Dwight's Physical Peak
The analysis of players' peak ages in the article, "For Prime Out Loud!" has got me to thinkin'....originally about Vince Carter who is mentioned in the article, but then about the 24-year-old franchise superstar, Dwight Howard. How long does Orlando have with Howard to win a championship? According to the article's analysis, if Howard follows the typical pattern then he enters an adjustment curve this summer/next season (can someone say, "Develop the jump shot!"?).
How badly does the organization's management want to win a championship? Some pundits have said that last year with Hedo was the best chance. Watching Carter play this year leads some of us to agree with that. At the risk that this year may be the athletic peak for Dwight, are the Magic willing to go deeper into the tax in order to win?
Assessing the Competition
- Atlanta - The Hawks are already something of a threat (except Orlando seems to have their number) and if they retain Joe Johnson and find a center upgrade (maybe before the deadline), then they are a bigger concern.
- Boston - Boston might have already aged themselves out of contention due to the Garnett injury re-surfacing this season. But Perkins gives Howard fits and Rondo typically torches the Magic. Both of those players are young and improving.
- Cleveland - If the Cavs are successful in trading Big Z for a stretch PF like Jamison or Murphy, Orlando may be in a heap of trouble in the East.
- The West - Even if Orlando survives the East, it is questionable whether or not Carter is the piece that let's Orlando beat the Lakers, Nuggets, or whomever prevails in the West. Maybe. Maybe not.
- 2010-2011 - Looking ahead to next year, with this summer's possible free agent moves, Orlando faces the possibility of two (or three), top-tier free agents joining forces in the East for NJ, NY, or Miami. And, Chicago (unless management blows it) will be one more step into their rebuild.
Stand pat, tweak, or go for broke?
That's the money question, isn't it? (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Standing pat and tweaking are both defensible moves. But I'm not defending them here.
If we make a big splash, trying to move Carter has the biggest potential to pay off for the Magic due to factors that have been detailed in numerous places on this site and others (salary relief, get a better player back, etc.). But, Carter is a gamble for both Orlando and any trade partner, because the very real possibility of him healing from the injuries, adjusting his game, and returning to a higher-level of play--for both this year and next--still exists. So who takes Carter, especially when his value is so low right now? Answer: Somebody who has even "worse" assets that they need to move. Since Carter is owed ($16M/$17.5M/$4M), we are talking about a team with a contract longer than two years that they are looking to unload.
I've come up with 4 possible trade ideas below the jump. My preference would be #4.
CARTER TRADE OPTION #1 (with Utah)
Carter + Bass + Gortat for Kirilenko + Okur
Kirilenko's two-year contract is just as bad, though he's playing at a level above Carter. Okur has three years at ~$9M/yr and his play has started to fall off. Utah effectively gets two young bigs for the price of one and seriously increases their interior defense. Bass fits well next year in Utah when they likely let Boozer walk. Orlando gets a tall SF (likely slide Pietrus down to SG) and a backup center - one more guy who can stretch the floor!
[Alt #1] Utah sweetens the deal by sending guard Wes Matthews (R)
[Alt #2] ORL takes Kyle Korver or Ronnie Brewer in through the TPE to get Utah under the cap and Utah sends a draft pick, too.
[Alt #3] ORL takes Boozer instead of Kirilenko or Okur, depending on Utah's preference. If Boozer instead of Okur, Utah sends their young backup C, Frensko, too.
CARTER TRADE OPTION #2 (with Detroit)
The Pistons' superstars (Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and free agent signee Ben Gordon) have been injury plagued this year as well. Detroit has questions about these players similar to those asked about Carter. Is this injury-induced or is the fall off the cliff, maybe due to age?
Carter + Bass + Gortat for Tayshaun Prince + Ben Gordon + Ben Wallace
Prince expires before Carter, so financially that piece swings in ORL's favor. Carter expires before Gordon, so the dollar signs swing back in Detroit's favor. Ben Gordon has been a disappointment in Detroit, so maybe the Pistons give him up in buyer's remorse to get out of the next four years at $10M/yr. He'd make a pretty short backcourt (starting or second unit) for ORL, but he does have a reputation for scoring, but at a cost to ORL's defense.
Personally, I don't like this trade. But, it is an option and filler/young players and/or picks could be added in order to balance the deal.
[Alt #1] Sub Hamilton for Gordon and Detroit adds sweetener like a 1st round pick or one of their rookies. Hamilton has one more full year than Carter and $9M guaranteed in the fourth year. But Hamilton's been incredibly inefficient this year--Carter-like inefficient.
CARTER TRADE OPTION #3 (with Golden State)
We should also take this opportunity to give some credit to Corey Maggette. He’s not an All-Star but Maggette is putting up strong numbers (22.4 PER) and is a very useful player. A contender would be well-advised to try to poach him from Golden State, who sometimes will give away players for no apparent reason. ~Harlan Schrieber at HoopsAnalyst.com
Bass + A. Johnson + Carter + ORL 1st for Maggette + Radmanovic + Raja Bell + CJ Watson.
I know, I know, Maggette has a reputation. But many, like the above quote, say that Corey has grown up a bit and plays like a team-centered vet. Hard to prove one way or the other since he plays for the dysfunctional Warriors. Not a great outside shooter, but he can get to the rim and get FTs. Watson gives ORL another PG option (everyone knows we've been after him). Bass is just going to be more helpful for GSW than Radmanovic and the contract is cheaper for them. Raja's been hurt (if he returns to the court, great), but would be nice to have as an expiring. Maybe GSW keeps Bell and sends Speedy Claxton's contract. Fine.
Why not? Otis has a rep for taking care of his players, so sending someone with a multi-year contract to Golden State right after they sign with you as a free agent is not going to help that reputation.
TRADE OPTION #4: THE BIGGEST SPLASH (with Philadelphia and Sacramento)
I posted a version of this earlier FANPOST with Brand rather than Dalembert, but since then, I've rounded down my assessment of Igoudala and have seen just how much Philly needs to do SOMETHING....
There will be no turn around, no winning streak that has the Sixers climbing the standings and no push for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff race. Nope, not this year and certainly not with this group. They don’t have the heart or the X&O’s required for such a drastic revival. ~Philadunkia on Jan 21, 2010
ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that the Sixers are "growing more determined to make a deal before the deadline" . That’s not surprising to us as yesterday we posted an interview with ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler and Legler said the Sixers absolutely will make a big move before the deadline.
PHI out: Samuel Dalembert, Andre Igoudala, Jason Kapono, Eddie Jordan
PHI in: Vince Carter, TPE for Kapono, JJ Redick (RFA), Anthony Johnson (or SAC gets him), Kenny Thomas, ORL 1st, SAC 1st, Patrick Ewing
This summer Philly is looking at:
...with $6-10M+ in cap space. PHI gets two more 1st round picks from ORL and SAC added to Philly's own lottery 1st and high 2nd. Save $13.3M next year (even with Carter's contract). Redick replaces Kapono's outside shooting (and as an upgrade, plays defense and passes, too). He can be matched or let go in the summer. Green might also be movable this season to another team for an expiring. Carter can be moved next year as a near-expiring, since Carter is guaranteed $4M fo 2011/12.
All season, the biggest defense problem for the Kings has been a dearth of resistance in the interior...The record player's broke, and ain't no one on this roster fixing it. ~Tom Ziller
SAC out: Sergio Rodriguez, Kenny Thomas, Francisco Garcia, 2010 1st round draft pick
SAC in: Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass, (Anthony Johnson if they want him more than PHI does)
Evans/Udrih/(could get either AJ or an end-of-the-bench expiring like Royal Ivey from Philly)
Gortat is a starting center; Bass a backup 4/5. They are young players (yet have vet, even playoff, savvy and experience) on reasonable contracts (which is better than any big man who they'd get in the draft, requiring time to develop). SAC gives up a 2010 1st round pick. They ship Kenny Thomas' expiring (unless PHX is willing to trade them Martin, Thompson, & Thomas for Amare) to Philly and a seldom-used RFA PG to ORL while getting relief from the 5-year MLE Garcia deal. SAC likely prefers to send out Nocioni and keep Garcia. Orlando might do that, might be better in the long run financially for the Magic. SAC still has cap space this summer.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Carter is broke. ~magicfaninTN
ORL out: Marcin Gortat, Brandon Bass, JJ Redick, Anthony Johnson, Vince Carter, TPE for Kapono, 1st, Patrick Ewing
ORL in: Samuel Dalembert, Andre Igoudala, Jason Kapono, Sergio Rodriquez, Andres Nocioni
Barnes/Nocioni or Garcia/Kapono
As with the last time I proposed a deal with Philly, ORL pays a lot to upgrade from Carter to Igoudala and fills in some other pieces.
Sergio Rodriguez- a young RFA PG. I'm not sure why Sacramento doesn't use Sergio more as the backup PG. His defensive reputation is that he plays too far off his man, but his defensive rating numbers both individually and in quite a few 5-man units show a lot of sub-100 ratings in 23% of SAC's PG minutes. Not too bad. Better than Udrih's.
Samuel Dalembert - backup C and a trade chip next year. He's one of the few obtainable centers that could still give ORL a chance (I said "chance," nothing more) in a playoff series if Howard went down (and people say we paid Gortat too much money to back up the best center in the league. Bah!)
Kapono/Garica/Nocioni - The cost of doing business, but servicable players who can shoot from outside. Garcia, imo, is preferrable to Noc, but you have the question of him coming off of injury.
Igoudala brings perimeter defense, can get to the rim, and passeswell. Might be a bit overpaid for his production, but he's better than Carter. Offensively, he's a pretty good 3rd/4th option with Orlando behind Howard and either Nelson and/or Lewis.
The bench is still better than most contenders' benches. Redick's moxie will be missed.
Orlando's new pieces, due to their positions in the rotation and vet experience, likely integrate fast enough to click for the playoffs.
Why not? (1) Expensive (2) Lose a little depth with no player who can operate at the 4/5 in the face of an injury to the 1st/2nd unit like we now have with Bass. If a PF gets hurt it will be hard for ORL to overcome. Barnes could slide up to play the 4 in the regular season, but that's not going to work real well in the playoffs. Maybe ORL takes Nocioni after all and insists that Brockman gets tossed in, too.
Soooo, as is oft-stated in these parts, "In Otis we trust." It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, gets pulled off by the trade deadline.