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Who is the Ideal Trading Partner for Collison?
Some will argue Collison should be traded this summer, others will claim that doing so would be lunacy. Let’s table that discussion for now because each camp has legitimate points in the argument. Instead, let’s just assume the role of Hornets GM and imagine that we have already determined Collison must be moved this summer and the next step is to survey the other 29 teams and get the best deal possible.
First, we have to determine value objectively. Stand back and look at him as a commodity like you would any other commodity. Here are the facts: He is coming off a First Team All Rookie season in which he averaged nearly 19 and 9 when he started for the Hornets and shot nearly 49 percent from the field. He also shot 85 percent from the free throw line as a starter and averaged 1.4 steals per game.
If those numbers remained the same over the course of an entire season, he would have ranked 6th among point guards in scoring, 6th in assists, 5th in FG %, 6th in FT%, and 7th in steals. What is even more remarkable is that of all those players who finished ahead of Collison, only Stephen Curry (who lead Collison in FT% and steals) is younger than Collison- AND not one of those players earn less money annually than Collison.
In addition to production, age and salary have to be factored into the equation when determining objective value because they also figure in to projecting future value, which is even more important than current value to NBA GM’s. For instance, let’s say the reports are true and Tony Parker is on the trading block this summer. He has 1 year and 13.5 million dollars left on his deal. At best, you can project that maybe you can sign him to a 4-year/55 million dollar extension when you make the trade. If that occurs, you are looking at committing 68 million dollars to Parker over the next five years, at which point he will likely be at the back end of his career. Conversely, if you trade for Collison, you are guaranteed to have him for the next three years at a measly 6 million dollars- less than half of Parker’s 2010-2011 salary alone! Then, he becomes a restricted free agent, allowing you to match any offer. In all likelihood, you will get Collison for the next ten years at the same price that you will pay Parker for the next five.
Supply and demand also figures in heavily to determining value of a commodity, and for teams looking for a quality point guard, there are very few options this summer. The Wizards will fill their need in the draft with John Wall, but outside of him there are no point guards in this year’s draft that project as starters this season. The free agent market is also bone dry when it comes to point guards, with Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton, and Derek Fisher being the only guys on the market who were regular starters for their teams last season. And as for the trade market, one can never know exactly who is available, but the names that have been floated include Mo Williams, Devin Harris, Delonte West, Jose Calderon and TJ Ford. For different reason, none of those guys have nearly the amount of value that Collison has, due mostly to the differences in their contracts.
Factor all this in with the fact that point guard is considered a premium position, and you can easily make a case that Collison is one of the top thirty players in the league when it comes to trade VALUE. The fact is that if you need a point guard this summer and you don’t have the first pick, your second best option is to call the Hornets and your third best option is to wait until next year. Knowing this, I am going to make sure that I will get maximum value for Collison- but what exactly constitutes value for the Hornets? On the court, the needs are many. The Hornets need more length on the front line and the wings, along with a two guard who can share time with Thornton, and a small forward of the future. Also, if DC is traded, a back up who can spell Paul will become a need, unless the staff feels comfortable allowing Thornton to fill that role for ten to twelve minutes per game.
Off the court, the Hornets must also address their financial situation- both for this season and the future. They will have to shed about eight million in salary this season (after they fill out the roster) to avoid paying the luxury tax. Unloading James Posey and Emeka Okafor are also vital if the Hornets have any desire to be players in the Free Agent market anytime in the foreseeable future. Moving those players will also improve flexibility with regard to what the Hornets can take back in trades. If the Hornets can move both of these contracts, they will enter the 2011-2012 season without a single bad contract on their roster, and potentially have between 30 and 35 million dollars to spend in free agency depending on the terms of the new CBA. While Carmelo and Yao are the only true marquee free agents who might be available next summer, having that kind of money will make the Hornets MAJOR players in the trade market. Imagine the Knicks give Joe Johnson a big deal this summer, but hear through the grapevine that Melo wants to come to the Big Apple. Now the Knicks have to dump JJ to create the room necessary, and we are happy to oblige if they throw in Wilson Chandler. Point is, dumping these contracts could easily translate in a vastly improved roster in the very near future- as soon as 2011-2012. So the long-term plan if we dump Okafor with DC is using that money to acquire a Joe Johnson type, so that has to be factored into any trade. You have to see the big picture, and all the potential dominoes.
So look around the league; think objectively. Put your GM hat on and start the building process with DC as the first piece that helps you to put a championship puzzle around CP3. I know some of you don’t agree this is the way to go, but table that for now. Even if you disagree, open your mind and get us the best deal possible. I’ll start, as I think the Pacers are the ideal trade partner. They have been dying for a PG and Collison is a perfect fit with Granger. They also have a few pieces that fit what we need, including Dhantay Jones, who is a perfect compliment to Thornton. A defensive minded two guard who can give the team 20-25 minutes a night or more if Thornton is having a poor shooting night. In addition, he has a very reasonable deal- as he is due to make 8 million over the next three years. Tyler Hansborough is a player the Hornets loved last year and would be a great 8th or 9th man for this team- similar to what Amundson was for Phoenix this season. A scrappy, high energy big that is on a rookie contract. The Pacers also have some expiring contracts that can actually contribute for us this season in Jeff Foster and TJ Ford. If we move Okafor, Foster can be a part time starter until we develop a center or trade for one and Ford can be a back up to Paul as well. And finally, the Pacers most valuable asset to include is the number 10 pick in this year’s draft. Indy’s biggest need is PG and there will not be any point guards worthy of the 10th pick, so it would make sense to use that pick to acquire Collison and plug him in right away to a lineup that will include Granger and Hibbert as other building blocks.
So here are the two trades I would offer Indy if they wanted Collison:
1.) DC, Songalia, and James Posey for Dhantay Jones, Tyler Hansborough, TJ Ford, the 10th pick and the right to trade 1st rounder’s in the future (top 10 protected)
This trade nets us a starter at the two, along with two prospects in Tyler and the 10th pick. In addition, we unload Posey and get a quality back up for Paul this season in Ford. Indy gets their PG of the future for #10, Hansborough, and taking on Posey’s extra year.
2.) DC, Emeka, and Mo for Jones, Ford Foster, #10, and the right to trade future 1st rounder (top 10 protected)
The Hornets unload their 2nd biggest contract and get back Jones, #10, and two guys who can fill in this season. Indy takes on Emeka to get DC, but gets to hold on to Tyler, who can give them a solid three-man rotation with Emeka and Hibbert.
Either trade greatly increases the Hornets financial flexibility and gets them a two guard who can compliment MT5, along with the number 10 pick. With 10 and 11, the Hornets should be able to land one wing player (George, Henry, Babitt) and one big (Aldrich, Patterson, Monroe) that can be big pieces down the line.
So, there you go- now it is your turn, let’s see what you got.