Saturday, August 24, 2013

Let's Make A Deal!

This is the first in a two part series of my NBA General Manager dreams & aspirations. Since I was a little boy watching & playing basketball I've always fantasized about being a GM & did the, "they should trade so & so there for him & him & that.." you know the average thoughts of a young NBA fan. With all the trades & free agent signings as teams rebuild in anticipation of next season, it inspired to come up with some interesting trades that could benefit all teams involved.

There are various reasons why the deals haven't been made or probably even broached for that matter. Now I'm not basing any of this on rumor or innuendo, it's just my opinion on how some teams can alter their positions in various ways if they have the guts to do it.

Let me get right into my two biggest deals since they involve the same player; LaMarcus Aldridge. There's been stories floating around that he wants out of Portland. They've been refuted by teammate Nicolas Batum & GM Neil Olshey recently but if I'm Olshey, I'd pick up the phone & make 2 calls. The first one is to the Los Angeles Clippers to start a conversation based around Aldridge for Blake Griffin. Keep in mind, Olshey was the Clippers Assistant GM when they drafted Griffin so he knows the organization well even after Doc Rivers has come aboard.

Before you shake your head wondering why in the world the Clippers would ever consider trading Griffin, you have to keep in mind, while he is an absolute freak of nature on the court, he lacks 2 major pieces to his game: a face up jumper & a low post move. If you read enough of my articles you know I'm a firm believer that the low post is synonymous to winning titles. Aldridge however is easily one of the best low post players in the game. While you won't get all the highlight Lob City plays out of him, you will get an effective & efficient scorer who would fit perfectly with the Clippers star, point guard Chris Paul & all their outside shooters.

Listening to Paul lately, it sure sounds like he is aware that Griffin needs to expand his game & fast. In a recent interview, Paul was quoted as saying that, "the franchise will go as far as he (Griffin) takes us". He also spoke publicly last year about a closed door meeting between the two of them in order to get on the same page. That sure sounds to me like Paul is putting Griffin on notice about expanding his game. Griffin in fairness has manned up to Paul's comments & agreed he needs to take the next step in his evolution. Bare in mind also, based on all of the moves they've made so far this off-season, it is pretty clear that Clippers management has been listening to Paul. Getting one of the top low post players in the game in Aldridge would fit the style of play it seems Paul's been hinting at.

The Trailblazers on the other hand have a great PG as well in Damion Lillard & Griffin would be able to do pretty much the same thing he's done to this point in LA. They could utilized all their speed & athleticism with those two & promising rookie CJ McCollum. Griffin obviously would be a big draw for the club & would generate huge revenue as well. He'd instantly become the Blazers most dynamic player since Clyde "The Glide" Drexler.

The next phone call I'd make if I'm Neil Olshey is to the Sacramento Kings. I would have to at least inquire about DeMarcus Cousins. I'm not a fan of bringing young head cases into an environment with a young roster but Damion Lillard seems to have such a good head on his shoulders that I'd have to think long & hard about the prospect of teaming them up. Cousins hasn't played with a top flight PG since his Kentucky days with John Wall. Along with CJ McCollum, the Blazers would have the makings of a solid young core. Cousins has to mature a great deal & his behavior on & off the court is why his trade value is probably less than his talent level. Coupled with the Kings new ownership situation, they may want to move Cousins now while they can get something for him since he's entering the last year of his rookie contract.

The Kings would have to add some money to fit it into the salary cap, so you might need a third team to get involved to make it work. If you're Sacramento though, you could rid yourself of a talented but troublesome player in Cousins for a model citizen in Aldridge. Even if they're reluctant to take on the remaining money on Aldridge's contract, it only has two years remaining. You could keep him long enough for his leadership to rub off on a young locker room & still be able to move him going into the final year of his deal. Aldridge may not be happy about a deal to Sacramento since according to Batum who in a tweet dismissed the idea stating that Aldridge just "wants the team to get better".

Maybe Batum & Olshey are right & there is no truth to those rumors but the problem with Portland is, when you look at how stacked the west is the absolute best case scenario realistically is that they're a 6th seed going into the playoffs. They'd still  most likely be a 1st round exit next year & are probably at least a couple of years away from being a top 3 team in their conference. If Aldridge is the piece that can bring back Griffin, then you do the deal. Griffin would definitely speed up the rebuilding process. While it can be argued that he is a better player than Aldridge, it isn't always just about who has the most talent. It's also about how well your talent fits together & Aldridge's skill set is a perfect fit in LA.

Stay tuned, in the next few days I'll be releasing part II of the series Let's Make A Deal. I promise you there will be a deal that will surprise you...