A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Make this trade: Steve Nash to the Orlando Magic

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Steve Nash

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This trade deadline should be a bundle of fun. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash getting traded is definitely in play – and if Howard doesn’t end up on the Nets, Deron Williams for the 2nd straight year will be too.

You know how in detective movies or books, there’s that scene where the 2 detectives working on their individual crimes have that “Wait, our cases are connected!” moment. That’s where I feel these Howard and Nash situations could be headed.

Here’s what we know. Half a year of Steve Nash before his UFA is unlikely to garner as big a return as the Suns want. Would the Pacers give up young PG Darren Collison for such a short return? Probably not. Even with Nash they’d be longshots against the Bulls and Heat. Dallas would want Nash, but what do they have to give up? Rodrigue Beaubois alone wouldn’t cut it. The Portland Trailblazers? Like Indiana, giving up young players like Wes Matthews or Nic Batum for an improvement that wouldn’t take them over the top would likely be a misguided option.

What if Orlando offered something like: Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Ryan Anderson, Justin Harper, and 2012 ORL 1st for Steve Nash and Channing Frye?On the surface, it appears this is Orlando even overpaying for the going Nash rate. They are giving up 3 productive starters and winners in Nelson, Redick and Anderson, their 2011 1st round pick Harper, and their 2012 pick – while taking one of the league’s worst contracts in Frye. Can Phoenix really do better than that? While players like Nelson and Redick are more suited for a good team than a rebuilding one, they can be flipped for assets in the summer if it is wished. The important part is maximizing the return for Nash at the time, then you can figure out what to do with those assets later. If a team like Indiana or Portland is willing to sacrifice their young players for Nash, perhaps that’s the better deal, but for now I’ll assume their offers will be meagre enough for this to outweigh this pretty hefty Orlando deal.

Now Orlando’s perspective is the trickier one. The alternative offer is likely something like Brook Lopez, Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, NJ 2012 1st from the Nets – This sets them up with young talent in the post Howard era, to go along with lots of valuable veterans to offer on the trade market. If Nash and Howard left in the summer, they’d have essentially given up Lopez, Brooks, Humphries, NJ 2012 1st, ORL 2012 1st, Nelson, Redick, Anderson, Harper and taken Frye for half a year of Nash! But here’s the thing . The Magic could be decades away from contending for a title again. When was the last time a franchise like the Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors or Atlanta Hawks had a real shot at a title? One could argue you take your chance when its there because it may be a while. This may be particularly pertinent for the Magic with an 82 year old owner, with rumblings being around that he wants to win now because of his age, rather than sit through another rebuild. The Magic made the Finals with Shaq in 1995 and didn’t make it back until 2007. There’s a good chance Mickey Arison isn’t here in another 12 years, and a gap between Finals appearances that short is closer to best case scenario.

Furthermore, what determines whether the Magic rebound as quickly post Howard as they did post Shaq, likely isn’t Brook Lopez and Marshon Brooks. The most important part is likely their 2013 to 2016 draft picks. Which is true after the Nash deal as well. If they made the Nash trade and both he and Dwight left in the summer, the Magic then are bottoming out and picking in the top 5 in the next draft immediately. That’s generally what you want if you’re going to lose a star. You can do a lot worse than following the path the Cleveland Cavaliers did post-Lebron James. I’d argue they ended up in better shape going forward than the present day, middle of the league Denver Nuggets. With players like Lopez, Brooks and their veterans, they may be at more of a “risk” to be picking 9th or 10th next year instead of 2nd or 3rd. If the Cavaliers could go back with the certainty that Lebron James was leaving, would trading him half a year early been the right move? I’d argue no. They had a 60 W team with  potentially the last chance to win a title for a generation, and bottoming out in talent the next year and picking high in the draft worked out reasonably well enough anyways.

Hell, the only way I could realistically see Howard staying with the Magic, is if they won the title. That would take the pressure off of him to eventually win one to establish his legacy, and it’d be hard for him to ditch his team the year after getting it. So if the Magic won the title this year, it could be a double win in reward.

Would they have a real shot? I believe they would. The Magic are a perfect fit for Nash. He works wonderfully with 3pt shooters and is a pick and roll master. With a Nash and Howard pick and roll and players like Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Channing Frye spotting up for 3s, the Magic could have a dominant halfcourt offense. And we know they can play defense when motivated to. The Magic would also be a tough matchup for the Heat and Bulls. Those teams specialize defensively against teams with teams that attack off the dribble from the perimeter. A team with 3pt shooters to stretch them out and shoot over them, like the Mavericks had last year, could be the way to neutralize Miami and Chicago’s powerful defenses. Neither team is that equipped to handle Howard in the post, either.

The Magic can afford to be risky. There’s a 95% chance they’re starting the 2012-2013 without Dwight Howard and heading into a long dark road of rebuilding. So if that’s already in the bag, why not put it all in the table with a Nash and Howard combo in these playoffs? You know that scene in a movie where the action character knows he’s done for, so he charges out with his machine gun to take down as many baddies as he can? That’s basically be this Nash move.

Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Ryan Anderson, Justin Harper, 2012 ORL 1st for Steve Nash and Channing Frye. The Magic push in to win the 2012 NBA title and if it doesn’t work, are in a good position to tank and rebuild. The Suns get a great haul of productive veterans to give them asset value, pick up essentially two mid 20s draft picks and dump a bad contract. Looks like the right move to me.

Written by jr.

February 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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