Over the past few weeks it's become painfully obvious to Raptors' fans that Jalen Rose must go. Not only is he still a defensive liability, but his offensive game has regressed to the point where he's not even been useful in terms of production off the bench. And with the youth movement in full swing, does it make sense to keep a potential malcontent such as Rose around? Many of our readers have asked the same question and have wondered what realistic trade options are out there for GM Rob Babcock in terms of trading Rose. After some research here at RaptorsHQ...we've come up with the answer...there aren't many options. Rose's contract is so large, that based on the current NBA trade rules, it's quite difficult to move Rose at all...even with only a year left on his contract. And the fact that Jalen is being used sparingly (he played only 11 and 9 minutes in the past two games) isn't helping his stock. With the December 15th date, before which free agents signed in this past offseason could not be traded, having passed, and Ron Artest rumours being bandied about, RaptorsHQ HAS still come up with a few trade options for Babcock and co:
Option 1. Get the Hannibal Lector Mask Ready
Let's get down to this Artest situation off the top. Artest is obviously a top 25, maybe even top 10 talent in the league in terms of all around game. Indiana has struggled so far this season and a shakeup involving Artest might be just what the doctor ordered. However, as even Artest has admitted, he comes with a good deal of baggage.
We all remember the infamous Detroit brawl. And the business with his side music career and reportedly breaking Michael Jordans' ribs during the offseason prior to MJ's return. And maybe you even remember my favourite NBA side story of all time...when Ron Ron got a second job at Best Buy while a member of the Chicago Bulls to get his boyz discounts on electronics equipment. Just typing that sentence cracks me up. But does anyone remember the accounts of Artest reportedly throwing a universal gym in rage...or bouncing basketballs off walls inches above teammates heads? I mean, is this REALLY the type of player Rob Babcock wants on his rebuilding squad? And if the rumours are true regarding Artest's situation, does it even make sense to trade for someone who seems to want to head to NYC regardless?
As we've previously mentioned in the past few days, it's quite conceivable that Babcock could put together one of the most enticing packages for Artest. Morris Peterson would be a great fit for the Indiana system and we could probably part with one of our surplus draft pics as well to facilitate such a deal. Plus Babcock could maybe try and dump another player on Indiana in the process. There are quite a few possible variations of an Artest deal but here's two...one that would be the best case for the Raptors, and one that makes the most sense for both teams:
Best Case Scenario
This scenario works perfectly under the cap. It gets us Artest and moves Jalen's massive deal. Jalen goes back to his old team where he had the most success, gets to play for a contender and probably steps his game back up a notch. We lose Bonner but get a similar player in Croshere who only has 1 year left on his deal. We rid ourselves of Woods and Pollard would ACTUALLY PLAY here. His contract is up at year's end thereby helping the salary situation as well. This deal would be best for Toronto as we wouldn't have to deal a draft pick or any of our rookies and would still work well with Babcock's long term goal of fixing the team's books. Sure it would be great to get a David Harrison or Jeff Foster in the deal but this is a best case scenario...not a fantasy...
Most Likely Scenario
1st Round Draft Pick
Prospect of some sort
This is a version of the deal reported yesterday in the Toronto Sun. Morris Peterson and a first round pick (probably Denver's this year) would be the center pieces in acquiring Artest with Matt Bonner or a similar salary (Eric Williams would work too) thrown in to make things work financially. Of course as Gangstarr said...the question remains...even with the Raps mired at 4-18, is a trade for such a loose cannon regardless of talent, simply too much of a band aid solution?
Option 2. "Punked" hits the T-Dot
The Philadelphia 76ers are another team looking to shake things up. On any given night Allen Iverson can go for 40 points and Chris Webber seems to be fitting in much better this season. But after these two, things fall apart like The Roots. Philly's defence has been barely better then the Raptors this season and they've already expressed interest in Eric Williams. Looking over Philly's roster I'm sure Rob Babcock would love to land one of the 76ers young gunz like John Salmons or even Willy Green (no, I'm not supporting a Shavlik Randolph deal yet, even as a die hard Duke fan.) But there's a small chance any of them will be moved at this point and obviously we blew our chance at getting Andre Iguodala in the 2004 draft...we're not getting another one.
But what about Ashton Kutcher's twin? Kyle Korver would obviously not be the answer to this squad defensively but right now Eric Williams' on the bench isn't either. The Raptors could really use a great pure shooter and that's essentially Korver. On the 76ers Korver is not as effective as he could be since Iverson dominates the ball so much but on Toronto, he would absolutely KILL other teams who attempt to double team Chris Bosh in the post. Oh...and I have a feeling Jose Calderon would find him in transition with ease...
The Trade therefore would be a simple one:
Trading Korver is starting to make sense for Philly as well. They just re-upped him for four years and with only a year remaining on Eric Williams contract, this makes financial sense for the 76ers. From the 76ers perspective the deal would probably hinge on the health of Williams and if they felt that he was the defensive answer they were seeking. From the Raptors, it would come down to whether Babcock wants to commit to Korver (a weak defensive player albeit decent rebounder) for 4 seasons at his current rate.
This trade of course could also come with various permutations. Babcock could try to push Jalen Rose on Philly and take back a combination of Jamal Mashburn's expiring deal and a player like Kevin Ollie. And of course draft pics could be always be involved. But for the sake of keeping things simple, let's move on to option 3.
Option 3: Houston, We Have a Problem
The Houston Rockets have gotten off to a rocky start this season partly due to injuries to Tracy McGrady. However it also looks like some of their recent acquisitions (um...Rafer Alston) have not worked out as planned. Perhaps Stromile Swift is the best example of this. The former second overall pick out of LSU has all the athletic ability in the world but is just not looking to be a good fit under Jeff Van Gundy's system. Something's gotta give. The rumour so far is that it's going to be Swift and not JVG either. Swift would be an interesting player for the Raptors to consider. While not a true center at 6-9, he did play a good portion of his career in Memphis at the 5 spot and is atheletic enough, especially in the East, to be a factor on the boards and blocking shots. He'd be a great change of pace from Hoffa too probably allowing Hoffa to come off the bench where he's better suited anyways at this point. The Rockets have a large enough payroll as is thanks to Yao, T-Mac and even Juwan Howard and may look to move Swift to help in this realm. The Raptors have several options who could both help the Rockets financially, and stil play into Jeff Van Grumpy's style of play.
While this trade may seem like a bit of a pipe dream on paper (considering that Babcock already fleeced Rocket's GM Carrol Dawson on the Mike James deal), there is still plenty of risk from Toronto's perspective. Taking on Swift means taking on some salary, something Babcock was attempting to avoid. In addition Swift is still not a legit center and based on his play so far with Houston, might be a complete bust. Moochie Norris would probably mean the end of Darrick Martin's tour of duty with the Raptors but would provide a nice third point guard option. Norris is only on the books for 1 more season as well.
From the Rockets perspective it comes down to "how desperate" they are. This team was supposedly built for a run at the title this year but the pieces just aren't fitting into place. The team is loaded with veterans but with the exception of Luther Head and Yao Ming, really doesn't have much youthful exhiliration. If GM Dawson still believes this team in present state will come around, then they'll probably stand pat or make minor changes. And if that's the case, it's on to option 4.
Option 4: The Classic
No analysis needed off the top:
To New York:
This deal has been rumoured in some form or another since Jalen Rose has arrived in Toronto. And with Rose's play of late and a year remaining on his deal, it makes even more sense for Toronto now. However it's no foregone conclusion that the Knicks would pull the trigger on this deal. What Larry Brown is adamant about having is a point guard or a small forward who can defend. Rose fits neither of these categories. The Knicks have more of a mess of a team now then the Raptors and Rose just doesn't seem like a great fit for the Knicks. However we ARE talking about Isiah Thomas here...
Option 5: Sending Jalen to the Big House aka Welcome to the Jailblazers Mr. Rose
Our final trade option is maybe the most viable in terms of dealing Jalen Rose...however it would involve taking on possibly more off-court issues in making a deal with the Portland Trailblazers. Portland has a good collection of young talent...but is still a ways away from having good team chemistry. Too many players on the team are unhappy with their role or playing time (see Ruben Patterson, Darius Miles, Zach Randolph...ok, almost the whole team) and GM John Nash may wish to move some youth or large contracts in hopes of finding veteran leadership. Portland in the past few seasons has been right up there with the New York Knicks in terms of overpaying for players without a winning record to show for it. As a result, the Trailblazers might be willing to take on Jalen's massive salary with only a year left on it in exchange for some of its problem children.
Most Likely Scenario
While this trade works financially, I'm not sure Rob Babcock would do this unless Jalen really started to push for a deal. Ruben Patterson is no saint and while he would be a help defensively, he'd be in almost the same situation here as in Portland; stuck on a team looking to rebuild and play its young players. So in all probability, if he didn't get his "20-24 minutes a night", it wouldn't be long before he was making Rafer Alston's behaviour last year look like a picnic. Theo Ratliff could really be a help as a legit center with shot blocking abilities but it would mean taking on an extra year of salary as Ratliff has 2 years remaining on his deal while Rose and Williams only have 1 year each. No, this is more of a desperation move for Toronto in the short term as Portland would probably welcome Jalen and Eric to help steady their talented but inexperienced squad.
However...if say Portland was to include a prospect or one of their young players in the deal, it might be easier to swallow for the Raps. Financially the above deal works as well if Travis Outlaw, Victor Khryapa or Sergei Monia were included and with a glut of swingmen Portland might be willing to deal one of these up-and-comers. All three would be intriguing to the Raptors as each are 6-9 small forwards whose size and athleticsm (especially Outlaw) would be a welcome addition. Portland has several other players like Jarett Jack who Sam Mitchell would probably love to coach but it's highly unlikely that Nash would deal any of them at this point. And yes, this includes RaptorsHQ favourite Ha Seung-Jin unfortunately...
After perusing those 5 scenarios one thing becomes quite evident; unless a few teams get desperate as the season bears on, it's highly unlikely that Jalen Rose will be sent packing this year. It's also move obvious after looking things over that unless the Raptors are willing to move a Morris Peterson or one of their coveted rookies, this is in all likelyhood is the team fans will be looking at for the remainder of the year. Here at RaptorsHQ we're going to be keeping an eye out for any possible trade options that perk up as the season draws on and we'll continue to keep fans updated with any possibilities, regardless of how outlandish. To give you an idea, at one point the three of us were looking at how Carlos Boozer could play the 5 for Toronto since Utah was apparently giving up on him after 2 injury plagued seasons. Now that probably wouldn't make much sense for Toronto and Utah probably wouldn't do that deal without getting someone of similar caliber in return...but you get the idea...if the possibility is out there, we'll take a look. Which come to think of it probably explains why Howland and I were looking at deal sending KG to the Raptors for Bosh and others...outlandish, but with GM's like Isiah Thomas in the league...never say never...