A fork in the road

Last night I made the mistake of drinking a cup of coffee around 8 PM and predictably couldn't fall asleep for awhile. So, while I was lying in bed trying to turn my brain off I realized that there are really only two paths I can see Kahn taking from here on it: to Rubio or not to Rubio? But first, my assumptions:

- either we draft an impact, build aroundable player at the top of this draft or we trade down. The build aroundable guys number three in my book - Wall, Turner, and Cousins. I don't believe you can craft a team around Favors where he is the undisputed go-to guy and identity of the team. He's more Kenyon Martin than Kevin Garnett. Just my opinion.

- it's going to be a completely new team next year. Completely new, as in doesn't look remotely like anything we have now. Everyone and every asset is in play. Get over Al, get over Love, get over Sessions - everyone's an asset in the service of landing a foundation fit for what Kahn and Rambis want to do.

- by the end of the summer or the trade deadline mid-season, the framework of the team will be in place for the upcoming 4-5 seasons.

- I don't really believe in the 'giving up too much' argument, in that we have nothing to lose and, if we stand pat, not much to gain. In my assessment we are not going anywhere until we find 'our guy.' If giving up Love and Al is what it takes, then I say do it. The only thing that could be too much is taking back a contract like Gilbert Arenas'. I'll have more on that later.

Thinking it through last night, I kept returning to two options that make the most sense - either you choose to view this upcoming summer through the lens of continuing to build towards Rubio, or you decide to use Rubio as a chip to land a foundation player who will be here in October.

I don't know which fork is the right option, but here's my take on them:

Continuing to build towards Rubio in many ways is the easiest and most straightforward option. I think draftwise either Favors or Cousins would look great next to Rubio. On our roster already guys like Ellington and Brewer seem tailor made for playing next to Rubio (three point shooters and, in Brewer's case, the athleticism and length and desire to posterize guys with Rubio's alley-oop passes). 

The essential point of this approach is that you're saying you've already got your guy, in which case an argument could be made to trade down from 4. The best case scenario is to offer Indiana #4, Al/Love, and Flynn/Sessions for Granger and 10 (that'd be the basic structure of the deal). Throw in #23 or 16 if you have to, but now you'd have your two lead horses that fit what you want to run. 

Basic roster goal:



Granger/rookie (George, Anderson, etc.)

Love/Pekovic/rookie (Ed Davis? at ten)


That's pretty balanced scoring and passing/playmaking, should play solid defense with only Love the real mismatch in length/height, and some good backups with high upsides. Obviously other vets and FAs would factor in, but this roster leaves one primary hole for upgrading and that would be for a high flying 4.


The second option is to try and find a guy this year to build around and view Rubio as a luxury (and a trading chip if necessary). I came up with so many different trade scenarios in my head last night that there's really not much to say about it because there's just too many. What I will say is that if this is the fork taken, then I think you do whatever you have to in order to get the guy you want.

I've been over at the 76ers site today and snooped around a bit. They sound a bit conflicted - on the one hand they're stoked about Turner, but on the other hand they see Cousins as a potential monster who fits significantly better with Iggy and Jrue. If we were to draft Cousins at 4 I can see a basic trade structure of this nature being feasible (don't know it's probability):

Cousins/Love for Turner/Brand

They're going to belly-ache about wanting 18 future unprotected firsts and blah blah blah, but I think Philly would sincerely entertain moving down if they knew Cousins was going to be there. Getting out from under Brand's contract is no small compensation either, so that's something they'd need to factor in.

And this brings me to another trade I think it would be worth weighing the pros and cons, and that is:

Al for Erick Dampier

Does Dallas win big time? Oh yes it does, at least in the short term. You can play Al and Haywood together, or Haywood and Dirk, or Al and Dirk. They'd get a dependable low post scorer and rebounder while still having a great defensive guy to put in when necessary. So what do we get out of it? Significant salary cap and positional roster flexibility.

Suppose you do this trade and cut Dampier. We go from around $15 million under the cap to around $27 million under. You can sign both Darko and Pek and still have let's say $18 million left over. Could you try and add a Bosh? Sure, but I don't think he wants to come here. So we go back to Philly - how about Love and #4 for #2 and Brand? Philly drops two spots, but will still get Cousins (dominant center of the future), a great young PF who will play very well with Iggy and Jrue, and salary cap flexibility over the near and long term. We get Turner and an overpriced PF who's still a pretty good rebounder and defender and a good locker room presence. We eat into our cap space but get the player we want in Turner.

Pretty much any of the trade scenarios I came up with will cost us some combination of Al, Love, and either Flynn or Brewer. (For example, after doing the Al for Dampier trade you could either: 

- trade Love/Pek/Brewer to Detroit in order to take Prince and 7 off their hands

- trade Love/Pek and Flynn and 4 and 16 to Indy for Granger and 10)

We give up a lot, but like I said earlier this team isn't going anywhere until we get 'our guy' (and I don't believe Al or Love are those guys), and I should also add that 'our guy' needs to be at a position or the type of player that fits our system. Al is great but he just doesn't fit. Same with Cousins. Do you set the organization back years drafting Cousins and then firing Rambis and Kahn because of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole? 

Lastly, I think if we want Turner we have to deal with Philly. Why would NJ not draft Turner if he were there at three?

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