With one game left, it's time to ramp up the offseason speculation. We'll save coaching matters to tomorrow morning and focus on a fun topic: trade ideas straight out of our ass.
Portland has promised to again be active this summer, according to this in-depth look at the Blazers' future by Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune. Remember: they were the sole redeeming factor of last year's draft day, participating in six trades of varying import. June and July could again prove busy for Portland's new front office (most of which is still being assembled).
Here's my off-the-cuff idea with reasons following:
Mike Bibby and Francisco Garcia for Zach Randolph, Jarrett Jack, and the Blazers first-round pick.
Bibby will be very available this summer. Zach Randolph will be very available this summer. They make similar salaries. Portland needs a veteran perimeter scorer, Sacramento needs a solution at power forward that involves scoring and rebounding. Portland has a logjam in the frontcourt with young star-in-the-making LaMarcus Alridge, Sacramento has decided Bibby is not the future point guard of this team and will undoubtedly seek a new one in free agency, trades, or the draft.
Jack is the necessary starting point guard the Kings would almost assuredly need in return. He's been good this year, shooting .456 from the field, .354 from deep, and getting to the line at a strong clip. He's not a frequent scorer (part of Portland's problem - they thirst for points) and turns the ball over a bit much for a point. But he's big and a good defender, according to people who'd know better than I. And he's cheap for three more years.
Garcia... we all know about Garcia. He's a dynamic young swing -- he can shoot, he can handle the ball, he can defend his freaking ass off. He could be a future Sixth Man of the Year, he could be a future Bruce Bowen. Hell, he could do those things within two years. And like Jack, he's cheap through 2009-10.
That first-round pick of Portland's is the keystone. Right now, the Blazers are slotted to draft 7th overall. In the above-linked article, Eggers says the Blazers will look to deal the pick if they don't luck out on Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. The thinking is, I assume: They've got enough young guys. Alridge could be an All-Star in three years, Brandon Roy is a star in the making, and Sergio Rodriguez is a spectacular point guard prospect who's 20 years old. At some point, you go after veterans that complement your youngsters. (Someone needs to tell Danny Ainge this.) If sending away your first-rounder can get you a 20-point scorer for a couple years AND help you shed a magnificently obese contract, don't you think about? The Blazers also have three second-round picks. If some team with multiple first-rounders, like Philadelphia (they have three: one low lottery, one 20ish, one 30th), is targetting second-round caliber players and doesn't want to spend first-round money on them, then a pair of those seconds become a first, getting Portland back in the game. So potentially, Portland gets a two-year rental on a 20-point scorer, drops a massive long-term contract, makes room for the budding power forward superstar, slides about 10 places in the first round, and gets a possible top-flight wing roleplayer.
Why does Sacramento do it?
First and foremost, change is needed. Bibby presents a good opportunity to wheel and deal. Artest has a limited market as a malcontent; options are limited with him. Bibby can make about a dozen teams better, and his contract isn't as terrible as it's been made out to be.
And Randolph, expensive as he is, might be the best return for Bibby. Not many guys put up 20 and 10 every damn night, but Randolph does. The Kings desparately need rebounding up front, and Z-Bo is one of the best rebounders at power forward in the league. Concerns about his microfracture surgery have disappeared after his All-Starish year. He may not be worth $17 million in 2010, but it'd be difficult to buy his production for cheaper than next year's $13.3 million salary on the open market.
Jack is an average NBA starting point guard, which makes him great for his price. His shooting numbers have improved nicely this season, and as mentioned above, he's get to the hole and draws fouls. If this team as currently constructed has an inkling of an identity, it's as a foul-drawing squad. Bibby has nothing to do with that, and Jack would help make the Kings permanent residents of the charity stripe.
But the real reason the Kings make this trade: the pick. Without it, there's no reason for the Kings to come to the table. With it? The Kings could pair their dual picks to seriously restock for the future while hanging on to a talented if flawed near-term squad. Point guard would be a priority with one of the two mid-lottery picks, and you'd assume a big for the future would be taken with the other. Conley and Hibbert, anyone?
Next year's team under this trade scenario - Jack/Martin/Artest/Randolph/Miller with Abdur-Rahim, Salmons, Douby, and the two lottery picks off the bench - would be a very good half-court offense team, like a homeless man's Dallas. The defense would be about what it's been this season: inconsistent at best. That's not sure-thing playoffs, but it's better than the status quo.
And the future? If the draft picks fell the way I dream...
Mike Conley/Kevin Martin/???/Zach Randolph/Roy Hibbert