So I suppose some of you saw this installment to-day at ChewHoop, where 25 various ESPN writers pick the team most likely to implode this season.
5 picked the Nougats, 4 picked the Paper Clips, the Nix and Suns each got 3 votes, the Rickets, Nets, and Mavs got two votes a piece, and Detroit and Memphis each got a single holla.
And so but then well I got thinkin'. Specifically, I thought about the Nougats and Mavs (my pick for most likely fall off the cliff) and how they have a big-money ex-star player in the last year of his contract (Ayai and Jason Innerchild), and how if they melt down this season, they can dump a good twenty mil in payroll just by walking away.
(As an aside, it wouldn't do much good for Dallas, since they're WAY over the cap; the terms of the Kidd trade basically amount to he replaced Van Horn's non-existence, payroll-wise. But Denver just "traded" Camby to the Clips for a salary dump; if THEY melt down and just let Ayai's contract expire, they lose, like, nearly $40mil between just two players in less than a year.)
Point being, when a team totally goes off the rails, the logical response is to blow it up, dump salary, and rebuild anew. So the question to all you fair Blazer fans is:
For each of the teams getting multiple votes in this survey (Denver, New York, Phoenix, Houston, New Jersey, and Dallas), what trade could you see happening with that team if they go 2007-Heat/2001-Blazers and decides to blow it up and start over?
- We're talking only about trades that make WAY more sense for that team in rebuilding mode than where it's at now. I mean, did anyone see that Camby trade coming a year ago? Or Memphis dumping Pau for so little - Grizzlies or not, that doesn't happen if they're winning games.
- My suggestions are not advocacy, just the best option FOR A DEAL WITH THAT ONE TEAM (and even then, specifically only if they go into meltdown-and-rebuild mode). I'm not saying any of these are GOOD deals for Portland, just the best opportunity presented by that team's implosion.
So, here we go with my examples. Please reply with possibilities of your own imagining. (I let the roster and salary info at ESPN.com's NBA-teams page guide my specifics; each team's roster specs are linked below.)
DENVER - With Camby gone for a trade exception instead of returning salary, they could let Ayai go at season's end and go into the off-season right about at the salary cap, with about $55mil in contracts. I don't want any of their big ones, but Anthony Carter's vet minimum is a fine trade for a second-rounder, if only because us Hawaii kids gotta love Hawaii players.
PHOENIX - Okay, this is the one that got me on this track to begin with. The RLEC (or a trade exception created by it after the season) plus a good non-starting guard or two (Blake or Bayless?) for Steve Nash. How does that guy do on a team with depth and youth? Do his age or back problems become an issue when he can be tapped for 28 minutes a game instead of 35, and be THE set-up guy instead of a top-2 weapon in his own right? If the Suns totally go south, with Shaq offering an expiring contract in 2010 and a new, young coach who may need a few years to build, would Nash be in their picture for a next-era situation? We could offer them a payroll dump AND a cheap young point guard in return - this makes no sense for them now, but if they go off the rails, with Grant Hill and Snaq at career's end, dumping Nash's contract to rebuild around Amare/Barbosa/Diaw makes total sense.
NEW YORK - Obviously, it's Channing Frye. So we were ahead of the curve on this one; it's still the right answer.
HOUSTON - So much said here about Shane Battier. I don't buy it, but it makes a lot more sense with one more injury to either Yao or T-Mac. Remember, Ron-Ron's got an expiring contract, and Mutombo and Barry are now-only players; they could rebuild around the healthier of the Yao-Mac pair (my money's on Yao), Scola in his prime, the youth-friendly Adelman system, and cheap youngsters like Landry, Luther Head, Chuck Hayes, and Joey Dorsey. It's tempting to Go Ducks and try to get Aaron Brooks or Marty Leunen, but in a rebuild situation, the Rockets should keep both those dudes.
NEW JERSEY - They're making an undisguised play for LeBron in 2010, so they're dumping salary like mad while retaining anyone young and cheap (Read: DEVIN HARRIS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE; he's part of the entice-LBJ approach). Anyone who wants Vinsufferable can get him for an expiring contract, but that ain't us; however, for only $5mil, we can seal the deal on Trenton Hassell, 4 years later. I don't really want him, but the "Trenton Hassell is a Blazer - oops, no he isn't" storyline still rivets me. I'm funny that way.
DALLAS - Man, these guys intrigue me. They melted down with a 2-0 lead on the Heat, got knocked out as a 1-seed by those lovable 07 Worriers, and underwhelmed last season on their way to a low seed and first-round exit against the hot young Hornets. With the disaster that is Kidd in the last year of his contract, they should be able to get under the cap and just move on with a new coach if things go sideways just by letting Kidd dissolve at season's end, but they're STILL too far over the cap to do that. I don't see anything there that I like AND that would be made available by them in rebuilding mode. Is it worth it to trade for Jerry Stackhouse's $7mil each of the next two years just to buy him out? What if he's looking to just retire? (Well, then Dallas HAS to keep him for THAT salary dump . . . ) I'm confused here. We should be able to pick from the carcass of a Mavs Meltdown if it happens; I just don't know HOW.
And one more that didn't make the vote, but should have:
SAN ANTONIO - These guys could get real old, real fast, any time between tomorrow and four years from now. Anything not named Duncan, Parker or Ginobili is fair game if they're at .500 after the all-star break, but nobody's worth getting, and nobody's expensive enough to qualify for salary dump status. I'd love Ime back, but I think a rebuild means they keep him as Bowen's replacement. I'd think the big 3 are untouchable, but I'd put out feelers for getting Tony Parker for the Steve Nash package as described above. But unlike Nash, Parker's not old enough or hurt enough to be as available in a rebuild situation as Nash would be. Still, that'd be the respectable target when you've got a fat expiring contract and cheap, talented guards like we do. And don't forget: They really, REALLY wanted Batum, and were counting on getting him until we messed it up with two trades late in the first round. Could you get Parker for Blake + Batum + Diogu + RLEC? (Maybe.) Would you want to? (Mmmmmmmaybe . . . )