On the block: Pau Gasol and Andre Miller

It’s the first week of December and the NBA trade deadline is still a distant two and a half months away. But the faint whispers of trade rumors are already starting to reverberate throughout the L, from the lips of fans and sportswriters to GMs and owners. Some of it is wishful thinking and some have a twinge of truth tied to them, but most are juicy and most certainly worth discussing on any self-respecting NBA-related blog.

Big time names like Jermaine O’Neal and Pau Gasol, or perhaps even Jason Kidd or Kobe Bryant could move addresses anytime between now and mid-February. So, we thought we’d take an early look at some trade scenarios that could, and should, play out of the next couple of months.

On the block: Pau Gasol

Why would the Grizzlies trade him?
Ever since Pau Gasol asked to be traded in January of this year his relationship with the Grizzlies organization has been on somewhat shaky ground. Gasol doesn’t seem to fit coach Marc Iavaroni’s up-and-down offensive system, which demands athletic big men that can finish. Gasol’s game is more suited for half-court offenses, where he can operate in the post with his back to the basket and also step out to the high-post for short jumpers and passes to cutting wing players. The Grizzlies are currently playing 6’8” Mike Miller way out of position and need to find an athletic power forward to take his place – allowing Miller to move down to shooting guard and promising youngster Rudy Gay to play small forward.

Which team should trade for him?
The Chicago Bulls seem like the most logical destination if Pau Gasol were to switch teams. Earlier this year, while Jerry West was still running things down in Memphis, Gasol was close to being traded to the Bulls for Loul Deng and Ben Gordon. Bull’s GM John Paxon at the time nixed the deal. It seems unlikely that Paxon will agree to deal the promising Deng anytime soon, but perhaps trading players like Andres Nocioni, Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas to the Grizzlies for Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Hakim Warrick makes sense.

The Grizzlies are 6-9 so far this season and, as constituted, probably aren’t going anywhere in the loaded Western Conference anytime soon. Nocioni could slot into the power forward slot for the time being, while Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas could split time at Center, playing a really, really poor – almost impoverished – man’s version of Amare Stoudemire in Iavaroni’s own “7 seconds or less” offense.

On the Bulls end, Gasol would finally give them a legitimate back-to-the-basket presence, while Hinrich, Deng and Navarro could maintain a strong perimeter.

If not the Bulls, another trade that makes a whole lot of sense for both teams involved is a straight up swap of Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. The salaries are an almost identical match and the trade seems to be perfect for both teams. In Odom, the Grizzlies get the mobile, ball-handling, jump-shooting power forward they so crave. He would fit seamlessly into Iavaroni’s system. The Lakers pick up a legitimate All-Star threat in the post, which would allow them to move Andrew Bynum back to the bench where the kid can continue to mature with the second squad. In fact, in certain situations, this would even allow the Lakers to run a true twin-towers defense, with both Gasol and Bynum on the floor at the same time. And, to top it all of, Gasol could be reunited with his brother Marc in La-la-land.

On the block: Andre Miller

Why would the 76ers trade him?
The better question is why wouldn’t they? The team is 5-11 to date and really hasn’t been very competitive. It doesn’t make sense for Philadelphia to try to make it work with a veteran point guard like Andre Miller this year, when they really should go young and set their sights on a 2008 NBA draft that could be absolutely loaded at the point. In the meantime, 3rd year pro Louis Williams is a more than adequate fill-in for a sub-500 squad that the 76ers clearly are. Miller is having one of his worst seasons in recent memory, particularly when it comes to distributing the rock, so it might be time to cut ties and let the youth movement get going in full-force in Philly.

Which team should trade for him?
There are quite a few teams around the NBA that are desperate for a point guard – from the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers to the Atlanta Hawks and beyond. In rumorville, the Miller to Heat trade discussions are getting the most play (though Sixers GM Billy King continues to flatly deny the rumors), but trades to the Cavs or Hawks also make a lot of sense.

While Atlanta continues to groom Acie Law, they would certainly have the bandwidth to take on the 2 years at $9.6 million per left on Andre Miller’s salary. To make the trade appealing to the 76ers, Atlanta could throw in young talent like Shelden Williams, who isn’t getting any run at all with the Hawks this year and showed promise last year, and sweet-shooting Salim Stoudemire, along with perhaps the expiring contract of Lorenzen Wright to match salaries and a future draft pick. The 76ers would get two solid young players and a 1st round pick, while Atlanta would get the point guard they’ve been seeking to slot in next to Joe Johnson.

Cleveland could also get into the Andre Miller sweepstakes, along with possibly the Mike Bibby sweepstakes or the Stephon Marbury sweepstakes. But, in Miller’s case, unlike the higher profile Bibby or Marbury, they would get a player who would be content to rack up the assists playing alongside LeBron James, only putting up the occasional mid-range jumper. Miller wouldn’t take any of the offensive focus away from LeBron, which Bibby and Marbury likely will. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, they don’t really have the young talent, high draft picks or expiring contracts that the 76ers would likely desire. So, any trade involving the 76ers and Cavaliers would have to be a 3-team affair.

There you go, some food for thought on possible Andre Miller and Pau Gasol trade destinations, as we wait for the next big NBA deal. We’ll continue with this series of “on the block” posts throughout the season, leading up to the February trade deadline. So, stay tuned.

No comments: