I realize I'm throwing myself to wolves, here. However, in celebration of trade deadline day, I would like to offer up one last Hail Mary trade proposal. I'm not digging the "rebuild", to be honest. I hate youth movements, but I'm starting to see some value in it as I watch us flounder on the precipice of no-mans-land this year. We're going to be stuck with enough money for an average center and a backup point guard, sure, but I don't see that pulling us out of the meddling middle of the standings in the next couple years. By the time we get a team together, I predict that Aldridge will have about 3-4 years left in his prime, at most. I'm just nervous that if we don't make some tough decisions now, our current Big 3's window might only be a 2-3 year span by the time it arrives, rather than a 4-5 year span centered around a different Big 3 - because of the age differences in Aldridge and Lillard. This is my motivation for this proposal. This trade pushes our current trajectory back a year or two tops, but in my opinion, it potentially affords us a much larger window of championship opportunity. I present to you the trade to signify our rebuild:
- Wilson Chandler (SG)
- Kosta Koufos (7' C)
- Corey Brewer ($3.2 mil expiring contract)
- Shed 1.4 million in cap space (trade exception?)
- LaMarcus Aldridge (for 3 years)
- 2nd Round Draft Pick
The reason the Blazers do it
First and foremost, this plan has 2 parts to it. (1) Trade Aldridge to get our Center, a solid 6th man, and extra cap space...and (2) Re-sign Hickson as our starting PF for the future. Without resigning Hickson, this move makes absolutely no sense - because then we'd have to find a way to fill our starting PF spot and in that case, we'd be no better off than we are now. However, if we can offer Hickson a 5 year deal starting around 7.5m or 8m, we have our 15p/10r starting PF locked in at least into the beginning of our run. With those 2 items checked off the list, item 3 becomes pretty interesting - follow me on the math here:
- 13.5m cap space (what we're expecting now) plus 3.2m (letting Brewer expire) brings us to approx 17m in cap space this off-season.
- Immediately exercising Bird rights and signing Hickson to a 5 year deal starting at 7.5m leaves us approx 9.5m in cap space to fill our bench.
- We now have 9.5m in cap space to spend on filling out our bench with 2-3 Hickson/D. Gibson/V. Carter/OJ Mayo/C. Billups caliber bench players.
- Going into next year, our line up would look like this:
Lillard / FA (like Billups)
Matthews / W. Chandler / Barton
Batum / FA / Claver
Hickson / FA (like Maxiel) / Freeland
Koufos / Leonard
NOTE: Right now, Koufos averages 8p, 6.5r, and 1.4b a game in only 22.9min. He has incredible potential to fill up the box score up with more starting minutes here in Portland (he currently starts in Denver, but splits the mins 3 ways with 2 other very decent centers). Additionally, Koufos is 23 years old - which aligns him more with a future championship core of (Hickson:24, Batum: 24, and Lillard: 22). Aldridge is 27, not too old right now, but this move does buy us around 3 additional years of a window in the Lillard/Batum championship window. They'll all hit their prime around the same time and have 5 years or so of primin' it up together in championship glory (ideally).
Why Denver does it:
Denver is in a "win now" mode. They have a lot of good players on an INCREDIBLY deep. That's a very big reason why they have such a great record now, but a bench that deep doesn't necessarily translate to playoff wins. Additionally, they don't have a consistent, go-to All-Star to give the ball to in tight games or carry the load night in and night out. All of their players are average to good - none of them are great (except maybe Iggy - everyone else struggles quite a bit with inconsistency). Bringing in Aldridge gives them the star power and consistency they need going into the playoffs this year. If the Nuggets are going to win in this current championship window, and not let it pass by with a few 2nd round exits, they need a player like Aldridge that they can ride into the sunset. After this trade, they're looking at a line up of:
Lawson / Miller (or vice versa depending on how they're feeling any given night)
Iggy / Fournier
Gallo / Hamilton
Aldridge / Faried (legit 1-2 punch there)
McGee / Mozgov (or vice versa...just sayin...McGee does get injured quite a bit...they'd obviously prioritize signing Mozgov or another center this off-season)
NOTE: The ESPN Trade Machine gives the Nuggets 2 additional wins this season with this trade - and I don't think that it takes into account the clutch performance capabilities of Aldridge late in games (minus the free throws, of course) or the increased importance of the top 8 players going into the playoffs. This gives them a much needed boost to take advantage of a great season that they're having. Additionally - that there are even rumors of Iggy for Pau floating around shows you that there are more people out there than me that see the starting PF spot a big need for the Nuggz.
I would miss Aldridge and would worry about our ability to re-sign Hickson, but when you take into account the trajectory of this program and the risk of trying this reloading process vs extending the process a season or two, I'd say that it would be a great move if the Blazers could pull this off. When you take into consideration the opportunity the Nuggets have this year to actually do something in the playoffs, they couldn't pass this up either. What do you think? (PS - I'd prefer to hear heartfelt compliments and praises of genius...if you hate the idea, fake it for me ;).