Well, Hornets and Magic, your meal-tickets are on the verge of making your regular season a complete nightmare. You were merely stops along the way to LA, NYC, South Beach, or Dallas with Cubes and his billions. The owners had the lockout to fix this, but the CBA did nothing to convince small market superstars to resign with their respective clubs. You guys built around them, traded for their friends, made them feel comfortable. You nurtured them into the world beaters they are today. They took your clubs deep into the playoffs. Orlando was a Derek Fisher hero moment away from tying the 2009 Finals at 2-2 (Note: I was at that game with my buddy Kev. Unbelievable). The Hornets nearly shocked the world in the first round last year against the Lakers. You should enjoy the fruits of your labor right?
Nope. Not buying it. Contracts are up. Time to move on.
I understand their contracts aren’t technically up, but we are entering the Decision era in pro basketball. Superstars (not named Durant) with a year left on their deals are gone. It’s time to improvise. Will Ferrell improvise, not open mic night guy improv. Be creative. Be patient. You have a free pass from the intelligent NBA fan. You can’t replace top 5 talent and win right away. They know this. So think big.
For top 5 guys, you have to ask for the front office Big 3: Starter talent, cap relief, draft picks. Not obtaining all three is a fireable offense. The CEO of your team drunk dialing your superstar, begging him to stay, is also a fireable/retireable offense.
In my opinion, Chris Paul leaves first. You want youth? How does Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Ekpe Udoh sound for CP3? Not interested? Want to speed up the process? Pau and Lamar are yours. Maybe you ask for Bynum instead. Listen to the Clippers reported offer: E. Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Minny’s unprotected 2012 first round pick for Paul? Not a bad haul.
Sources are adamant that the Clippers have not included Eric Gordon in any deal. I would have to think that the Clips are protecting themselves just in case the trade falls through ala Rondo in Boston.
Orlando drafted in the lottery twice AFTER drafting D12 and trading for Jameer Nelson in the 2004 draft. They came away with Fran Vasquez and J.J. Redick. Better drafts in ’05 and ’06, and we may not even be having this discussion. Ask Sam Presti (Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka) or R.C. Buford (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, George Hill) about the importance of nailing a draft.
Orlando first rounders since 2004:
- 2005: Fran Vasquez (11) (Europe, never played a minute in Orlando)
- 2006: J.J. Redick (11) (rotational guy)
- 2007: none
- 2008: Courtney Lee (22) (traded to the Nets in VC deal after rookie year)
- 2009: none
- 2010: Daniel Orton (29) (bench guy)
Couple bad drafts with all-out panic moves and this is what you get: $74 million roster and a max 45-win team. Hedo? J-Rich? Gilbert? Otis, you are paying for your sins. Hedo: 3-years, just under $35 mil. Gilbert: $22 mil…in 2013!
Take Bynum ($15 mil), Odom ($8 mil this year, team option next) and Matt Barnes ($1.9 mil). Force the Lakers to take Hedo with Dwight. Amnesty Gilbert. You save $30 million. But where are the draft picks? Take the Nets deal: Brook Lopez, two future first rounders OR the Clips offer: DeAndre Jordan, E. Gordan and Al Faraouq Aminu. Ask for Minnesota’s unprotected first round pick while you are at it.
I understand stock-piling picks, but when you trade your superstar, wouldn’t it be natural for your trade partner to instantly get better, ruining the quality of those picks? You either take the picks and hope you get the right pieces in the mid-to-late first round (something Orlando has failed to do over the years) or you ask for better talent. That Clips deal has a little of everything.
According to Sam Amick, league executives would be surprised if Dwight gets traded anytime soon. This makes sense if only for the fact that Otis Smith does not want to admit that last year’s roster overhaul was a complete disaster. If he stubbornly holds onto D12 for the entire season and he walks, Smith will be deservedly axed.
Gut feeling: CP3 goes to Golden State, they amnesty Biedrins and sign Tyson Chandler. D12 to Lakers for Bynum and change.