Master Debaters: Akis and Section214 debate the Derrick Williams trade

Mike Stobe

Someone gave us two nitwits a forum to voice our thoughts publicly, so we're taking advantage of it.

The Kings have traded Luc Mbah a Moute for Minnesota's Derrick Williams. Response from Kings fans regarding the trade has been mixed. Some view it as a low risk move on a prospect with upside, while others view it as a trade of Sacramento's best defender for a player who has yet to prove that he can be a solid rotation player.

I'm in the first camp, while section214 is in the second camp. Since it is a rare occasion that we find something to disagree about, we thought we'd debate the trade's merits with each other and share it with you all.

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A: I'd like to begin by saying that if this trade happened a week ago, I'm not sure anyone would be complaining at all. Mbah a Moute had a good week, especially in the matchup against the hated Clippers where he defended both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. There's no doubt that Luc was Sacramento's best overall defender, and I can appreciate that many fans liked what they saw from him, especially given so many years of ineptitude at the Small Forward position.

That being said, I'm not sure how much Sacramento actually lost by making this trade. Mbah a Moute's defense is good, but on a bad defensive team like the Kings, a stopper like Mbah a Moute is lipstick on a pig. To me, Mbah a Moute makes much more sense on a team like the Timberwolves, where his talents will stand out and actually make a difference. Williams on the other hand, will get a change of scenery and a chance to fulfill at least some of the potential that made him the #2 pick in the NBA Draft.

To me, trading Mbah a Moute for Williams is a low risk, potentially high reward move that makes sense for a young rebuilding team.

S: Aykis, you ignorant slut.

OK, that's an overreach. I'm really not all that worked up about the trade, and you actually are quite intelligent and who or how many you sleep around with is really none of my business.

I want to address this #2 pick thing first. I know that he was on the "short list" when he came out of college, but let's remember that he was a #2 pick in part because he was drafted by the same guy that drafted Jonny Flynn with a #6 pick and thought that Darko Milicic was manna from heaven (and there was more...so much more). So I'm not going to get overly excited just because he was the #2 pick. Thabeeeeeeeeeet!!!

In fact, it is his standing as the #2 pick that bothers me a bit about this trade, inasmuch as it inflates his contract to the point of Williams being a less than cheap roll of the dice. He'll make $5m this year, and that's OK. And if he plays well enough to justify picking up his 2015 $8.3m qualifying offer (which the Kings will need to decide over the coming summer), his $6.3m salary for next year will be fine. But if he continues to be the Derrick Williams that he has been since leaving Arizona, he will be overpaid for the next two years before becoming a free agent.

I suppose at issue here for me is that Mbah a Moute was at least a fair value to contract player that contributed positively to his team (albeit a pretty lousy team). I am unconvinced that Williams is either.

A: I agree that Williams' status as the #2 pick should be ignored. People do tend to attach a lot of value to where a player was drafted because of the expectations that come with it. Take Thomas Robinson and Jimmer Fredette for example. But there's no denying that Williams does have talent.

Williams to date has not been able to translate that talent on a consistent basis, which is the primary reason he's even being traded. Williams' salary is not ideal, but it's also not crippling. Factoring in Mbah a Moute's contract, the Kings added just $2.4 million over the next two years.

I also think that players like Mbah a Moute (perimeter defensive specialists) aren't super hard or expensive to find, whether by Free Agency or trade. They tend to have smaller, short-term contracts. Players with Williams' potential are harder to find and teams usually aren't as willing to give that up for cheap. I think the Timberwolves did so because after years of losing, they're ready to take the next step and focus on winning in the here and now. There's also the fact that Williams plays the same position as their franchise player.

Now, I'm not super optimistic that Derrick Williams is going to suddenly turn into a stud, but I see no problem in swinging for the fences and trying.

S: Heh. If guys like Mbah a Moute aren't hard to find, why are we still being subjected to dangerous levels of Johnny Salmons?

I have serious concerns about how he fits here. Would you agree with me that Williams is in no way, shape or form a small forward?

A: John Salmons has some kind of voodoo magic that gives him consistent playing time. As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, the guy loses his starting spot, and a week later his replacement gets traded. John Salmons will probably end up being President of the United States one day or something with all the dirt he must have on people.

(Also the Kings under the Maloofs of the last few years were not exactly big spenders)

I would definitely agree that Derrick Williams is not a Small Forward. He's not nearly a good enough shooter, nor quick enough to guard opposing wings. He rebounds and defends well enough at the Power Forward spot.

In terms of fit, I think we can't look at this trade in a vacuum. I think this is the first of many trades to come. The obvious next targets for Sacramento to trade include Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes. I think Thompson and Hayes would be the preferred trades for Sacramento because of their contracts, but I think Patterson provides the most value.

S: Agreed that we can't look at the trade in a vacuum. But if we agree that Williams is a four, then he joins an already-crowded (and mediocre) power forward position that will be further inhabited when Carl Landry returns. And I just don't see a Cousins/Williams front line as being the kind of front line that coach Malone envisions when he casts his eyes on the defensive side of the ball.

Williams is a more prolific scorer than Thompson/Hayes/Patterson, though he has never been terribly efficient. He's not a bad rebounder as a power forward, but he doesn't set the world on fire, either. I have never heard him described as a plus defender.

In other words, other deals need to be made for this deal to become a good or understandable deal. Without another deal on the horizon, this deal amounts to home run derby.

So we can make sense of this deal if we concoct other deals. I half-jokingly pontificated in one of the threads that Carl Landry was actually healthy but was being stashed in a warehouse in the greater Houston area, awaiting December 15 so that he could be traded for Omer Asik. Would a Cousins/Asik/Williams/Thompson front line work? I think that it has promise. I also think that it's a one in a million shot that Asik is wearing a Kings uniform anytime soon.

I am in full agreement (and support) of the need to dismantle this roster, and that we can't look at each trade individually. But until subsequent deals are made, we have to look at each deal on its individual merits. And this one does not pass the sniff test for me.

Another question for you, my valued friend and master debater: Would you agree that Minnesota had been looking to move Williams, and would you describe his situation in Minnesota as not having value to contract?

A: Before I answer your final question, let me note that Williams has actually been a decent defender of opposing Power Forwards according to Timberwolves fans who have watched him play. He's not a world beater, and he doesn't block shots, but he's not a minus on that end of the floor as long as he does play Power Forward rather than Small Forward.

Williams did NOT have value to contract in Minnesota, which is unsurprising when Kevin Love plays 36 minutes a game and Williams makes second pick salary. It really is boggling just how bad of a drafter David Kahn was. The Wolves have been forced to either play him at Power Forward the few minutes where Love sits or to slot him next to Love at Small Forward. It's true that when Love was out with injury, Williams didn't excel, but some players take a little longer to figure out their games. Sacramento is hoping that his career is salvageable, and at just 22 years old, I'd have to agree. Even if it isn't, what does Sacramento have to lose? The investment here is minimal.

Luc Mbah a Moute probably wasn't the permanent answer to Sacramento's Small Forward conundrum. By the time his contract ends in 2015, the Kings probably still won't have made the playoffs, with or without him. The Kings did well to acquire him cheaply, and now they've flipped him as a piece that either can be flipped next year or become part of the future if his development goes well.

S: And therein lies my final portion of discontent with this trade. It seems that Williams was a guy that either needed to have an asset attached to him to facilitate a trade, or the Wolves needed to take an overvalued player in return. Minnesota was looking for a front line player that can defend the pick and roll. Chuck Hayes comes to mind, and he has played and played well under Rick Adelman in the past. They needed some bench scoring, and Marcus Thornton was certainly available. I think that a fair trade would have been Williams for either of these guys. But Mbah a Moute for Williams is a trade where we sold at value and bought high, and we have to hope for some sort of resurrection for this deal to wind up being a good one for the Kings.

As a stand-alone, this trade makes little sense to me, and it lacks any sort of net value. That said, I certainly hope that everyone that likes this trade winds up being validated, and that Williams finds lightning in a bottle here in Sacramento. I am very eager to see him play, and I hope that he proves each and every one of my concerns wrong.

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