Apr 12, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Martell Webster (5) practices not dunking near the end of games. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
OK, folks. Today is the day. The last day of the 2011/12 NBA fiscal year.
What does that mean? Let's take a look-see below the fold.
Today is the last day Martell Webster's magical disappearing contract can disappear. Today is the last day Brad Miller exists as an NBA player. Today is the last day Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph have rookie scale deals.
In other words: Today is the last day the Wolves, a team that seemingly couldn't muster enough assets to get Miles Plumlee in the draft, have somewhat attractive assets above and beyond Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and, maybe, Derrick Williams.
Sorry, I forgot to tell you to get a barf-bag before you read that last sentence.
Changing gears, there has been some local sports media hand-wringing over the possibility that Our Beloved Puppies would move Derrick Williams and his POTENTIAL!!! for Pau Gasol. Let's jump in the memory hole machine and take a trip back to mid-June of last year:
Do you want the Wolves to spend the #2 pick on a guy who may not even be Mike Beasley-Lite with a better head and a weaker all-around game? If this sounds like a plan, then Derrick Williams is the man for you. I think there is a legitimate argument that the Wolves absolutely cannot draft this guy, as he could not be any more similar to B-Easy and I honestly have no idea where you’d play him, especially (and mainly) because of Kevin Love.
He. Is. A. Power. Forward. Who. Plays. Behind. The Best. Power. Forward. In. The. League.
This is as obvious now as it was way back before last year's draft.
The one thing that made Williams kind of attractive (as trade bait....from before the moment he became a Timberwolf) was that he shot the ball well from the great beyond during his sophomore year in college. And, as has been mentioned frequently on the site, TS% in college isn't exactly the best indicator of future pro success. We now have 3 seasons of D-Will shooting on record:
In college Derrick Williams was able to shoot roughly 60% from 2 while having a FT/FGA rate in the 80s. In his first year as a pro, he shot 40% from 2 while having a FT/FGA rate of 40. In plain English, playing center/power forward in the PAC-10 got him lots of easy 2s and trips to the line. Not so much in the pros.
This isn't to say that Williams can't turn things around or improve...or even to say that I think he's a bad prospect. Rather, it is simply to remind people that he was a really good prospect AS A POWER FORWARD, and not as a wing player. As a wing player, he wasn't at the level of Tobias Harris or Kawhi Leonard in last year's draft and I highly doubt he'll be at the overall production level of Pau Gasol, who can play next to both Love and Pek in the front court at the 4/5. 36/30/30, people. (It's also likely that the Wolves can approximate any future Williams production at the 3 by...well, they just got Budinger. It's not like these sorts of moves are impossible.)
Also, if you're worried about Gasol getting paid $19 mil, you should also be worried about handing $4.6 mil to a guy with 1.8 Win Shares and a .044 WP48. Gasol gives you 8.3 WS and .143. If you're going to overpay, at least overpay for something good. Also, whenever you hear the team talk about "cap space" please replace this term with "saving Glen money". It has nothing to do with actual basketball, at least in the case of the Wolves.
Anywho, the big kicker here is that the Wolves, until midnight tonight, don't really need to put Williams in a deal for Gasol (or any other big-name salary dump). Martell Webster and Brad Miller have a combined salary of about $10 mil that can be traded for roughly $15 mil in return (150% of $10 mil) and then wiped off the books for a $600k buyout. Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph can be given single year qualifying offers that add up to just over $12 mil. They could be traded for a player in the $16 mil range (EDIT: EiM makes an important caveat about this deal here). Hopefully, the team has been on the phone with Philly about trying to help them avoid any future luxury tax payments. Dallas, too (although for Howard/Deron Williams cash issues---Brendan Haywood, Roddy Beaubois, and Jae Crowder could be traded for Miller and Webster...who could immediately be wiped off Dallas' books---seriously, do this deal.) Caged Lion should ideally be used only as an incentive to get a big deal over the top.
The basic point of all of this is that today is kind of a BFD. The Wolves, if they are creative, can really bring home two players that matter to surround their core of Love, Pek, and Rubio. I suppose they could extend the QOs to Beasley and Randolph and trade them at the deadline, but the Miller and Webster contracts turn back into pumpkins at 11 CST tonight.
In short, trading Williams for Gasol isn't a bad deal. It certainly isn't the best deal, but it beats signing Jamal Crawford and Alexy Shved and calling it a day.
What is kind of troublesome is that the Wolves were rumored to have tried to move Williams for the #2 pick in order to swap the #2 pick for Pau. That's just crazy town. That's probably not the only draft day trade they were turned down for. Long and short, I have a hard time believing that many GMs value Williams enough to make a major deal with him as the main piece. And this is the really disturbing thing about any potential Williams trade. His primary value as a prospect was at the 4 and he's currently trying to turn himself into a 3. I don't have high hopes that this will end well. Here's hoping (and rooting for) that I'm really, really wrong.
UPDATE: I think the Miller contract might have another month as a window. I'm not completely sure of the exact date. I'll ask for clarification.
UPDATE: Miller's contract is gone at the start of the new fiscal year. There is a "buyout" that will count about $750,000 against the cap.