... and not merely more "flexible".
Over the course of the season my eye keeps wandering back to the Clippers. The Clippers have problems. The Bulls have problems. I think that through trade, the Bulls and Clippers might be able to ameliorate each other's problems.
What is the Clipper problem? Their wings. Specifically their small forwards. They are weak. Weak, like the Ukraine. Grant Hill looks done. Matt Barnes is a stretch 4. And James Caron Butler? Did you know Tough Juice made 8M this year, and will make 8M next year as well? In my opinion that's a lot of money for a below average basketball player.
Eric Bledsoe is also a problem, insofar as he plays the same position as their best player, and their second best perimeter player plays the only other logical position for Bledsoe to play.
The Bulls have a problem: Money. Always fucking money. Poor little Jerry. Their real problem is the 24M they have inefficiently sunk into the power forward position, but I doubt even juggling rubiks cube boy could solve that problem, given the constraints.
So they need to look at other ways to distribute their money more efficiently. They currently have a really good SF, an okay SF and terrible shooting guards. If they could instead have an okay SF and a pretty good SG, well that might be a net plus.
I think Luol Deng and Eric Bledsoe should be the principals of an offseason trade. Why the offseason, why no mention of this prior to the trade deadline? I figured the Clippers liked their team and wanted to see how it would perform the the playoffs. I figured given the circumstances it would have taken a pretty tremendous offer to pry Bledsoe away, regardless of how little they actually play him. The Clippers were/are playing well. Why spoil that?
However, if the Clippers do not at least get to the WCF and make a hell of a series of it, they might have to think about ways they can remodel their team so as to keep Chris Paul in LA.
So here is the trade:
Bulls get: Caron Butler, Eric Bledsoe, Greg Stiemsma
Clippers get: Luol Deng, Marquis Teague, Charlotte pick
Puppies get: Grant Hill, Bulls' 2013 2nd round pick
THE SORRY JUSTIFICATION
Why the Clippers do it: Here's what I say to Chris Paul, "Ok, we didn't get it this year, but we reloaded with an All-Star on the wing, which has been a big weakness for us. So we have improved for the present. Also, we are going to get Charlotte's pick in a year or two, which means we will be able to reload with another good young lottery pick in the future as well. We lost Eric, and he is a good player, but we lost some from a position of surplus while buttressing our main weakness. We're better than we were a year ago."
Why the Pups do it: Stiemsma has not worked out at all in Minny, so no loss for them there. Instead, they save a little cash ($600k), and gain veteran presence and a free 2nd rounder. Not a terrible little deal. OKC did stuff like this 3-4 years ago.
Why the Bulls do it: I think they should play Eric Bledsoe at SG. I know, he's 6'1''. That's a really short SG. And I'm not even going to bother giving some nonsense excuse like, "With the way the modern NBA is headed, every team will be playing a 4 point guard lineup." But Bledsoe is kind of a freak. Did you know:
- He has a slightly worse offensive rebounding rate than LaMarcus Aldridge.
- Dwyane Wade currently ranks as the most prolific shot blocking guard in the history of the NBA. His career high block rate is 3.1%. This year Eric Bledsoe's is 3.2%.
- His steal rate is second in the NBA.
This is a really physical little guy, someone who plays way bigger than he is due to his length, his tremendous strength and his excellent athleticism. Watch this short video.
Eric Bledsoe - Underrated (HD) (via Phoenixo Sunsas)
Notice the block of Wade at :45 seconds? The block of Lebron at 1:35? Delicious.
It's a slightly outside the box solution for the Bulls. Just remember: if he were perfect, the Bulls would never be able to get him.
Clippers get to run with:
PG: Chris Paul/Billups/Teague
SF: Luol Deng/Grant Hill
C: DeAndre Jordan/Whoever
Bulls get to run with:
I think both teams get better with this trade. I don't think it makes either one an immediate favorite to win the title, but I think it inches them both closer to that goal.
When you make a trade for the team you follow you tend to make it overly sweet in their favor. But I look at the deals for Dwight Howard (Afflalo, Vuce, 15th pick) and James Harden (Kevin Martin, 12th pick, 10th pick), I come to the conclusion that Deng, Teague and a future pick likely between 8 and 10 is a pretty nice deal for a third year player averaging 21 min/g.