I posted some of this as a comment in another thread, but it got me to thinking a bit more... I'm not well-versed in salary-cap nuances, so please help me out as to whether this is even a feasible tack for our rebui...cough... retooling.
Cornerstone of this plan is Thomas Robinson. I feel that he could be a superstar PF; one who can bang inside, brings 110% effort every night... sort of a young Karl Malone, if you will. Robinson doesn't have the jumper (yet) to be a superstar his first year or two in the league, but he has the work ethic to develop one, and his other physical tools are already 90th-percentile.
- STEP ONE: TRADE UP TO DRAFT THOMAS ROBINSON at #2 or #4
Charlotte is shopping the #2 pick - I believe if we package Wesley Matthews, the #6, and future consideration (2014 top 6 protected 1st rounder), we can move up to #2. This will guarantee that we can get the guy we want. There's a slight possibility that Robinson falls to #5 (MKG @2, Beal / Drummond @3, Barnes @4), but I don't think we should risk it. If we're absolutely sure that neither #2 or #3 will be used on Robinson, then we could target the #4, but... risky. Matthews is a nice player and a good fit with a leaderless Charlotte team. Luckily, Robinson seems to be a leader too.
- STEP TWO: TRADE UP TO DRAFT DAMIAN LILLARD AT #9
Continue our wheeling-dealing ways and try to package #11, $3 million (or the pick that $3 million buys us) to move up to #9. Consensus has Lillard going at #10 to the Hornets otherwise.
Yes, we will probably be leaving a slightly better talent on the board here by drafting Lillard at #9, but the guys likely to be left over at this point in the lottery are redundant to our current players and age-wise, don't give the seperation to make them valuable redundant long-term assets.
Lillard is a great fit -- as long as we have a SG and SF who also have the capability to handle the ball on occasion and play good defense. Lillard is an average defender at this point in time, though he has physical tools to be able to be a plus defender with the right coaching.
- STEP THREE: TRADE #40 and #41 FOR A LATE FIRST ROUNDER
Simple enough. Whatchu got? Let's assume for the sake of illustration that we get the #23 pick from the Hawks.
- STEP FOUR: DRAFT A FALLING STAR
Pick up the best available SG or SF at #23. Let's assume here that Austin Rivers falls to #23. Could be one of a number of guys, really. I think a SG is the best plan but if a top-rated SF falls far enough...
- STEP FIVE: SIGN A PG PROJECT
I *know* we can do this! Poke around after the draft and find this year's Patty Mills, Armon Johnson, Nolan Smith, whatever. People have been talking Scott Machado from Iona. We'll use him for illustration (though he's projected mid-2nd). A third-string rookie PG, basically.
- STEP SIX: SIGN A SG / SF PROJECT
See above, not too hard to find a 3rd string SG/SF after the draft.
- STEP SEVEN: RESIGN NICOLAS BATUM, 4 years, 40 million
At this point in time, we've got a pretty good understanding of who Nicolas Batum is as a player. He IS: a good defender who can cover the 1-3 - a knock-down shooter - a decent rebounder. He ISN'T: a playmaker - a ballhandler - an assertive player on either end of the court. Though we might have to overpay a bit, I don't mind signing Batum for 4/40 or 5/48 as a third option on our team for the years ahead.
- STEP EIGHT: RESIGN JJ HICKSON, 4 years, 20 million
Wait, but Hickson's just a opportunistic offensive-minded PF who doesn't rebound particularly well...why? Because he is an ideal backup to and contrast from T-Rob, and also has the ability to play a little bit of 5 if necessary against other team's second-stringers. I've seen speculation that he could sign in the 4/20 area, which seems like a good value.
- STEP NINE: SIGN OMER ASIK or JOEL FREELAND, 3 years, 18 million
I would prefer Asik here as he has the body of a true 5 and is a pretty good defender. He's not going to match up one-on-one with Howard or Bynum all game, but with the frontcourt we're putting together, we might just be able to throw bodies at those guys. Freeland's a servicable 4/5, and seems to be expanding his game so he can play outside-in. Not sure about his D on bigger guys, though.
- STEP TEN: PLAY THE 2012-2013 SEASON
Our lineup for 2012-2013 is:
Lillard / Smith / Filler
Williams / Rivers / Filler
Batum / Babbitt / SWilliams (buyout)
Robinson / Hickson
Aldridge / Asik / Thomas
Cap situation: $2.6 / 1.4 / .8 $1.4 / 1.4 / .8 $10 / 1.9 / 3.1 $3.9 / 5.0 $14 / 6 / 1.4
Approx $53,700,000 after all signings, meaning we can retain the rights to Claver and Freeland if they don't sign this year.
Sure, that’s a super-young team, and will probably win only 25-30 games this year…
- STEP ELEVEN: SUMMER 2013 - TRADE ALDRIDGE (UHOH!)
We're heading into 2013-2014 with two legit stars at PF. Though Aldridge can and will have played plenty of '5' in 2012-2013, redundancy in assets isn't a great situation for a rebuildin... retooing team.
Thus, we should consider trading LMA for a legit '5', though not a superstar 5. I don't know who all will be available on the trade market in 2013, but let's say for illustration that we are looking for a player who is younger and a little cheaper. Let's go...DeMarcus Cousins, who may have worn out his welcome in Sacramento by then.
- STEP TWELVE: SUMMER 2013 - SIGN BIG NAME FREE AGENT - PROFIT!
Lillard / Smith
Williams / Rivers / Filler
Batum / Babbitt / Filler
Robinson / Hickson
Cousins / Asik / Filler
We also have an additional $10+ million freed up by trading Aldridge (in addition to the several million in capspace we will already have) , meaning that we can go out and sign a top-tier FA to shore up whatever weaknesses we've got.
Let's say that Lillard pans out and one of Williams/Rivers doesn't. We go out and sign James Harden to a 5 year max deal. Or maybe not Harden. Maybe Monta Ellis. Maybe Andre Iguodala. Maybe Klay Thompson. Maybe Tyreke Evans.
Maybe Lillard doesn't turn into much but EWill blossoms. Then perhaps Steph Curry? Chris Paul? Gah. This ended up being a "how we get Chris Paul" thread.
Whoever our big FA signing in summer 2013, we just got really scary good, really fast.
We've now got a legit threat at SG (Harden), a scoring point (Lillard), a banger down low who can go for 20/10 every night (Robinson), an incredibly talented guy at the 5 also capable of 20/10 on most nights (Cousins), and a mature Batum as a #4 or #5 scoring option.
I don't know if that's the team that gets us to a victory in the Finals, but I think it's worth the risk...