Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The NBA Offseason Tip Sheet: Pacific Division

No one in their right mind would suggest THIS GUY as an ideal move, right?
Now that the Finals are over and the actual games are done, 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.  As we move through the Western Conference, we now look at the Southwest Division. In case you missed them, here are the previous tip sheets:

Golden State Warriors

2012-2013 Cap Number:  $56.2M
The Move:  Amnesty David Lee’s awful contract

Oh wait, they already wasted their amnesty on Charlie Bell’s contract…which was 4 years shorter and around $65M less than David Lee’s. Whoops! Let’s try again…

The Move:  Trade up for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Golden State has two first round picks (#7 and #30) plus two early second round picks, meaning they have some ammunition to work with. And with that ammo, MKG needs to be the target. Honestly, there probably isn’t a better fit in the draft than MKG and the Warriors (you know, other than Anthony Davis to the Celtics…). The Warriors have been looking for an athletic wing defender for quite some time, and there isn’t a better one in the draft than Kidd-Gilchrist. His size and versatility will help hide Steph Curry’s defensive limitations, and his ability to catch and finish off basket cuts will play nicely with adept passers such as Curry and Andrew Bogut.

The question is how high they need to go to get him, and if those four picks are enough to get the job done. Trading up to #2 is the most obvious answer, and it’s well known that Charlotte is looking to deal. Seems like a match to me!

(By the way, Charlotte would be dumb to do that trade…but since it’s Michael Jordan, I’m assuming they will.)

Los Angeles Clippers

2012-2013 Cap Number:  $57.7M
The Move:  Do a sign-and-trade deal for Michael Beasley

Thanks to the asinine contracts given to DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler, the Clippers have almost no flexibility this offseason. The only valuable chip they have is Eric Bledsoe, who absolutely MUST be retained after his breakout playoff performance. Bledsoe is one of the few playmakers they have, and L.A. will need him to take some of the load off Chris Paul.

But that’s the problem; L.A. doesn’t have enough playmakers, especially in the half court. Too often in the playoffs, the offense devolved into “stand around and watch Chris Paul break his guy down,” simply because the rest of the team is too offensively limited. That’s why the team needs to take a chance on Beasley. Yes, there’s a risk involved, but the reward far outweighs the very minimal cost he would incur. And for a team lacking any semblance of a scoring threat on the wing, the reward of Michael Beasley could be extremely high. Plus, there’s always the chance that Beasley finally “gets it.” The talent has always been there, and maybe playing with a guy like Chris Paul is exactly what he needs to fulfill his potential.

Los Angeles Lakers

2012-2013 Cap Number:  $82.5M
The Move:  Trade Pau Gasol for Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, and #14 Overall

This Pau Gasol thing has gone on long enough, and it’s officially time for the two to part ways. Honestly, I’ll never figure out how Gasol ended up being the fall guy these past two postseasons. It’s not like they narrowly lost two Game 7’s or anything; the team got obliterated! Either way, it is what it is, and now it’s time for Gasol to move on.

There are a lot of rumored deals out there, and most of them are honestly stupid. How are Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer enough for Gasol? And that’s just one of the dumb/unrealistic rumors out there. Me, I like to keep things simple. The framework for a Gasol deal was laid down last offseason in the vetoed Chris Paul trade, and I’m not sure why that hasn’t found traction again. The Rockets covet Gasol, and the Lakers need pieces that can help them both now and later. This is the perfect deal! Scola is a more than capable replacement for Gasol and in truth is a better fit next to Andrew Bynum. Kyle Lowry is the dynamic PG they’ve needed for pretty much forever. He gives them exactly the type of speed and shot making ability the Lakers have craved the last two seasons. And since he’s just 26 (and with a dirty cheap contract the next two seasons), Lowry would be an excellent foundational piece for the post-Kobe era. Additionally, L.A. would receive a valuable first round pick (Perry Jones!) and would save $10+M in luxury tax dollars this season alone. Sounds like a winner!

Phoenix Suns

2012-2013 Cap Number:  $31.8M
The Move:  Sign Ryan Anderson

Not too long ago, the Atlanta Hawks offered RFA Joe Johnson a massively front loaded contract that essentially prevented the (cheap) Suns from matching. Now, flush with over $20M in cap space, the Suns should employ the same tactic in signing Ryan Anderson. A huge first year salary would push Orlando to around $80M in payroll, leveling huge luxury tax penalties their way. Maybe the Magic would figure out a way to move other salaries (Dwight Howard trade?), or maybe they’d even be willing to pay the luxury tax for a couple seasons. Regardless, the tactic would give Phoenix a great chance at landing one of the best young free agents in the market.

And goodness do they need a player like Anderson! Phoenix is in a huge transitional stage, and they badly need young building blocks like him. Last season, Anderson was near the top of the league in both PER (21.2) and EWA per 48 minutes (.219…more than double league average!). And as one of the league’s best stretch PF’s, he would be an ideal fit alongside Marcin Gortat. And who knows, maybe a splashy addition like Anderson would convince Steve Nash to hang around for one more season.

Sacramento Kings
2012-2013 Cap Number:  $44.1M
The Move:  Trade #5 Overall for Kyle Lowry

This feels cheap since my suggestion for Houston was Lowry and a pick for Tyreke Evans, but I really do think this is the best and most obvious deal out there for the Kings. They obviously have more than one hole on the roster, but the most glaring is at the PG position. Jimmer Fredette was, as expected, a giant bust, and the Tyreke at PG experiment has mercifully come to an end. That leaves them with…nobody. That’s right; Sacramento has a ton of scorers and absolutely nobody to get them the ball!

Enter Kyle Lowry. Lowry is arguably the best distributor on the market right now, and there are any number of teams that will be clamoring for his services. And at #5, there is absolutely nobody out there who can compare to Kyle Lowry (unless MKG falls…then we need to rethink). With the Rockets actively looking to move up, and with Lowry demanding a deal out of town, this very well might be a match made in heaven. Heck, they might even be able to one of Houston’s mid-first rounders too! Even if not, Lowry straight up for #5 is a great deal. Honestly, I could see them competing for a playoff spot if this deal were to happen.

1 comment:

  1. You should go to Sacramento some time. It's a great town. Wait, no, sorry, that was every other sports city in America I was thinking of. Honestly, I don't understand how ANY hot free agent could ever consciously CHOOSE to move to Sacramento!