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First reaction to the Richardson/Madsen-Telfair-Smith trade

For some reason it seems like David Kahn has been here a lot longer than he really has.  After all, it now appears that he has done away with 5 rotation players from last year's squad: Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Mark Madsen, Craig Smith and Sebastian Telfair.  That all happened in less than 2 months.  Are there any remaining questions about exactly why Kevin McHale would have had a hard time adjusting to the new regime while planted at the end of the bench?  Kahn is demolishing McHale's vision and he is nowhere near being done.

There are a few different angles to this trade.  Let's go through them one by one:

  1. Talent- Let's begin with the simple premise that this trade contained exactly zero world-beaters.  One of the players (Madsen) was decidedly sub-par, one was across-the-board average in limited minutes (Smith), one was able to overcome obscenely poor shooting numbers to post decent +/- numbers on a bad team (Telfair) and one is a shooter on the downside of his career who doesn't really do much beyond jacking up threes (Richardson).  The bottom line here is that none of the guys involved in this deal should cause anyone to lose any sleep when just considering talent.  Telfair is still only 24 years old and he has shown solid improvement over the past 2 seasons with Minny.  Smith, for all of his entertaining scoring, is just an average bench player who is woefully undersized and limited in terms of non-scoring attributes.  You can look at almost any measurement from Win Scores to PER and come away from this deal with a fairly solid understanding that talent was not what made this deal happen.
  2. Cap and roster considerations- This is where the rubber hits the road on this deal.  You can view the trade at Real GM's trade page by clicking here.  The deal will cost the Wolves an additional $1.06 mil against this year's cap while saving them the $2.7 million player option on Bassy's contract in 2010/11.  The deal also reduces the Wolves' roster by 2 players while turning 2 expiring deals and a player option into a single larger expiring contract.  Instead of having $19.7 mil in 4 expiring contracts (Etan Thomas, Brian Cardinal, Madsen and Smith), the Wolves now have $23.3 mil in 3 expiring contracts (Thomas, Cardinal and Richardson) in a year where expirings are going to matter.  Most importantly, this trade turns 3 roster spaces into a single contract. It turns 2 of the team's power forwards into a position of need: the 2/3.  When all is said and done in this deal, the two most important factors for the Wolves are that they have increased their buying power with additional expiring money and they have cleared roster space. 
  3. Likability- I hesitate to put this one on the list because nice guys on a 24-win team aren't exactly on the top of my list of things to have but it is hard to understate just how much Madsen was liked in the local community and, reportedly, the locker room.  I've made no bones about my distaste for Madsen the player (the whole thrown game thing sticks in my craw), but Madsen the person is definitely someone that was an asset on some level to this team.  I also am sad to see the team give up on Bassy.  Telfair was my favorite player on the squad and I think his early career was marred by unrealistic expectations and he worked hard to overcome a bad shot and small size in order to become a functional point guard.  As bad as things got for the Wolves last season, Bassy carried the team's only positive +/- number after the All Star break.  It also cannot be overstated that Bassy was the team's only proven guard and that they are entering the season with Jonny Flynn and, hopefully, Ricky Rubio at the 1. 
  4. Rubio- Speaking of Rubio, I think this trade opens up some legitimate speculation about whether or not the Wolves feel good about their prospects of having the young point on the roster this season.  We'll see how this plays out later this week with Kahn in Spain. 

All-in-all this trade does two excellent things for the Wolves: It increases the amount of expiring 2009/10 deals while reducing the number of contracts they have to move, and it reduces the number of players on the roster to 13, including Rubio.  Here is how the roster would look with Rubio in the mix:

  1. Rubio/Flynn/Brown
  2. Flynn/Ellington/Richardson/Brewer
  3. Gomes/Brewer/Richardson
  4. Love/Songaila/Pecherov/Cardinal
  5. Jefferson/Thomas

If there are any negatives, it is that they have placed themselves in a situation where they will need Rubio to come over ASAP and it could give Camp Rubio extra leverage (if there is any to be had) in their negotiations with the squad.  They also lose out on a proven locker-room leader who was popular with a limited fan base.  Weighing everything altogether, it is a winning deal as it gives the team added flexibility in terms of roster moves while balancing out what was a massively unbalanced roster.   $23.3 mil in expiring deals over 3 contracts is a nice thing to have, especially when considering the team's considerable draft assets.  From a Clippers perspective, one really has to wonder if this has something to do with their owner's desire to sign Allen Iverson.  You can read more about it on our sister site Clips Nation.

What say you?

UPDATE: I forgot to add this in the original post, but this trade also gives the team the ability to add another player (or two) to the roster in order to further balance things out.  It probably won't be a player to write home about but it could be someone who sees some decent minutes while filling things out for a year.

UPDATE ii: PSR has some notes in the comments from Kahn's conference call:

- made move now to balance out roster and to capitalize on Clips’ interest in Telfair, which he wasn’t sure would last
- doesn’t indicate Rubio will come over this year but the presence of the two PGs on the roster restricts his ability to get playing time and probably reduces his PT
- adding more vets or not will happen after a head coach is hired and consulted
- doesn’t have anything to do with summer league guys (Siler, Kurz)
- Richardson isn’t necessarily going to stay
- they’re not done
- trip to Spain costs the search 4-5 days
- has been calling those who aren’t getting second interviews and is almost done; will be calling the second-interview guys late this week and early next week (either 3 or 4)
- coach should be hired by end of month or beginning of next month
- not necessarily going to meet with Rubio but will be meeting with club officials