Sunday, December 30, 2007

If you were the GM...

Chris Wallace had some quotes in the Commercial Appeal today that left some fans with a rather sour taste in their mouths.

"I don't feel pressured or compelled to make a deal," Wallace said. "When you're in that frame of mind, you make mistakes. We like our talent. ... I'm at heart an impatient guy. But there's a process.
"I've been through difficult times. The most important part of getting through this is everybody staying together. ... Under no circumstances can you become desperate. You're going to end up in a more difficult spot than you are already in. I don't want to push a panic button. We haven't seen this team together for a long period of time. It
would be premature for us to say who this team is."
Wallace said Iavaroni has been a stabilizer in troubled waters.
"He doesn't go crazy," Wallace said. "He doesn't turn on players and hate them. He
doesn't all of a sudden say 'You know that guy who just scored 14 points on us the other night is the answer. Let's get him.' He's been positive about our long-term future."
Short-term, Wallace said the Griz have no plans to move Gasol, who is often mentioned in trade rumors. Memphis has received calls and standing trade offers for Gasol from at least two teams -- Charlotte and Atlanta -- according to insiders.
Mike Miller also has been mentioned as trade bait in national reports. But one thing to keep in mind about the Grizzlies is that they won't accept expiring contracts for their top talent. Teams, though, have become more serious about trades since Dec. 15, when free agents from last summer could be dealt.
While the rumor mill will get more intense as the NBA's trade deadline of Feb. 21 looms, Wallace cautioned that the Griz won't enter a fire sale.
"I'm not shopping players. But I'm always willing to improve the team," he said. "I can't tell you what the next phone call will bring. In this business, the landscape changes dramatically every day. We're not opposed to doing something if there's a deal that helps us basketball-wise and makes sense financially."

While I understand the impatience of some fans, I think that they are looking at Wallace's words in the wrong context. He's not saying that he isn't open to making moves or taking calls about his players. What he is saying is that he doesn't feel pressured to do that, given the injuries that have not allowed him or the coaching staff to evaluate the team as a whole and the fact that the season is only a third of the way through. What he is saying is meant for other GM's and executives around the league -- not for the fans. It is a message that says, "I'm not going to take your trash for my treasure". It is also a message that states that an expiring contract is not enough to pry Pau Gasol and/or Mike Miller away from Memphis.

Chip told me to post something of this nature two weeks ago and I didn't do it. So, now that a poster over at the Grizzlies Message Boards has, let me piggy-back onto that and offer my thoughts. I don't care to guess what the "standing offers" from Atlanta and Charlotte are, although I'm sure that the speculation will be widespread and overly hopeful. Instead, I'll attempt to look at some deals involving other teams that will help the team in terms of both basketball and business.

Originally posted by New Game. New Era.:
I mean, if you guys were the GM of this team ... Would you not see that something isn't working for this team and try to move some pieces around?
On the other hand ... If we do end up with a top 6 pick in the next draft ... Would it be the missing piece to this puzzle? Would you wait out the season and let the team you have now play together and get use to each other?
What would you do if you were the GM?
It has been established that there will be a 50-game evaluation period. Obviously, Chris Wallace will wait until that has passed before making any significant moves -- something that is backed up by his quotes above. However, if after that evaluation period has concluded, the team is still in the same "funk" that it is currently experiencing, then here is what I would do.

Scenario #1: Complete Overhaul
1. Trade Gasol and Cardinal to Miami for Udonis Haslem (3 yrs, $19.7 million), Jason Williams (1 yr, $8.9 million), Dorell Wright (1 yr, $2 million, Qualifying Offer next season for $2.9 million) and Alonzo Mourning (1 yr, $2.76 million), two 2009 2nd round picks (via Indiana and Philadelphia). (ESPN Trade Machine)

Cut both Mourning and Williams, since they are expiring contracts, unless JWill's presence might draw some fans in. I'd rather just cut him though. This gives the team a minimum of $11.6 million in extra cap space next season, as well as a tough, intimidating rebounder in Haslem and a talented young SG in Wright who won't break the bank with an extension. Miami gets a legit #2 option to put next to Dwyane Wade now that Shaq isn't even a shadow of his former self, which might be enough to get them back into the playoff hunt. They should give us a 1st round pick, too, but they don't have one. C'est la vie.

2. Trade Miller and Stoudamire to L.A. for Kwame Brown (1 yr, $9.1 million), Trevor Ariza (1 yr, $3.1 million) and Sasha Vujacic (1 yr. $1.75 million, Qualifying Offer next season for $2.6 million), 2008 2nd round pick. (ESPN Trade Machine)

All three are expiring deals, although I wouldn't mind holding on to Ariza as the backup SF if a reasonable deal can be worked out or Vujacic as a "minimum wage" bench player. The Lakers are rolling along right now (and have done so without the services of Kwame for most of the season), but they won't win in the playoffs with Jordan Farmar as their primary PG and an injury to Derek Fisher would doom them almost as certainly as an injury to the Black Mamba, so Damon's presence could offset that by playing 10-15 minutes a night throughout the regular season, lessening the wear-and-tear on the backcourt through the grueling marathon that is November through April. Mike Miller gives Kobe another weapon on the perimeter when the double teams start to come early and often. With Andrew Bynum's emergence, he'll start to command more attention with each passing game as well, which could also benefit a sharpshooter of Miller's caliber. This deal could result in as much as an additional $13.9 million in cap space, bringing the total to over $25 million from the two deals.

3. Trade Warrick and Jacobsen to Philadephia for Rodney Carney (2 yrs, $3.2 million) and Louis Amundson (1 yr, $687,456). (ESPN Trade Machine)

Hakim is (and probably always will be) a defensive liability, which means he needs a strong defender next to him. Philly has Dalembert and Evans and could use Hak's scoring punch to complement that. Carney is a super-athletic SG and a good defender, which we all know is needed. I wouldn't count on it, but he might even bring in a Tiger fan or two with his presence -- never can tell. Amundson is a great rebounder for his size (think poor man's David Lee) and would be a decent fill-in if needed. This move probably isn't necessary, but I don't see Hak or CJ being in the long-term plans for the team, so why not take a chance on someone who might be?

The reshaped roster looks like this (positions listed alphabetically, not representative of starters/bench players):

PG - Conley/Lowry/Williams
SG - Carney/Navarro/Wright
SF - Ariza/Gay/Vujacic
PF - Amundson/Haslem/Swift
C - A.Brown/K.Brown/Milicic

That's a young athletic team that is capable of playing defense and would have more than just a little cap room this summer to play with, along with a couple additional draft picks the next two years.

Scenario #2: Build around Conley/Gasol/Gay

1. Trade Damon and Hakim to Denver for Eduardo Najera (1 yr, $4.95 million) and Linas Kleiza (2 yrs, $2.8 million). (ESPN Trade Machine)

Denver gets a PG upgrade and a scoring forward. Memphis gets an expiring contract in the form of the gritty Najera and a G/F capable of being a solid backup for a cheap price in Kleiza. A lot of people will balk at "giving up" Hak for so little, but taking $5 million off next year's cap is worth it.

2. Trade Mike Miller, Casey Jacobsen and Andre Brown to Atlanta for Josh Childress (1 yr, $3.6 million), Shelden Williams (2 yrs, $6.5 million) and Lorenzen Wright (1 yr, $3.25 million). (ESPN Trade Machine)

We give up the guy who should be our 6th man (Miller) for their's as he nears a contract extension, as well as a young big man who hasn't really panned out to this point in Shelden Williams. Williams' draft position isn't his fault, but so far he could be fairly labeled a disappointment. Perhaps some work with a big man coach like Marc Iavaroni could help with that?

Those two moves would give the team a makeover without sacrificing financial flexibility for the future. Don't forget that if he continues on his current ascension, Rudy Gay will be a max contract player soon enough and Michael Conley might not command much less than that.


1. Trade Mike and Hakim to Chicago for Joe Smith (2 yrs, $10 million), Tyrus Thomas (2 yrs, $7.25 million) and Thabo Sefolosha (2 yrs, $3.7 million). (ESPN Trade Machine)

Chicago still needs low-post scoring and some "veteran leadership". Hakim provides the former (even if he's not Pau) and Miller provides the latter along with some outside shooting and playmaking ability. Ok, ok, Mike doesn't really give them any leadership, but the Bulls don't know that. Besides, Paxson has to do something, because firing Scott Skiles was only a temporary reprieve from the axe that is descending upon his neck. Memphis does this deal because it is an influx of younger, cheaper talent in Thomas and Sefolosha, as well as an attractive contract to use as trade bait next year in Smith. It is something of a "minor move" according to some, but trading away two players in Ivaroni's main rotation would definitely be considered a major change from where I sit.

That's all I've got for now, so be sure to let me know what your thoughts are in the Comments.


Anonymous said...

Why not trade Pau and Warrick for Deng, Joe Smith and, if you can get him, Noah. Release J Smith asap.

You get a serviceable center who can run in Noah, a very very good Small forward and move Rudy to an undersized 4

Spartacus said...

The Bulls have made it pretty clear that Luol Deng is not readily available in a trade. As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't even exist when contemplating trade scenarios.

Anonymous said...

As a bulls fan there is no reason to do that trade, it provides us with no chance of gain and creates a redundency with Miller and Noce.

What would Memphis feel about Wallace, Gordon, and Noce for Gasol, Miller, Hakim.

Spartacus said...

mrpants1401, there is even less reason for the Grizzlies to take on Ben Wallace's millstone of a contract. That deal makes the Grizzlies worse off from a basketball perspective and a financial standpoint. It is ridiculous to even suggest. I didn't suggest trading "our trash" for "your treasure", so why bring something so insulting to me?

Anonymous said...

Wallace's contract declines in pay by two million by the end of the contract , while both Gasol and MIller baloon to nearly 16.5 and and 10 mil respectively and being a small market team i thought the saved salary might be of interest. So before you call the financial death of this deal from your end lest remember you save a few million over the course of this deal. Besides that you upgrade from Miller to Noce, Gordan supplants Gasol's scoring and Wallace supplants his rebounding.

For all of his offensive faults Wallace still can pass, and an undersized passing center fits your offense. Lets not forget that any defense Wallace provided would be the first Memphis has seen this season.

If Memphis plans on unloading Miller's contract they are going to have to do something to unload it. This trade would provide the financial flexibility to sign Gordan long term, add a player they sought in the offseason, and add an interior defender they desperately need.

And lets recall the going rate of a similar player. Zach Randolph netted Channing Frye. While admittedly Gasol is a better player, he is not head and shoulders better.

So while you might not accept this trade, the offer is not far offer. Before you reject this, go get your financial information straight. And what do you suggest in return? unless you are sticking by the Warrick trade suggested, which makes about as much sense from our end as the Thomas and Noce for Gasol trade, Sam Smith raised a couple weeks ago, makes from your end.

Spartacus said...

I've maintained all along the unless Deng is available, the Bulls don't have the combination of young (cheap) talent and expiring contracts to acquire Gasol. You've done nothing to change my opinion about that.

Also, to compare Portland's offloading of Randolph to Memphis' current issue with Gasol is laughable at best. Randolph was, and always will be, a knucklehead who is a selfish player incapable of playing "winning basketball". Gasol, although not perfect and certainly not a franchise player, is still a full step above him.

The reason I suggested Tyrus Thomas (a player long on potential, but short on results so far) is because of the haphazard manner in which Skiles played him, which is to say sparingly at best. What you were offering was not one, but two players that have been benched at various points this season due to their level of play. Personally, I want no part of Ben Gordon (we already have our own undersized SG) and want even less of Ben Wallace and his bloated contract. Also, what position does Nocioni play? We've already got a pretty good SF after all.

The Bulls need low-post scoring, which is why I suggested Hakim, because that is the one thing he can do. But by all means, simply give Aaron Gray more minutes and let me know how that works out for you. Also, give Sam Smith my best.

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