There is not too much going on in the NBA on this three day holiday weekend, unless you have something to say about the 4 teams still playing in the playoffs.
For us Thunder fans, not invited to the post season party, we get to talk and talk about the draft and trades, dream scenarios and all of these “crazy” reports from seemingly nowhere. It cracks me up when “insiders” report….or a “source within the organization” says….
Case in point this morning reading the Sporting News Today there is a bullet about the Clippers and their situation regarding the top pick in the draft.
The Clippers have said they’ll take PF Blake Griffin with the number 1 pick. But several publications have reported that the Clippers will be open to trading down from the top spot. According to the Ft.Worth Star- Telegram, the Thunder are one of the teams expected to go after that pick, using the third pick in the draft and one of their core young players (Jeff Green or Russell Westbrook) as part of the deal.
ESPN reported that the Clippers will be open to trading that pick if they can secure SG Ricky Rubio in the process. ESPN also reported that a number of general managers “insist” that the Clippers want to move PG Baron Davis and his large contract.
So if you click over to the Star-Telegram article, they are the source, and say basically the same thing, that the Thunder are “expected” to make a play for Griffin, using Green or Westbrook and the 3rd pick. There are no quotes or “inside” sources, just that we are “expected” to make a play. Hmmm.
This stuff is funny. You have to take all of this with a grain of salt because it is just usually some comment from somebody like Chad Ford over at ESPN in a chat, answering a question, and the Internet gets busy repeating the natural out workings of the comment. There may be some shred of information or truth behind the general premise, but likely its all speculation.
I also like how people throw out trade scenarios like it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. “General managers insist that the Clipps want to move Baron Davis and his large contract”. Is this news? The contact was a mistake before Baron ever put pen to ink. But saying that they want to move Baron Davis, and actually doing it are two different things.
I’m no cap-ologist, but the way I see it, it’s no easy thing. How long have we been trying to get rid of Earl Watson? Baron Davis is scheduled to make $ 12.1 million in ’09-10, $13.0 in ’10-11, $13.9 in ’11-12, and $14.8 in ’12-13. Baron had his 29th birthday last month, so that means the Clipps will be paying about 54 million dollars over the next four seasons to a frequently injured, high usage, shoot first, aging point guard. Now you know why the Clips are the Clips.
But here’s the deal: according to the collective bargaining agreement, teams under the salary cap can trade players at will with each other, regardless of the salaries, but teams over the cap have to match salaries within 125% on traded players. I did a little investigation and found that there are about 12 teams under the cap, including the Clippers and OKC (it’s not an exact thing, because the new cap for 2009-10 hasn’t been announced yet, but I am using last year’s cap of $58.68 million as a guideline). The Clippers are at $56.6 right now if they don’t re-sign anyone, and as soon as they draft somebody…Griffin, Rubio whoever, they are instantly over because the pick counts against the cap. So the Clips realistically need to trade with a team that is under the cap. Excluding Baron Davis for a second, it is theoretically possible for Jeff Green and the number 3 to go to the Clips for the number 1, but then the Clips would be adding Jeff Green’s salary to their cap situation, as well as the salary for whoever they drafted with our #3, not to mention another big player (Green) to their crowded frontcourt. But why would the Thunder mortgage it’s future for Griffin like that? I don’t think it’s Presti’s style. What if Griffin blew out his knee in summer league like Swift did a few years ago? Now you traded a #3 pick and Green for a player in a suit. I don’t see Presti as one of the crazy “overpay for players” type of GM. I think this is just more of that crazy internet rumor stuff going on without any real fact behind it.
It’s true that the Clips frontcourt is crowded and messy, and adding Blake to the mix even muddies the waters more. The Clips have Marcus Camby, a PF/C combo under contract for this up coming season only at $7.6 million. He’s easily the most tradable big man with his expiring contract and strong rebounding and shot blocking. Next is Caveman Kaman. Kaman is going to get $10.4, 11.3, and 12.2 million the next three seasons. I like Kaman, he’s a good second-tier Center in the league when healthy. But that’s the key, he hasn’t been healthy. In his 6 seasons in the NBA, he’s only played in 82 games one season, and that was his rookie year. He’s played in 385 of 492 possible games in his career, meaning he’s missed about 22% of his games with injury.
Then there’s Zach Randolph. He’s on the books for $14.6 million, $16, and $17.3 over the next three seasons. Zach puts up nice scoring numbers and adequate rebounding numbers, but he doesn’t block shots or play defense, and he is a ball hog very high usage player. When he gets the ball, don’t count on him passing it to a team mate. The Clippers also have DeAndre Jordan they are trying to develop as well. Where does Blake Griffin fit? It’s easy to say “trade on of those guys”, but it’s harder to do. Zach and Kaman realistically can’t go to teams over the cap because the Clips would have to take back salaries within 125%, and so they would still be at or near the cap, and have little flexibility in other trades…like getting rid of Baron Davis in a trade.
Back to Baron. As I stated, Baron is sitting on a big pot of guaranteed money. Baron’s also been injured a lot. He’s played in 673 of 820 games in his career, or he’s missed about 18% of his games. He did appear in all 82 games in the ’07-08 season, but he was injured in the playoffs. From the ’02-03 season thru the ’06-07 season, BD never played in more than 63 games in any of those seasons; and he only played in 65 last year, which was arguably his worst as a pro. In fact, it was very Earl Watson-esque. He has a low fg% (37%) and a high usage, which isn’t a good combination.
So again, if they want to trade BD, they need to find a sucker under the cap, or else they have to take back nearly the same amount of salary, which is like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I don’t blame them for wanting to get out from under BD’s contract and upgrading with Ricky Rubio, or getting out from under Zach Randolph’s contract and drafting Blake, but where are you going to find a trading partner who is a big enough sucker?
These internet rumors are fun, but they need to be kept in perspective.
Now, if the Clips want to trade #1 and Marcus Camby to us for #3 and Jeff Green, I am willing to listen. Camby has an expiring contract, and he’s a darn good player, and would be a defensive presence in the middle for us. At least you would be getting something besides just the rights to Griffin for #3 and Green.
There, I just started another Internet trade scenario.