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The Rumor Mill

Today I'm going to throw pretty much all of the rumors we've heard in the last month into the tumbler and see what, if anything, comes out shiny.  I am not trade-checking these because there could be any number of throw-ins.  Only the main pieces are discussed.

90% of these involve Zach Randolph, which is expected.  However even as I hear these trades I am reminded that we have to be kind of careful what we do with Zach.  I'm not saying he fits on this team but he is our one, big shot at a semi-valuable, yet non-core, trading chip.  If you want any more near-blockbusters or "name" trades you're going to have to start dipping into our core players.  Since this is our shot I suspect we should be fairly picky and I have been so.

Anything for the #1 Pick

There haven't been a lot of specifics but rumors are starting to swirl.  True or not, I can answer this right now:  no.  Dwight Howard or LeBron James would tempt me, but neither would be offered.  And even then I'm not sure I'd pull the trigger.  I'm not 100% sure Oden will be a franchise-saving superstar.  I had many doubts before all of the positive press started rolling and even now I'm around 50%.  But this is my nature.  If you give me a 50% to have a Spurs-like legacy or a 100% chance of being the Cavaliers (at least to this point) I'll take the 50% chance of overwhelming greatness.  No offense to finals-bound Cleveland fans but there's a real chance the Cavs wouldn't have made it to the finals if they were in the West this year.  Maybe they would have.  But they're still a long way from proving they're in four-rings-per-decade territory.  If you think you have a reasonable shot at THE next center you've got to take it even if it doesn't quite turn out that way.

The Chicago Connection:  Zach for Nocioni + Duhon or Nocioni + #9 or Nocioni + Junk or Junk + #9

Last year with Zach coming off the season he had I would have jumped at any of these.  Now I'm not so sure.  Anything with the word "junk" in it is out.  Nocioni and Duhon is also out unless Duhon goes elsewhere and nets us something in return.  That leaves the Nocioni + #9 straddle job.  Naturally it would all depend who was there at #9.  Likely it would mean getting a decent small forward in Nocioni and the third or fourth best small forward in this year's draft.  Plus we already have Martell and Travis.  I'm not sure throwing quantity at a problem makes it go away.  If we'd get much cap relief for Nocioni I'd look upon it more favorably but he'll have a shiny, new contract in hand.  I'd say maybe there's a 30-35% chance I'd take this trade.

Zach for Jermaine O'Neal

Once upon a time this would have been a pipe dream.  Even now I'm pretty sure we'd be getting the better of the deal.  But I still wouldn't do it.  JO's contract runs a little shorter than Zach's but egad what a premium!  It's $18 million next year and heads on up to $23 million in 2009-10.  Given that he's getting older and has been injury-prone I think it's reasonable to assume that he'd be ours for the duration.  I heard what Assistant GM Penn said about there being no difference between being one dollar and fifteen million dollars over the cap, but spending that much for a guy over the other side of the peak when your team is rising--not to mention a guy playing the same position as Aldridge and Oden--just doesn't seem right.  I guess if you were drafting Durant you might look at it (scary front line there) but we're not drafting Durant.

Zach for Jason Terry
If you want a veteran to lead your team this may be it.  Terry has taken his team to the finals.  He seems to have calmed down from his early rapscallion days.  He's shooting a phenomenal percentage.  He gets a reasonable number of assists.  So why can't I get the image of him jacking random shots and not defending well once outside the potent Mavericks offense out of my mind?  How much of his sterling performance is due to him being a complementary player on one of the best scoring squads in this era?  Would that translate into similar production when he's more of the offensive focus?  More importantly, would he be able to lead a team of young padawans when he's used to playing with full-blown Jedi?  I could see him being great for this team.  I could also see him being a disaster.  His contract is moderate, ranging from $7.5 million to $11.5 million in 2011-12.  But that's a long time if you don't like a guy that much.  Final question:  even in this quicker era do you trade a bankable big for a small guy?  I don't think I do.

Zach for Tayshaun Prince

I'm not sure there's even a grain of truth to this rumor but it was brought up so we'll talk about it.  This is the one deal that comes close to being a no-brainer.  Prince is in the prime of his career and will be for the next four years at least.  He's a great all-around player, smart, and team-oriented.  He's won championships and is your automatic starting small forward for 82 games.  His contract is about the same as Terry's but he'll be younger when it's finished.  I'm pretty sure I'd say yes to this unequivocally.

Zach for Shane Battier + Juwon Howard

Shane Battier is the prototypical "glue guy", right?  He doesn't have to have the ball in his hands to be effective but when he does get it he does the right thing.  He doesn't mind playing a supporting role to the team's bigger stars.  Seems perfect.  So why is Houston, one year after trading a great potential rookie for him, ready to dump him off?  Does this smell fishy to anybody else?  Maybe 10 points per game isn't enough?  Maybe there's a tad too much athleticism missing?  We'd save some contractually with this deal but not enough to write home about.  And I just don't think you trade a 24-point guy for a role player...even the ultimate role player.  That's half the point of getting role-players:  they're supposed to come cheap.

Zach for Lamar Odom

I like Lamar Odom.  He can play a little bit at both forward spots and he'd be a different kind of power forward for us than Zach.  He can do a little bit of everything.  He's only 27 and his contract runs only two more years at nearly exactly Zach's rate.  All in all he'd be a great fit on this team.  BUT...  Despite his stats he's not had the kind of impact in the league his talent should warrant.  He'd also want to start, probably at power forward.  He's had a long history of injuries.  And I don't care if it would be a constant battle for the ball, I don't really want to see Zach go to the Lakers.  We might still turn out better than them overall but head-to-head I bet we'd have some butt-kickin's coming.  And we can't have that.

The Jersey Turnpike:  Zach for Richard Jefferson or Zach for Jason Kidd

The only thing I like about the Kidd trade is that the Nets would have to take on a couple of our garbage contracts to make it work, which might almost make it worth it.  However Kidd wouldn't want to be here (his time is too short) and if we believe in either of our young point guards we couldn't afford to have him playing the 37+ minutes per game he would surely warrant.  Plus our outside shooting...yeesh.  Jefferson's contract is about the same as Zach's and he's about the same age.  He has a more well-rounded game than Zach but neither the bankable scoring skill nor the clutch drive.  Plus his career has been marked by injuries as well.  It's tempting but...there are too many questions here too.

Zach for Andre Miller + #12 pick

I'm going to surprise you.  He's old, he can't shoot well from range, and he's not as good as Kidd but he might be willing to come and play here, he's always been a good passer, and he might be a good mentor for the youngsters without having to hog all the minutes.  The #12 pick might tip the balance depending on who was there.  Andre's contract runs two more years at $9.3 and $10 million.  I'm waffling.  It's probably not enough to get for Zach, but I'm tempted.  If you did this deal you could also afford to think about a possible Jarrett Jack for #11 trade with Atlanta with no penalty (if they were willing).  You either get two young guys or try to package those to move up a couple slots more.  This could also be a feature to this deal.  Maybe I don't like this enough to do it, but this is one of the few trades that I have a more positive view of than the general populace (as opposed to less).

Zach for a signed-and-traded Rashard Lewis

Lewis is starting to get mentioned as a very hot item on the open market so the chances of this are getting less and less.  He's a 20-ppg guy so you don't give up much scoring from losing Zach.  You don't gain any defense but you do get legit three-point range and a spread court.  Plus he fits right in at small forward.  He'll want a long contract.  He's 27 which means we'd be paying him for a couple less-productive years at the end of it.  But we're likely to be paying a fortune for our own guys at that point anyway.  If we could get him for a 4-year deal (that's how many remains on Zach's contract) it would be a no-brainer.  I'd even take five.  Six?  You're starting to bank a lot there.  But the next few years would be exciting, that's for sure.  I'm about 60% pro on this.

Zach for Antawn Jamison

He's a lot like Zach with a little more diversity (and correspondingly less bankability) in his offense.  He's no great shakes defensively.  He doesn't rebound as well.  And he's more of a power forward at heart than a small forward.  The main attraction is his expiring season left.  That might do us some good, but probably only if we can also find a way to dump Raef or Darius.  Fat chance there.  I don't like it.

Jarrett Jack for #11

Again this all depends on who is there at eleven.  Could be great, could be a disaster.  If you do this you better have a veteran point guard in the hopper.  Steve Blake or Andre Miller come to mind, although I wonder about Blake.

Did I miss any?  (Any realistic ones, that is...I know there are no Kobe or Dirk or KG for Zach trades here.)  If so, mention them in the comments and I'll ponder them.

--Dave (