As I explained in the first thread in this series, the Pacers have an approximately 2,000,000 trade exception to be used in a trade with another team for an existing contract (a non free agent player). I have searched to try and find out the EXACT amount of this trade exception, but have failed to find an exact number...the amount of 2,000,000 comes from reporting of last year's Jermaine O'Neal trade with Toronto, and from a recent Mike Wells blog mentioning it.
What this means is this: We can trade an asset with no current monetary value (i.e. a future conditional draft pick, probably a second rounder) to a team which simply wants to pare payroll, thin their roster, or to simply get rid of a player they are having issues with. With our trade exception, we can take back a contract of that amount. Since I don't know the exact number on this trade exception we have, in the examples listed below I've fudged it just a little to include some players who are paid just a smidgen above that amount. Whether it would work or not for those exact players would depend on the specific amount of the money we have to work with.
The point of this series was to get us all in the mode of thinking outside the box a bit on who we could acquire, and hopefully identify a "diamond in the rough" out there who might actually be obtainable in this way.
In my research for this I've identified a few interesting names that I like and want to discuss. First, I am going to list my preliminary names that qualify and that would be at least worth discussing:
JR Giddens and Bill Walker (Boston), Josh Boone (New Jersey), Wilson Chandler (NY), Patrick O'Bryant (Toronto), JJ Hickson (Cleveland), Aaron Afflalo (Detroit), Daequan Cook (Miami), Anthony Johnson (Orlando), Dominic McGuire (Washington), Devean George (Dallas), Brent Barry (Houston), Julian Wright and Devin Brown (New Orleans), Renaldo Balkman and Sonny Weems (Denver), Kyle Weaver (OKC), Mardy Collins (LAC), Mikki Moore (Sacramento), Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum (Portland)
Ok, now obviously some of these teams have little motivation to make a deal like this. On top of that, some of these guys are held in such high regard by their current teams that just giving them away to save money isn't going to happen. And obviously there are some older players or players with issues on this list that would make us queasy about inquiring about them to start with.
But, even after you eliminate the unrealistic or undesirable from your list of prospects, there are a couple on this list that I think would be very nice future pieces for us, and would be obtainable for various reasons from their current squads.
One of the main reasons that some of these guys may be available for bid from their current teams would be that some of these teams will either be JUST OVER the projected luxury tax, or needing to clear room to sweeten offers to prospective unrestricted free agents they covet. We covered some of this area in the first thread on this topic I know, but if a team (such as Toronto or Portland for instance) would deal an existing salary off their books, that would enable them to slightly sweeten an offer on the first year salary of Hedo Terkoglu or some other free agent out there.
With all of that in mind, let's take a look at a few interesting possibilities, and I will have a recommendation on which player I'd go after this way.
1. Trade a future second round pick to New Jersey for Josh Boone.
Boone is a young big who is blocked in New Jersey a little bit by Yi Jianlian. Boone isn't a great player, but he can rebound and defend a little bit, and he isn't a stiff. He also would give us probably our only real legitimate shotblocker, and would be a young decent big to have for a year. Boone is still on his rookie deal I think, and is unlikely to stay in New Jersey for another season.
The Nets aren't in superbad financial shape, but if there is indeed a player they would rather sign as a free agent for this upcoming season, they could partially pay for that by in effect selling Boone to us.
2. Trade a future second round pick to Toronto for Patrick O'Bryant
I actually think some team in the league will make this trade before July 8, as Toronto scrambles to put their finishing touches on the structure of Hedo Terkoglu's offer without having to renounce the rights to Carlos Delfino, who they seem to like. Clearing the young but relatively useless O'Bryant off their books might be a way they would consider saving some cash.
O'Bryant is a true center who hasn't really lived up to his high draft status. (He was a top 10 pick once upon a time by Golden State). He still is just 23 years old, and may at some point finally develop into the player some scouts thought he would be coming out of college. He basically has done nothing so far as a pro except collect a check, but this could be a low risk, high reward move. If he doesnt pan out, I belive he is still on his rookie deal, and can be let go after this season.
3. Trade a future second round pick to Cleveland for JJ Hickson
Hickson is blocked in Cleveland, and basically will have no chance to play as they gear up with veterans for another championship run. Being that the Cavs are going to be over the luxury tax, this move could save them Hickson's salary multipled by 2, which could net them a savings potentially of almost 3,000,000 dollars.
Would Cleveland actually do this? I doubt it (I certainly wouldn't if I were them....I think Hickson has a chance to be good someday) but with the tax looming over them, and with Hickson having no chance to play significant minutes there it seems, it is definitely worth inquiring about.
4. Trade a conditional second round pick to Houston for Brent Barry
Houston looks like they are going to be over the luxury tax after they sign Trevor Ariza. With Ming and McGrady being injured and crippling their short term championship aspirations, I see no reason why they would want to play the dollar for dollar luxury tax.
Barry is old obviously, and doesnt fit our future, but for now he might be a cheap band aid on our wing positions as a bridge to Dunleavy's return from injury.
Would I trade for Barry personally? No.
Should it at least be considered? Probably, just as a veteran role player guy. Barry's skills at least somewhat fit our system, if he has anything left in the tank at all.
5. Trade a future second round pick to Denver for Renaldo Balkman
Balkman is an athletic wing who can be a very good defender when given an opportunity. He plays with high energy and has a very good motor. He is an extremely active rebounder, and in fact Isiah Thomas considered him to be the next Dennis Rodman when he drafted him for the Knicks a few years ago.
Now, it turned out of course that he isn't anywhere near as good as Rodman, but he also doesnt dye his hair green and wear women's clothing either, so that may still be ok.
What he would bring would be a guy with some above average leaping ability and athleticism to our team, and also someone who doesn't need the ball to be effective. In fact, he is such a bad offensive player that you don't want him to get the ball in almost any circumstances.
Still, he would fit a defensive need for us, and wouldnt be a bad fit. He is a low risk player, who is young and always could end up being a late bloomer....although I doubt it.
With Denver needing to try and resign Kleiza, Anderson, and Dahntay Jones, saving a couple million on a player who never plays for them anyway might make some sense to them. I'd say Balkman could definitely be had by someone.
There were many players on the above full list that I would love to get, but don't consider realistic from their current teams perspective. For instance, I'd love to have Rudy Fernandez or Nicolas Batum from Portland, but neither of them are going anywhere in a give away type of deal (no matter how much Fernandez may be complaining). Likewise, I'd for Donnie Walsh just to hand us Wilson Chandler for a song, cap space, and old time's sake, but I don't see that happening. I could see Walsh throwing in Chandler as a sweetener to get a team to take Jeffries off their hands however....but that isn't going to be us probably, and that isn't the point of this thread anyway.
The point of this particular thread was to try and identify a player we could realistic obtain, and that would help us the most, by using our 2,000,000 trade exception. I have identified who that player would/should/could be, at least if I were in a decision making capacity, so here is the deal I want us to make and why:
Pacers trade a conditional future second round pick to Detroit for Aaron Afflalo.
The reasons why Afflalo should be obtainable realistically are obvious. He is blocked by superior players signed to long term contracts. He is a wing on a team with Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, and Teyshaun Prince all signed long term.
With the Pistons wanting to save all the cap room they can get prior to officially inking Villanueva and Gordon, even the paltry 1,000,000 bucks and change Afflalo costs them could be a factor in how they structure the 2 veteran free agents deals. Granted, the Pistons are in good financial shape and don't need to dump a cheap player for money reasons, but they might like the additional tweaking dumping Afflalo gives them at this exact moment in time. They also of course might like the idea of spending that extra 1,000,000 bucks or so in some other way, perhaps to obtain a cheap big somewhere.
For the Pacers, Afflalo would be a steal in my opinion. In college at UCLA, when he came out of college I felt he was by far the best defensive wing player in his draft class. He is a high character guy who has major defensive wing ability, both in contesting shots and containing the dribble. I think he walks right in and becomes our best wing defender (at least on smaller wings who can't just overwhelm him with size). Afflalo is 6'5, so he can't be a guy who can guard giant wings, but he can be a great defender on shooting guards like Ray Allen or Joe Johnson. In fact, I thought in college Afflalo was one of the best defenders of avoiding or running thru screens that I have seen in a long time.
With Indiana looking to possibly sign free agent Dahntay Jones, it would make much more sense in my opinion to purchase Afflalo instead, who would be 2-3 times cheaper, slightly younger, and in my opinion just all around a better player. Afflalo hasn't had real consistent playing time in Detroit, and he won't be getting it anytime soon it appears, but I still think highly of him and think he could be an excellent long term NBA wing.
I also think his shooting form has improved somewhat as an NBA player. I have very little film of him playing for the Pistons (all I have is when they play us) but his form looks good to me now, where it was a bit shaky back at UCLA I thought. Afflalo isnt a great ballhandler, and isnt going to be a driver/scorer/creator of offense for you I don't think, but he doesn look like a guy who can develop a spot up jump shot that can be very effective on kick outs or in transition. Afflalo is a good foul shooter as well, so he can play for you at the end of games if you need him to.
I think Afflalo can develop into a "Bruce Bowen" level player if he hits his marks and reaches his potential. I think we need a guy like that both short term and long term, so I badly want to see us obtain him this summer to see if I am right. Because of how things are shaking down, I think we've got a chance to do just that.
The first part of this series got a lot of good discussion (despite going off track a little bit in the middle) so I hope this one does as well.
I particular want to hear some opinions from KStat and others about Afflalo, to see if my impressions are valid or whether I am vastly overrating him, and on the Detroit perspective on what I am proposing here.
Any of you who remember Afflalo well from UCLA can chime in as well.
Finally, I hope to hear some of your ideas from the partial list of players I listed above, and who you might prefer we acquire in this way.
As always, the above is just my opinion.