Before we get started on this flight of fancy, let me unequivocally state that this is pure speculation. Not based on a source or a rumor or even much common sense. It's just a thought experiment for Detroit Pistons fans who are fond of saying that they would be willing to trade Josh Smith for literally anybody in the NBA.
Because it appears a high-priced former superstar could be extremely available as rumors indicate that Deron Williams and Brooklyn Nets management both agree that the point guard should be relocated. Doing so is easier said than done however, as Williams is scheduled to make $63,128,400 over the next three seasons. And if he is traded his contract has a 15 percent trade kicker so he would actually be owed $72,597,660. Still think it's worth it to get rid of Smith and to a lesser extent Brandon Jennings?
Because a straight up deal for Jennings and Smith for Williams works under the salary cap. And with so few avenues for Brooklyn to improve Detroit might even be able to extract more from Brooklyn in a trade. The Nets have few avenues to improve its roster over the next two seasons and probably cannot afford to simply punt on those seasons.
But taking on Williams is an awfully big risk for a team like the Pistons to take. While Williams is the best player in the deal when healthy, it's that when healthy thing that would give any team pause. He's likely to miss 20+ games every season at least and won't be 100 percent in many games in which he actually suits up.
And instead of paying Josh Smith $13.5 million in 2016-17, the Pistons would be paying a possibly injured Williams $25 million. Even accounting for the fact that the salary cap is likely to explode with a new TV deal in place, that is a lot of money to commit to one, most-likely injured, player.
So how bad do you really want to get rid of Smith?
Williams star has dimmed considerably over the past several years, but even in his current gimpy state he still provided 14.3 points and 6.1 assists to just 2.2 turnovers with a slash line of .450/.360/800. Williams' career .559 true shooting percentage also easily eclipses anything Jennings has delivered in his career.
And even if he doesn't remain healthy, Williams is tying up cap space and one roster spot as opposed to two roster spots and 30 field goal attempts per game. That's sort of what addition by subtraction means.
From the Nets point of view, while Williams is obviously on the decline, Smith's fall should be slightly less precipitous and Jennings might even have a chance to get better if you squint hard enough.
The Nets would get younger, more athletic and have a chance to form a pretty formidable defensive frontline with Smith and Brook Lopez. Jennings slots in to take the place of Williams who while not as talented can probably be counted on to actually play. And if Williams goes down for the Nets they have few opportunities to while also taking on Jennings who should at least be a serviceable point guard for the next couple years and at the very least should be healthy.
So again, I ask, is it worth it, Pistons fans? Does this cross the line? Would you rather see Josh Smith back in a Pistons uniform? Do you have more faith in Stan Van Gundy to get Smith and Jennings to play better or not play them at all or should it be to send them on the first bus out of town as soon as possible?
Those are questions I don't have answers to, and, honestly, i"m not even sure I've convinced myself one way or the other let alone any actual readers.
But know that there isn't going to be a magic deal that is a no-doubt home run for the Pistons if it involves moving one or both of Jennings and Smith. It's going to be a deal just like t his -- damaged goods for damaged goods with each team taking on considerable risk with a hope that the players they receive can rebound from recent performance.
So do you pull the trigger and hope Arnie Kander works his magic or do you say, no thanks, and wait for a better deal to come along or even hope that Smith and Jennings can actually be contributing members of the Detroit Pistons?