I wrote this because I wanted to refocus. Too many debates about whether Miami's a contender or not, whether Boozer would agree to go to the Bucks or not, etc. kind of miss the point (and I'm as guilty as anyone in getting caught up in these tangents).
So here's the point:
My greatest fear is that the Jazz will do nothing this summer.
And I don’t know why I even spend the time writing this stuff up, because who knows what the hell Kevin O’Connor and crew, and the other GM’s around the league, are even thinking about.
But I guess I want someone somewhere to know that if I was in charge of the Jazz roster, I’d do just about anything to get Bogut on the Jazz. And what kills me is that the Jazz actually have a lot to offer:
There’s the trade I already mentioned, which gets the Bucks:
Boozer, $6-10 million worth of bad contracts off their slate, $6-10 million to pursue free agents this summer, plus a trade exception worth up to $9 million (that’s basically the ability to trade for a player with a salary up to that much for absolutely nothing).
But that’s not the only possibility:
Here’s the absolute best offer the Jazz can make that doesn’t kill the team (I’m kind of playing off the “Boozer won’t agree to go there” mantra, which I happen to not believe at all. But anyway, work with me here):
Millsap, CJ, Knicks pick, Harpring trade exception, Maynor trade exception, and Brewer trade exception.
Here’s what the Bucks would get:
Millsap (likely 17-10 guy who plays hard all the frakking time), CJ (15 ppg possiblity)*, The Knicks pick, cash, an plus up to $15 million in crappy contracts/mediocre players off the books (Gadzuric, Bell, Delfino—easily the best of the bunch, but still not exactly LeBron James). Now let’s say Salmons walks, and suddenly the Bucks are over $21 million under the cap.
Now look at 2 scenarios for the Bucks, one with no trade (and a Salmons opt-in/resigning), and one with the one I just brought up. Remember, we can’t think like a fan, we have to think like a GM:
F - Delfino
F - Mbah a Moute
C - Bogut
G - Salmons
G - Jennings
C - Gadzuric
F - Ilyasova
G - Bell
Plus the #14 pick, a 2nd round pick, and mid-level exception to fill out the team.
With the final trade:
$21 million to go after some combo of Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay, David Lee, Ray Allen (!), Brendon Haywood (to replace Bogut in the middle), Shaq, Luis Scola, etc., plus a $9 million trade exception to offer a team going on a fire sale (Danny Granger in Indiana, Captain Jack in Charlotte, Shawn Marion in Dallas, JR Smith in Denver, Andris Biedrins in Golden State, Devin Harris in NJ, David West in NO, Bargnani or Calderon in Toronto).**
Suddenly the Bucks GM will start imagining a lineup like this:
F - Millsap
F - Danny Granger or Rudy Gay or Shawn Marion or Chris Bosh or David West or Scola
C - Haywood or Shaq or Bargnani or David Lee or Biedrins
G - Ray Allen or Joe Johnson or JR Smith or Devin Harris
G - Brandon Jennings
F - Ilyasova
F/G - CJ
F - Mbah a Moute
Plus 2 first round picks (including 1 lottery), plus a 2nd rounder, plus the mid-level exception
Here’s the question: which team is better on paper (where GM’s live)? The one before the trade or the one after the trade? The one after the trade … by a lot.***
I know … maybe Bogut’s untouchable as far as the Bucks are concerned. But the point is if the Kevin O’Connor is smart, he’d go balls out after him. I don’t care how untouchable Bogut may be, he’s not LeBron, and he’s never even made an All-Star team (though he was absolutely shafted this season). If the Jazz go all-out after him, playing a poker face, but ultimately willing to offer everything they have to offer, at some point the Bucks are seriously going to consider it. They’d have to. They’d start seeing Millsap’s numbers as a starter, and CJ’s postseason production, their very reasonable contracts, the $21 million to throw at free agents, the $9 million trade exception—and it’s enough to make most GM’s fall over into a drunken stupor. Or even better, maybe they'll start listening to David Locke and get just giddy about all of Boozer's double-doubles and we end up keeping Millsap and/or CJ.
And that’s why I’m terrified that Kevin O’Connor and the Jazz front office aren’t going to pursue stuff like this aggressively. They’ve got serious assets that other teams would really like. Teams make trades all the time that better their teams. GM’s give up guys as good as or even better than Bogut year after year after year after year—sometimes for junk. You can’t tell me the Bucks would never go for it. They’d absolutely consider it—regardless of the fans crying foul (that’s what GM’s do, after all). Some combination of Boozer, Millsap, CJ, the Knicks pick, the trade exceptions, and a willingness to take on several million dollars worth of crappy contracts would be enough for the Bucks to seriously consider it. Maybe they’d ultimately turn it down, but some GM somewhere would trade something awesome to the Jazz for this.
So please, Kevin O’Connor, go after this. Make a list of a dream Jazz roster, identify the absolute best fits for the Jazz needs, and go balls out to get them. Pound the phones and trump your assets mercilessly. And please, for the love of all that is holy, put Bogut at the top of your dream list.
* People may scoff at my CJ-will-get-15 ppg statement, but you have to think like a GM. They love to go after guys who just had a nice second half and decent playoff run. The Bucks GM would go catatonic to think of the final 30 games of Smart CJ, his 14 PPG in the playoffs, and the fact that he wouldn’t get to offer a 6-year, $85 million contract. Seriously, this will be any GM’s thought process: “I can have this guy for less than $4 million a year? I don’t have to outbid all the other dumb GM’s? I don’t know what to do with myself. I know, I’ll offer a max-contract extension ASAP!”
** I know, critics will say “but so-and-so would never come to Milwaukee” or “hasn’t so-and-so been crappy for 3 different teams in the past 4 years” or “there’s no way in hell I want so-and-so” or “or “isn’t so-and-so kind of getting up there in the years—why would anyone offer him a big free agent contract?” or “isn’t so-and-so a partially animated corpse at this point, are we really going to pay him $60 million over the next 4 years?” (*cough* Shaq *cough*). You all stop this right now. You’re thinking like a fan. You have to think like a GM. They always believe their signee will defy aging, will turn things around, will respond miraculously to the new scene, will give Milwaukee equal consideration to New York, and on and on and on. They’ll see that $21 million under the cap and assume Chris Bosh is theirs.
*** FYI, here’s the Jazz team given this Millsap and CJ go to Milwaukee scenario. They’ll resign Boozer to be the PF, then they’ll sign Raja Bell for the mid-level exception (because I say they must).
F - AK
F - Boozer
C - Bogut
G - Wesley
G - Deron
C/F - Memo
F/G - KK
F/G - Raja
G - Ronnie
I happen to like Millsap 1000X better than Boozer, but that lineup’s still pretty damn good. And I think we’d be amazed and how much less we notice Boozer’s crappy D when everyone else in that starting line up, especially the big guy in the middle, plays strong, hard D. And Raja would bring a really nice bit of leadership and nastiness to the team (though certainly less athleticism and “tremendous upside potential” than CJ). And I do believe he’d sign with the Jazz—he’ll be looking for a good situation, not the biggest contract.