Assigning Ricky Rubio Trade Limits

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It's official - he's dreamy.

Let’s start by admitting that we lust for Ricky Rubio. 48% of you wanted him when Blake Griffin was still a possibility. As much as we want to say that Brandon Jennings or Tyreke Evans or (insert player name here) might become a better pro, that’s just code to prepare ourselves for the very real disappointment that Ricky Rubio may not wind up in a Kings’ uniform. Simply, if it was our turn to pick tomorrow and Ricky Rubio were available, probably better than 90% of us would want him. Were Rubio available and passed on by the Kings at #4, the ensuing draft thread would be epic.

Three weeks ago, I posted “The Five Stages Of A Geoff Petrie Draft Pick.”  The post drew a parallel between GP’s draft picks and the five stages of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  As it pertains to the ping pong ball drop, we have already gone through denial (are you kidding me?!?) and anger (effing David Stern!), and we’ve moved on to bargaining. And much like when you’re bargaining death, you’re ready to promise almost anything.

We have seen comments that have offered up Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes or Kevin Martin(!) to move up one or two slots to draft the exciting yet still unproven Spaniard. This makes no sense to me. And based on recent history, it is overpaying.

In 1998, Antawn Jamison was chosen by the Toronto Raptors with the 4th pick of the draft. He was then traded for Vince Carter, who was taken 5th by the Golden State Warriors.

In 2006, Minnesota traded #6 pick Brandon Roy to Portland for #7 pick Randy Foye and $1 million.

Also in 2006, Chicago sent #2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge and a conditional 2nd round pick to Portland for Tyrus Thomas and the rights to Victor Khyrapa.

Last year, Minnesota sent #3 pick O.J. Mayo, Marko Jaric (3 yrs.,  $21 million) and Greg Buckner (3 yrs,  $12 million, partially guaranteed) to Memphis for #5 pick Kevin Love, Mike Miller (2 yrs., $19 million), Brian Cardinal (2 yrs., $13 million) and Jason Collins (1 yr., $6 million).

Also last year, Indiana sent #11 pick Jerryd Bayless to Portland for #13 pick Brandon Rush, Jarrett Jack (1 yr. @ $2 million preceding a qualifying offer) and Josh McRoberts ($700k).

Recapping, Toronto saved a few rookie salary scale dollars with their deal. Minnesota picked up some cash in the Roy/Foye deal. The Bulls and Blazers swapped rookies and little else. Memphis took on 2011 salaries in order to move up, while The T-Wolves got a good player at a relatively fair contract (Miller), plus shed contract for 2010. The Portland/Indiana deal was thought to be a rookie swap with throw-ins, though Jack did play reasonably well for Indiana last year.

Mike Miller was the only known commodity involved in any of these deals, and he was pretty much thought of as little net value in relation to his contract. The point is, it has not historically taken a ton to swap up a couple of picks.

Now, if a team like Portland (for example) felt that Ricky Rubio was the missing piece for them, they could go to Memphis and offer any combination of Jerryd Bayless, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, and/or their #24 and #32 picks. And if Portland wants to do that, the Kings can’t compete with it, nor should they. The aforementioned Blazer players are 2nd tier for them (this is said with no intended disrespect - Fernandez is very important to Portalnd and is a stud, but he is not as important as Roy/Aldridge/Oden/Pryzbilla). If the trade didn’t pan out, it wouldn’t affect their core. The Kings on the other hand, would suffer massive damage if Rubio didn’t pan out and the cost was a current core player and a pick. And save the “there are no core players on a 17-55 team.” Martin, Thompson and Hawes have value in relation to their contracts, period. They should not be considered as easily dispensable just because the team currently stinks. That type of thinking would have jettisoned Mitch Richmond long before we used him to acquire Chris Webber. This is not to say that any of these guys are untouchable. But it is to say that you don’t give these guys up for the unknown.

Simply put, the actual trades that were mentioned above are the normal market. The Washington’s #5 and JaVale McGee rumors for the #2 or #3 pick appear to be false (though we’ll see). If a team like Portland comes in with an offer that is above and beyond that market, well, that’s that. In the mean time, these are the strongest offers that I would like to see the Kings make to move up in the draft:

The #4 and #23 pick and Kenny Thomas (1 yr. @ $9 million) to Memphis for the #2 pick and Marco Jaric (2 yrs. @ $15 million). Memphis retains a top four pick, picks up a #23 pick (to go with their #27 pick). They net a $6 million savings by involving Thomas and Jaric. Memphis runs the risk of losing out on Thabeet, but if they are that high on him they would just take him and not make this deal. The Kings get their man and still have a pick at #31 to try and pick up a bench player. The contract weight of Jaric in 2010 will not prevent the Kings from financially participating in the big fish free agent market. I would be OK substituting Donté Greene for the #23 pick if that was Memphis’ preference. It should also be noted that this deal could be made without involving Thomas (and I'd be OK with that), but Memphis will probably need his contract to reach the league payroll minimum, unless they go free agent shopping or make one of those "Marcus Camby" trades.

The #4 and #23 pick and Donté Greene to OKC for the #3 and #25 pick. This is providing that Rubio is still there at #3, of course. The Thunder move up a couple slots later in the 1st round and land Greene at the low price of $870,000, and still get whomever they would have selected at #3. The Kings get their man, and retain a latter 1st round pick. I would be willing to keep Greene and let them keep their #25 pick is that was OKC’s preference.

Any deal that has the Kings giving up more is a deal that I do not want to make. I should note that I see Nocioni, Udrih and Garcia as having little or no value in relation to their contracts (with Garcia perhaps being barely fair value for a contending team), so any deals involving them actually benefits us more than the other team, unless we are taking even worse contract in return.

I love Ricky Rubio. The thought of him in a Kings uniform makes me warm and fuzzy. But only at fair market value. If his acquisition is to cost us any of our few assets, I’m ready to welcome whomever Geoff Petrie drafts to play alongside Martin, Thompson and Hawes with open arms.


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