My early running candidate for worst GM of the 2012/13 season has a huge head start, if the reports are true. It's Rod Thorn in a landslide. If twitter don't lie, the Sixers plan to use the amnesty clause on Elton Brand and his $18 million dollar contract. They also plan to sign Nick Young to a one-year deal worth about $6 million dollars, and to renounce their rights to Lou Williams. And rumours abound that they are looking to trade Andre Iguodala.
While I understand that Elton Brand is overpaid, let me point out that Elton Brand is still actually good at basketball. He's not like Rashard Lewis; every cent you pay him must feel like rubbing salt in a wound. The feeling from paying Brand is probably more like what you get when you buy an ice-cold Coca Cola at Disney World when it's 94 degrees outside -- you're mildly miffed that you are paying $3 for it, but it really is quenching your thist. Since the going rate for competent big men these days seems to be about $12-$13 million, maybe as much $15 million (Nene, Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee [just wait], etc), he's only overpaid by at most $6 million. And...and...he's in the last year of his contract. AND...oh by the way you still have to pay him even though you have amnestied him. So instead of overpaying by $6 million for Elton Brand, you are going to pay Elton somewhere around $15 million to play for somebody else (I am optimistically assuming someone picks him up for $3 million off the amnesty waivers).
And all of this, so that you can sign Spencer Hawes, who's played about 40 games of good basketball in a 5-year career, and Nick Young, who's played....well, hey, let's acutally look at Nick Young, and for the heck of it, let's compare him to Williams, whom the Sixers are letting go to make room for him, even though it's a little apples to oranges:
Although Williams has definitely underperformed expectations, I have always been outright baffled by what NBA decision makers see in Nick Young. I saw him referred to as a 'big-time scorer" on Twitter today. What the hell does that mean? Is it like, his shots would probably go in more if the hoop were twice as BIG? Young is pretty terrible at making the ball go in the hoop, except for 3point shots and free throws. Considering that he's also bad at getting to the line, his free throw shotting doesn't help. And unlike 3-point specialists that aren't very effective from inside the arc, Young has no compunction about shooting all those shots that he isn't very good at. At $6 million per year, Young is overpaid by about $8 million. No, that isn't a typo, and the bourbon I am drinking is not making my math funny. He's probably going to produce about negative-2 wins this year, and a win is worth give-or-take a million bucks. So throw that on top of the $6 million you're spending on him.
Look, I get that Williams is overpaid, too. But...again...you're at DisneyWorld and it's 94 degrees and humid as hell. So you want to pay $3 for a cold Coke or $3 for a luke-warm cup of Folger's coffee? Think hard.
Remember also, that Philly was on the cusp of greatness last year. Theoretically, a couple of tweaks make them contenders. Here are some moves that make more sense:
- Top of the list is, never, ever trade Iggy. Philly needs to wake up and realize that Iggy is not overpaid at $15 per (Caron Butler makes $9 million per year. Caron Butler.) Iggy is behind only Durant and James at his position (and you cannot get them). Elite defenders who can also score 16ppg efficiently, pass like a point guard, rebound well, and avoid fouls (all while not turning the ball over) do not grow on trees. Worse, most of the league unfortunately undervalues him as much as Philly does, so you'd never get equal value for Iggy. As much as I would love it if Rod Thorn would make David Kahn look like a genius for trading Iggy to him*, it's my obligation in an article like this to point out how stupid that would be. The only player on the Wolves worth giving up Iggy for is Love, which is obviously not happening (but only because Kahn no longer has a choice if he values his life.....don't you wish you'd have made a swap 2 years ago, when Kahn called Love the '3rd or 4th best player on a contending team'? You probably could have gotten him to throw in an unprotected draft pick and maybe take back a bad contract too).
- Letting Williams go is fine. He reportedly wants $8 million, and giving an average guard $8 million is crazy, especially when you're starting Holiday (and why are you doing that, by the way?).
- $6 million for Spencer Hawes sounds like a fair gamble. If his production last year (in limited minutes) is the new, "real" Hawes, then holy hell have you got a bargain. And since it is only a 2-year deal, he has every incentive to prove that it is.
- Nikola Vucevic quietly had a good rookie campaign. Give him a few more minutes next year.
- Thaddeus Young is a decent player, but also overpaid. And he plays the same position as your best player. You should have traded him last year, but he still has a reputation as a guy with 'potential', so cash in now! Trade Young, Maurice Harkness, and a future #1 pick to Toronto for Jose Calderon and Terrence Ross. Or Trade Young to Memphis for Tony Allen. If all else fails, Thaddeus Young is your worst contract, so use your amnesty on him -- but only if it gives you cap room that you need so sign/trade for a star!
- If trading young does not lead you to a deal for an above-average point guard, Ramon Sessions is your real free-agent target, especially now that LA has shown that they have moved on.
- At the trade deadline, look to trade Elton Brand and his expiring contract. Some teams that could make likely targets include the Celtics (if they aren't in contention, they might be willing to move Rondo if you throw in the right mix of picks and young players), the Magic (trade Brand + 2-3 draft picks for a 3-month Dwight Howard rental if you take back a bad contract? It could win you a championship, and they won't get better offers if they have not moved him by then), Los Angeles (they might be willing to swap Pau for Brand to save money in 2013/14, especially if they aren't doing as well as they'd like, and/or if you throw in a player like Lavoy Allen), or Dallas (Dallas might be going nowhere fast this year. Would they like to unload Marion if they are not in contention? Would they move multiple players to clear cap room?).
The deals you could pull off with Brand's contract at the deadline are pretty amazing. This becomes especially true if Orlando does not trade Dwight; if Dwight will be an unrestricted free agent, then Houston, Dallas, Chicago, and others would love to grab Brand from you to make cap space room. And worse case scenario, if you find no good offers, $18 mil comes off your cap in summer. Amnestying him right now is wholly unnecessary, especially since it doesn't save any luxury tax money!
What say you, Philly fans? Are you really excited about Nick Young? Don't lie now.
*Ok, from a basketball perspective I would love this. From an "Oh God, this means Kahn gets another 5+ years at the helm at least" perspective, I'd hate it.