Yesterday's signing of Al Jefferson comes to a shock to most readers on the site. For some it's a sign that the font office would like to see their young core of players win now. For others, it brings back frightening images of the team's last, and only playoff run which saw them get swept out of the playoffs with a core of aging talent and little to look forward to. I don't think these situations compare the least bit though.
I've made the argument concerning having a young core in another thread so won't beat you to death with that information. But there are other aspects involved. This time, even after the drafting or Cody Zeller, the signing of Al Jefferson, and us still having 3 potential top half picks in the loaded 2014 draft to work with, we still have the contract of Ben Gordon (and Ramon Sessions) to improve this team.
It gets tricky here in determining what the front office does as it's hard to say whether they are ready to go all-in with building a team that's definitely a playoff team or one that battles for one of the last spots in the East and ultimately still ends up in the lotto (which I think most are hoping).
Looking at the team as it is, we have players positioned to be the future of this franchise. Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, and Bismack Biyombo are all top 10 picks of Rich Cho and Gerald Henderson added to that mix means there are 5 players 25 or younger who will be depended on to turn this team into winners. Add to them Jefferson, second round pick Jeffrey Taylor, and the freshly re-signed Josh McRoberts, and those are 8 rotation players already penciled in for next season. What does this mean?
It means that either it's time for us to start shipping some folks out in favor of clear upgrades or it's time for us to give this team time to grow together without bringing in any more veterans that will move some of these guys to the bench or out of the rotation.
If we are all in on making sure we're a guaranteed playoff team next year, there are a few deals around the league that I see we could make. Some make good sense, some don't make any at all. But with Rich Cho bringing Al Jefferson aboard, it's a sign the franchise is ready to win now. This means that rather than letting Ben Gordon's contract expire, and potentially lose money to spend as we will begin operating close to the cap and can't go over to sign free agents, it may be best to trade him while he's still on our books and obtain either better players or picks (such as the Corey Maggette trade that brought him here allowed us to do) to maintain flexibility. Below are a few moves I've found after scouring the league for contracts that could possibly be moved for Gordon's expiring $13,200,000 deal and reason why I feel they may or may not make sense.
Why This Makes Sense: The Atlanta Hawks have always been viewed as last in the list of Howard suitors as far as potential to really sign him, even though it is his hometown. There were reports circulating the web that Hawks' GM Danny Ferry was ready to go through a full tank if Howard chose not to sign. Getting an expiring contract, a raw and possible big man replacement still on a rookie contract, and a couple possible lottery picks would be a good way to begin a full rebuild. If this deal were made, the Bobcats would be able to instantly say they have what is far and away the best PF/C rotation in the Eastern Conference. Horford's contracts expires during the 2015/16 season.
Why It Doesn't: This move would also immediately put Cody Zeller, a #4 pick in the draft on the bench, a position the Bobcats really don't have the luxury of being in right now. Plus, with the Atlanta Hawks recently re-signing sharpshooter Kyle Korver to a multi-year deal, it's hard to say that they are going all out with their tank.
Why This Makes Sense: The Boston Celtics, with the recent trade of future hall-of-fame players Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets have gone into rebuild mode and are looking to tear the house down and start over around Rajon Rondo. In return for an expiring contract and a 2nd round pick, the Celtics will be able to shed both Green and Lee's contract (both through in 2015/16) as both were attempting to do while the team was negotiating trades with the Clippers. The Bobcats meanwhile get a couple of players who are playoff tested and who probably would have no issues coming off of the bench.
Why It Doesn't: Although I really see no reason for the Celtics would decline such a salary dump, I'm not sure why we would take this deal. Courtney Lee would be a good replacement for Gordon as the backup SG, but where would Jeff Green fit at? He's a tweener between SF/PF and would have a legitimate case to make on why he should be the starter at either spot. This could create a situation where MKG, Taylor, McRoberts, or Biz are completely pushed out of the rotation.
Deal: Gordon to Boston Celtics for Kris Humphries (expiring) $12,000,000
Why This Makes Sense: After the infamous practice that involved Gordon kicking over a ball rack and telling Mike Dunlap he needed to "humble himself", the Bobcats were furiously attempting to trade Gordon and Humphries was the name that popped up most often. The former Mr. Kardashian would immediately fill a need in the rebounding department as he's been solid in those regards throughout his entire career. His contract, like Gordon's is also expiring so there is no added financial risk.
Why It Doesn't: Much like the situation with Green, Humphries would come in and probably be relegated to limited minutes on the bench or push another player's minutes down.This only makes sense if the front office is seriously considering sending Bismack to the D-League to refine his game, but even then he would have to compete with Zeller and McRoberts for minutes at power forward. I've never really liked him playing center.
Why This Makes Sense: The Nuggets have a new general manager and a new head coach in Brian Shaw and may be looking forward to tearing the roster down soon, especially with the recent departure of Andre Igoudala who signed with the same team that eliminated the Nuggs, the Golden State Warriors. McGee is an explosive 7 footer who would actually move Jefferson to the PF in the lineup. Though not he doesn't possess a very high basketball IQ (George Karl on played him 18 MPG last year), he's an extremely athletic player that could be one of the best if he ever gets it together, he's only 25. His deal runs through the15/16 season. Hamilton would fill in as another three point specialist off the bench. He has shot 36% and 37% from the arc in his first two seasons in the league.
Why It Doesn't: Shaw may want to have his chance at molding McGee before anything. He still has a ton of potential. Cho may not even be interested in such a move taking on McGee's salary. I understand his hesitation as again, McGee doesn't have a very high basketball IQ.
Why This Makes Sense: The Bucks just lost J.J. Redick for pretty much nothing (2 second round picks) and Monta Ellis turned down a 3 year $36 million extension from the team to enter free agency. They are intent on keeping Brandon Jennings but could be in for a full makeover after firing Jim Boylan and bringing in former Hawk's coach, Larry Drew. This could be a good opportunity for the Bobcats to take two productive players with years on their deals, but for me we'd need to get another first round pick out of it. The pair would help with outside shooting and rebounding respectively. For the Bucks, Gordon could help fill some of the void left by their recent departures while not hurting against the cap past this year, giving them room to pursue other potential free agents.
Why It Doesn't: A first round pick would probably not be enough to take on the many years left on Ilyasova's deal, even with a first round pick involved. These two players also are both power forwards, which would cause some issues with our suddenly deep front court. It's also not totally clear rather the Bucks are really in full rebuild mode.
Deal: Gordon and Blazers' First Round Pick to New Orleans Pelicans for Eric Gordon $14,283,844
Why This Makes Sense: Gordon hasn't been happy in Nawlins since the day the Clippers decided to ship him off for Chris Paul. He made a desperate attempt to flee to Phoenix once the opportunity presented itself, only for the
Hornets Pelicans to match the offer and keep him stuck with the team. He is projecting to be one of the only "star" quality players in the back court players on the trade block and could come in and supplant Henderson as a starter, exactly the type of upgrade we are looking for at this phase of the rebuild. He has a career average of 18 points per game and could help stretch the floor with his 36% three point shooting.The benefit for New Orleans? They get rid of a disgruntled player and add what could possibly be a lottery pick in his place.
Why It Doesn't: If we sign Henderson to a 3 year $24 million dollar extension (my guess), that would be like basically investing $22 million in one position during one off season. Being the cap is roughly $59 million, that may just a little bit too much to throw into one spot. Besides, other than a few rumors here and there, the Pelicans have maintained throughout that they don't want to lose Gordon. With Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans now in town, it looks they are in win now mode.
Why This Makes Sense: The Thunder are starting to feel the grips of contention slip away from them as the unfortunate playoff injury to Russell Westbrook may have closed the window on their championship dreams. Last year they traded away James Harden and this year had to watch as Kevin Martin walked away in free agency to the Timberwolves. They project Lamb as the SG of the future and I anticipate him being an Eric Gordon type level star some day soon, but if the team feels they won't compete for a title this year with him, they could do a mini "retool" with Gordon as a replacement while also shedding Perkins' contract off the books. He's been less than impressive in the playoffs lately and may end up playing his way into being amnestied. On the flip side, the Bobcats' get a good defensive presence to pair with Jefferson and a SG who could eventually supplant Henderson if he is as good as I anticipate him to be.
Why It Doesn't: It doesn't make sense because you kinda have to contradict yourself to make it work. Why would the Thunder "retool" by trading away one of their best defenders and a player of the future? Trading Lamb shouldn't be the price of getting rid of Perkins. That's far too much. If that's the case, they should just amnesty him. Steven Adams looks like he could possibly supplant him this year. For us, Perkins would give basically the same production as Bismack. Do we need that from a player who has maxed out on his potential?
Why This Makes Sense: As everyone knows, the Sixers are aiming to be the worst team in the league next year by trading away a young all-star point guard for Nerlens Noel, who won't be ready for months, and the 1st round pick from the Pelicans last year. Michael Carter Williams will man the point guard position and be looked at as the future at that spot. I anticipate them to make more moves to get as terrible as can be in the tank race for Andrew Wiggins. Trading former #2 pick Turner and Young are moves I could see them making. These are players that averaged 13 and 15 points respectively and could instantly make the Bobcats one of the deepest teams in the league. We would need to surrender a pick in return to help with the Sixers rebuilding efforts as both of these players are young and quality rotation guys.
Why It Doesn't: These players are both really tweeners, with Turner being a SG/SF and Young being a SF/PF. As mentioned above with Green, I think playing time would end up being cut short for someone on the team who deserves it, though I have no complaints myself about being so deep. Other than the fact that I think Philly could receive a better offer or may not want to trade Turner yet, I can't really see a negative about shedding salary and getting picks in return. That's what rebuilds are all about.
Why This Makes Sense: The Suns, after a very disappointing 12/13 season seem to be ready to rebuild as well. Center Marcin Gortat is on an expiring deal and Alex Len has been drafted as his replacement. They splurged a little in free agency and now are in a tough position because of it. With Dragic, we would be bringing in a point guard who is a better facilitator than both Walker and Ramon Sessions and could end up making the latter expendable in another trade. Ge averaged 15 and 7 last year and has a player option coming up in 15/16. Beasley is still only 24 years old and is a dynamic SF/PF tweener who still has good potential in his game. His deal runs through the 14/15 season. Phoenix could speed up their rebuilding project while getting rid of at least one contract they are regretting.
Why It Doesn't: Because Beasley is a knucklehead who does not fit the culture the front office is attempting to establish and Dragic probably makes a bit too much to be coming off of the bench. I don't see Phoenix including a draft pick either as both are productive players. It's also yet to be determined just how vested they are into their rebuild as they've made no other moves to indicate how they may approach the upcoming season.
Why This Makes Sense: The Kings just drafted Ben McLemore to be their shooting guard of the future and let Tyreke Evans run off to New Orleans in free agency. They aren't in exactly what could be called good position to have a player like Thornton making $8 million to come off the bench for the next two years. He could come into Charlotte and be everything that Gordon should be, a spark plug arc shooter off the bench, without the turnovers. He shot 37% from beyond the strike last year. Hayes' deal expires in 14/15 and he could be a serviceable rebounder in the time he is here. I'd anticipate the Blazers finishing better than the Kings, so in exchange for the extra year of salary for both players, we could probably coax them into switching picks.
Why It Doesn't: Hayes and Thornton wouldn't be enough to turn this team into a real threat, though I'm in love with the idea of replacing Gordon with Thornton. The Kings though, in my opinion, should be all over a deal like this that can make them a player in free agency next year. McLemore, Demarcus Cousins, and Greivis Vasquez are a nice young core to start with.
So what say you Bobcats fans? Any of these trades interest you? Or would you rather pursue other trades? If so, let me know what you got. There's always the option of letting him expire as well.