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Taking The Road Less Abused On The NBA Trade Machine

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Andre Iguodala might be a perfect fit in Houston. He can create. He can defend. He doesn't admit to drinking Hennessey at halftime. And while we're at it, he can probably speak Chinese, teach Trevor Ariza how to be selective, and solve Daryl Morey's unfinished math equations on the blackboard. A true renaissance man.

Problem is, I don't want Andre Iguodala. Trade him to Phoenix, Ed Stefanski. Get him off the market, and as far away from the heads and hearts of Rockets fans as possible. I don't want to see Andre Iguodala in a Rockets uniform any time soon.

Atop my wish list, I have someone else in mind. His name is Caron Butler, and, if you really think about it, he is no different from Saint Iguodala. Actually, no, that's wrong - he costs $4-5 million less per season, and is off the books in 2011. Yup, I'm drinking Caron Butler's kool aid.

Andre Iguodala won't win the Rockets a championship. Neither will Butler. A major step of the trade process is to have realistic expectations, and if anyone here is under the assumption that the Rockets are one player away from a title run, then they need to reconsider their stance. Whatever move Morey decides to make, it won't be to propel the Rockets to elite status.

The idea of simply building a so-called "championship team" is incredibly overrated. Five years ago, we all thought that T-Mac and Yao were destined to bring rings aplenty. Now, we're all exchanging ideas on how best to kick McGrady to the curb. Teams wish to be competitive, and if a championship comes of it, that's fantastic. Barring a miracle, the Rockets aren't going to stumble upon a championship series birth any time soon - that's the sobering reality of it. So, if winning is still in the best interest of Les Alexander (which it is), why not continue to put a competitive product on the court with Butler instead of Iguodala, and save a ton of money in the process? I know Les wouldn't mind that.

As far as on-court production is concerned, Caron isn't much different from Iggy. They can each create, but can't really shoot threes as well as they think. They turn the ball over at about the same rate, and can rebound from the guard position. Perhaps most telling is the fact that each has always performed well statistically, but hasn't necessarily won very much.

Many people complain about Caron's defense. Trust me, if you get the guy to commit, he's a really, really good defender. You won't see it this season, because he's playing for a team with no direction, and for a coach whose system he has yet to buy into. There's no incentive to do anything but try and look good for other GM's and not piss off teammates too much in the process. And knowing Caron, pissing off teammates or jeopardizing his chance to play is the last thing he wants to do.

This comes from an SI article on Butler a few years ago:

The stereotype of the entitled and self-indulgent NBA star does not apply to Butler. From the day he met Good he was trained to believe that every day could be his last on the basketball court, that his criminal record might cost him everything if he committed but one more mistake. His instinct for self-preservation seemed to draw him to disciplined, highly structured coaches like Good; Jim Calhoun at UConn, where Butler played for two years; the Miami Heat's Pat Riley, who took Butler with the No. 10 pick in the 2002 draft; and the Lakers' Phil Jackson, who picked up Butler for the 2004--05 season as part of the Shaquille O'Neal trade.

Pat Riley? Phil Jackson? Instinct for self-preservation? Sign me up.

The only true differences lie in assists, where Andre is king, and in free throw shooting, where Caron reigns supreme. Lord knows the Rockets need someone who can get to the free throw line and convert. But really, in looking at everything that each brings to the table, Iguodala doesn't exactly stand out. Andre/Yao isn't going to take us anywhere that Caron/Yao can't. And while Andre may have youth on his side, it is overshadowed by his mammoth contract, which doesn't expire until 2014. If anything, it's better to cross our fingers for next season with Caron before we have to cough up the dough for Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry once they expire. If we don't like how Caron fits, we can choose not to re-sign him and use that money to retain our own guys. At least we won't be stuck fishing for cash with Iggy aboard. Caron gives us options, even if they don't include him.

My point is that if the Rockets decide to even make a deal, it would make much more sense to think short-term with Butler. I like Andre Iguodala as much as anyone, but he's too much of a financial handicap. He's overpaid, while Caron is reasonable. It's not the popular move, but it's the right one.