By Lee Eric Smith
I have a buddy who is a wine expert. I was joking with him once about getting a great $50 bottle of wine. He simply replied: "Anybody can buy a great bottle of wine for $50. The question is, can you find a great bottle of wine for $10?"
These days, the cream of the crop of NBA GMs tend to share that great quality of being able to build a good team by finding great bargains -- R.C. Buford in San Antonio, Joe Dumars in Detroit, even Jerry West was prescient enough to swap proven big man Vlade Divac for some high school kid named Kobe Bryant, bucking the wisdom of not trading big for small. Maybe Chris Wallace can catch some of that magic himself.
So after reading Henry Abbott's True Hoop posting about "teams in turmoil," it got me thinking: some teams might be ripe for trades -- not all due to basketball reasons either. Hence, this, the first in a periodic series I'll write this month called, "Bargain Shopping." Our first stop at the Clearance Mall: The Denver Nuggets.
You think it sucks for the Grizz not to get out of the first round? At least our excuse was that we only had Pau, Mike Miller and Shane. Imagine having a team with Iverson, Melo and Camby, and not being able to do it. They're WAAAAY over the cap, which means they'll have to pay $6.3 million in luxury tax. Key players (AI, Melo, Nene) are all pissed about the Camby trade. Then there's Furious George's tendency to grate his players. Oh, and it's not like the West is getting weaker, either. Sounds like a recipe for cleaning house.
Allen Iverson ($21M) for Antoine Walker ($9M) + Kyle Lowry($1.1M) + Hakim Warrick ($2.1M).
This is mostly about money. For those who are wondering how those contracts add up, put away your calculators: they don't. Except for the fact that Denver is $10 million over the cap, and we're $10 million under it. Means we could take on AI's salary without going over.
Why Memphis Does It:
It's Allen Freakin' Iverson! On other message boards, I've proposed getting AI a couple of times, and I stick to it for the same reasons: Galvanizes the fan base, makes us relevant, he plays with heart and fire, and then there's the fact that he scores in bunches, even at 32. He's in a contract year, so it's not like we'd be on the hook past this year anyway. Would allow us to bring O.J. along slowly, gets us veteran leadership, etc. There's no downside here.
Why Denver Does It:
I can think of at least $6.3 million reasons. Taking Iverson's contract off the books would put them under the cap, saving them that amount of money. And while the Nuggets would no doubt ask for somebody like Mayo or Gay, Hak and Kyle are two young pieces to work with (along with the first shot at resigning them), at two positions where they need young pieces. Plus, with Antoine's expiring contract, they get the same cap relief they would with Iverson next summer, only without having to pay $6 million in between. Hak and Melo have played together before at Syracuse, and are good friends. Kyle brings defensive toughness, which they need also. The Nuggests need to rebuild sooner or later, and this would not be a bad start, coming out with at least $10 million for next year's free agent crop.
I could run a couple different scenarios that would involve getting Carmelo and/or Nene, but I just don't see Denver giving up Melo, or us giving up what it would take to get him -- not with Rudy progressing so nicely, and OJ and Conley showing such promise.
I know some would be concerned with AI's age, attitude, durability, etc. But to me the pros FAR outweigh the cons. And he would be loved in Memphis just as much as he was in Philly, if not more, giving us instant "street cred."
More to come in the series . . . in the meantime, what do you think? AI in Beale St. Blue? Post below . . .
Monday, September 15, 2008
By Lee Eric Smith