All of these scenarios are…
- Based on the Wolves lottery pick being #5 or #6, which is mostly likely to happen
- Compliant under the NBA salary cap
Main Factor: Two years ago Oden is untradeable and Portland is the luckiest team in the league for winning that lottery. However, since then it’s been all down hill for him. A season ending injury before his rookie season even began and an eventual underwhelming rookie campaign that saw him battle numerous nagging injuries and other rookie centers, Brook Lopez and Marc Gasol, outwork and outclass him.
Why Minnesota does it: They land a young talent with star-potential in Oden, who also happens to be a direct need as a shot blocking rebounder. They also pick up a young point guard in either Bayless or Rodriguez, with not quite the upside of Oden but upside nonetheless, and the potential to contribute immediately. From an injury stand point it’s somewhat of a risk for Minnesota but it could also be a homerun. The fans are thirsty for a homerun.
Why Portland does it: It’s rumored that many within the organization already regret the Oden pick and are having visions of Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan all over again. Through injuries and uninspired play, Oden has destroyed much of his allure. Plus, he doesn’t fit their style of play. Joel Pryzbilla has been a much more effective center for them. Portland is also mired in salary cap hell (thank you, Darius Miles). Cardinal and Brown are both expiring contracts, which is what they covet. Bayless doesn’t play and Rodriguez gets minimal minutes. They get paid too much money to do nothing, they’re expendable. Lastly, Portland loves to acquire picks and could use the #5/6 pick on a post presence like Jordan Hill from Arizona.
Main Factor: Washington is absolutely up against the cap. There’s even talk of them not using their high lottery pick because they don’t want to pay the money. Anyone who doesn’t think expiring contracts are worth ten times their weight right now wasn’t paying attention to any trades that went down over the past two years in the NBA. Pau Gasol was given away for a pack of Chiklets and cash. Tyson Chandler was handed over for a bag of balls and some cash. Joe Smith, Stephon Marbury, Mikki Moore and Drew Gooden were all paid money mid-season to go away. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it is what it is.
Why Minnesota does it: Pretty much a no brainer from a talent stand point. Butler is an underrated player and perpetually on the verge of stardom. He can do everything Miller can but with twice the athleticism and he’s a better overall scorer. At 29 years of age, he’s the same age as Miller and should at least have three years of peak productivity left. Smith is a nice player but with Jefferson, Love and Oden on roster he just doesn’t have a place here. They’d have to eat Songalia’s contract but they have the flexibility to do so. What was the point of clearing cap if they weren’t willing to eventually add it?
Why Washington does it: Money. If they draft in the top 3, which is where they are slated, they should pick up an immediate contributor but also a semi-hefty contract. Miller gives them a talent inferior to Butler but theoretically someone who could at least contribute the same approximate scoring value. Craig Smith would give them an offensive post presence, which they lack, and even better, another expiring contract.
Main Factor: This scenario is dependant on Chicago wanting to dump Hinrich’s salary, which I believe is likely the case. The word out of Chicago is that the reason a Bulls/Wolves Hinrich trade didn’t happen before the deadline this year was because Minnesota was unwilling to include all expiring deals for him. Maybe that changes now. Make no bones, Hinrich is a good player but he is overpaid. This is the deal, above all, I would be most hesitant to do. But if the Wolves aren't sold on Foye as a starter then why not turn him into one?
Why Minnesota does it: They get a franchise point guard. Hinrich isn’t on the Chris Paul/Deron Williams/Derrick Rose level but he’s a good distributor, shooter and defender and still relatively young at age 28. A lot of people would be opposed to giving up Foye, who at this point admittedly has more upside than Hinrich, but that’s the gamble. This team needs a point guard. Foye hasn’t proven he can be that.
Why Chicago does it: They pick up expiring contracts in Foye, Madsen and Brown and a relatively small two year contract in Telfair. My guess is they’ll pay Ben Gordon, in which case Hinrich will have to go. Foye makes a lot less moneyand would be a pretty nice consolation prize, with the potential to be much more some day.
#4. Minnesota trades their #18 pick and one or both of their second round picks to any of the teams drafting #9 - #14 in order to move up and draft Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan or Stephen Curry.
Main Factor: It comes down to money again. Several GMs are on record as saying they will look to move out of the lottery or out of the draft entirely. They simply don’t want to pay for such a pick in what’s viewed as a weak draft class, especially lottery teams with vet rosters such as Washington, Toronto, Golden State and Charlotte.
Why Minnesota does it: They need guard help and it’s unlikely that any of the top shooting guards will make it to #18. Most reputable mock drafts have any combo of Evans, DeRozan and Curry (I rank them in that order) going sometime between picks #6-14. Evans is a slashing-scorer type with well above average passing skills and great size at 6’6” but is held out of the top 5 due to an underdeveloped jump shot and raw overall game. DeRozan’s athletic ability draws comparisons to Vince Carter in this prime but he’s most definitely a project. Curry is not and will not be an NBA starter but his shot is the truth and will be a factor in the NBA, if used properly. There are solid point guards like Ty Lawson, Jonny Flynn and Eric Maynor but they can wait for pick #18 if that’s who they are interested in.
Why other teams would do it: Mostly for the reasons listed under Main Factor. Second round picks and their non-guaranteed status are desirable in this economic state and if it only means moving down to #18 a team could be compelled.
#5. Draft BJ Mullens with the 28 pick overall
Main Factor: Mullens is a 7 foot center with big time upside but also very much a long-term project. Based on upside he may end up going long before this pick but as of now he is projected to go around this point. If he’s not available, use this pick for either the best available player or to help facilitate any of the above trades.
#6. Re-sign Rodney Carney
Main Factor: He’s a solid young player with world class athleticism and a developing three point shot. That being said, I would only re-sign him for a very modest fee. The contract would have to be low in both money and years.
2009-2010 Final Roster
PG - Kirk Hinrich - Sergio Rodriguez/Jerryd Bayless
SG - Tyreke Evans - Corey Brewer - Rodney Carney
SF - Caron Butler - Ryan Gomes
PF- Al Jefferson - Kevin Love
C - Greg Oden - BJ Mullens - Nikola Pekovic
Overall, I think that’s a pretty formidable squad with plenty of room left to grow. I’d also be open to involving Gomes in any potential deal, but for the sake of these scenarios I opted for guys with expiring deals instead. I think this team would be versatile. They’d be able to pound the paint with Jefferson, Love and Oden. They’d also be able to push the tempo with Butler, Brewer, Evans and Carney. Jump shooting could be a problem, but Hinrich, Butler, Gomes, Love and Carney are all above average.
Of course, all of this goes out the window if the Wolves get lucky and land a top 2 pick in the draft, but if not I say pull the trigger, future Wolves GM. Pull the trigger.