Well, I expect to see a million of these soon, so might as well make one now.
The State Right Now
I have seen a few reactions after the last loss saying, "We might as well tank now." I think that's a little extreme. But something has to be done. And I think the firing of the coach is not going to help. Because I'm beginning to believe that our players are spiraling into some kind of depressive episode. And with last season's injury rush, plus this season's, plus Coach Lucas dying, it has made for a very bad situation that no coach will be able to undo.
I think the best thing that can happen is a fresh start for some of our players. On another team, they no longer have to worry about the woes of the Portland Trailblazers, and can florish. Sure, later on, we'll wish we had them. We'll second guess ourselves, saying "We just did a Jermaine O'Neil all over again!" But I think giving these players a fresh start will be good for them. And bringing fresh players in will be good for us.
But as good as it might be. I don't want it to happen. I have followed these players for as long as they have been Blazers. And I love them. I want them all to stay and succeed. But that may not be possible. So this might be a better alternative.
Right now, the Blazers have a problem. Both players we were counting on to be stars are injured. And both may never end up being enough to make this team into contenders any longer. Those two players, of course, are Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.
But here's the thing. Roy is still a very good basketball player. And benching him in favor of Nicolas Batum at this point (which many are arguing for) means that there is no championship window. It may be better for the team, but in reality, all it does is verify that we're not going anywhere. So, if Roy is to benched, before that, we should just cut our losses completely and trade him.
Oh sure, trade a Base-Year-Compensation, max salary, injured, less athletic Brandon Roy. For who pray tell?
First Trade with Denver
Because of the BYC Status, only half of Roy's salary counts for going out, but the whole thing counts for going in. Salaries, for teams over the salary cap, must be within 125% +$100,000. Roy's $13.6 million only counts as $6.8 million outgoing for us. Joel is set to make about 7.4 Million. Anthony's contract is about $17.1 Million. So outgoing, Roy + Przybilla is 14.2 million, which is 120.4%. Denver's incoming counts as $21 million, which is 122.8%. So there is almost no margin for error.
So then let's get to the why. Why would Portland want to take a flyer on Carmelo Anthony, when at the end of the 2011-2012 season, he's almost assuredly going to New York? Two reasons, Talented player in return for Roy with a short contract length. We're not stuck with 'Melo for five seasons in case things really go south with him here. And perhaps, with the next trade, we may have a big enough three to keep him, but that's later.
But is that flyer worth trading away Przybilla for? Oof. That's a tough one. Especially without seeing what he can do on the court. Especially how short we are of true centers. Especially how much he meant to our team when he was out there. It would really hurt to give that away. That is, if he's able to bring that to the table. After everything that has happened, assuming the worst seems to be the best bet for injured Blazers at the moment.
But back to Anthony. If we're able to keep him, and want to, great! If not, this move and the next puts us under the salary cap for 2012. Maybe not by a ton. But if the 2011-2012 season gets locked out, The summer of 2012 may possibly have two free agent classes in it.
So, why does Denver do this trade? Do you really think anyone will offer them more for Anthony? Even if Roy isn't the player he used to be, he's still a very good player. The biggest question will be whether Denver wants to take the luxury tax hit or not. They take in $3.9 million more in salary than they send out, costing them $7.8 million with luxury tax included. Is that worth it to get something of value for a disgruntled star? I don't know.
But this is the first trade. There is a second.
Second Trade with Philadelphia
Because there is a second star player who has been rumored to be on the available side. The Philadelphia 76ers may be looking to part with Andre Iguodala and his 4 year, $51 million contract in order to go into full rebuilding mode.
And we have a that other player who has shown a lot of talent, but also a lot of injuries. Greg Oden. But Philadelphia isn't going to just trade their star player for a guy who has only played 82 games in four seasons. Intrigued by the potential? Sure. But not so much so that they give away talent for that possibility.
And here is where Portland has to hurt a little. We do have a player, at a low salary, whom a lot of teams are interested in. So much interest has been shown, that Portland has started considering him a bright spot of the future. And Nicolas Batum may very well turn into a great player. But it is still potential right now. On the floor, he can be solid, but a tad streaky, which is to be expected at his age. But that is the kind of player Philadelphia would be very interested in.
So here it is: Nicolas Batum, Greg Oden and Luke Babbitt (in order to match up salaries) to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala.
Why? Because Andre Iguodala isn't potential. He's a solid player. Not enough to carry a team on his own. But enough to be a good number two player to Carmelo Anthony. A good defender to boot. The outside shot may be a weakness though.
Is it worth the cost of Batum and Oden? Depends. It's all in how one reads the risk/reward ratios. With Oden, it is definitely high risk/high reward. With Batum, the risk is not nearly so high. And the reward may be nearly as high with Oden. But picking up Iggy takes the risk out of the equation for the Blazers. And he replaces the traded Roy at the two.
But is that enough for Philadelphia? There may be better offers out there for Andre Iguodala. But what this does do for them is make it so that if they decline all of their team options, they go into the summer of 2012 with only Elton Brand (No way he turns down his $18 million player option) Louis Williams (If he doesn't decide to exercise his player option) and drafted 1st round picks. They'll probably keep more than that, but salary cap space may be very attractive in the new CBA.
Brandon Roy and Joel Przybilla to Denver for Carmelo Anthony
Nicolas Batum, Greg Oden and Luke Babbitt to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala
PG Andre Miller
SG Andre Iguodala
SF Carmelo Anthony
Bench - The same players we've seen all season. Johnson, Fernandez, Matthews, Cunningham, Marks, Mills
So the question becomes, "Is that an upgrade or not." We still have some glaring problems. We still have no one to cover the center position when Camby is out. We still have no upgrade at PG or backup PG. We have actually hurt our outside shooting, if that were possible. This is not a group that will be great defensively. And is this a group that can compete for a championship? Probably not.
But it does do some things. The two players coming in know how to play with Andre Miller. We get a couple of players who can attack the basket. Aldridge doesn't have to be our number one option on the floor any more. The waiting game ends, at least somewhat. And we get a fresh player perspective, one that isn't quite as plagued by the two year injury spiral of death. We stay competitive. And in two years, if we can't keep Anthony, we have some cap space, potentially.
We would also still have the trade exception from the Bayless trade. And we might be able to use that to help a team looking for luxury tax relief. We also have New Orleans' first round pick plus our own, which can also be used to get more help for our bench, either by using them or trading them.
I still love all these players. I want them all to stay and do well. And I hope it still happens. But something has to happen. And maybe it's not until something like this happens that we get out of our funk.