August 04, 2008
Understand that I'm usually (if not, nearly always) pretty loathe to take on these sorts of posts, partially because I don't like reading them myself, partially because a lot of the time an NBA trade rarely works out solidly for both ends, and mostly because I'm more interested in the on-court action than off. Alas, I'm forging ahead, here.
If the reports are correct, and they likely aren't, Andre Iguodala and the Philadelphia 76ers are at a stalemate. The guard/forward (eh, "forward") is about to enter his fifth season, he's a restricted free agent, and reports indicate he's looking for a contract in the six-year, 75 million dollar range.
Now, this could be a plant from the Sixers, or someone's educated guess (75 million would seem in line with someone who wouldn't be signed as of the first week of August), or it could be spot on. The specifics hardly matter to me, because I barely think he's worth eight figures a year. AI's a fine player, but even with the addition of Elton Brand and the continued improvement of Louis Williams, he might not be what the 76ers need. His game is a little more "Corey Maggette" than it is "Paul Pierce." A lot more. The guy has issues creating shots.
So why not cut out now? Why not mix things up with a sign-and-trade? Why not follow the voice of every message board denizen? Actually, for this one, that might work.
Trading AI straight-up in a sign-and-trade for one of his Class of 2004 brethren (like, say, Ben Gordon) is too complicated due to Base-Year Compensation rules, and any sign-and-trade deal that Iggy gets dealt within would have to invoke that clause.
Because of the raise in his deal, the contracts that come back to the 76ers would have to match up with half of Iguodala's first year salary, plus whatever salary they'd add on with other players. So if Iguodala is signed to a deal that has him making 12 million quid in the first season, it would only be worth six million in a trade. Good news if the 76ers want to deal for Matt Harpring, bad news if they want to try and replicate Iguodala's still-solid (and still-rising, for years after this) production.
Initially, I went to look for deals involving Class of 2003 guys, because those with significant gifts would already be working on their post-rookie contracts, which would be worth the full amount in a trade due to their BYC status expiring after 2007-08. Kirk Hinrich? On the block, but the Bulls don't need another wing player. Jameer Nelson? Same, and same. T.J. Ford? Already dealt. LeBron James? Too good. Reece Gaines? Too pretty for Philly. Leandro Barbosa? The Suns probably won't play ball.
Josh Howard? Hmm.
This isn't a reaction to Howard's latest indiscretion. Not sure if you've heard, but Mark Cuban is a pretty sound businessman, and he's knows that a fan base disappointed in a few off-court misdeeds rarely translates into actual losses at the gate, though losing basketball will always translate into ticket-buying indifference. And Howard sells tickets, because he helps win games. Or, he used to. Until last year, at least.
Howard is 28. He's in his prime. This is it. 2008-09 has to be his best year, and if it isn't, then ... yikes. Is the atmosphere right for him to pull off that career year? Sure, Avery Johnson is gone, and those two had their moments, but is he long for this team and an owner that really digs Brandon Bass?
Meanwhile, the 76ers just signed Elton Brand. Andre Miller is running the point. Their window to win is right flippin' now, in spite of all the young talent. Iguodala, for all his gifts, was an absolute millstone during last spring's playoffs; and even if we excuse the play because of two words ("Tayshaun" and "Prince"), the team still needs someone who can create in a pinch when things break down in the post. And not by firing a Maggette-esque three-pointer.
So why not give Iggy his 12-million per year, ship him to Dallas with Willie Green, and take Howard on? The Mavs get a Richard Jefferson-esque oop partner for Jason Kidd, someone to run enough with to dupe media types into thinking that Dallas is a fast-break team (like Kidd and Jefferson did in New Jersey), backcourt depth in Green, and they cut ties with Howard for a player almost four years younger.
Philly gets a smoother shooter who can create, defend, and knows how to contribute when the looks aren't there, or the looks aren't falling. Better yet, at two more years for 20 million and then a team option for 11 more, the 76ers stay in contract control. Also, Willie Green stinks.
I think it works, I think both sides do well, and I think fans of both teams would be happy with the deal one, three, and five years from now - even with, five years from now, Iguodala in his prime and Howard long gone from Philadelphia. Something about a Thaddeus Young.
What do you think?