This FanPost is my first idea on what kind of deal Ernie might have up his sleeve to account for the salary situation next season. In case you haven't read what this situation is all about, check out this post and the replies to it. In a nutshell, this trade is mostly about three things: obtaining a serviceable backup center to play behind Haywood, getting value for either Mike Miller or Randy Foye before one of them walks away in free agency, and maintaining enough salary space under the luxury tax threshold so that we can still resign Brendan Haywood in the 2010 offseason.
When looking for a big man, I had the following criteria: he should be able to play solid defense, he should be able to rebound, he should be big enough to protect the paint against some of the league's bigger centers, and he should not make more than $7 million per season because of our salary situation next offseason. One of the first names that jumped out to me that met all of this criteria was DeSagana Diop. DeSagana Diop has been known for his defensive and rebounding ability in the past. When he was 24 years old, Avery Johnson promoted him to starting center over Erik Dampier and Diop rewarded Johnson by playing superb defensive basketball in route to the Mavericks NBA Finals appearance. Since then, I'm not really sure what happened, but he apparently fell out of favor in Dallas and wound up being traded to the Bobcats only a few months after signing a five year deal for the full Mid-Level Exception.
Checking out his statistics at basketball-reference, Diop appears to be playing the same kind of basketball he always has. In 41 games for the Bobcats after the trade, he averaged 7 points, 9.6 rebounds (including 4.3 offensive rebounds), 1.2 assists, 1 steal, and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes while only turning the ball over 1.7 times. Most of those numbers are actually better than the ones he averaged during his breakout season in 2005-06. Here is what fellow SB Nation blogger David Arnott from the Bobcats blog Rufus on Fire had to say about Diop this past April:
DIOP -- He's a lovely backup center, especially on a team where everyone else off the bench is an offense-minded player. It's not his fault, but he's the symbol of this team's profligacy, because he's getting paid many millions of dollars to be a backup.
Paying a backup center millions of dollars may not make much sense for a midling team without direction. But on a team with championship aspirations, I don't think his MLE salary is that dreadful. Assuming we resign Haywood for around $10 million per season and Mike Miller for around $7 million per season, then Diop would only be the 6th highest paid player on the team.
So here is my trade proposal: Randy Foye, DeShawn Stevenson, and Mike James to the Charlotte Bobcats for DeSagana Diop and Raja Bell. This trade will work once the trade restriction expires on Randy Foye on August 24th, according to RealGM's Trade Checker.
Why Charlotte Does This Trade
Charlotte has a two major reasons to participate in this trade. First of all, they have a chance to invest in what could be their shooting guard of the future in Randy Foye, who is still very young with a lot of potential. His contract would expire next season like Bell's, but unlike Bell the Bobcats will be able to make a qualifying offer to Foye and have the right to match any contract he gets in free agency. With DJ Augustin already locked in and ready to go, the Bobcats will be able to build around a young and talented backcourt that will help them gain respect around the league.
The second major reason the Bobcats do this trade is because they have the opportunity to rid themselves of Diop's contract, which runs through 2012-13 at a very high cost to a franchise looking to rebuild. I would personally think that for this reason alone, Michael Jordan would be willing to take on DeShawn Stevenson, despite his questionable back situation. DeShawn's contract would save the Bobcats $2.3 million in 2010-11, and would then expire, saving Charlotte close to $7 million per season for two seasons after that.
There is one more interesting tidbit about the value of this trade for Charlotte. In the comments section of the same post from Rufus on Fire above, it appears that David Arnott is a bit enamored with a certain DeShawn Stevenson. Keep in mind that these comments were made in April, after DeShawn's back injury:
Please. Please tell me why in the last year I’ve been reading your articles that you have consistently favored Deshawn Stevenson so much?
In short, Stevenson is younger, a lot cheaper, plays credible point guard for short stretches, has a wider variety of offensive skills, and I think he’s going into the stretch of his career where Raja was with the Suns. But, of course, the most important part of that would be cost. Even if you think Raja’s slightly better, it’s just over $5.00M vs. just under $4.00M. Every time you find equivalent (or IMO, better) talent for cheaper, and the other team will let you have it, you should do it, because it’s another step toward having the money to (re)sign a truly dominant player.
Or keeping the team in town.
by David Arnott
One wonders if Michael Jordan would agree with this.
Why Washington Does This Trade
In case my posts in the other thread didn't make this clear enough, allow me to restate the advantages. We obtain a big (7'0 300lbs), solid backup center that can easily give us 20 minutes per game of solid defense and rebounding. We get a player with loads of playoff experience, that was once the starting center on a team that played in the NBA Finals. We get a player that has experience matching up with dominant centers like Shaquille O'Neal. We get insurance in case Brendan is temporarily injured. We get the backup center we are looking for.
We also get the services of Raja Bell for one season, who is a career 41.1% three point shooter and a defensive specialist on the perimeter. He could mentor Nick Young for one season and get Nick ready for the responsibility of taking over at the backup shooting guard position in 2010-11. He could really help us in the playoffs next season, with lots of experience being there with the Suns.
In addition, we save ourselves $2.6 million dollars this season, which saves Abe $5.2 million when you factor in the luxury tax. We rid ourselves of DeShawn's contract that will help us pay for Diop's salary in 2010-11. We leave enough room under the luxury tax threshold in 2010-11 to resign Haywood at about $10 million per season. We then still have enough room under the luxury tax threshold to offer Mike Miller around $7 million per season to stay with us, assuming that the threshold is exactly $70 million. That's more than the MLE, which is hopefully all the other teams would be willing to offer him.
And lastly, it would make CJHutch very happy, because he seems to have an extreme dislike for DeShawn Stevenson.