I watched yesterday's draft with my brother, who I too rarely see, and this made the draft extremely enjoyable. But even so, I woke up today with a bitter film of regret in my mouth. I recognize the lack of trades up into or back from the lottery last night indicate it would have taken a very specific situation for the Jazz to obtain a lottery pick, and the cost would not have been cheap. I acknowledge the attractiveness of rookie contracts in the current financial climate of the NBA would further have complicated the move. But all that being said, as I watched the draft unfold last night one thought slowly formed in my head: we missed an opportunity that would have worked.
I've been advocating a Jazz/Sixers/Raptors trade for weeks. Consider the plausibility of the idea given the added information we have now that that the draft has played out.
The Sixers' Perspective
Last night the team netted SF Moe Harkless at #15 and traded a future first and #45 (Justin Hamilton) for PF Arnett Moultrie. The buzz seems to be that the Sixers had a pretty good night, and I agree. But I also see a team trying to win with the roster they'll have this year (trading the future 1st). Harkless almost certainly points to a strong push to trade Iguodala to free up cap room and provide space for Evan Turner to flourish, and Moultrie is a needed addition to add an offensive threat from their bigs beyond Elton Brand, who still may well be amnestied. But Harkless, in spite of great potential, is unlikely to be a great contributor for a few years, and Doug Collins will quickly grow irritated with Moultrie's inability and indifference defensively--especially if you compare him with the possibility of landing Paul Millsap.
The trade I proposed would have landed the Sixers Paul Millsap and Linas Kleiza while shipping off Brand without costing them their amnesty bullet, as well as saved them a future first. Paul Millsap + Linaz Kleiza or Harkless + Moultrie - future first? The only reason I can see the Sixers would prefer the second option is they still have Iguodala to trade for an established piece, but after picking Harkless the price of Iggi has likely gone down a bit.
Decision prior to the draft: Sixers likely accept the trade.
Decision in hindsight after the draft: Sixers likely to wish they had accepted the trade.
The Raptors' Perspective
The Toronto Raptors, whose best young player is arguably DeMar DeRozan, use the 8th pick in the 2012 NBA draft to select... Terrance Ross. Um, okay. Don't get me wrong, I really like Ross. I think he's going to be a good starter in the league. But it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to use that high a pick on a player to, as SI's Sam Amick wrote, "push DeMar DeRozan to speed up his learning curve." The team north of the border really went into this draft hoping to land another scoring SG? Ross may be a better shooter than DeRozan, which the Raptor's desperately need, but I doubt two young SGs competing for time will draw the Raptors' most desired asset: Steve Nash.
The hypothetical trade would have sent the Raptors Iguodala, who for all his faults is a much better component to win now, which means a lot to Nash. Plus, the Raptors could have saved money swapping Calderon for Harris (who would make a great, and indisputable, backup to Nash), plus landed a worthy piece at pick 15, such as the athletic and tough Terrance Jones. Finally, they'd have Utah's 2014 pick just about the time Nash plans to be wrapping up his career.
What line up would better entice Nash to sign with the Raptors? A) DeRozan/Ross, James Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, and Jonas Valanciunas; or B) DeRozan, Iguodala, Bargnani/Terrance Jones, Valanciunas. I suspect the latter quite substantially.
Decision prior to the draft: Raptors likely accept the trade.
Decision in hindsight after the draft: Raptors likely to wish they had accepted the trade.
As for the Jazz, this might have been the team's 2012-13 roster [ () shows possible draft selections at #8]:
PG: Jose Calderon, (Kendall Marshall)
SG: Alec Burks, NO RAJA BELL (unamnestied), (Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb, Terrance Ross if you don't like Marshall)
Next year's draft: 3 first round picks
Long term contracts: Favors, Hayward, Burks, Kanter, 2012 draft pick.
Instead, we're looking at this:
SG: Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, (Raja Bell???)
SF: Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll
PF: Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans
C: Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter
Next year's draft: 2 first round picks
Long term contracts: Favors, Hayward, Burks, Kanter, Millsap
My comparison? What we have now will certainly be better at the beginning of the year than what we would have put on the floor after the hypothetical trade, quite possible even at the end of the year as well. But starting in 2013, we have no future PG and no prime shooter, having hampered Alec Burks development for another year, as well as tied up 9 or 10 million in Millsap to play SF. That leaves us two draft picks in 2013, with only one a possible lottery pick, and less money to lock up our current core of 4--count 4--young players.
If the trade had happened through the possible sequence above? We probably miss the playoffs next year, though that bench of our 2012 guard of choice, DeMarre Carroll, Elton Brand, and Enes Kanter wouldn't be a bad second unit. But starting in 2013 we have either a future PG or top option shooter, having allowed Alec Burks great time on court to develop. We would have three draft picks in 2013, with all three being possible lottery picks (unlikely, but possible), and great cap space available to lock up our current core of 5--count 5--young players.
We can argue the merits of the trade, but I think it such a deal would have left the Jazz substantially better off long term--more, I think it really could have happened.