge opportunity while Evans’ value is at its lowest. Bulls fans, this very well could be this generation’s version of the Scottie Pippen trade.
2012-2013 Cap Number: $31.6M
The Move: Trade up to the #2 pick
Cleveland hit the jackpot last year when it landed the #1 overall pick, as Kyrie Irving certainly looks like a superstar in the making. Those players aren’t easy to come by, and the fact that they landed one as quickly as they did has accelerated the rebuilding process by at least a couple seasons. Still, there’s work to be done, as there isn’t much young talent beyond he and Tristan Thompson. This draft looked to be a major opportunity to add another cornerstone piece, but the ping-pong balls didn’t go Cleveland’s way this time. With the fourth overall pick, the Cavs would be able to select from a group of nice prospects, but unfortunately for them, the gap between Beal/MKG and Robinson/Barnes/Drummond/Lamb/etc. is pretty wide. Unless Robinson or Drummond somehow sneaks into the top 3 (which I doubt) the Cavs will find themselves picking fourth in a three man draft. However, Cleveland has another first round pick (#24) and two early second round picks that might be valuable in a potential trade-up scenario. With the Bobcats needing all kinds of help at literally every position, they might be more than willing to trade down for additional assets.
2012-2013 Cap Number: $63.4M
The Move: Trade Rodney Stuckey
True, Stuckey is one of the few good players on the Pistons’ roster, but he’s also their only realistic trading chip. Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are totally unmovable, Tayshaun’s recent extension greatly diminishes his value, and both Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight are most certainly off the table. That leaves Stuckey, whose contract is reasonable and whose perceived value always seems to be higher than it should. Not to mention the fact that he and Knight are completely redundant!
Honestly, I have no feel for what Stuckey would be worth, so it’s hard for me to give specific suggestions as to what the trade should be. What I will say is that Detroit should use him to target either a young player or a draft pick. The Pistons are simply not close enough to contention to think about acquiring Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala. They should instead focus on acquiring as many young pieces as they can and developing them so they will be an attractive destination when Gordon and Charlie V are off the books in a few years.
Toronto would be my first call, as they’ve expressed interest in moving the #8 pick. Maybe it would take a bit more than just Stuckey, and maybe it would involve taking on one of their bad contracts, but it would be well worth it to land a high pick in this draft, especially with a solid group of frontcourt players likely available around that pick. Heck, they could even package #8 and #9 (or #9 and Stuckey) and see if Charlotte would swap the second pick with them. The point is that Detroit needs to acquire good young assets, and Stuckey is their only real way of doing so.
2012-2013 Cap Number: $34.8M
The Move: Meekly allow the Celtics to sign Roy Hibbert
Wait, that’s a terrible move. Sorry, let’s try again…
The Move: Trade Danny Granger in a sign-and-trade deal for Eric Gordon
The Pacers should absolutely feel great about their leap forward last season, but they also need to be honest about where they are right now. After a fast start in the Miami series, the Pacers struggled to consistently generate offense, and were exposed as a non-contender. I mean, what else am I supposed to say about a team that relied on Leandro Barbosa to create offense? Without a true #1 scorer, the Pacers simply aren’t ever going to be on a championship level. Danny Granger is supposed to be that guy, and at one point in his career he looked to be that guy, but he definitely isn’t that guy anymore. In fact, Granger had his worst offensive season since 2006-2007, averaging his fewest PPG since then, getting to the line the fewest times since then, and shooting a career low from the field. He’s still a great defender, but Indy has plenty of defense at this point. They need offense.
Enter Eric Gordon. Gordon may be tough to get since he’s a RFA. You can bet that New Orleans won’t be looking to lose him for nothing, especially with Anthony Davis on the way. However, it’s worth a shot, and it may just work if Indy is willing to dole out a max contract AND give up Granger. The max deal may scare New Orleans since Gordon has an injury history, and receiving a player of Granger’s caliber and experience would alleviate the thought of trading Chris Paul for essentially nothing. For Indy, it would be a huge shot in the arm. Not only is Gordon six years younger (and an Indy native!), but he’s far more skilled at attacking the rim and creating his own shot. Also, he’s an underrated off the ball player who can take advantage of the passing ability of Roy Hibbert and David West.
But wait; there are more benefits to making this deal! Swapping Granger for Gordon would give Indy plenty of payroll room to retain both Hibbert and George Hill. More importantly, it would allow Paul George to stay in the lineup and develop his game. George has the talent to be a go-to scorer himself, and a duo of he and Gordon is absolutely frightening.
2012-2013 Cap Number: $45.3M
The Move: Re-sign Ersan Ilyasova and draft Perry Jones
Ilyasova was one of the surprise breakout players of last season, but until I took the time to research his stats, I wasn’t aware of just how good he was. Of course, 13PPG and 9RPG doesn’t sound overwhelming on the surface, but keep in mind that he didn’t become a major factor until February. Post All-Star break, Ilyasova put up a 16 and 9 while shooting 55% from the floor and 51% from the three point line. His metric stats confirm just how good he was, as his 20.5 PER puts him in the league’s top 30, and his .185 Win Shares per 48 minutes ranks him even higher than that. Oh yeah, and he just turned 25. Milwaukee simply can’t afford to let a good young big walk, especially after moving Andrew Bogut. Ersan is no fluke, he’s the real deal, and they need to pay him.