Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Throwing out Trades

Portland wants a point guard who can hit shots, not turn the ball over, has a lot of experience, and is great in the half court. Sounds like Jose Calderon to me. The Raptors want a point guard filled with potential who will push the tempo, likes to run and is exciting. Sounds like Sergio Rodriguez to me.

If the Blazers throw in their $3 million trade exception and Martell Webster, we’ve got something cooking. Calderon is a better version of Steve Blake. He always makes the right pass, loves to set up an offense in the half court (90 percent of the Blazers playbook) and is a great shooter. His defense isn’t what the Blazers crave, but word has them looking at trying to get Kidd or Nash, so defense obviously isn’t the biggest consideration here.

Calderon played in the Olympics and on the Spanish national team that won the world championships, so he’s got experience that Steve Blake just doesn’t have. He's far younger than Nash or Kidd or Andre Miller. The added bonus is that the Blazers get to rid themselves of the potential logjam at their wing spots by dealing Webster, who’s shooting and athleticism is precisely what the Raptors could use at the 2 or 3. Plus, Webster is only 22 years old and has reasonable contract.

The Blazers already had one of the most efficient offenses in the league last season, add Calderon to the mix, one of the most efficient point guards in the league, and we're looking at a crazy formidable offense. With another year of development, the thinking would be that Greg Oden can make up for any lack of defensive prowess on Calderon's part.

Another trade that I thought was really thinking outside the box is bringing Shaq back to Los Angeles. No, not the Lakers, but the other squad that calls Staples its home. The Clippers could offer Marcus Camby and Baron Davis for Shaq and Goran Dragic. This does two things for the Clippers. One, it rids them of BD's contract and two, it brings them instant ticket sales. Shaq has his own built in fan base here in LA. A lot of the Kobe haters have subsided since, oh, I dunno, last week. But that being said, while at the parade, I saw plenty of #34 jerseys amidst the sea of purple and gold. Shaq would bring the Clippers organization its biggest personality, since, well, ever, and add some much needed credibility to the laughingstock franchise of the NBA. Dragic would be thrown in just to give the Clips a point guard in return. I saw Dragic working out with BDA Sports (same agency that has helped Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings rise up the draft boards), so I know he's at least trying to get better.

With BD gone, the Clips could either search for a point guard via free agency, try to trade Kaman for a point guard, or get underway with the Eric-Gordon-as-point-guard project (that looks like it could be successful based on EG's play last season) and look to fill their vacancy at shooting guard via free agency. If Shaq doesn't work out, then the Clips will be free of $20 million next season and enter into the summer of 2010 with Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Kaman and Zach Randolph plus a bunch of cap room. Once Randolph expires, retires or gets traded, the Clips future suddenly looks a lot more promising.

For the Suns, it gives them a dynamic point guard in case Steve Nash is really considering bolting for New York next year as well as the exact type of center that Amare Stoudemire needs...a shot blocking, rebounding machine who only needs maybe 6 to 8 offensive touches a game. Not only physically, but mentally Camby is the type of player that Amare should begin to learn from. He needed Shaq like a rapper needs more sycophants.

For next season, I think it would be fascinating to see how Nash and BD play together. I mean, Kerr has already tried everything possible, why not reinvent D'Antoni's wheel? The Suns want to go fast? Why not two elite point guards sharing the backcourt? We've seen some successful pairings of point-guard types sharing a backcourt. The Bad Boy Pistons had Isiah and Joe. This year, the Mavs ran with Kidd and Terry quite often and Charlotte had a nice go (relatively speaking) with Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin. Of course, if the BD/Nash backcourt doesn't pan out, the Suns could always go to a point guard by committee approach. Two years ago, the Raptors were really successful with T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon interchanging from bench to starter. The Suns could do the same and keep both BD (who has had injury problems the past few years) and Nash (who has battled fatigue and back issues) fresh and happy for the playoffs.

This might not be the ideal fit for both franchises, but for the Suns, it's better than getting a straight cash dump. They'll get some of that in Camby's expiring, but will also get back talent (albeit slightly overpaid) that they wouldn't be able to find elsewhere. Even if Nash walks next year, BD, Jason Richardson, Leandro Barbosa and Amare Stoudemire could potentially be one piece away from legit championship material.