Since remaking the roster via trade is such a chic topic on here (so much so that even our beneficent leader Matt joined the fun), I thought I'd post some ideas for you all to chew on / make fun of. The actual trades are prefaced by some thoughts on what we should be looking for and what we already have, which to me are the more interesting questions. But, in order to make this team competitive sooner rather than later, we'll have to swing some deals.
(P.S. I apologize in advance for the length, but I've been thinking about a lot of things.)
Idea 1: The Goals
We've got Rose. He's our star, our go-to guy. He could be the cornerstone of a championship team. The goal is to find other stones to put around him to build a beautiful championship edifice. (I almost wrote "erect a beautiful championship edifice," but then I snickered.)
To concoct that championship team (shifting metaphors), I think we need the following ingredients:
- at least one starting wing who can shoot really well from outside and at least one starting wing who can defend really well (if both starting wings can do both, a la Bruce Bowen circa 2006, that would be ideal);
- at least one big-man defensive anchor (a guy who doesn't necessarily block a lot of shots from the weak side, although that's nice, but who rotates well to stop dribble penetration, rebounds well on both ends of the floor, and can guard the better offensive post players one-on-one) who can at least finish around the basket
- at least one offensive-threat big man who can space the floor a little bit (i.e., has a mid-range game), but can also finish around the basket
- a bench featuring at least one more deadly outside shooter and at least one main big-guy sub (preferably of the defensive variety, but OK if he's an offensive dynamo instead).
The key is to find guys who are efficient on offense and know how to play team defense. Another requisite is that they are athletic enough to play the fast-break. We want to maximize points in the paint and 3-pointers.
Players who don't help in this plan: big men who can't finish; big men who aren't big enough to defend post scorers; wings who can't shoot 3-pointers; big men who are too big to run the break (although if they are like Yao -- at least a healthy Yao -- who cares); selfish or stupid players unable to play in a motion system and who insist on taking low-efficiency shots.
Idea 2: What We've Got
What do we have now? Lots of guys who don't fit what we need. We've got one wing who can shoot (Ben Gordon), but we've only got him for this year and he's displayed a tendency to be unable to play team ball on offense, and will probably be more expensive to keep than he's worth. We've got two skinny big men (Tyrus and Noah) who are athletic and do some good things, but who can't really defend the post. The guy who should be our offensive big man ("Tyrus of the jump-shot") can't make a lay-up. The other guy can't really shoot a jumper ("Noah of the side spin"). We've got one lumbering big guy (Gray) who's not quite athletic enough to avoid foul trouble, run the break, or rebound dominantly, but who's not quite skilled enough to overcome his lack of athleticism. We've got a "defensive-stopper" wing (Thabo) who actually isn't that consistently good on defense, is less consistent on offense (where he aspires for averageness, occassionally overachieves, and more commonly rests somewhere between "mediocre" and "Chris Duhon"). And we've got a really expensive former basketball player (Larry Hughes) whose silver lining is that his deal expires in a fortuitous year.
I didn't mention Deng or Gooden. I think they could fit. If Deng develops a 38% three point shot, he could certainly fit. Gooden would be perfect as the go-to bench big guy who gives you 25 minutes a night and is competent to play defense on PFs, rebounds at an above-average rate, and can space the floor a bit, but doesn't do any of those things well enough to justify building around him. If we can keep Gooden at a reasonable price I'd love it, but if not -- no biggie. And I'm not chomping at the bit to trade Deng, as I think we locked him in at a very reasonable contract. That being said, I'm not above trading Deng either, because he's not on a value contract, he's not a star, and he's not irreplacable.
I also didn't mention the contract rights of the Great Turkish Hope, Omer Asik. He has -- I think; the Internets don't give much updated info -- one and a half years left on his European contract. He's the same age as Andris Biedrins, only bigger. Also, unlike Biedrins, he can shoot free throws pretty well. So just think about that. By all accounts, he can make a lay-up, too. I don't know if he's a ball hawk like Biedrins is, but he has the same shot-blocking instincts as Tyrus. Even if he never improves from where he is right now (a 22-year-old, somewhat skinny big man who hasn't filled out yet but has broader shoulders than Tyrus or Biedrins, doesn't really have a jump shot, has been playing zone defenses in a physical league so probably has some defensive instincts, and can make a lay-up), we're probably looking at a double-double guy with 2 blocks per game. If he fills out, he could be exactly the right guy to anchor a defense while not hurting offensively.
Brief Interlude for Crying Over Spilled Milk
This section is for the could-have-beens and should-have-beens. In order of how close we were:
J.R. Smith. (He gets his own paragraph because he was actually on our team, with a very cheap contract, and we traded him for a Ted DiBiase Wrestling Buddy and a month's worth of dry cleaning vouchers. I was angry about this when it happened, hadn't gotten over it even when we won the lottery, and am completely apoplectic about it now. He'd be freaking perfect. AAARARARAGGHAHGH.)
LaMarcus Aldridge. Spencer Hawes. Hell, while we're at it, Pau Gasol (no, not via trade, but via the 2001 draft where he was sandwiched between Tyson Chandler, the second pick, and Eddy Curry, the fourth pick). Of course, if we had any of these guys on our team, our record might have been different and we might not have won the lottery last year (same argument with JR, I guess). But still.
(Since I'm on the topic, I'm totally fine with most of our other high draft picks. Look back to 2003 and tell me who you would have taken instead of Kirk there. If you say David West, you're probably lying. I would have taken Collison, but that probably wouldn't have panned out as well as Kirk did over the past few years. Ben and Deng were solid picks too. As was Jay Williams, who, if he weren't such a reckless a-hole, might have been the franchise PG we needed way back when. Every time I see a motorcycle, I think of Jay Williams and curse softly.)
Idea 3: Trades and Free Agents
So, we need to acquire some pieces. Who knows, maybe we'll end up in the lottery again, win it again, and get another cornerstone. Or maybe we'll steal a guy in the later first round who can be a piece. But we're probably talking trades and free agents.
As hinted at above, I don't consider anyone untradeable on our roster except Rose. And Asik. If for some ungodly reason we trade his rights to someone, I will take back every good thing I've ever said about Pax and forever advocate for his joblessness. It wouldn't even save us money. I don't want to go there . . .
Not only is everybody up for grabs, but I would say we should be trying to trade Noah and Tyrus. I know they have their uberfans in this forum. I used to be on both of those bandwagons, especially the Tyrus one. At this point, though, I don't think he's going to be much more than what he is. Maybe he gains some weight (the good kind), and maybe he improves his court sense, but I don't see him being able to ever finish on drives, which kills his value because it kills his efficiency. He'll be a more athletic Gooden, which means he probably won't be worth the money we would have to pay to keep him. As for Noah, I love how he plays the game, his ball sense, his hustle, his passing ability, his fire -- and I think he'd be a great bench player to have. Unless he can bulk up more than I think he can, he's probably not a starter on a championship team. You can have a wing guy, or maybe even a power forward, be your hustle / glue guy, but probably not your center. I don't know. Maybe we'll find out. But if he can help get us the pieces we need, I wouldn't mind it if he panned out for another team.
Tyrus, Noah, and maybe even Thabo all have value because people still perceive them as having potential. I fear that if we don't move them this year, that perception will change.
We should also be trying to trade Hinrich and Noc, of course, but the reasons for that have already been covered ad nauseum.
I don't have any big blockbuster trades to propose, only some little ones. Here are my final ideas:
Thabo (Chi) for Ricky Davis (LA Clip). (can't link to Trade Machine because of Ricky's trade restriction -- he can't be traded until December) Ricky seems to be in the dog house in LA, and I don't understand it. He's a dynamic scorer who can really shoot from range. Really, he's a taller version of Ben Gordon, but for just a bit over $2M. He can't shoot quite as well as Ben, but Ben is a top-5 shooter in the league, so that's true of pretty much anyone. Ricky's contract is up after this year, and I have a feeling that he'll come more cheaply than Ben in the offseason. I really think we should look to get him. As he ages, he'll turn into exactly the type of Finley/Barry/Kerr role player that Rose needs. Plus, it's low risk. I don't see why this shouldn't happen. The only reasons would be based on arguments for Thabo, but really -- unless Thabo finds some jungle drug that gives him shooting ability, he's not going to be what we need, folks. Other folks might need him, but we don't. That's called "trade bait." For the Clippers, they replace an older guard that they don't like with a younger guard who offers them defense and length they don't otherwise have. Plus, Thabo's cheap and his contract is short, so it's low risk. After Camby and Cat Mobley come off the books next year, they'll be in rebuilding mode around Baron, Thabo, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, and DeAndre Jordan. Nice young core. They probably aren't resigning Ricky anyway.
Tyrus & Kirk (Chi) for Sheed & Herrmann (Det). (no link b/c of Herrmann's trade restriction) This one probably wouldn't happen (a) because Herrmann would have to waive his Bird rights, (b) Detroit sees Stuckey as the PG of the future and wouldn't want Kirk's contract for a bench player (sounds familiar), and (c) Dumars probably loves his cap space and wants to shop the free agent market. Otherwise, I think it's attractive for both sides. Detroit wants to trade Sheed. In effect, they turn him into a promising young big (Tyrus) and a starting-caliber guard. I was thinking about this one before Rip signed his extension, which kind of kills it, but I don't think Stuckey is a PG. He'd be better as an SG. Kirk + Stuckey + Tayshaun + Free Agent 1 + Free Agent 2 + Maxiell + Amir is a good looking roster, depending on the FAs. For the Bulls, we get to woo Sheed for a year and maybe ink him longer term in the offseason, plus we get Herrmann, who will probably come cheaply and can really create offense, especially from deep. Plus we shed Kirk's contract.
Thabo, Noc, & Gray (Chi) for Roger Mason, Ian Mahinmi, & Matt Bonner (SA Spurs). San Anton' needs some help, and I think they'd love to get a guy like Nocioni. It's almost as if he were made to play on that team. With Noc, they could roll with three Argentines (Ginobili, Oberto, and Noc). He shoots from distance like Mason, but he's probably perceived as a better creator (which is what they need right now), and he's probably perceived as a better defender (they're currently attrocious on defense). I tried to find a way to throw them Tyrus too, to help with their youth problems, but San Antonio has an utter dearth of overpaid guys that could make the salaries work. Really. (Their contract situation is a thing of beauty. Duncan makes star money, but no one else comes close. Manu makes less than Kirk. Parker makes about what Deng does. No one else is above $4.2M.) Instead of Tyrus, I threw them Thabo. Gray is another youthster who they might like; he would allow them to play big, putting Duncan at the high post where he has more passing options. Bonner is a long-range threat kind of who can't break into their rotation. If there were a deal breaker for SA it would be Mahinmi, who looks to be a good big-man prospect first touted for his defense but who showed flashes of offensive skill in his limited playing time (according to Hollinger). Alternative deals: Mahinmi + Mason for Tyrus, or Tyrus straight-up for Mason. Those probably don't balance out as well talent-wise, even if they are doable money wise.
Free Agents. As this post is getting ridiculously long, I'll just very briefly list the 2009 free agents I think we should target: Charlie Villanueva, RFA (if Skiles and his evil apprentice bury him on the bench, he might come relatively cheaply); Nenad Krstic (he's big and he can shoot, but can he stay healthy and will he come back to the US?); Linas Kleiza, RFA; Big Baby Glen Davis, RFA (the utter and exact opposite of Tyrus Thomas in all the good ways and some of the bad ways); Zaza Pachulia (both because his name is fun and because he's a legit center who's like Aaron Gray only a much better basketball player).
And just for the fun of it, Jason and Jarron Collins -- but only if we get both of them. Just think of the promotional possibilities. The Twin Twin Towers. Full names on the jerseys. Constant confusion during substitutions. If only we didn't care about winning basketball games . . .