Last week I covered some borderline outlandish Pacers trade scenarios. In this installment of my three-part series, I’ll cover some options that, while far-fetched, are somewhat realistic. Again, the Pacers’ needs are as follows:
* A scoring wing who can “get his own shot” (this sounds overused among Pacers fans, but it is a glaring need)
* A point guard upgrade
* Post depth
Shawn Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois
Strengths: Hustle/glue guy, relentless rebounder, top-notch defender who can guard at least three positions. Solid three point shooter. Decent athlete who has not experienced a terrible age drop off yet. Great leader and competitor. Pretty durable throughout his career.
Weaknesses: True ‘tweener. Exposed as a system product in Dallas and Toronto. Limited ball skills. Lack of fluidity on offense. May need an elite point guard to truly shine. No longer the transition threat he once was.
Strengths: Freakish athlete. Has a nose for the basket. Physical Rajon Rondo clone with a near 6’10 inch wingspan. Outstanding ball defender. Solid perimeter skills paired with otherworldly quickness makes him a nightmare matchup on smaller guards.
Weaknesses: Never developed a point guard skill set after years of backing up a Hall of Famer (Jason Kidd). Streaky shooter. Gets tunnel vision on offense. Has a flair for the dramatic, which often gets him into trouble. Questionable decision making with the ball in his hands. Cocky?
* Indiana addresses two needs with this trade, adding theoretical “post depth” (technically Marion’s a small forward, but can guard all but the biggest NBA fours) and a scoring option who could someday be a point guard upgrade. Neither player would be exactly what Indiana is looking for. Ideally, the point guard the Pacers acquire would be a pass first natural point, and the extra post player would be a center-capable 4/5 hybrid. But you take what you can get, and don’t think twice when adding talent (Marion) and potential (Beaubois) for two players who probably wouldn’t even have much of a rotational role if not for injuries.
* Dallas and Indiana are trade partners matched in heaven. The Mavs need to clear Marion’s contract off the books for next season, Indiana has an abundance of current cap space to absorb him. The Mavs have already made Beaubois publicly available, which probably means that they’re aiming for hometown Deron Williams. Once they renounce Lamar Odom (2012-13 team option), and let Jason Kidd and Jason Terry expire, they’ll have about $25 million in cap space for this summer, which would turn into about $30 million in space after this trade. That makes them players for Dwight Howard. And once Williams and Howard team up with Dirk, the free agents will flock to Dallas like it’s South Beach. This is exactly what Mark Cuban’s plan is, and clearing Marion is an outright necessity. Dallas would probably take a hit this year for the chance at Williams/Howard next year, assuming they think it’s a legit possibility. And operating on that assumption, a salary dump like this not only makes sense, but it’s pretty smart.
Chances of Actually Happening: 20%
If only…the Pacers weren’t scared of losing Roy Hibbert this summer (or dipping into luxury tax territory trying to overpay him in order to outbid everyone else) this trade could go down. Re-signing George Hill would become less of a priority too, and perhaps gain Indiana some leverage in contract talks with Hill, if Beaubois were on board. But the final two years and $18 million of Marion’s contract would probably scare Larry Bird off, as it would commit money one year longer than he’d probably want to (remember, Tyler Hansbrough and Darren Collison will need extensions in two years, if the Pacers plan on keeping them, and Marion’s money would interfere with that, as well). But cutting loose two spare parts for the chance at a smallball bench rotation made up of Marion/Beaubois/Hill/Hansbrough would be pretty tempting.
Strengths: An unselfish playmaker with excellent court vision. Looks to pass first. A natural 2-guard who adapted perfectly to the point guard role, but never lost his perimeter skills. Great size for a point guard. 30 years old, but still well within his prime.
Weaknesses: Has battled inconsistency throughout NBA career. Only an average defender. Quick, but not blazing-fast in the open court. Injury-prone.
* Indiana does this trade to upgrade Collison. While Collison is younger and faster than Calderon, that’s it. He’s his equal offensively, but is apparently only a fraction of the facilitator that the Spaniard is. In five seasons as at least a part-time starter, counting this one, Calderon has averaged at least 8 assists per game four times. His size and experience advantage over Collison alone may make him worth his gaudy contract as the Pacers try to make a push for a #4 seed. Pacers fans are well-aware of Collison’s shortcomings (no pun intended) as a defender, and while Calderon’s no Rajon Rondo, he can certainly avoid being bodied by much larger guards. Barbosa would be a half-year rental; he expires this summer. But assuming he can co-exist with Danny Granger he’d actually be a pretty perfect offensive compliment off of the Pacers’ bench. He’s a microwave-type scorer, which, as we’ve said numerous times before, Indiana desperately needs in order to be taken seriously in a long playoff series.
* For Toronto they’re losing major value in this trade, as it is the definitive salary dump. But there’s plenty of logic behind the deal. Wilson Chandler is currently interested in Toronto, but the Raptors have only $4-ish million to offer him, a number Denver can easily match (and since Chandler’s a restricted free agent, the Nuggets can match anything without regard to the salary cap). The only way Toronto can free up enough money to make Chandler an offer too big for Denver is to dump salary on a team with cap space. This mutual interest between Chandler and the Raptors coincided perfectly with the Raptors’ Thursday proclamation that they would be interested in shopping Calderon, the team’s least cap-friendly contract (he’s signed for the next two years at nearly $10 million per season). Conveniently, Toronto is playing it like they’re getting calls about Calderon, trying to drum up interest and create this false sense of urgency for other teams. Enter Indiana. This trade would save Toronto $13 million immediately, and around $7 million next season. It turns their $4 million in cap space into close to $17 million, which is more than enough to overpay for Chandler. If Toronto really wants to build around a young core of Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, James Johnson, a high draft pick this year and Chandler, well, this is the only way to do it. And when you list all of their young talent like that, the idea doesn’t sound too bad.
Chances of Actually Happening: 30%
If only…The Pacers and Raptors had more time to consumate a deal. Toronto has less than a week to clear cap space for Chandler and scare off Denver before a new rule requires him to sign with the Nuggets for the remainder of the season. First of all, Toronto would need Chandler to commit to signing there before they actually cleared the space. Secondly, they’d need the Nuggets to stay out of their way while they were clearing the space. Finally they’d have to get Larry Bird to play ball prior to the last possible minute, something he had no interest in last trade deadline, as evidenced by the vaguely fumbled O.J. Mayo for Josh McRoberts deal that could have gone down. There are too many unknowns, and there simply isn’t enough time and motivation for these trickster GMs to agree to play nice with one another in the interest of mutual betterment.
Strengths: Athletic, young combo guard with a great handle and loads of confidence. Has developed an NBA-caliber jumper with legitimate range. An above average defender. Doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. Still has plenty of ceiling and star potential.
Weaknesses: Too often settles for jumpers. Has a history of low-efficiency, volume shooting. Can get selfish with the basketball, grinding his offense to a halt at times. Obviously hasn’t lived up to the hype. Lacks mental toughness. Some character questions.
* Indiana does this trade to both address a pressing need and acquire a player Larry Bird obviously has a crush on. Mayo is a restricted free agent, and any time he spends with Indiana will be an audition for another team, or a competition with George Hill to see which one is worth an extension this summer (or to see if Mayo is worth his $7+ million qualifier). Hill is probably a superior defender, and of course is a hometown hero. Mayo, on the other hand, still has some lingering hype, and in all likelihood has more potential than Hill. It would be an interesting mix to finish out the season, and the Pacers would probably welcome the competition, and the scoring punch off the bench Mayo would likely provide.
* Memphis would have no motivation to do this trade other than to save a little bit of money this season and get something for Mayo before they inevitably lose him. Given that the Grizzlies are currently sitting at the #7 seed in the West, they’re not likely to make a title run this year and commit a bunch of money to players like Mayo next off-season. As of today they have $42 million committed to just five players next season, so they’ll have to trim some fat somewhere to field a roster.
Chances of it Actually Happening: 33%
If only…Memphis were willing to give up on 2011-12. The Grizzlies had a taste of playoff success last year, and now are on the “verge” of going somewhere, as they’re still squarely in the Western Conference playoff race and will soon get Zach Randolph back. There’s no reason for the Grizzlies to give up yet, as they, and their fan base, would love to play playoff spoiler again. Last year’s playoff ticket sales, I assume, were motivation enough to keep the current squad intact for another “run.” Yes, these quotation marks are entirely sarcastic.
Lucas Klipsch is a born-again gun activist. After doing his taxes and seeing gas prices rise, he’s ready to shoot someone if they touch his stuff. Not literally. But maybe. Find out by following him @LukeNukem317 on Twitter.