So, the Kings are in a rebuilding phase. It was inevitable, and has been for a few years now. However, it is only in the past few months that the team seems to be willing to admit this, rather preferring to put on a face of competing. Finally, though, the secret that every one who cared to look could see, is out in the open.
As in every rebuilding phase, the team has to have a plan. Geoff Petrie, our GM, seems to have one. Central to that plan, is to get younger, more athletic, and keep everything lined up so that the team will have a lot of cap space in the now famous summer of 2010, or what is otherwise known as the summer of LeBron.
At the moment, the Kings only have three players signed to play past that all-important summer; Kevin Martin, John Salmons, and the recently resigned Beno Udrih. Others on the team who are likely to be extended past that date, are Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, and Francisco Garcia. Others that are still auditioning to stay with the team are, Shelden Williams, Quincy Douby, and Sean Singletary. Petrie has already stated that he doesn't anticipate adding any free agents this offseason, and it doesn't look like he'll have to next year, in order to fill out the roster.
So, we can basically see what the team will look like at that time, barring any moves, which there ought to be. It is generally assumed that the Kings are actively shopping Ron Artest, as he has just come off a career season, has an expiring contract, and doesn't seem to be in the team's long term plans. He is a very tradable chip, and it would make sense for the Kings to swing something to get something for him, before he walks in free agency next year. This much is generally assumed.
What I also propose, that isn't generally assumed, is that the Kings should attempt to trade Brad Miller. Now, don't get me wrong, I like Miller quite a bit, and believe that there is also value in keeping him. However, the Kings are loaded in the front court, and really, shouldn't play more than four guys. Trading Miller would open playing time for Hawes to start. Mikki Moore would start alongside him, to provide the veteran presence on the front line, and they would be backed up by Shelden Williams and Jason Thompson. This is crucial in my opinion, because the Kings have an option on Shelden Williams for one more year after this season. In order to properly evaluate whether or not they should pick up the option, he should be provided with ample playing time. He started to perform fairly well toward the end of his rookie season, but lost his PT when the Hawks drafted Horford, and didn't get off the bench much with the Kings. He is a good rebounder and defender, and has very good timing for shot blocking, so he may prove to be a valuable asset. These are the reasons that the Kings should try to open up playing time for him.
In order to reach this end, I believe that the Kings should target draft picks in return for Artest and Miller. This way, they would be receiving young talent, that would still be on their rookie contracts, when 2010 roles around. To go along with that, I believe they should target dead weight players to match the salaries with the teams, and in order to maximize the value of the draft picks in return. There are numerous teams that would seem to be interested in one of these two, but for the most part, there are only a couple types of teams that I could see legitimately wanting them. One, is the playoff team, that feels that one improvement at SF or C would push them into contention, or into a position of dominance. And then there is the team that is on the Playoff bubble, that needs to add another piece to get into the playoffs. Unfortunately, as much as I would prefer a bad team to try and trade for one of these two, I just don't see it. At this stage in their careers, they are not truly franchise changers, especially Miller, and are also short term options. Artest being a one year player, and Miller two years. So now that you have my reasons, let's get down to proposals. As I said, there are several potential matches for each player, so I will only concentrate on a couple.
Artest: I think a very interesting, and intriguing possibility was opened up over the last week, with the LA Clippers. Nothing is final yet, but with Davis opting out of GS and agreeing to go to the Clippers, this puts the Clippers back on the playoff map, assuming that Brand does decide to stay. The odd man out, though, is Maggette, as the Clippers will be unable to resign him if they bring in Davis and resign Brand. This opens up the SF spot. The Clippers also have a bloated contract, being paid out to the bloated form of Tim Thomas, who is under contract for two more seasons. The Clippers, with a starting lineup of Davis, Mobley, Artest, Brand, and the resurrected Kaman, would be formidable, and a near playoff lock. The other benefit or the Clippers, and the ever cheap Donald Sterling, would be to get Tim Thomas off the books for next season. So, the proposal; Ron Artest for Tim Thomas, DeAndre Jordan, and the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2009 first round draft pick, which is top ten protected through 2011.
From the Kings side, they would give up Artest, and have to take on the cancer that is Thomas. The gains would be DeAndre Jordan, who has the physical potential of Andrew Jordan and Dwight Howard, and the likely high draft pick of the Timberwolves. I don't think that Thomas should ever actually step on the floor for the Kings, and they should try to reach a buyout with him. Jordan isn't NBA ready, so wouldn't be a loss for the Clippers chances at competing, and they wouldn't miss Thomas. For the Kings, Jordan would either be a late game reserve while he develops, or be sent to the D-League so that he could get play time. The Wolves aren't likely to break out of the bottom ten of the league anytime soon, so the Kings would likely have to wait for that draft pick, but it could be worth it. I think that this trade would work well for both teams.
For Miller, it would be harder to find a way to get much promising young talent in return. However, I think that we could find some takers. Among the teams I believe would be interested, are; the Spurs, the Knicks, the Hawks, the Wizards, the Bobcats, the Heat, and the Magic. With the Hawks, a trade including Speedy Claxton and Zaza Pachulia would match up salary wise, and would improve the Hawks. The Spurs are the definition of being in a win now mode, so would be a prime candidate. The Wizards and Bobcats could both use a center. With the Wizards just tying up so much money this offseason to keep the same team, they will have little chance otherwise to improve a team that is continually bounced in the first couple rounds. The best fit to me though, are the two Florida teams.
The proposal for the Heat, would be; Brad Miller for Mark Blount, Daequan Cook, and a first rounder. This would immediately improve the Heat, with a starting five of Chalmers, Wade, Marion, Haslem, and Miller. Coming off the bench, they would have a supreme scoring threat in this year's number two pick, Michael Beasley, and Alonzo Mourning wants to return for another season. The Heat are very undersized without this trade, and on the edge of being back in contention. This helps them immediately.
The proposal with the Magic, would be; Miller for Tonie Battie, two of JJ Reddick, Kieth Bogans, and Brian Cook, and a first rounder. The Magic struggled with Howard being their only big man last year, as Battie doesn't cut it. This would allow Lewis to move off of the four, where he is ill suited, and would give the team better balance, and a great passing big man to pass to Dwight, Hedo, and Rashard.
All of these options are with the intentions of accumulating draft picks, and none of them would take on any salary past 2010, leaving Petrie's plan intact. Trading Artest and Miller would open the floor and time for players such as Hawes, Thompson, Williams, Garcia, and Salmons, as well as firmly putting Martin at the head of the team, instead of standing and watching as Artest takes over the offense.
There would be serious loss with trading Miller, as he could teach the young bigs a lot, potentially. However, they also need play time, and it would be nice to have the picks. The last, added bonus of doing these deals, would be that in handing over the team to the young guys, it should aid their development, and the Kings would actually suck, rather than only kind of sucking. The point being, that standing in the middle of the league neither gives you playoff success, nor does it give you high draft picks, which the Kings could really use to land another star.
So that's my proposal for this offseason. Sorry it is so long winded. Ultimately, my goal is to acquire DeAndre Jordan, the Timberwolves draft pick, and one or two draft picks from one of the other teams I mentioned for the Miller trade.
Thanks to those of you who took the time to read this. Any thoughts, comments, or proposals of your own?