By REED NELSON
Because I’m bored at work, and because ESPN.com has so graciously provided those of us bored at work with the greatest thing since sliced bread1, the NBA Trade Machine, I feel it is my duty to provide the world with some of my greatest and most harebrained trade ideas the Machine will allow.
And by writing it down, it no longer is a waste of time. Instead, it becomes “research.”
Normally I find the overall speculation about the league to be a bit much; it never ends, it’s almost always wrong, it seems to dissolve more relationships than Amber Heard and the guys that are usually talking about it seem to know as much hard information as the afternoon FedEx guy. (Not to say I am more qualified, but I’m not the one who has been driving the Dwight Howard to the Nets rumors home over the course of 26 months, two franchises and a Van Gundy corpse.).
But the trade deadlines get me giddy. In all sports, in all walks of life, deadlines excite me. When I was a 12-year-old sports card collector1, my friends and I could negotiate for hours. We’d go back and forth all day, stonewalling each other like adolescent Corleone’s. Come dinner time, however, we were wheeling and dealing at a rate that would make Willy Loman uncomfortable. I lost some of my best cards that way, but picked up some of the best one’s as well — I’ll spare the details.
The point is, I love a deadline and I love to trade. Especially when the trade at hand is absolutely ridiculous. So here, for the next few days, I will be forging a financially-conceivable trade, justifying it with whatever logic I can possibly muster and presenting it all here. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from NBC’s Revolution, it’s get to the action. And fast.
(Note: Just because I love the trade deadline, and the deadline is fast approaching, these deals don’t have to all be imminent. This one, for instance, is meant for next offseason/next season. I just am taking advantage of the machine. I will note if this is the case. NOTED.)
Today’s Trade: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade get shipped to Cali!
Miami’s principles: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade
Golden State’s principles: David Lee and Stephen Curry
Golden State throwaway Guys: Richard Jefferson and Andre Biedrins
Denver’s Principles: Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala
Denver’s throwaway: Evan Fournier
Why this, like, totally works: Because LeBron is going to leave Miami in less than 18 months. By July 2014, we’ll all be lining up for The Decision, Pt. II, and it isn’t like Miami has the cap flexibility to make Dwayne Wade’s breaking body not matter. By next summer, Wade could be three steps slower, three inches further from the rim and just as ornery, while making the same $17 million salary (which is a hypothetical that I will be leaning on heavily to justify the PER/estimated wins gaps).
LeBron needs a big market or Cleveland. Cleveland is a likely destination via Free Agency (they’ve made the cap space available for that whole Messiah-scenario and LeBron would love to be loved at home again), but they have no pieces with which to acquire him in the near near future and we’re playing the trade game, dammit. So let’s assume Miami wants something besides a ring or two from LeBron’s tenure. Let’s assume they actually are willing to sacrifice a season of winning in order to kickstart the rebuilding process (which they won’t be, but bear with me for a moment).
To start, they’d need to consider where LeBron would play, because it’s unlikely that Mr. Billion Dollar Aspirations would re-sign in a place like Minnesota. If he wouldn’t re-sign somewhere, it makes selling the farm to acquire him quite reckless. Given those parameters, there are only six teams and four cities that could host The King for an extended period of time: The Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors.
They all have above average market sizes with broad-reaching exposure potential. They all have significant financial industry tied to the city, and they all have a solid core of talent. But Chicago hates luxury tax and seems invested in Derek Rose. Ditto for the Knicks with Carmelo Anthony. Brooklyn would make any move and pay any tax if possible, but they don’t have the contracts or the talent required to bring in James.
The Clippers have the pieces to move, but if they lock up Chris Paul this offseason, they won’t have the cap flexibility to make the deal without sacrificing either Paul or Griffin in all likelihood. Same goes for the Lakers, minus the whole part about pieces to move. The only attractive piece that the Lakers have left (considering the Decline of Pau, in theaters this Summer) is an oddly ambivalent Dwight Howard.
That leaves the Warriors. Oh, the Warriors. For too long they have been ravaged by mismanagement, bad ownership and other unfailingly human maladies (drug use, coach choking, etc.). Now it is their time! And it works so well.
A two team deal would have been interesting — weighty, but interesting. And possible. In my hypothetical, Wade has to go along with James. To absorb nearly $40 million a year in salary overnight would be overbearing to say the least. And while Golden State would make out like a bandit, Miami would be left with Steph Curry, a future pick, a grief-stricken Eric Spoelstra and a homicidal Pat Riley.
But if you just add a third team, like, say, Denver, then things get really interesting. Denver brings youth, athleticism and a 24-pack of Pepsi Next to the table. By swinging Andre Iguodala ($15 million per) to Miami along with Danilo Gallinari ($9.4 million), the Heat can revamp their backcourt overnight without really blowing up their front court.
Golden State ends up with LeBron and youngster toss-in Evan Fournier, and the Denver Nuggets add some veteran experience by getting David Lee and a slightly-less-athletic Dwayne Wade (but his lack of athleticism is offset by Wilson Chandler’s ungodly surplus of it).
So, on paper this one works but I wouldn’t advise any breath-holding. Like the weather man, I’m never right, but I always make sense.
- Sliced bread was invented in 1928, and when it was released it was marketed as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.” That statement is false. No one before 1928 said, “Boy, this is the greatest thing since bread was wrapped.” So before 1928, the Greatest Thing Benchmark was the invention of the automobile, as in, “This is the coolest thing since the car!” But before that, it was undoubtedly something racist. Jump
- A calculated move, mind you. I avoided the geek stigma of the Magic players while also avoiding whatever stigma you would call the one’s attached to the kids who still played with Pokemon cards. That stigma was somewhere between ‘grown man in diapers’ and ‘still can’t ride a bike.’ But I was a collector of things, and I loved sports, thus the cards. Jump