Since we learned a few days ago that Sacramento and Cleveland are discussing Mike Bibby, we thought we'd look into some likely scenarios.
We mentioned in passing over the weekend that Drew Gooden would need to get involved to create anything really workable.
Could he be available? At first mind-glance, I said no. He's not an All-Star type by any stretch of the imagination - but for guy on a 3-year, $20 million deal, he's pretty darn good. He's 25 years old, and he's a better rebounder than every King save Justin Williams. He's a potent scorer like 50% of the time, and while I haven't heard much good about his defense, I haven't heard anyone call him El Cordobés either.
So why would the Cavaliers give him up?
Because of Anderson Varejao. Every rumor that swirls around Cleveland says the front office loves the young Brazilian and want to keep him. He's a free agent after this season, as a a former second round draft pick that Cavs didn't extend last summer. Fans in Cleveland have taken to him, thanks to the Sideshow Bob hair and the constant energy. He just seems to make his teammates better.
He'll probably cost the same as Gooden next year, maybe a little less (mid-level).
The Cavaliers could deal Gooden and replace him with Varejao in the coming years, and if they could get a 20 ppg, 40-min+ point guard in return for the stretch run and probably two more years, why wouldn't they? Thanks to Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James, Cleveland could remain one of the top rebounding teams in league (currently 2nd in defensive rebounding and 3rd in offensive rebounding). Scoring is what they need, despite the pleas of Coach Mike Brown. Mike Bibby is a scorer, and being paired with a player who takes off the pressure like LeBron - that's not going to hurt.
After all this talk about why Cleveland should want to trade Gooden, why does Sacramento want him?
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim, I'm sad to say, is probably a second-string player the rest of his career. He's in town for three more years after this season, and he's aging before our eyes. He's still a go-to scorer in the deep post, but his defensive rebounding has fallen off the table and he's about as quick as the platelets swimming down Michael Sweetney's arteries. Behind Gooden, Shareef could still get his 20 minutes per night. And with Gooden, those minutes could come a bit more consistently - you never know when Kenny Thomas has to be pulled because he peed his pants.
- Kenny Thomas is the worst-performing power forward in the league. No just starting power forwards - I think he's been the worst power forward this season, period. He's a sure-thing turnover half the times he touches the ball, he can't score around the time unless Earl Boykins is guarding him, he still hasn't fixed the awful hitch in his jumper, his rebounding (especially offensive) has slipped, and he couldn't hit a free throw if his contract was on the line. Other than that, though, he's been great. I don't know what the Kings can/should do with him... keeping him in the starting lineup until 2011 doesn't seem like the answer, though.
- Corliss Williamson has been a nice story, but he's got about 400 game minutes left in his body. Even already this season he's seemed to wear down, and he's played 800 minutes over 43 games - about 19 a night. He's D-U-N done. And he's the most tradeable expiring contract the Kings have going into trade deadline crunchtime.
- There is nothing in the pipeline. At least at shooting guard/small forward, there's talent behind the talent. John Salmons or Francisco Garcia could start any given night, and Quincy Douby could qualify as a sixth-man, even at this early stage. There's potential and youth there behind Kevin Martin and Ron Artest, even if the performance isn't quite Reef/Nasty-like yet.
And for all the love Varejao gets - Gooden is only 15 months older. Potential this, potential that: Gooden is doing it, and will likely do it for the duration of his contract. That would be a huge boost to the roster.
As for the point guard position if Bibby gets traded: John Salmons. I know a lot of us have problems with his style - he loves to drive and kick and not depend on the pick-and-roll we adore. But it's a temporary answer. Point guard is fairly deep position in free agency this offseason, with Maurice Williams being a handsome target, if the Bibby move can clear cap space.
About that cap? Bibby and Ronnie Price for Gooden, Scot Pollard, Ira Newble, and Sasha Pavlovic works under the cap. That saves the Kings about $6 million next year, and the same in 2009 (assuming Bibby does not opt out). Pollard, Newble, and Pavlovic all have expiring contracts.
Does this trade make the Kings a better team?