I understand there will be MILLIONS if not TRILLIONS of posts about proposals like this in the next few months - but I just couldn't resist. I'm at work, bored, and already feeling the pangs of the Blazer-less playoffs. So...I think I've put together a pretty decent plan for this off-season and wanted to float it. The plan begins with a couple player options that are rumored to be exercised...
1. Acquire The Center:
Rumor has it that Andre Iguodala is planning on opting out of his contract to explore free agency this summer. That's where this master plan begins. The Denver Nuggets are a very deep team - the SG position included. However, Iggy would be a big loss for them. I would propose that we trade Matthews (6m) and Sasha (1.2m) and a 2nd round pick to the Nuggets for JaVale McGee. Firstly, Matthews is only 4 years in the league, plays solid team defense, spreads the floor with his 3 point shooting, and would perfectly fill the need for the Nuggets. Sasha is a throw in to make the deal work, the 2nd round pick is an asset for their troubles, and the trade also nets the Nuggets a (2.8m) trade exception for future flexibility in trades. They have Koufos locked up for next year and can bring back Mozgov as a restricted free agent, if they choose. They shore up their 2 guard position without too much risk. This seems like a very viable option for a team that's just now entering their prime - they're the 3rd youngest team in the league. Matthews fits right in with their arch. For the Blazers, it's the opportunity to shore up the center position for years to come with a highly efficient, albeit someone injury prone center. Worth the risk in my opinion. I honestly see this trade working for both teams. (After this trade, the Blazers will have a net total of approximately 10.7m in cap space: (13.5m - (10m-7.2m))
2. Acquire The Shooting Guard:
Rumor also has it that OJ Mayo will be opting out of his contract with Dallas to explore the free agency market. I've read in multiple places that he should fetch around 5.5-6m per year. A 22 million, 4 year deal seems like a fairly decent amount for him and puts him on par with a few other decent shooting guards in the league - Matthews included. Matthews is more of a defense and 3-point heavy player, whereas OJ Mayo will be more of a score off the dribble and clutch player - without us having to sacrifice much in the way of defense. Mayo's 3 point shooting isn't bad, either. I would say it's a lateral move at worst for our starting SG spot and perhaps a small upgrade. For the sake of flexibility, lets say we get him for 5.5m. (After this trade, the Blazers will have a net total of approximately 5.2m in cap space).
3. Acquire the PF Backup:
Hickson is decent starting center, but would be a GREAT backup PF. After we've released him, performed the Matthews trade, and brought in Mayo, I'd say we bring Hickson back as our backup PF - promising 25 minutes per game or so in a hybrid back up role. There are many reasons why Hickson would want to go elsewhere and start, but he's also expressed his affection for Stott's system and appears very open to coming back. Applying a little logic when interpreting his words would lead one to believe that he's probably willing to accept the backup role to Aldridge. He has to know we're looking for a true center. He has to know Aldridge is the incumbent starter. Yet, he has expressed a desire to come back. That leads me to think he'd be ok with that role. That said, opinions on what Hickson could score this offseason are very differing. Some say he could be an 8-10m/year guy because of the inflated numbers he's produced this year. Others assess his situation, his past, and see him as more of a role playing 4-6m/year guy who can excel in the right situation. I'm of the opinion that Hickson's production is a result of his circumstance this season and fairly warrants a 4-6m/year deal. I propose we bring him back on a 11m, 2 year deal with a player option for a 3rd year. That would give him time to prove that his production this year wasn't a 1-season fluke and considering his age, would still give him the opportunity for a larger payday (or 2) in the future. I fully believe he would do this.
4. Acquire the PG Backup:
Now that we're out of cap space, we'll be looking to the MLE to sign our backup PG. There will be a few options out there, but I really REALLY like Maynor and what he brings to our team - on the court and off. I feel like he's a great fit and would be a wonderful backup who knows and accepts his role for years to come. Assuming we're waiving rights, we bring him in as a free agent under our MLE. The MLE is 5m/year, so this would actually be a bit of a pay raise for Maynor - perhaps there's a better fit here? Honestly, Billups would be my first choice if he were available. The reason I picked Maynor was age and accessibility. I'll venture to guess that Billups likes it in Clipper-land and would stay there if they allow him. So...for now, Maynor it is.
5. Retain Williams
Since the organization is already saying that it's looking to retain Williams, I figure I must include this piece. I assume that because of his injury problems they'll just sign him to the minimum, which we can go over the cap for once we've used our cap space. We're looking at a 1 to 2 year contract for whatever the minimum is that we have to pay him. Williams will accept with a smile on his face considering he's done nothing but drain team resources up to this point. He wants his shot. If he stays healthy, he'll be a great value for us for the next 2 years. If not, it won't cost us too much.
After these 5 little moves, we're looking at a 12-man line up of:
PG: Lillard / Maynor
SG: Mayo / Williams (or) Barton
SF: Batum / Claver / (rookie)
PF: Aldridge / Hickson / (rookie)
C: McGee / Leonard
8-man Playoff: Lillard, Maynor, Mayo, Williams, Batum, Aldridge, Hickson, McGee
That's a young versatile team full of perfect-fit role players. We have All-Stars, team defenders, floor stretchers, rebounding specialists, and do-it-all utility guys. It's a young team full of ridiculous potential that can compete on night one for a playoff spot and continue competing for years to come. I would LOVE to watch this team.