Tuesday, February 17

Chad Ford and I Have a Different Understanding of the Word "Should"

According to Mr. Ford's newest column on ESPN.com, he's outlined five trades that should happen. Number two on his list, is the Bobcats sending Gerald Wallace to the Trailblazers for Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract, Sergio Rodriguez, and Nicholas Batum. Ford describes the trade as such:

Why should the Blazers do it?
This is the perfect market for a team like Portland to pick up an excellent player without giving up much in return. Rodriguez and Batum have promise, but Wallace is the real deal. He would add the kind of toughness and versatility that could put the Blazers over the top.

Why should the Bobcats do it?
They are rebuilding this team in Larry Brown's image. This deal gives them some young talent, but more importantly some cap space. Given their recent moves, they could use it.

Will it happen?
The Blazers are in an enviable position. They have what might be the best asset in the NBA right now in LaFrentz's contract.

Sources say that they have their choice of Wallace, Richard Jefferson or Caron Butler if they're willing to send a few young players and LaFrentz's contract. Wallace, Jefferson and Butler all have their strengths, but for the Blazers' needs, I think Wallace is the best fit.

Rodriguez is a guy who still seems to struggle with confidence in his shot and it effects his whole game. He can penetrate and pass, but he's still not polished. Batum is actually the one piece I would like to see the Cats acquire (how often do you hear 20 year old and poise in the same breath?), but it's a hard sell when faced with the option of giving up Crash. LaFrentz is little more than an expiring salary at this point, and would likely not be with the team past the end of the season.

As to the assertion that this team needs cap space, I'm inclined to disagree. All of the trades have been building for now and not a rebuilding process. This trade (like the rumored Felton deals) points counter to that movement. We've discussed on previous Bobcats Planet podcasts that this team will not be a prime time player in the 2010 off season, which would mean, they'd have to wait for the next season, conveniently when the team will have a healthy amount of cap space. If they let Wallace go and want to be players in this off-season, what are they going to be looking for? A difference making small forward, like a... umm... give me a second... Gerald Wallace?

My fear is that if they do this trade as a salary dump, they may be doing so with the intent of keeping Raymond Felton and could potentially end up overpaying him (as they did with Emeka) and end up less a player with the same lack of cap space, but for a longer duration. If they aren't looking to re-sign Felton, then you risk losing two of your toughest players on the court, and the core that you've built is half young guys building to the future and half a group that's prepared to take the next step now. This team's toughness is derived from both of these players, a quality that cannot be overlooked, particularly in a Larry Brown system.

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