So, You Want to Upgrade the Point Guard Position? Trade Scenarios for You Then

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Clark and Peter have a heart to heart about point guards and how to acquire them. Monopoly is mentioned.

This is a part in a series of email exchanges between Clark and Peter. Today they discuss the pros and cons of trading for a point guard of the future. Also join the discussion on a fanpost that Clint wrote that is well done.

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Peter,

There's no doubt that all Jazz fans would like to make a trade to either upgrade the point guard position or acquire the point guard of the future. Since the Jazz have an abundance of big men, logic leads Jazz fans to the simple conclusion of "trade Big Man X and whatever for point guard Z." It seems simple enough, but the problem is that other teams aren't super willing to give up starting-caliber point guards. As my father might tell Jazz fans, "why don't you go out back and water the Point Guard tree."

Am I crazy? Are there any starting caliber point guards that the Jazz could trade for?

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Clark,

Unfortunately for Jazz fans the team's options to acquire a future point guard during this season greatly diminished on October 31st. It was at that time that Stephen Curry (4 years, $44m), Jrue Holiday (4 years, $41-46m) and Ty Lawson (4 years, $48m), all inked longterm extensions which will keep them tied to their teams for the foreseeable future. While a trade for any of those players is still doable, it seems unlikely as each of their respective teams have shown their desire to keep each of those guys longterm.

That being said there are still a few interesting situations out there where players may be available now or in the next month or two as the trade deadline approaches. Lets start by discussing the most available point guard on the market and work our way back.

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It is not a secret that Toronto has made Jose Calderon available for trade. As soon as the Raptors dealt a potential lottery pick to Houston in the upcoming draft for Kyle Lowry, Calderon hit the trade market. Calderon has continued to play well this season as a reserve and spot starter and is more of a pass first point guard that the Jazz have seemingly preferred. That being said he is a year older than Mo Williams and is also on an expiring contract, so the thought that he could represent the Jazz's future at the PG position is somewhat dubious.

That being said, if the Jazz had an opportunity to acquire Calderon for cheap I think they'd have to consider it. Calderon and Mo could play in two guard sets together and provide more balance to the offense. The trade proposed above would barely squeak in, in terms of a financial match (fellow trade machinists please keep in mind that the 2012-13 Luxury tax line is at $70.307m, and the Jazz will not cross this line). This trade would give the Raptors a young prospect at wing (Alex Borks) which they need (they recently had to sign Mickael Pietrus for heavens sake) and financial relief, while giving them a serviceable reserve PG in Earl Watson.

Thoughts?

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Yeah. Guys that signed extensions this offseason are essentially off limits. I'm astounded at how many Jazz fans comment on coming up with a trade to get Holiday or Curry or Lawson. My favorite comment is, "could we get them if we threw the bank at them?" What does that even mean? Are we fake general managing or playing monopoly? What would it have taken to trade for Deron Williams the first year he signed his extension? Probably even more than what we traded him for. So maybe Holiday would be available...for Kanter and Favors and 2 first rounders and the deed to Park Place. But I digress.

Your Calderon trade scenario is intriguing. If Toronto would be willing to give up Calderon for essentially Alec Burks, the Jazz would have to consider it. They would probably try to pry one of our 1st round picks from us. Not worth it for more than you're suggesting at that point.

The question with all of these trades is "does it definitely make us better at the PG position?" You may prefer Jose Calderon to Mo Williams stylistically but Calderon is a poor poor defender and I don't know if we need to upgrade the offense at the defense's sake right now.

As you stated Calderon is on an expiring deal which would make him a fairly non risky acquisition, but also not a definite future piece. I will say this. If Mo Williams or Randy Foye go down to a significant injury, then I could see the Jazz aggressively pursuing Calderon, but probably not until then. We have enough capable point guards to manage for now.

So lets discuss another "available" "point guard" in Tyreke Evans. I know a handful of Jazz fans are intrigued by him. My quick scouting take, is that he's a score first guard who has to get to the rim to succeed and his best year was probably his rookie season, which isn't good. On the other hand, he has the DNA of a top tier talent and might benefit from a change in scenery.

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Trading with Sacramento is tricky because they need good defenders and glue guys and we don't have those in spades. But let's discuss something like this. Evans and Mo would probably be able to play together nicely.

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I tend to agree with you on any Calderon trade. I would just add that while the goal of this exercise is to add our point guard of the future, I do think barring a trade there is a better than 50/50 shot that the Jazz try to re-sign Mo Williams for the next few seasons as our transition to the next era pointman. That being said, I am not sure that Mo Williams would necessarily choose to stick around. For example, say Dallas offers him a decent contract next off season. Would he rather hitch the last few years of his career to Dirk or to Big Al? That is why having a guy like Calderon in the fold may give us more flexibility.

Tyreke on the other hand presents a very interesting option at point guard, in that he is not a point guard. He may fit nicely next to Mo (and Randy Foye for that matter) with them taking turns initiating the offense and allowing Mo to get open for a lot of spot up threes off of Tyreke drives. On defense you'd have Tyreke guarding opposing teams bigger guard allowing Mo (or Randy) to defend the opposing teams point guard.

Your trade offer to Sacarmento would have to intrigue them. That franchise is such a mess right now that it's hard to get a read on what they are looking for. They've obviously needed a starting small forward for quite a while now, but I'm not sure if they would see DeMaree Carroll as that guy. Enes Kanter would certainly be a nice compliment to Cousins on defense and as a rebounder, but they've just invested a high pick in Thomas Robinson and decent sized contracts in Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson.

All that being said, I think the Jazz would prefer to hang on to Kanter now and take their chances that the Kings financially strapped ownership group would not want to match a decent sized restricted free agent tender offer to Tyreke this summer. If we do pursue him now, in order to give him a test run before making a large financial commitment, then I'd hope we would focus on offering them financial relief and a draft pick instead. Perhaps something like this offer plus one of Utah's first round draft picks next year.

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This trade would allow Sacramento to add a first round pick (and an inexpensive rookie contract) while unloading Chuck Hayes who has another three years on his contract. Hayes is a decent defender and would be a good 4th big for Utah in a limited role. Additionally, Sacramento would finally add a starting quality SF to their roster, but one whose contract is up this year or next. By adding Tyreke the Jazz would be able to give Gordon Hayward more minutes at SF with Carroll and have a three guard rotation of Tyreke/Mo/Foye. Sorry, Burks.

Then there's Jimmer. (Sorry, we are obligated to fit his name in somewhere.)

Lets move past the dumpster fire that is Sacramento to another pending restricted free agent (and more true PG) in Brandon Jennings. I have long speculated that of the point guards from this draft class, that he would be the most available next summer in free agency. That would appear to be even more true as he saw three of his peers land large extensions, while he landed none. The more this season wears on, the more I think Milwaukee might consider Jennings their only player worth building around, especially in the backcourt where they will likely hope Monta Ellis opts out of his contract this offseason and takes his talents to south beach...or some other NBA locale not located in the state of Wisconsin.

If we were to seek out Jennings it would likely spell the end of the Al Jefferson era as the main benefit of Jennings would be to really get out and push the floor with our young legs. So perhaps something like this might work for both teams:

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I would also expect Milwaukee would want one of our 1st round picks.

While the Bucks have a lot of serviceable bigs, especially on the defensive end, they lack a true offensive post presence. I caught some of the Bucks vs Nets game on Sunday and the Bucks' lack of an option in the half court game was glaring. Their current offensive half court sets feature Larry Sanders down low, and near as I can tell the only move he has in his repertoire is a left handed hook shot that doesn't draw iron more than 1/3rd of the time. Adding Al would solve that problem for them and also allow them to compliment Jefferson with a few defensive bigs (Sanders, Ekpe Udoh) and a stretch 4 (Ersan Illyasova).

The main question is, does Jennings style fit in with what the Jazz want to do here?

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So I think we come to similar conclusions on Tyreke Evans. It would cost us some nice pieces to acquire him since he's a 5th pick in his draft and there would be a lot of risk involved in order to acquire a player who might not fit in at all with the Jazz's way of doing things. My advice to Jazz fans would be to forget about Tyreke. It just doesn't make much sense. It's a systematic non-fit.

Brandon Jennings is intriguing. We are sort of coming across some common themes in terms of "available" point guards and the uncertainty of their ability to help us get better. But if they were sure fire great players, they'd be less available. That's just the name of the game. Jennings is a young lefty with a lot of ability and a streaky shooting stroke. He isn't the 3 point shooter or midrange shooter that Mo Williams is and if you think Mo is too trigger happy, you'll love Brandon Jennings and his 17 field goal attempts a game. With that said, Jennings is arguably a better passer and would fit better in a pick n roll game with Derrick Favors than Mo has, I think. He's also 7 years younger. While its certainly more likely that the Jazz would pursue Jennings in free agency than make a trade for him if they were interested, your trade proposal is a fair one, especially if the Bucks feel like BJ won't be there for the long haul. This trade scenario is probably my favorite so far, not that it thrills me or would certainly work.

Lets move on to all of Jazz fans' truest prize in Eric Bledsoe. He's a must get for so many Jazz fans. Unfortunately he's hardly available. For one, Bledsoe is a very good player. He also can be successful alongside Chris Paul. And more importantly, the Clippers aren't going to trade their talented back up point guard until they've locked up Paul to another long term deal, if even then. The more likely scenario is that the Jazz could snatch Bledsoe away from the Clippers in a trade next summer if Paul re-inks with LA, or else the Jazz could wait until the summer of 2014 to make Bledsoe an offer in restricted free agency. As a backup, there is a good chance the Clippers won't extend Bledsoe before then. But even if the Clippers were willing to trade Bledsoe, I don't know that the Jazz have the best pieces to make such a deal. But perhaps something like this could work:

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I think the Jazz would have to include multiple draft picks as well. Right now Bledsoe is just much much better than Burks and although Millsap would be a huge upgrade over Odom, LA wouldn't be able to keep Millsap past this season. This trade would allow the Clippers to compete for the title this year, though.

So even if LA considers something like this, is it worth it? Would you deal Millsap, burks and 1 or 2 first round draft picks for Bledsoe and Odom?

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I think you hit on all the main points why trading for Bledsoe is difficult right now. Let me however tweek your deal ever so slightly:

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Now, let me explain how this deal now makes a little more sense for the Clippers. While the CP3 issue is still a problem, this acquisition does give the Clippers a greater chance of competing for a title now, as you mentioned, by adding Millsap to fill the role they thought Odom would fill for them. Additionally, assuming they convince CP3 to re-sign next year this trade frees $8 million off of their cap commitments for next season and would give the Clippers a roster of CP3/Griffin/Jordan/Crawford/Hill/Burks for a total of about $50m. By unloading Butler, the Clippers would remain about $10m below the cap and $20m below the luxury tax line to fill out their roster. In that scenario adding Millsap at about $8-10m per year, the amount cleared up by Butler, is feasible and gives them a solid 3 big rotation with someone that can close at the end of the game since they prefer to sit Jordan due to his free throw shooting troubles.

While adding Butler and his money next year is less than ideal for the Jazz, if they got their starting point and a backup small forward for a total of $10m, you'd actually say they'd be ahead of the curve. Butler's contract would then expire the following year right as Favors and Hayward extensions would kick in. The Jazz may need to add a 1st round pick to make this go through but the financial benefits to the Clippers are pretty signficant. Bledsoe, Mo and Foye would be a solid three guard rotation and the Jazz could even consider bringing Mo back next season to play with Bledsoe.

An in season trade with the Clippers would be a fairly dramatic change to both rosters which always makes it less likely to happen, so lets revisit something simpler I previously suggested on yours and Andy's podcast:

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While Burks may not have much value around the league right now, Kendall Marshall is similarly struggling. Take for example this tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski:

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I do think that it is a bit funny that Kendall Marshall would be expected to thrive in the D-League. His game is built on playing within a structured offense and distributing to other players to score, while the D-League is built on players going one-on-one without much structure. In any event, Marshall's need in Phoenix diminished the day they signed Goran Dragic to a longterm contract. The Suns do however need wing players and may have use for Burks, where he sits mostly unused with Utah. Due to the likely needed time for the development of Marshall, there would be a good chance that the Jazz would want to re-sign Mo as the starter for the next year or two.

is it too early to call Marshall a bust?

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I think your trade proposal to the Clippers is a better one than mine for the reasons you stated. the Jazz could certainly explain to the fan base about trading Millsap if it brought back a player of Bledsoe's caliber.

I think it's too early to call Marshall a bust, although he has some things going against him that are troubling. He is fairly unathletic and struggles hitting an outside shot. That's a bad combination for an NBA point guard, no matter how great his court vision and passing skills are. He can certainly learn to improve, but he's not certainly a future starting point guard in this league. I think his poor performance in the d-league thus far is troubling. I think you can include guys like Reggie Williams, who I've been high on, or even Tony Wroten in the group with Marshall. Those are guys the Jazz might be able to pry away with Alec Burks or a lottery pick. But these players would probably be long term projects. None of them are ready to step into the starting role right now.

Another point guard prospect is Atlanta's Jeff Teague, but there really isn't a trade to be made there either. For one, the Hawks have no long term contracts that they don't want to have. They also want to keep Teague. They have Devin Harris to step into the role, if they did trade Teague, except that Harris isn't in their plans. Harris is an expiring deal that helped them unload Marvin Williams' two year contract. There isn't a deal to made there and Atlanta has no incentive to deal Teague.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Jazz fans would love to trade for the point guard of the future but that is easier said than done for all of the reasons we've hashed out. Any point guard we could hypothetically acquire comes with their own set of risks and problems. I'm not saying that the Jazz won't trade for a point guard, but I just wouldn't expect it. It's more likely that the Jazz try to resign Mo Williams for the next 2-3 years, like you mentioned, and look at drafting a point guard this upcoming draft, or else make an offer to a guy like Bledsoe in two years. I guess that's my closing argument. You have any last thoughts?

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Sadly, our desire to add a point guard for the future is not met with readily available players at this time. Nor would most fans be happy with the price it would likely cost the Jazz in a trade to acquire such a player.

Take for example, John Wall. While he has thus far disappointed in his career (16.3 ppg, 8 apg, 17.8 PER in 2011-12 vs Mo Williams 14.2 ppg, 7.2 apg, 17.9 PER in 2012-13), he is still considered a franchise cornerstone for Washington and their hopes of being successful in the future are contingent on his return to health and his further development. Were the Jazz willing to make an offer, what would it take? Maybe something like this (plus draft picks):

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While the trade would benefit Washington by unloading a good deal of long-term salary off their cap and would give them a couple of decent prospects in Hayward, Kanter and draft picks, where does it leave Utah? We'd have a team built around Wall, Favors, Nene's bad contract and a few decent wings like Marvin Williams and Randy Foye. The Jazz make that trade for what? A slightly better scorer and passer than Mo Williams, but a less efficient player and one that can't hit a three pointer.

Ultimately, while the Jazz's long-term future likely depends on finding a Point Guard to take them from good to great, the present availability of that player appears slim and the most likely scenario is Mo Williams returning for a few more seasons while the Jazz use a draft pick this summer to hope to land a future all-star at the position.

But how to find that player in the draft is another post for another day.

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