Monday, February 16, 2009

Who's Afraid To Pull Off A Blockbuster Trade? (Suns-Bulls-Raps Proposal)

With the trade deadline fast approaching, and a number of teams at a crossroads, I’m looking forward to seeing a blockbuster deal that can alter a franchise’s course completely. Of course, you’re always looking for a win-win deal (unless you’re Memphis GM Chris Wallace – man, that Pau Gasol trade is one-sided). But since you probably can’t trust NBA GMs to have the guts to pull them blockbusters off, I’m just proposing my own (and hoping Steve Kerr, John Paxson and Bryan Colangelo are reading this right now).

*note: salaries match on ESPN’s trade machine, but I couldn’t find a way to incorporate the Bulls’ 5-million plus trade exception or draft picks into the system. The deal I made works fine without the exception, but I’m throwing in a draft pick for good measure.

Suns get: Tyrus Thomas, Drew Gooden, Joakim Noah

Suns lose: Amar’e Stoudemire

Why I do this deal: Amar’e is a star, but he hasn’t fit in well with Shaq this season. He’s disrupted team chemistry, said all the wrong things, and hasn’t been producing. Plus, there’s that fact that the Suns risk losing him for nothing in 2010. Phoenix gets two young prospects that fit in with the team in the long term. Tyrus Thomas plays a bit like Amar’e on the offensive end though with considerably less efficiency. He does have plenty of upside though, because of his age. He also displays a willingness to play defense never seen in Amar’e. This makes him a valuable player and potential franchise cornerstone. Of course, these are all based on his performance for the past few games, an admittedly small sample size. Still, he seems to have ‘turned the corner’ of late and Suns management has expressed much interest in him, as well as a strong desire to move Stoudemire. Joakim Noah is a solid big man who can play big backup minutes so as not to strain Shaq. Noah also has that upside and can potentially replace Shaq when he retires. He’s a much better option than Robin Lopez, though his hair is just as goofy. The Suns also get another solid big in Drew Gooden, but he’s more valuable for the 7.1 million cap relief he offers next season. You know Suns owner Robert Sarver likes him some cap relief.

Bulls get: Chris Bosh, Jason Kapono, Marcus Banks

Bulls lose: Tyrus Thomas, Drew Gooden, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Thabo Sefolosha, Chicago 1st round pick

Why I do this deal: The Bulls are not a championship team, and won’t be with this lineup. As the Celtics have proven, championship teams need superstars on the roster. Right now, the Bulls have one potential superstar in Derrick Rose. It’s hard to see anything of value past him. Bulls management have been hesitant on the Amar’e trade because of the doubts on Stoudemire’s ability on the defensive end but it’s hard to pin any kind of criticism on Chris Bosh. Bosh is almost certainly the best player involved in the deal. I would willingly trade anyone on the roster, and even gut it if necessary (which is essentially what I’m doing), to acquire a player of that caliber to pair with Rose. Role players are easy to get, superstars are not. If you get a chance to trade for one, you do it. Rose and Bosh will be left with a lousy crew of teammates, but with both of them wearing the same uniform, they’ll both be closer to winning a championship than they ever had in their careers. If they are somehow able to clear enough cap space (don’t resign Ben Gordon in 2009, allow Larry Hughes to expire in 2010, or find a way to trade the long term commitments to Kirk Hinrich, Andres Nocioni or both), they might also have enough star power to attract another superstar in the summer of 2010. Possibly, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, a Chicago native and good friend of Bosh’s.

Raptors get: Amar’e Stoudemire, Luol Deng, Thabo Sefolosha, Chicago 2009 1st Round Pick

Raptors lose: Chris Bosh, Jason Kapono, Marcus Banks

Why I do this deal: It will hurt to lose Chris Bosh, but I would have to seriously consider the risk of losing Bosh in 2010. The team stinks right now, and that increases the chances of losing Bosh. In fact, rumors say that Bosh has already informed Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo that he will refuse to resign with the Raps. With this deal, I get a superstar in return. And though Stoudemire’s contract expires in the same summer, chances are better that he’d resign with the Raptors. For one thing, the addition of Luol Deng and Chicago’s possibly high 2009 draft pick (as well as their own 2009 draft pick) to the team that already has Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Shawn Marion makes this a more talented team than the one Bosh will be leaving behind. Thabo Sefolosha can potentially fit in as well, but it depends how well the Swiss prospect develops. With the Eastern Conference being as bad as it is in the lower playoff seed race, though, I see this team as a playoff contender. Amar’e also has good relations with Colangelo, who drafted him as an executive at Phoenix in 2001. This could also potentially increase the chances of the Raptors landing Canada native Steve Nash in 2010. The SSOL-era Suns have all done considerably worse since their breakup and a redux in Toronto with some decent players them and in the Eastern Conference could give them a shot at redemption. All that would be missing is New York coach Mike D’Antoni. While this team is not a lock as a deep playoff team, this could gain the Raptors a level of popularity unprecedented in the only non-US team in the NBA. Not a bad deal for a bad team in very real danger of losing their franchise cornerstone.

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