If anyone knows me, or at least knows the 'internet me', then they know that I like very few things in life. I like teams that play defense. I like fixing problems, instead of remaining stagnant. And I like arguing with David Locke (Utah Radio personality and State Sponsored Media representative -- not unlike the Iraqi Information Minister). After an initial salvo sent his way regarding Kevin Martin (as we all jumped on this when Ross Siler suggested that he's trade-able) I began to re-evaluate the situation.
Essentially, Kevin Martin is a rather young, rather injury prone, scorer who should be better on defense than he is. Does he sound like someone on our team? Yeah, he does sound a bit like our own (love him or hate him) Carlos Boozer. Any potential SAC-UTAH trade that makes progressive sense for the Jazz needs to involve these two guys.
The bottom line is that if a trade does occur with these two being the primary players, the Jazz are better placed to mitigate any loss of Boozer (on offense) with better defense from the people filling in at the 4 (Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko). Essentially, this is getting Kevin Martin for the cost of less overt efficiency in the paint on offense and a few more blocks on defense.
If you want to know more about Kevin Martin; the Utah Jazz Offense with him; the Salaries; potential Trades and more . . . click on, brave reader.
K-Mart is open for business:
The first point that needs to be stressed is that this is a buyers market right now for Kevin Martin. The Maloof brothers are already guard heavy on offense, have a new stud to build around in Tyreke Evans, and are trying to get rid of salary in order to maximize flexibility. If they are going to 'give up' their main player they are only going to do it for expiring contracts in return. (Otherwise, why not just keep Kevin Martin in the first place?) You can now get Kevin Martin -- this was not a possibility before.
Second, you can get him while getting rid of people who are not in your long-term plans -- as they want expiring deals in return. This would not have been the case two seasons ago. Thankfully, the poor global economic situation has hurt small market teams. The Maloofs may just as well move the team to Las Vegas -- a changing of the guard helps set things in motion.
I'll show you mine if you show me yours:
What does Utah have to offer? In order to coax Martin out of Sactown, the Jazz are going to have to give Jason Levine something he doesn't have. What is that thing? $17.5 million in more expiring contracts. (According to my evil plan) And change. Right now they are on the books to give Kevin Martin jaw dropping amounts of money over the next four seasons. Jaw dropping for a team that is bad. For a contender (and last time I checked the Western Conference standings, the Jazz are), he wouldn't appear to be making that much. This season Deron is getting $13.5m, Boozer $12.3m, Memo $9.0m, Millsap is getting $7.7m
and Andrei is making $16.5m but we don't need to mention this . . . as you can see, Martin's $9.7m would be a somewhere in the middle of that mess. (And much less than Boozer's $12.3m) Utah is offering something too good to say no to.
You almost don't even have to mention how renting Carlos Boozer (in a contract season) to play in Sactown will finally give the Kings an inside scorer who commands double teams and can score in the half-court since they had Chirs Webber. After all, Webber showed Sactown fans that good players will sign on to be The Man of bad teams if they get paid. Who else fits that profile better than Boozer right now? (or, well, Boozer of the off-season -- not the Boozer of this last month who has been team first and integral to the Jazz success)
The Amar Plan:
This is really simple. I spent over an hour trying to make this complex -- involving three teams, and trading a number of players. It was useless. Keeping it simple works the best. Sac does not want to trade away big value expiring contracts. Utah needs to trade expiring contracts in order to make up space for Martin's many years. Utah also has some roster space now that Matt Harpring and Eric Maynor are gone.
I don't know if you can see that (if you can't: click here for fullsize!), but I propose trading Kevin Martin (and three fill in expirings: Hilton Armstrong, Ime Udoka, and Sergio Rodriguez) for Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver. ESPN.com seems to think that the trade works out (as long as Hilton works out -- I don't know how long it takes before he can be traded again). Sactown gets Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver for 40 games, and then they are off the hook from the millions they owe Kevin Martin and get around $17.5m more off of their cap this off-season.
Because the Kings are already under the cap they can take a bit more contract back in this trade than the Jazz. So not only do the Jazz get the guy they want (presumably) in Martin, but they also get three expiring deals AND THEY SAVE MONEY THIS SEASON BY MAKING THIS TRADE. How much money do the Jazz save this season, by making this trade? The Jazz save (according to the data we can get from ShamSports.com) around $2.6 million. Financially, this deal isn't hurting the Jazz in 2009-2010. If the world economy makes any kind of recovery in the next 4 seasons, this deal may not hurt the Jazz in the immediate future either.
If this deal is not sweet enough, I don't mind throwing in the Knicks pick. We've been holding onto that like it's going to let us draft the next great thing. We're not awesome with mid-lotto picks (which is what we're going to get because the Knicks aren't as bad as we need them to be), which makes me worry that we're going to draft the next Padgett, Snyder or Humphries rather than another Brewer. If we don't have to include the Knicks unrestricted 2010 1st round pick -- then disregard this paragraph.
Some of us are huge geeks, and want to see the actual numbers, when it comes to the money. So here it is (again, adopted from ShamSports.com):
That looks mighty blurry to me, so hopefully it formats correctly. If you can't see it correctly, click on this. Red names are guys leaving. Green names are guys coming over. Green numbers are player options. Blue numbers are team options. Red numbers are the minimum qualifying offers that the Jazz are obligated to tender, to free agents.
For one, we're putting a lot of money in a few people -- but the Jazz front office has been doing well finding serviceable role players who are underpaid (Millsap's first few seasons, Wes Mantooth, Sundiata, Fes, etc). If need be, I think the Jazz will be able to find warm bodies to fill out the roster.
Second, many people are going to be free agents. Thankfully, many of them we do not care for. Guys like Sundiata, Wes and Fes are not going to demand the Jazz break the bank. The only 'real' player we'd need to retain would be Ronnie Brewer (who will be a RFA). His qualifying offer will be around $4 million per. That's still pretty cheap when you compare it to the gaggle of inefficient swingmen on NBA rosters who make more than that.
Thrid, this data does not properly indicate the massively front-loaded contract that Paul Millsap has. (Remember that was a pretty big deal in the off-season) -- so that we're going to have more money available going forward than this chart shows. (relative to the current NBA cap)
Fourth, Rodriguez, Udoka and Armstrong add up to over $5 million in expiring deals after this season is done. That should be the 'middle ground' of what Brewer should go for on the open market. (If any team wants to pay him $7.5 million then that's too much, unless he goes back in a time machine in the off-season and prevents himself from ever getting a broken arm) $6 million wouldn't be too bad, but I can't really advocate going over that, per season.
Fifth, in the 2011 off-season the Jazz will have team options on Kosta and CJ. If they chose not to exercise the team options that'll save nearly $6 million right there. That's gravy compared to the $17.8 that comes off the books as that's AK's last season on that crazy contract.
There will be money to go around, even if the Jazz absorb Kevin Martin's contract (that will pay him less than $12.5 million in his final year -- in 2012 - 2013).
Further Roster Concerns:
The Jazz like to have at least three point guards on the roster at all times. This trade brings the Jazz a fourth in Sergio Rodriguez. Sergio and Sundiata will battle for 3rd string here, and both have expring deals. Sergio *is* a better player, but his next NBA contract needs to start in the $2.3 million range. Sundita will come much cheaper.
The opposite end of the spectrum is the Jazz inability to find a real center. (or, more precisely, play and develop one) The Jazz will have Fes, The Koof and Hilton behind Memo this season if this trade goes through. Fes and Hilton's contract expire. Unless the Jazz want to just roll with The Koof behind Memo and Millsap in 2010-2011 then the Jazz will have to sign or draft another. Hilton, like Sergio, may be better than the current Jazz player at the same position -- but Hilton's next contract will start in the $3.8 million range. Fesenko will be much cheaper.
The Jazz can retain Brewer, Matthews, Gaines and Fesenko this offseason and the Jazz will still have some money for rookies. Most likely, the Jazz keep only 1 -- the lotto pick. The Jazz' own 1st round pick may very well go to the T-Wolves (as we own them that pick). The Jazz's own 2nd round pick may go to the Sixers (as part of the further considerations from the Fes draft day trade), or not make the roster.
That will bring the Jazz up to 13 players with a total budget in the $70-72 million range. (Which is what the Jazz have right now)
PG: D.Williams, R. Price, S.Gaines
SG: K.Martin, W.Matthews
SF: R.Brewer, C.J.Miles
PF: P.Millsap, A.Kirilenko
C: M.OKur, K.Fesenko, K.Koufos
Rookie: Knicks Lotto Pick
Not too shabby.
The main reason (aside from the fact that 'because he's on the market') should be that the Jazz front office needs to learn from the mistakes of their past. Imagine if the Jazz took chances, avoided being stagnant, and got a superb backcourt mate for John Stockton BACK WHEN STOCKTON WAS 25 YEARS OLD, instead of waiting for Stock to become 35 first? Of course, those older Jazz teams wouldn't dare trade Karl Malone for Mitch Richmond -- but Carlos Boozer is far from Karl Malone (no matter how good Boozer has been in the 4th quarter of games the Jazz have won). And the roster depth on this team could survive the loss of Boozer much easier than any former Jazz club could survive losing Malone.
After all, the Jazz have gone on some serious win streaks when Boozer has been injured these last few seasons. Boozer is a great offensive player, but his defense is still less than what it should be. (Again, I admit Boozer has been much better this year) Boozer, though, can be backed up (or replaced) by Paul Millsap (better defense), Andrei Kirilenko (better passing and shot blocking) and Memo (better post defense). All three of those guys give the Jazz different looks when they are at the 4, and all have their own specialities on offense as well. Andrei can run and gun, with ball handling, passing, creating, tip-ins and all-around havoc. Memo can really spread the floor and put the ball on it as well. Millsap is a very hard worker who has under-appreciated offensive ability.
Boozer, for better or worse, makes our offense very predictable. He's good at what he does, but he isn't irreplaceable.
Some guys will fight to the death to defend Boozer's place on this team. He's good. I'm not hating. I just think that moving Boozer expedites the entire Jazz team to move forward. He's a huge problem on defense, and is a poor pick and roll defender who does not have the length or hustle to really bother taller guys. Gasol and Bynum ate him up. The road to the finals goes through LA. If the Jazz ever want to make it there, they are going to have to drastically remove their defensive liabilities. If anything, rotating Millsap, Kirilenko and Memo at the 4 (in spurts) will mean the Jazz will play some of their bigmen a little bit more.
More time on the floor for Fes and Koof (and Tomic when he comes) means more defensive minded shot blockers on the floor. Which is not a bad thing. (AK works best with a good shot blocker -- look at some of his games where he and Ostertag started together)
Okay, we get it. Boozer = The Debbil. What about Kevin Martin?
So far this has all been more about how the Jazz will change with the removal of Boozer. That's only half of the battle. The other half is the addition of Martin. Boozer is not Malone. Similarly, Martin isn't Mitch Richmond either. He's not Hornacek or anyone else. He is a mix of the two. He's a shooter's shooter -- despite the awkward mechanic. He's had to do it all himself for his career and it's taken a toll on his body. Playing less minutes in Utah and having to create for himself less will give him easier shots. I can only expect his efficiency to increase playing in a great offensive system (around guys like Deron, AK and Memo).
He is a legit and consistent three point threat (unlike the inconsistent CJ and Kyle). Starting him will further help floor spacing, as teams will have to defend 5 guys now, instead of packing in the paint. He will help kill zones better than a 6'9 power forward could. He has the ability to do it by himself, and having him and Deron on the floor during crunch time will definitely put the pressure on defenses when they drive (and get to the line). Martin lives at the line, btw.
Of course, starting a strong shooter at shooting guard means we can finally move Brewer to starting Small Forward (in the Pippen role: slasher who moves without the ball, and defends the other teams' best wing scorer). Martin is really nothing to talk about on defense. But he's no worse than Korver or CJ in the first place. I'd be pleased that the interior defense will be shored up, as that's a bigger hole in the playoffs than stopping the other team's 3rd best outside scorer. (The guy Martin would be guarding)
That's all opinion, aren't you a stats guy?
Kevin Martin is the real deal, when it comes to stats. He doesn't have awesome rookie or soph statistics -- but his production (even through injury plagued seasons) is off the chart.
Can't see it -- click here for the biggie
The last column is the most important one. He has an eFG% of 51%, makes almost 2 threes a game, gets to the line 8.6 times a game and has a shooting worth of 1.52 (doesn't seem like much, but it's a huge deal. Stockton only took good shots, and his shooting worth was 1.44. So his shot attempts are worth that much more than Stockton's). He is, essentially, the Carlos Boozer of outside shooting. And these stats from from 208 games played between 2006-2007 and the most recent Kings game this season.
Getting this guy for two guys that aren't in our long term plans (Boozer and Korver) is a great steal. He's better than Korver in everything except 'heart throb' status. I'd rather have another 3-5 playoff wins instead, every season.
Why this isn't going to happen:
The Jazz front office would rather stagnate, not directly try to fix our outside shooting problems and interior defense problems, than roll the dice on a move like this. Greg Miller has a crush on Boozer, and K-Mart will probably go to another team and be a solid performer elsewhere. After all, the Jazz motto is better be safe than real contenders. I'm sure it was a mistake that made the Jazz trade Jeff Malone for Jeff Hornacek back in the day.
This guy is younger than Horny, and at the right age to gel with the rest of the young roster the Jazz has. Losing Boozer is not going to be the worst thing ever -- it's almost more healthy to just rip Boozer off like a Band-Aid, instead of letting it fester all season long.
This is really long, but I cut 500 words already. After all, this is the only post about this you'll ever need to read.