We're all pretty frustrated with the way the team has been playing right now, and we're all eagerly awaiting the trade deadline to see what work of genius Daryl Morey will bring us. So I thought, hey, why don't we take out a little frustration by imagining the near-total destruction of the current rotation? I don't really think what's below is realistic, more because it's so drastic than because the trades themselves don't work, but let's set that aside and have a little fun.
Morey has talked before about how he collects assets with value. A mercenary way to look at players, but that's what makes a good GM.
The vision it makes me imagine is a poker player biding his time, slowly accumulating a series of meager winnings into a large pile, before pushing them all in when he gets a great hand.
So, just to entertain ourselves, let's consider what going all in might involve. How could Morey decimate the roster to create a championship team?
Trade 1: Houston/New Orleans/Phoenix
We've only heard the barest of rumors that Chris Paul might be available, but for the sake of argument, let's assume New Orleans might be quietly willing to trade him if they're bowled over with the right deal. If there's any "right deal for Chris Paul" in the league, it's this one.
Brooks, Landry, and a draft pick go a long way toward ameliorating the sting of losing CP3's talent; both could be future All-Stars. Lowry and Cook are expiring contracts, and Lowry is valuable in his own right. I could see New Orleans doing this because it gives them a lot of young, cheap talent while also dumping payroll, both things they desperately need to do, mired as they are in their small market woes.
Phoenix is supposedly open to shopping Stoudemire, or so the rumor mill says. They'd like to improve their defense and rebounding; Battier, Ariza, and Scola definitely do that, and while losing Stoudemire slightly damages their offensive firepower, the addition of Scola makes this an attractive deal to them. We, on the other hand, get a little bigger and a little more potent offensively. Imagine CP3 setting up Stoudemire for easy baskets.
But wait, you say--we're losing two small forwards, two power forwards, and two point guards in exchange for a point guard and a power forward! Yes, it's a bitter pill to swallow--but I'm not done yet. How would you feel about having a starting lineup with four--maybe even five all-stars, depending on how Budinger develops? We lose a lot of beloved players here, but that's the whole idea. This isn't a real trade, remember?
Anyway, I believe the organization has enough young, extremely inexpensive depth to get away with this. More on that later. Let's talk about the second trade first.
Trade 2: Houston/Philadelphia
Philadelphia receives: Tracy McGrady
We've talked about this one enough that I don't need to explain it. There are two sticking points: Philly doesn't get any talent back (unless you still believe in T-Mac), while Houston has to take on that horrifying Dalembert contract. In my opinion, that makes it a pretty fair trade--and the final team would be worth dipping a little into the luxury tax. (Remember, we're dumping tons of contracts in the process of beefing up our starting lineup.)
How we end up - how do we compensate for halving the roster?
First, Sergio Llull's contract must be bought out and he must be brought in to be our backup point guard. Second, Jermaine Taylor actually gets some significant playing time off the bench. Third, we must trade one of our bigs for a small forward, a veteran roleplayer to back up Chase Budinger (preferably trading Dalembert in the process, if it can be done).
Here is the roster after the above two trades:
PG: Chris Paul, Sergio Llull
SG: Andre Iguodala, Jermaine Taylor
SF: Chase Budinger, player to be named later
If I've added everything up correctly, this roster comes to $77.2 million. Get rid of Dalembert, and we likely fall below the luxury tax line.
The thing that strikes me about this roster is that every starter is a complete offensive threat; how can you even think about doubling any of these guys when you'd have to leave one of the others? If you go one on one with them, every one can create for himself, with the possible exception of Budinger.
Defensively, it's not a great lineup, but it's certainly not a bad one.
The real weakness here is the bench, but if Llull and Taylor work out like the organization hopes they will, maybe it won't be so weak after all.
So, are we having fun yet?