Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What I'd Do

As Karven said yesterday in the "Comments" section, two questions remain if you think Zach should go: "First who do you trade Zach for and Second what direction do you go in the draft?" I don't like to make assertions without offering possible solutions, so here you go.

You can never say "never", but I suspect that any trade for an established star is beyond our reach at the moment. I don't think there's any way we get KG. One of the big reasons Minnesota would trade him is his contract. But they'd be paying as much or more to Zach and Darius (or Zach and whoever). For the same money, who would you rather have? I'd wager 30 out of 30 GMs would say KG. Jermaine O'Neal might be a more realistic target, but I'm not sure Indy does that deal either. And even if they did, with his enormous contract we'd have to be content with that being the last move we made for the next six years, at least if we intend to retain any of the current guys. I'm not sure that's good for us, even if Jermaine is completely healthy for the life of the contract. Paul Pierce is the one guy I'd still look at. Even though he's older his contract is shorter too, so we're not committed to him for life. But why would Boston would bite the bullet on Zach with Al Jefferson already on board? And would Pierce come to Portland happily? I'm guessing that in the light of day all of these rumors fall solidly on the "Hakeem's shopping for houses in Lake Oswego" end of the spectrum.

My actual proposal is more modest. And although I've been talking about it privately for a couple of months, the credit for first bringing it up in public goes to OdomZ who broached it a week or so ago in the O-Live Blazers forum. I would like to see us trade Zach and Darius to New York for Jalen Rose, whose contract expires after next season.

First of all, it least according to RealGM. Second, I think it might have a chance of being accepted. Isiah has already gone "all in" with his cap space. Getting Rose off the books is a drop in the bucket. He needs a radical change and more front court support. Both Zach and Darius fit his mold. Plus the statistical imbalance is so great as to make anyone blink. On paper it seems like an offer you can't refuse.

We, on the other hand, get out of salary cap purgatory. I saw a good quote from "Cup" in the forum the other day. It said something along the lines of "We can't keep giving away our best players for nothing." This is true as far as it goes, but there's a corollary to that theorem: we have to stop overpaying our players, even if they are our best ones. We did it all during the Whitsitt era and unfortunately we had one more for the road in the summer of 2005. We are now in the position where even if we don't sign anybody else (even Joel) we will be capped up for the rest of eternity just re-signing the guys we've got. You already know what the situation is for next year. In 2007-08, without Joel, we'd be paying $53 million for the same team we fielded this year. If we didn't re-sign Travis there'd be a brief window the season after when we might be able to grab a decent free agent. After that our young guys' second contracts would start coming like waves on the shore. In other words, if Zach and Darius stay you can pretty much bet that this is the team you'll see for a long time.

This is where Jalen comes in. After that trade we'd be around $31 million in 2007-08. Even adding Joel at $6 million or so, we're still significantly under the cap. There's room to keep the young guys and improve/change. I would argue this is different than dumping Shareef, Damon, and Van Exel's contracts. Because we were still over the cap after those deals, they didn't translate into maneuverability, so you could say we lost them "for nothing". The cash we save trading Zach and Darius would actually allow us to acquire other players in the future, pretty much on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

OdomZ also mentioned the possibility of getting Channing Frye in the deal. Because of Zach's contract status this would only be possible after July (and then I'm only speculating...I'm not a cap lawyer). I haven't seen much of Frye's play, but the buzz is strong around him. I really think we need a traditional defending, rebounding, low-post forward with good size to fit with our younger, smaller guys. What is Frye's game like? If you know, drop me a line. Either way it's probably no harm, no foul, since his contract is small. Another possibility would be to ask for an unrestricted pick a couple years from now, 2008, 2009, or even 2010.

In any case, the important thing is that we don't take on any big contracts for marginal players, which would just put us back in the same kettle. (Just say "No!" to Raef LaFrentz!) A lineup of Theo/Przy, Skinner, contract-year Rose, Webster (if ready), and your favorite point guard wouldn't set the world on fire, but the current team wouldn't either. Does anybody see any difference between winning 24 games and winning 15? Me neither. And at least your drafting priority for the next couple years becomes clear: young big guys. I would bet that between two high draft picks, a couple of free agents, and the ability to pick and choose among the guys we already have, we'd be back in business sooner than we will if we stay married to this lineup.



Blogger ignacio said...

The trade sounds all right to me. NY has allegedly already indicated interest in Darius. Everyone likes to think that they could be the one to straighten out his head.

The Knicks are so impatient and rich they might talk themselves into anything.

I wonder if there's any chance that Victor can lift enough weights to make himself into a viable PF?

8:28 PM  
Blogger Jason Fulgham said...

Sounds like a really decent trade scenario. I remember a while back when Jalen was in Toronto he made an appearance on The Best Damn. They asked him about all the rumors of him possibly being traded to Portland. He said that he would love to go to Portland and he loved the idea of being a Rose in the city of roses.

And yeah, I am sure the Knicks would love to get their hands on Darius. They probably think they hold the key to Darius playing better (Q Rich).


9:01 AM  

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