A couple days ago I got the following e-mail from Erik (who may or may not be from one of those Scandinavian countries with off-white-colored food and extra-cute blondes):
Dave, you write about the Blazers options for trading but you never say what trade you would do. Everybody else has done this. Come on let loose! If you would devise one big trade this summer what would it be? A big trade! No small ones! No cheating on this!
So...OK. Who could resist such temptation, especially after being called out like that? For this one day I will "let loose". This also gives me a chance to inaugurate today's Trade Drawer and to remind people that most, if not all, trade speculation should go in the daily drawer. This will help keep the sidebar topics varied and prevent obvious repeats of suggestions. This thread is the Trade Drawer for Monday, right here on the front page.
Now...back to Erik. A Big Trade may not necessarily be the best thing for the Blazers. Big Trades are also devilishly hard to keep equitable, and I'm not sure that I've succeeded here. But you can try this on for size:
Blazers Trade to Oklahoma City
- Rudy Fernandez
- Travis Outlaw
- Steve Blake
- Martell Webster
Blazers Receive from Oklahoma City
- Jeff Green
- Nick Collison
- Earl Watson
- #3 pick in 2009 draft
This trade would have to be executed on or before draft day, as I am using 2008-09 salaries to make it work. And it does work.
Oklahoma City has an exciting young roster, but they've got some dead ends. Their stars are ready to go. Their supporting cast needs some work. They don't have too many bad contracts but Collison and Watson are among the less valuable. Neither one is in the long-term plans. Jeff Green is in the long-term plans and is a good player but they need to move Durant to small forward permanently and Green isn't a great power forward. He's going to be an upper-tier role player without a defined spot on the team. The Thunder are also in a less-than-favorable position with the third pick. They'd love a center or power forward but Griffin will certainly be gone by #3. Thabeet may or may not be there. Even if he is he's got a lot of question marks, especially rebounding. The most obvious target for the pick is Ricky Rubio. But they've already got Westbrook and Rubio apparently isn't overjoyed about OKC. In a normal year on a normal team Jeff Green and #3 is a lot to give up. But this isn't entirely normal. Those assets don't have as much value to the Thunder as they seemed like they would have a year or two ago.
Oklahoma City picks up scoring, a ton of outside shooting, and basically revolutionizes its mid-sized lineup. Rudy starts at shooting guard, providing another serious deep threat, a passer, and somebody who can score even when Westbrook and Durant dominate the ball. Outlaw could start or back-up at power forward. Webster becomes the reserve small forward. Blake provides a nice contrast to Westbrook at point guard. Everybody but Blake scores. Everybody can shoot. It's an offensive nightmare for the opponent. If Durant ever learns to take the ball inside that lineup could become devastating.
Salary-wise the Thunder save about $6.7 million this year if they keep everyone. The players and pick they're trading total $19.8 million in 2009-10 salary. The players the Blazers trade will be worth $13.1 million. OKC has the option of cutting Blake and saving an extra $4 million for $10.7 total. The savings could continue the following year when the Thunder could shave off another $4-7 million in salary, depending on who they keep. They're under the cap already for both years so those dollars represent tangible flexibility.
The Blazers, of course, end up taking on the extra obligation of the Collison and Watson contracts. Watson makes $6.6 million in the coming year. Collison makes $6.4 and then $6.9 in the year following. Those aren't extreme numbers but they will eat up the cap flexibility Portland has. The Blazers do get to use their exceptions in this scenario. They also have Watson's expiring contract to use at the deadline should they choose. But there's no doubt this is a serious cap hit for the Blazers.
Portland also loses a ton of young talent at varying positions. The team is nowhere as deep as it was before this trade. However the practical depth shuffles out a little better at most positions.
The big wildcard is point guard. I'm assuming the Blazers are going for Rubio with the #3 pick. If not--if you don't think Rubio is a clear big-minute guard in Portland's semi-near future--this trade doesn't make any sense. It may not anyway from Nate's point of view. He's saddled with Bayless and Rubio at the point, which is not exactly a coach's dream. You're banking on somebody panning out big long-term at that position in exchange for some headaches now. However Watson can still give you 20+ minutes per game if need be, so you do get a little help as the young guys learn.
Shooting guard is obviously Brandon Roy's spot and will remain so. Green becomes the starting small forward. We've just traded away every reasonable option at either position behind those two except Nicolas Batum. Batum now becomes the swingman reserve at two and three. Green can shoot from distance and he rebounds well. He's a nice all-around package.
Collison is a relatively expensive contract but he can rebound, providing a different look at back-up power forward.
The Blazer depth chart ends up looking like this:
- PG: Watson/Bayless/Rubio (that's in order of seniority, not necessarily playing time)
- SG: Roy/Batum
- SF: Green/Batum
- PF: Aldridge/Collison
- C: Przybilla/Oden
Portland retains the 24th pick. If they want to fish around for another wing player they're free to. Or they can sign a free agent with the mid-level exception.
So there you go. Hope that trade is big enough to qualify. I'm not entirely sure I'd do it myself, but it's interesting at least.