Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why Trade Mike Miller?

Just read Tom Ziller's post on AOL's The Fanhouse titled Valley of the Most Likely: Mike Miller's Gonna Get Traded. I'm a big fan of Ziller's work on The Fanhouse, Sactown Royalty and Ballhype, but I believe that he is off-base here. I know a certain poster on the Grizz Message Board that just named Ziller his new idol, so it is all a matter of opinion, I suppose. Here is his reasoning for Miller being traded:

But with a slew of point guards and a nice backup in Tarence Kinsey, Memphis could certainly handle life without [Miller]. Shedding his three remaining years for an expiring contract and some youth could make Memphis serious players in free agency against next summer. Miller's in his prime; the Grizzlies aren't. By the time Memphis gets there, Miller will be done. It makes sense for them to build toward a target... even if it means letting a valuable player go.
If this team were three years away from being a playoff team, then I could agree with his assessment. However, I don't think they are that far away from a return to the postseason, so I have some serious concerns about this potential trade.

He's not a star and he makes less than $10 million. But no potential hill-topping player whispered this preseason can offer what he does: Elite shooting. Miller would be a boon to almost any team fighting to join the Holy Troika; you think Kobe Bryant wouldn't love to have a fearless gunner like MiMi behind him? How about Utah, who desperately needs two-guard help (unless Ronnie Brewer is truth... which might be the case)? Cleveland and Miami would each love to add some scoring punch in the backcourt, and Miller returning to Orlando could give Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis just the help they need. Even New Orleans, who has Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson on the wing, could benefit from Miller's game.
If Mike Miller is such a valuable commodity, then surely the Grizzlies can get more in return for him than an expiring contract and a young player/draft pick. If they are just going to trade him away for cap space, they could very quickly find themselves in the purgatory that the Atlanta Hawks have dwelled in for the past decade. They traded away solid players for a chance at cap space and draft picks...and never made any progress towards a return to the glory days of the 80's. In the process, they have fostered a losing culture that they are just now beginning to pull themselves out of. Memphis cannot afford to go down that road, especially in light of their current attendance problems -- something they have in common with the Hawks. Going younger, younger, younger doesn't solve anything. You have to have veteran leadership to nurture that young talent and guide them; otherwise they have to teach themselves and you wind up with guys who never fulfill their potential.

This team needs stability in order to develop chemistry and regain the winning attitude that carried it to the playoffs three seasons in a row. Trading away a player who is a key cog in their rotation for virtually nothing in return doesn't help to achieve those goals. It isn't like Mike is a 12-year veteran that has toiled for his entire career in the hopes of a title and this is his opportunity to win a ring, so the team "does the right thing" and gives him away for 10 cents on the dollar. If anything, Damon Stoudamire is the most likely Grizzly to be traded this year, given his frank comments to an Arizona reporter/blogger this summer and the fact that the team has two young, talented PG's on the roster in the form of Michael Conley and Kyle Lowry.

Should the Grizzlies explore trade possibilities that can result in the acquisition of a true game changing player? Absolutely. Could Miller be part of that deal? Sure, why not? But to trade him away because he might not be "part of the future" while he is currently in his prime when there are other players that are definitely not part of the Grizzlies plans (Damon, Stro) on the roster would be foolhardy and short-sighted, in my honest opinion. If Miller is to be traded, it should be for tangible talent, not the pipe dreams that cap space and draft picks are made of.


Anonymous said...

Nice article;
Totally agree with your thoughts.


Sam said...

When Miler firt came into town, and I was totally against it. But now, hes one of my favorte players. Although he is streaky, when he gets going its really fun to watch. I'd be sad to see him go. I also agre with your post.

boyer said...

it seems that everyone who writes about the nba wants to think that they can just get any player off the grizzlies for nothing. this article is nothing new, people are always going to think they can suggest memphis will simply give their players away.
blah to the national media

TZ said...

Nice angle, Spartacus. If you think the Grizzlies will be in the playoff picture in the next year or two, then yes, Miller is perfect where he is. I don't think that's the case; the point guards are too green (that's not a Stoudamire joke, I promise) and Damon doesn't seem like he wants to stick around. Even if he does, I'm not sure he fits the lineup enough to suggest Memphis can be better than Golden State, New Orleans, the Lakers, the Nuggets... You're going to beat out two of those teams to make the postseason, and add in Portland in 2008-09. Good luck with or without Miller.

I wouldn't consider an expiring and a young asset (either a pick or a rookie scale player) a bad get. Keeping Miller, Memphis gets its exceptions and nothing else this summer. Saving, say, $7 million on a Miller trade gives the team space for a Pavlovic/Varejao level player. (Not necessarily those players -- just that price range.)

I think Conley will be in his fourth year before Memphis can really talk about sure-thing playoffs... and if I were Chris Wallace, I'd consider a deal which helped time the collective peak of this group to that. (But as always, what do I know? Conley could be better than I think.)

MemphisX at said...

TZ I really have to agree with your comments. I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility that the Grizzlies are a fringe playoff team AT BEST for the next 2-3 years. Trading Miller along with either Stro or Damon (or both) gives us a chance to have MAX caproom. I think a lot of teams are dicking around with extensions because they do not think teams will have the caproom to offer big enough contracts next summer.

ChipC3 said...

Can Memphis support a team that surrenders this season for the chance at max cap space this summer?

This is a business after all. I think trading Mike Miller for draft picks and expiring contracts is sending a message to the city that this season isn't going to be much better than last season and that won't fly here. Attendance will plummet if that happened.

The flip side is just as unattractive. Memphis signed the biggest name in free agency this summer with Darko Milicic. Big names don't leave teams very often via free agency. What good does max cap space give a team that can't sign anyone?

And trading Miller creates internal conflicts as well. How will Gasol react if the 2nd best player is traded for junk and future considerations. Gasol could demand a trade and then JCN can leave as a UFA this summer.

Bad idea in my opinion in every sense.

Anonymous said...

Ziller said trade Mike for an expiring contract and some youth. Seriously, do the Grizzlies need to get any younger? It's not like he's on the downside of his career. If Miler is part of a Kobe or Iverson-type trade, then fine. But trading him just for the sake of trading him, I'm against that.

MemphisX @ said...

Well Chip then we are right back where we were 3 years ago. Piecemealing a team together.

Internal conflict? As long as Mike Miller is our 2nd best player, we are not going anywhere, period. It is a proven fact. If you are hoping the last 4 years are some type of mirage that really doesn't mean anything, I just do not understand the denial.

The fact remains that EVERY contender's best player is better than our best player. Most of their 2nd best player's are as good as our best player.

San Antonio

So regardless of the business side of things, we are going to be mediocre (35-45 wins) at best the next 2-3 years with our current talent and experience level.

The economics of the NBA are simple. The team with the most capspace usually gets the best player available unless they are somehow restricted. Players sign for money first, fit second, and winning third.

Until we get a perimeter player capable of averaging 20+ a night and closing out teams in the last 5 minutes with the ball in their hands, we are not going anywhere.

What is going to happen is we are going to putter around developing young guys and holding on to Miller, then when our young guys are ready to start BUILDING a winning track toward title contention. Mike Miller will be gone and Pau will be on the wrong side of 30.

We are halfwaying it right now. We are right where Boston was 2 seasons ago. Kinda of rebuilding and kind of trying to make the playoffs. Either you are trying to compete now (which we are not) or you are building a team for future contention.

Look at how long Utah has been building, same with Chicago. The only way that we could have accelerated the process was to get lucky in the lottery. Once that didn't happened our focus should have turned more long range.

MindSpin the Kingpen said...

Excellent post. I agree that we are right in the middle of rebuilding vs. contention. I think that if we didn't have attendance problems, the front office would take a more firm stance. With dwindling fan support we have to put people in the seats. We cannot do that if we are rebuilding. "We will be a playoff team in 3-4 years" isn't good marketing in this city at this time.

MemphisX said...

Well Memphis is not going to support a pseudo-contender either. It is better to bite the bullet now and do whst is best for the long term because scrapping ti get our brains beat out in the fiest toynd will have the same, if not worst, effect on future attendance as rebuilding fully around Gasol.

At worst, trading Mike Miller for capspsace would allow us to sign another similar level player more compatible to playing with Pau (good defender).

At best, we sign or trade for an All star and really take the pressure off of our young players.

Spartacus said...

At worst, trading Mike Miller for capspsace would allow us to sign another similar level player more compatible to playing with Pau (good defender).

Actually, at worst, we end up like Atlanta, who cannot get free agents to come play for them without grossly overpaying. We already had attendance issues when we were making the postseason -- what do you think a long rebuilding process would do to the franchise's reputation in Memphis? Trade Miller for a player, not for cap space/draft picks to give you a reasonable idea of the return on your investment.

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