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A minor trade in the works?

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As previously noted, the team sent Alex Acker and Walter Sharpe down to the D-League last Friday, and as DBB reader (and Pistonscast proprietor) John W. Davis pointed out, the D-League Showcase is taking place Jan. 5-8. What's the D-League Showcase? From the league's official site:

The 2009 NBA Development League Showcase tips off its 16-game schedule on Monday, Jan. 5 and runs through Thursday, Jan. 8. The fifth annual event will take place at the McKay Events Center, home of the Utah Flash, in Orem, Utah and will feature all 16 NBA D-League teams playing two games apiece under one roof. Fans can stay in step with their favorite NBA D-League team by logging onto www.nba.com/futurecast to watch every Showcase game on-line for free.

[...] The premier in-season basketball scouting event, the Showcase will welcome general managers, player personnel staff and scouts from each of the 30 NBA teams who will converge in Utah for four days to evaluate the league’s talent. The Showcase takes on an international flavor as numerous members of the international basketball community will also make the trip to Orem to watch the action unfold.

"With the extraordinary depth of talent in the NBA D-League this season, the NBA D-League Showcase affords NBA teams an opportunity to evaluate all of the League’s players in one location. Historically, we have seen NBA teams sign players immediately following the Showcase, and in some instances during the Showcase, too," said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. "We are excited about being in Orem, Utah for this year’s Showcase and look forward to an exciting four days of basketball."

In other words, it's the perfect opportunity to showcase Acker and/or Sharpe for a trade. Why would the Pistons want to move one of those two? For the same reason the Nuggets just traded Cheikh Samb for a future draft pick -- a move, incidentally, Eric Pincus of HOOPSWORLD predicted three weeks ago:

The tax threshold is $71.15 million. A number of teams find themselves slightly over and are looking for help.

[...] At a minimum, Denver might have to part with big man prospect Cheick Samb, recently acquired from the Detroit Pistons.

Speaking of the Pistons, they too need to make a move before the deadline to trim off the slightest margin since they're a measly $45k over the tax threshold. Expect General Manager Joe Dumars to look for someone to take a young player like rookie forward Walter Sharpe or second-year guard Alex Acker, assuming the team doesn't look to make a bigger deal.

When a team is over the luxury tax threshold, not only do they have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax, they also miss out on the chance to collect their share of the tax collected from the other teams over the threshold. In other words, being $45,000 over actually costs the Pistons something in the neighborhood of $3 million or more.

Sharpe is still the new guy with an unknown ceiling, so I'd imagine Joe Dumars would have to be bowled over to agree moving him. But is having Alex Acker sit behind the bench in a nice suit all season really worth the opportunity for Bill Davidson to cash a $3 million check? I can't imagine anyone in the front office thinks so. As such, I won't be surprised to see him dealt for a conditional second-rounder sometime before February's deadline -- and possibly sooner rather than later if he turns heads in Utah.

In Acker's first game, he played 38 minutes and finished with 20 points on 7-19 shooting with eight boards and five assists before fouling out. In his second game, he scored 22 (8-18) with three boards and one assist. Sharpe has been somewhat less impressive, scoring 10 (3-10 FG) with four boards and two steals in 24 minutes his first game, and nine points (3-6 FG) with three boards and a block in 20 minutes the second.