Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Trades, Canzano, and a Poll

After the spate of trades everybody is wondering what's next for the team. Are we done for the summer? My guess is probably we are, at least in a practical sense if not a philosophical one. I think they'd love to move Darius Miles and pick up a stopgap small forward--in fact as I said a couple months ago I hope they'd be all over themselves to move a contract or two for Jalen Rose, Grant Hill, or Eddie Jones--but it's not likely. I agree with John Canzano that any move before the off-season will be of the Juan Dixon variety, which still could net us a minor piece but won't address our main issues. This begs the question asked a couple times in the comments section of yesterday's post, "How tradeable are Randolph and Miles?"

Regarding Darius, Canzano printed this gem in his blog yesterday:

>>You're not going to like to hear this, but I just don't think Portland is capable of moving Miles at this point. There's something going on behind the scenes with Miles that fans aren't seeing here. The market does not lie.<<

The assertion is accurate. In fact it probably doesn't go far enough. Technically speaking the market didn't lie two years ago when there were no real offers for Darius' services as a restricted free agent. The market also doesn't lie about his trade history. In July, 2002 he was worth a then-sparkling Andre Miller. In January, 2004 he was only worth Jeff McInnis and Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. I doubt that the decline in his perceived value has stopped.

(Side note: This might also be a caution to those of us banking on the value of Jamaal Magloire. I am not in any way suggesting he's Darius, but he went from being worth Desmond Mason and a 1st-rounder to being worth Blake, Skinner, and Ha in the space of one year. That means Milwaukee didn't get any better offers for him than that. His value on the open market right now is probably due to his expiring contract as much as anything.)

At this point it doesn't surprise me that Darius is virtually untradeable on his own. With $34 million left on a contract that runs through 2010, nobody is going to touch him without a sweetener. You can never say never--after all Raef LaFrentz has more money than that left on his contract and far less production potential and HE got traded--but if you're holding your breath you'd better be David Blaine. Personally I've decided to exhale for now.

Canzano also wrote yesterday's famous article suggesting we trade Zach and spare change to Philadelphia for AI. Plenty has been written in response over the last 24 hours. Frankly I'm less curious about the implications of such a deal (which I don't think would be good for us for various reasons) than if it's even possible in the first place. I have been hoping all along that, despite the enormous contract values, the sweetener for any Darius deal might be Zach. It seems to make sense, as he's the most talented (veteran) guy on the team. But how much of a sweetener is he really? Zach is certainly more productive than Darius and most think he's not quite as much of a torpedo to the team (though I'd argue with that), but he also gets paid twice as much. He's owed $73 million over the next five years. That kind of contract puts a large burden of proof on its recipient when it comes to trades.

A few months ago I made an assertion that Zach was no better than the 9th-best power forward in the league. Since potential trades aren't limited to just power forwards, I thought it might be useful to see where he ranks among all players. Here's the list of people who are clearly more productive and/or more valuable on the trade market than Z-Bo. Admittedly this is somewhat subjective and depends on your need, but in general I tried to set the bar very high to make this list, only including people whom I feel there would be little or no argument about. Another way to frame it would be to say that this is a list of people who, if you called their team and asked about trading them for Zach straight up, you'd almost certainly get laughed off the phone.

Paul Pierce
Emeka Okafor
Ben Wallace
LeBron James
Dirk Nowitzki
Carmello Anthony
Rip Hamilton
Chauncey Billups
Jason Richardson
Tracy McGrady
Yao Ming
Jermaine O'Neal
Peja Stojakovic
Elton Brand
Kobe Bryant
Pau Gasol
Shaquille O'Neal
Dwyane Wade
Michael Redd
Andrew Bogut
Kevin Garnett
Vince Carter
Chris Paul
Dwight Howard
Allen Iverson
Steve Nash
Shawn Marion
Amare Stoudemire
Mike Bibby
Tony Parker
Tim Duncan
Ray Allen
Chris Bosh
Andrei Kirilenko
Gilbert Arenas

In addition you could argue for or against these players being on the list:

Joe Johnson
Rasheed Wallace
Tayshaun Prince
Baron Davis
Ron Artest
Corey Magette
Richard Jefferson
Jason Kidd
David West
Manu Ginobili
Rashard Lewis
Chris Wilcox
Mike James
Mehmet Okur
Antawn Jamison

That's 35 people on the "Certainly More Valuable Than Zach" list and 15 more who get Honorable Mention. That means even giving him the benefit of the doubt, Zach is somewhere between the 36th and 51st most valuable/talented guy in the league overall. This would put him in the top 8-12% of the league, which looks pretty attractive. The problem is he ranks 11th on this list in terms of amount owed on his contract and right around there when measured against the league as a whole. That puts him squarely in the top 3% in the NBA in terms of guaranteed dollars going into his pocket. Clearly his production is not matching his contract or even coming close. At the very least you'd have to say that it would take a special situation for somebody to take Zach. Either they'd have to have a specific need for his game and believe in him a lot or they'd have to not care about money at all.

Nobody is completely untradeable, but we certainly face some hurdles if we want to move either of these guys...especially if we don't want to take poison contracts or give up one of our youngsters in return. When I look at the numbers, I seriously doubt either will be traded until we've seen them play again. I also think that if and when the best-case scenario comes about and EITHER of these guys start doing well we need to avoid falling in love with their numbers and just pull the trigger if someone will take them off our hands.

Poll Question of the Day: Who is more untradeable at this point, Zach or Darius? Why?

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

13 Comments:

Anonymous fatty said...

i think you're giving fatbo too
much respect,i agree with the
guy in the blazers blog about
shaq,i meant pryzbilla zach is
als period..i know lou gehirg's
disease is strong but dave that's
just how i really feel about him
and miles is of course is cancer..
dave the schedule is out the
blazers are only national t.v.
once 11/4 the home opener vs minny
so again kicked down like a dog...
dave i'll see you 3/29/07
vs memphis later buddy....

1:01 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

I hate to say it like this, but Canzano is not only a liar, but devoid of any original basketball knowledge. We haven't traded Miles because he's a very dificult player to move given his salary, surgery & attitude. As to Zach for AI- if that isn't the most stupid of serious trade thoughts, please tell me what is. Canzano- what a boob.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Matt Rognlie said...

"We haven't traded Miles because he's a very dificult player to move given his salary, surgery & attitude."

But isn't that exactly what Canzano is saying when he writes that "I just don't think Portland is capable of moving Miles at this point" and "the market does not lie?" I fully agree that Canzano is a poor and unnecessarily combative columnist, but this seems to be an instance where he's right.

And I'm not sure that a Zach for AI trade merits the condemnation we've impulsively thrown its way. AI's contract is much shorter and leeches the franchise for a much smaller period of time. Yes, AI is every bit the black hole that Randolph is, but he's a much better black hole. He genuinely creates offense, as evinced by his strong (+8.6) plus/minus rating. A three-man backcourt consisting of Jack, Iverson and Roy is intriguing. Iverson gets 35 minutes per game, the other two get 30 minuets per game, and everybody's happy.

We'd only have Iverson on the books for two more years before his contract, with one remaining year, became immensely valuable and easy to trade. A two-year Iverson experiment strikes me as far better than an open-ended Zach commitment.

Finding salaries that match is a problem, but not an impossible one. An exchange of bought-out contracts (DA for Buckner) would suffice.

The main issue, in my mind, is whether Philly would actually want this trade. It would be a horrible move on their part, but if they're willing we should certainly take advantage.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

The contract angle on the Iverson trade is interesting and something I hadn't thought of. (I should have because all off-season I've been championing such things.) Great take. I was only thinking of the on-court issues when I brushed by the trade in the post, but it might make a lot of sense to play Iverson for a year or two and then move him.

As you may have gathered by the inclusion of AI on the "Better Than Zach" list I share your concerns about whether Philly would do this deal.

I also agree with BP that Canzano probably just pulled the idea out of thin air (to put it politely). I don't mind JC as much as some though.

--Dave

3:25 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

Matt, I get the sense Canzano is stating that the fact we haven't traded Miles is some sort of indictment against Blazer management. However, it was reported we've shopped him everywhere but on QVC.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

LOL! Flaky Forwards, yours for just six easy flex-pays of $8,000,000 each. How can you pass this up, people? Put the clock up!

--Dave

4:35 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

ok, i've just GOT to throw this one out there. i used the stupid trade simulator on ESPN.com.

I say we send Z-Bo, Darius, and Mr. Dixon to Philly for C-Webb and Kyle Korver. C-webb makes substantially more, but comes off the books season after next. Korver has the same length on his contract as Miles, but half the money. Plus, Mo gets his favorite players back in Philly! (I like Mo, so i'd hate to do that to him, but that would be an awesome trade if it went through)

alright...i'm ready for you all to flame me.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Doubt they'd flame you. We talked about the C-Webb trade possibilities last Thursday. It would be an interesting move. Webber gets better stats that Zach. Neither one is an intangible guy at this time. We take a little bit of a bath salary-wise but we have an expiring contract to trade beginning next season or a lot of cap space the season after. I'd do the deal.

--Dave

8:06 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I would say, all other things being equal, look for that very trade rumor to heat up maybe around the trading deadline, but especially next summer.

--Dave

8:20 PM  
Blogger Matt Rognlie said...

I'd love to pull that trade, but it seems pretty unlikely from Philly's point of view. Perhaps if we included Aldridge as a sweetener? That's a heavy price to pay, but I think it's reasonable for a trade that allows us to dump our two biggest headaches (and salary drains).

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Dave said...

I think Miles is the most untradable at this point because of his history of bouncing around the league as a problem child, more or less. Zach's contract is scary but some are still interested in his abilities on the court.

By the way, I have always liked R. Jefferson and think of him as more of a top tier guy (as per your list). I would be interested in any trade that would involve moving Darius or Zach to get him, if his contract is something we could live with. He would be a good fit with our youngsters.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

RJ's contract=5years, about 13.2 million per year.

--Dave

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Dave said...

...ouch!

7:39 PM  

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