Possible in-season trade targets to improve the Wizards' frontcourt

If you read yesterday's post about the Wizards' need for another big man, I'm sure one gut reaction you had was "Fine, I see the Wizards might need another big man, but how the heck do you propose actually getting one?" 

If that was your reaction (and it's exactly how I would have reacted if I was the reader), then this post is for you.  Below the jump, I've compiled a list of some players that might be realistic trade options during the middle of the season.  I'm going to break them down into three categories: guys with contracts that expire after the season, players on longer-term deals and one "big fish" potential option.  All are listed in order of biggest contract to smallest contract, not in terms of most likely/less likely or best option/worse option.  I'll leave it to you all to evaluate the prospects and propose realistic trades in the comments.

Group 1: The bigs with 2010 expiring contracts

Brad Miller (2009/10 salary: $12,250,000)

By now, Brad Miller is 33 years old and on the downside of his career, but even though he's not the fastest guy or the most athletic performer, he can still do a lot to help a team.  He was invigorated last year after his trade to Chicago, posting an 18.6 PER and 20.5% DREB% in 27 games down the stretch.  Statistically, he hasn't had that strong a stretch since 2005. 

Miller's strengths are primarily on offense -- he's an outstanding perimeter shooter as well as being one of the five best passing big men in the game -- but he can hold his own a bit on defense too.  He's not quick enough to stay with athletic players on the perimeter, but against low-post options, Miller does a pretty good job of holding his ground.  Those little things all have helped him post a two-year adjusted plus/minus of +5.12. 

The downsides to Miller are his contract and his availability.  It's tough to match $12.5 million without throwing in long-term salary, and with Chicago angling for maximum cap space after next season, they aren't going to take on anyone with a contract past 2009/10.  Miller also isn't versatile enough to guard perimeter-oriented forwards, meaning it's not optimal to play him in tandem with Brendan Haywood.

Marcus Camby (2009/10 salary: $9,150,000)

I've badmouthed Camby before, but that's only because he's often seen as one of the league's elite defenders when he's merely a helpful piece.  Despite his overrated defensive reputation, he remains one of the league's elite rebounders, snaring over a fifth of all available missed shots when he's been on the floor in each of the last two seasons.  On offense, he remains a high-quality low-usage performer who last season dramatically curbed his tendency to shoot ugly 18-foot jumpers.  You also can't list Camby's positives without mentioning his professionalism and playoff experience, both of which will be very valuable to the young Wizards frontcourt crew.

The issue with Camby is mostly how he fits in with the Wizards' style of play.  Unlike Miller, I'm not concerned about his availability -- if Blake Griffin impresses, Chris Kaman bounces back and/or DeAndre Jordan takes another step forward, Camby becomes expendable for the Clippers.  I am concerned that he might not be able to play alongside Haywood, meaning he essentially becomes just a backup center.  He's not the optimal guy to send in simply to check the top post options in the East, which would be one of the purposes of a third big man.  Unlike in Denver, there's no other Wizard who is a solid one-on-one defender that can allow Camby to roam.

Darko Milicic (2009/10 salary: $7,540,000)

Yeah, yeah, I know, he's Darko.  But while he's forever known as either a a) huge draft bust or b) overpaid stiff, he actually can help a team a bit.  His length allows him to defend both power forwards and centers, and he just posted the highest true shooting percentage of his career for lowly Memphis.  However, now that he's in New York with Mike D'Antoni, a coach who has always seen something in Darko, he might be too valuable to his team for it to move him.  Darko also is very Andray Blatche-like in his inconsistency -- you never really know what you'll get with him.

Udonis Haslem (2009/10 salary: $7,100,000)

Haslem has so many attributes the Wizards need in a third big man.  Playoff experience?  Haslem has played in the NBA Finals.  Post defense?  Haslem can check power forwards and centers quite well.  Defensive rebounding?  While Haslem is not a great offensive rebounder, he's grabbed 21 percent of opponent missed shots during his career.  He's nothing special on offense, but he does have a good enough mid-range jumper, sets good screens and won't do anything stupid.  We have enough offense anyway.

If only the Wizards stood a good chance of acquiring him, he'd be perfect.  The problem is that, with Miami trying to get as much cap room as possible for next summer, Haslem's expiring deal has a ton of value.  Haslem's also necessary insurance for the Heat while Michael Beasley continues to have his problems, so long as the Heat remain a playoff team of course. 

It's a shame, because Haslem would be great for us.

Tony Battie (2009/10 salary: $6,606,600)

Battie's really not much better than Fabricio Oberto, but at least he can play both the 4 and the 5.  He also will come pretty cheaply.

Kurt Thomas (2009/10 salary: $3,800,000)

Kurt's getting up there in years, but he's still one of the best post defenders around and could really teach the young players a few tricks.  I also strongly doubt he stays in Milwaukee when the Bucks are in cost-cutting mode and will likely be far away from the playoffs.  He seems like a likely midseason buy-out candidate who would hook on with a bigger contender once he leaves Milwaukee.  Perhaps the Wizards could prevent that with an early-season trade  involving Thomas and backup point guard Luke Ridnour (under contract for one more season at $6.5 million).  Thinking out loud...

Chuck Hayes (2009/10 salary: $2,147,500)

Lots of you are throwing Houston out there as a possible trade partner because they'll likely struggle this year without Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest, but it seems to me that they're willing to keep the gang around past this year and take another shot when everyone gets healthy.  Perhaps including Hayes on this list is unrealistic then, especially because Daryl Morey loves him.  But Hayes' post defense would also be a huge help to the Wizards, so I'll keep him on here.

Group 2: The bigs with long-term contracts

Boris Diaw (3 years, $27,000,000 total, $9,000,000 in 2009/10)

It's really a shame Diaw costs so much, because his offensive and defensive versatility would be a big help.  He's Andray Blatche if Andray Blatche actually could string together several good games in a row.  I've also never noticed Diaw's defense until this year, when he really helped the Bobcats improve after sending away Jason Richardson for him.  Unfortunately, Diaw's a pretty awful rebounder (9.7%) and started to monopolize the ball a bit in Charlotte on isolation plays, stuff he didn't do in Phoenix. 

Nick Collison (2 years, $13,000,000 total, $6,250,000 in 2009/10)

Collison turned in a pretty solid season last year for the Thunder as a part-time starter.  He took his game outside a bit more and saw his shooting efficiency rise tremendously (nearly a 60% TS%).  On the flip side, his rebounding was a bit down and he couldn't wrestle the starting job away from Nenad Kristic.  But on a team with very few big men, Collison might have more value to the Thunder than if he played on another team.  I don't see Oklahoma City parting with him as easily as they should, considering he's got two more years left and doesn't quite give MLE-quality production.

Jeff Foster (2 years, 12,732,500 total, $6,077,500 in 2009/10)

Foster's a lot like Collison, except more solid defensively and more attainable.  He doesn't shoot nearly as much from the outside, but he sets mean screens and really hits the offensive glass hard (12.8% OREB% last year).  On defense, he can check 4s and 5s easily, and while his defensive rebounding doesn't jump off the charts, he does a lot of little things in the paint to help his team.  Larry Bird has valued him heavily over the years, giving him a two-year extension last offseason, but with youngsters Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert around and the Pacers struggling to make money, Foster should be a potential casualty.

Ronny Turiaf (3 years, $12,500,000 total, $4,140,000 in 2009/10)

I've never been a huge fan of Turiaf's game because it seems like there's more fake hustle than real production.  Despite his reputation, he's actually a pretty terrible rebounder (career REB%: 12.2%), and he doesn't offer too many offensive skills.  At the same time, he does know his limitations and he is a pretty strong finisher in traffic, so perhaps he's worth a look despite a really poor contract.

Group 3: The "Big Fish" big

Elton Brand (4 years, $66,037,665 total, $14,858,472 in 2009/10)

If the Wizards really wanted to make a major move, these would be the guy to most realistically target.  Chris Bosh is probably a pipe dream with just one year left on his contract and a team that's gone way out of its way to surround him with quality pieces this offseason.  No other borderline star that really would help the Wizards solve their weaknesses is likely to be available. 

Brand is on this list because of his defensive ability when healthy.  In 2006 and 2007, Brand was one of the league's top defenders, anchoring a very solid Clipper defense with his shot-blocking and low-post defensive ability.  It's an open question whether he ever regains that form, but if he comes close, then he represents an upgrade on Antawn Jamison

Philadelphia might be open to trading Brand even if he regains his form because they could be out of contention, and with finances being a problem for them, they would want to rid themselves of Brand's very long-term deal.  Taking on Brand would mean a major financial commitment for the Wizards (even if they send back Jamison, which would make sense), but he might be the guy to do it.

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