I think this thread is a good idea, but perhaps 2-3 weeks premature. Does the "patience will right the ship" choice mean that we should "T.O." Artest and get nothing for him? Does the "one good trade" option include the Artest trade or not? I apologize if I too dense to realize that this was explained.
On to my thoughts of the team:
Every great team at it's core needs 3 players of "impact" and at least 4 other players that know exactly what their job is and know how to do the job without fail. The (minimum) 3 central players are like a tripod. It's stable and strong. Take one leg away, and it doesn't stand up.
The team was rotten at the center the day we traded for Ron Artest. That's hindsight talking. In 02-03 I thought he was a knucklehead. In 03-04 I came around to like him until the post season stories came out. Then it all went to hell and we've suffered a year and a half without the proper foundation on our house.
On the dark side:
Jermaine Oneal cannot be our only star. Not even Shaq, Garnett or Duncan can pull that off, let alone JO. We need a major complimentary star, and we need one badly. It disappointed me to read today that Donnie does not want to do a mega-trade that includes 3-4 Pacers. That told me that he isn't going to bring in a talent the likes of which we need.
On the bright side:
I still think this is a 50 win team. The majority of NBA fans out there are fans of teams that will not reach that mark. For that reason, we are very lucky.
What I would do:
I would trade for a mid-carreer star, preferably a 2-guard, but I'll take a point guard also. Pick one, but it has to be a name. I would pay any price but Granger, Harrison, JO and Sarunas. I would also trade for a very high draft pick. That's right - two major trades.
Those four men listed above should be starting (or at least they should be getting HEAVY minutes) along with our new star shooting guard. Croshere coming off the bench with 20-24 minutes at PF is not a bad idea. I think that this can all happen without dropping below 45 games won. Those guys could clobber the weaker teams and steal wins from upper-level teams.
Then, over the summer, I would trade Jermaine O'Neal while he's still young, healthy and desirable and really start over. He's one more shoulder dislocation from becoming the next Alan Houston with that contract, and I fear our future with him more than I fear our future without him.