Hearing of the Houston Rocket's interest in Howard I took a look at their roster and assets and ran some spreadsheets. This is an idea I had for a team building plan based on the Rockets.
I will go through the trade and outline the plan, then address points of interest further down in the notes section (things covered in the notes will be marked with an *).
The plan centers around trading to the Rockets for youth and enormous salary flexibility. Then allowing the Magic a one-year evaluation period to determine the next move, while also putting the Magic in excellent position to succeed at both options.
Let's first look at the trade and then we'll go through the resulting strategy.
The trade is this:
|Dwight Howard||$19,536,360.00||Kevin Martin||$12,439,675.00|
|Glen Davis||$6,400,000.00||Patrick Patterson||$2,096,760.00|
|Jason Richardson||$5,799,625.00||for||Chandler Parsons||$888,250.00|
|Chris Duhon||$3,250,000.00||Samuel Dalembert||$6,698,565.00|
|Quentin Richardson||$3,021,510.00||Goran Dragic||$11,150,000.00|
|14th, 16th, and Donatas Motiejūnas|
A couple things probably stand out immediately to you. The absence of Hedo Turkoglu* and the salary of Goran Dragic* especially. I'll go over these in the notes.
Make the 14th, 16th, 19th, and 49th selections in the 2012 NBA Draft*. (the Rockets would have to make the picks for the Magic I believe)
After the July Moratorium the Magic release Kevin Martin*.
Re-sign Anderson. (Anderson's exact contract is impossible to predict, but from this point on I will be using a $9.5 million per year deal as an approximation. I don't feel that this number is unreasonably favorable to the Magic or my scenario or especially unrealistic)
Play through the 2012-13 season giving Anderson and Dragic as well as the youngsters a chance to prove themselves. This establishes value for these players without Dwight Howard. And gives the Magic an extended evaluation period to decide if there is enough talent here to add to or if a complete bottom up rebuild is necessary.
At the conclusion of the season a decision has to be made regarding the direction of the team. If the team has shown enough promise that a major player (or two) would potentially put them in contention they can pursue free agents.
The Magic will be in good position financially to make a serious run at any/all free agents in 2013.
The numbers on the left are picking up every team option, unguaranteed contract, and re-signing Redick. The numbers on the right are releasing Turk and Parsons and not re-signing Redick.
Assuming a conservative $52 million salary cap the Magic will have approx. $22.555 million in cap space. That number is with Anderson/Dragic still under contract.
Then it's a matter of team building needs.
If Anderson disappoints at PF, Millsap and Josh Smith are available.
Options at SF are slim but Iguodala might exercise his Player Option.
If SG is the spot that needs upgrading Monta Ellis could be the answer.
If Dragic is less than stellar the Magic could pursue Paul.
This all depends on the rookies and Anderson/Dragic/Redick showing star potential and playing a competitive season. If the Magic look to be more than a player away it brings us to the scorched earth option.
Basically, trade away as many veteran pieces as possible for picks/young players with the intention of ensuring the team will be in lottery position (while holding onto any key young players that have shown glimmers of ability) and start a true re-building project.
This tactic lacks many specific options so it can't really be discussed in great detail. Hopefully Dragic and Anderson play up to their respective contracts and can be moved for future draft picks.
The boon here is having a young core of role players and prospects in the form of the 14th, 16th, Parsons, and Motiejunas.
Having supporting talent in place and a large amount of financial flexibility allows for a quick turnaround should the team be lucky enough to acquire a top draft pick or player.
The reason that I have Dragic and not Lowry is because Lowry is too cheap to allow for the Magic to shed all of the undesirable contracts that the Magic need to be relieved of for this deal to make sense for them.
Dragic, as an unrestricted free agent can be paid extra in the first year and then have his salary decreased. This allows for more players to go to Houston and from Orlando.
This is how I would structure Dragic's deal:
|Team Option||Player Option|
It is worth noting that Dragic would have to agree to the sign-and-trade, but the playing time and the money are right so I am optimistic that he would not be an obstacle.
(It is also worth noting that for this to work Camby would have to be renounced by Houston. This is because they have to be under the cap so that BYC doesn't go into affect. With BYC Dragic's contract would only be worth half as much for the purposes of matching salaries. Disaster!)
Releasing Kevin Martin seems rather unwarranted, I know.
It was probably the closest decision in the whole scenario.
My reasoning is this, the whole point of the 1-year evaluation period is that it has to have the possibility of failing. Even have the possibility of failing catastrophically. If you put too many stable veteran presences to alleviate the productivity and leadership burden from Anderson/Dragic then you learn less from letting them have a season to prove themselves.
Beyond that the chances that Martin factors into the long range plans is small.
So by keeping Martin you are just relegating the team to mediocrity, hurting the draft positioning, and hurting your own ability to evaluate the players that would potentially be long term pillars.
Releasing Martin I think is the better choice by inches and degrees.
Everyone would assume that Turkoglu's contract would have to be involved in any deal.
Reviewing the player's contracts I don't think that Hedo's contract is a problem for the Magic anymore.
With the "current" season now being the 2012-13 season Hedo only has one year left on his contract.
Worst case scenario for Hedo with his partially guaranteed deal is the Magic have to pay him $18 million total.
Glen Davis and Jason Richardson's deals are worth a combined $38 million over the next three years. With no options, and with every year being fully guaranteed.
Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson make the same amount of money in 2013/2014 as Hedo Turkoglu and they're Duhon & Richardson.
At this point in time getting rid of those 4 players collectively, greatly surpasses getting rid of Hedo Turkoglu in financial relief.
2012 NBA Draft
At this point the Magic have the 14th, 16th, 19th, and 49th picks in the 2012 NBA Draft. It is not so much important exactly who the Magic choose with these picks as it is important that they don't go to waste and the Magic pick up some valuable prospects.
I will, however, give some analysis of the options and an example draft.
Meyers Leonard is practically a no-brainer with this many picks and a hole at Center. Not that I expect him to be much of a factor, but the Magic will need depth and youth at the 5.
I think that by acquiring Dragic and trading away Richardson it opens up minutes at SG and relieves some of the need at PG. For this reason I think Waiters pulls pretty much even with Wroten in this scenario. And they both remain excellent possibilities.
Terrence Jones is more likely to be available with the 16th and SF is definitely a position of need at this point. So don't sleep on Jones.
What I would like to see (and, of course, all draft speculation is heavily dependent on players being available) is this:
Leonard fits a positional need as mentioned above. Ross is arguably the best player available and a classic SG.
White I think becomes the best risk/reward pick post-trade. White would ideally still play SF, but, with Davis gone there are minutes to be had at PF now. And picking White hedges our bets on Anderson somewhat, as other coaches might not utilize the Stretch-4 as effectively and having a young multi-talented physical presence will benefit the Magic's versatility.
There are a lot of nuances that I left out for the sake of brevity but this is essentially the plan I came up with to best use the Rockets to re-build if that was the decision the Magic were to come to and if that were the team that they were most interested in dealing with.