By Kevin Sawyer:
The NBA: Where an offseason that’s as interesting as the regular season happens. While I remain unconvinced of the need to make roster changes before the season begins, here are some moves that would justify such hasty behavior.
Trade Tayshaun Prince for Josh Howard
Could it happen? Howard is the better player by any objective assessment, but Cuban has to be looking to make a change. After Howard’s dismal playoff performance this year, Cuban may well be looking to move him, especially if he can get an outstanding defensive player in return
Pros: Howard would be a dramatic improvement on the offensive end, and is a solid defender as well. He would instantly become a go-to scorer, and should help the Pistons convert in transition. He is versatile enough to play the 3 and the 4, which will be valuable if the Pistons utilize the three-guard lineup this year.
Cons: Like Chauncey and Stuckey, Howard is at his best when he is taking it to the basket. Also, while Prince may have the highest trade value of any of the core, he also has the most respect from the fans. What does it say about the Pistons brand when we respond to playoff defeat by sending away the consummate team player who thrives on the defensive end?
Sign Andris Biedrins for the MLE
Could it happen? Biedrins has to want out. With as few as 2-3 teams expressing any willingness to use cap room on a free agent, I suspect either Biedrins or Atlanta’s Josh Childress will have to settle for the MLE.
Pros: In only 27 minutes per game, Biedrins nearly averaged a double-double, and played like an all-star over the last several games last season. Add to that a scrappy offensive game that would be a nice compliment to our rotation. At 22, he has steadily improved each season, and he would figure to factor into our long term future as well.
Cons: Take his numbers with a grain of salt. Not only did Biedrins play for the fastest team in the NBA (meaning more rebounding opps.), he also played for one of the smallest. If he does settle for the MLE, he won’t do so immediately, meaning any team will have to wait until the fall only to be among half a dozen contenders for his services.
Sign Trevor Ariza
Could it happen? Ariza is probably the best player in the NBA who doesn’t actually play. He has a player option on his contract, and might decide to head for greener pastures (financially and professionally) while he is still young enough to have "upside". A forward-thinking team might offer the full MLE and a starting gig, and the Lakers have plenty of money if they can recognize the talent, but the Pistons should take a look.
Pros: Ariza is a solid defender, and a great rebounder. He’d be a great fit with a more uptempo second unit. Given his size, he should be able to find minutes at the three or the four, if the Pistons decide to play small, which they will have to if they keep their trio of guards. After a series of stopgaps, Ariza would be a permanent solution with starter potential down the road.
Cons: At 22, Ariza’s game is still raw, partly because teams have inexplicably denied him playing time. Speaking of playing time, we don’t exactly have that to spread around at present. Also, the upgrade from Hayes to Ariza is no sure thing to put us over the top. One also has to wonder whether his injuries will affect his game in the long term.
Trade Sheed for Shawn Marion
Could it happen? This might be a long shot. Marion has a few more days to decide whether to opt out of his existing contract. Marion could get a Chauncey Billups type of contract right now, and jeopardizes his long term stability if he doesn't take the money. If he opts out, a sign and trade for Rasheed allows Miami to maintain the flexibility of owning an expiring contract while remaining competitive.
Pros: Marion is one of the best rebounders in basketball, and can score without having to be the focal point of the offense. Additionally, he is three years younger than Sheed, which expands the championship window significantly.
Cons: While the evidence is rather slight, Marion has earned a reputation as a locker room problem. He also has a lot of wear on his tires after a decade as an 80 game guy. Miami would want goodies on top, and Marion will want a four year contract. Draft picks are expendable, and Marion’s worth $10M, but what is the squeal point here?
Sign J.R. Smith
Could it happen? You’d have to think so. "Nuggets Match offer for Smith" wins my vote for least likely headline ever.
Pros: Reputation aside, J.R. Smith is an outstanding shooter, nailing 40% of his three-pointers while shooting them (extremely) prolifically. Smith is only 22, and can be a star shooting guard if he keeps his head together, which he began to do last year. As such, he fits well with the now and later make-up of this squad.
Cons: Well, he’s J.R. Smith. There is also a fair question of whether we need another shooting guard. I think we do, and there is no question that we need another three-point threat. At 6-6, you’d have to think Smith could handle a second-string small forward in some matchups.