Since David Kahn was hired in May of 2009, each offseason has typically loosely followed a set pattern of events somewhat like the below:
1. Kahn ends the season with a couple of draft picks, some expiring contracts, and cap room as he enters the offseason.
2. Fans everywhere devise ludicrous trade scenarios and become so bloated with expectations that they start resembling the balloon blueberry kid from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
3. The Wolves make a series of preposterous draft-day moves that result in at least 100,000 bloody heads that have been scratched to a pulp.
4. An average-to-below average player is signed for 4-years and $16 million
5. A trade is made where Kahn sends out a little more than he needed to and got back a little less than he should have.
6. Team underperforms. Cycle Repeats. Fan-wide cornea sporking ensues.
When Williams was drafted last summer at #2 (the correct pick at the time for value reasons), it was widely assumed that Kahn was going to move him immediately for the best trade package available. Iguodala (although he allegedly could have been had for Martell Webster and…oh wait, NOTHING ELSE, AND KAHN %*&^ing TURNED IT DOWN. I JUST VOMITED ON MY DOG), Pau Gasol and Josh Smith were among the larger names floating around back then. Of course, nothing happened (plot twist…..not!), Williams had a tough rookie year and here we are collectively devising D-Will trade scenarios as if such a move is a prerequisite for starting the offseason.
For the record, I think Derrick Williams should only be moved for one of a handful of players in the league. It is not necessarily a specific player, but one who fits a certain set of criteria:
1. In the plainest, simplest terms, when discussing Derrick Williams trade targets, ask yourself, “if this (high-quality) player were a free agent and the Wolves had cap room, would we have even a slight chance of signing this player on the open market?” If your answer is “yes,” then hold on to D Will. If your answer is “no way, Jose’,” then we are on the right track. This is why you trade Williams. You see, there is a certain value/opportunity cost trade off with a player like Derrick. He is unlikely to be a superstar NBA forward, but next year will be better. Is trading a prospect of his potential (whatever you think it may be) worth the caliber of player one could easily sign in free agency in terms of production? Definitely not. The point is, we just don’t know what Derrick could become. The reason you trade him is so you can acquire a player you wouldn’t normally be able to acquire with an average set of trade chips.
I know this sounds overly simplistic and uninsightful, but when trade scenarios are lopped around for elite talent such as Jodie Meeks, Michael Pietrus and Gerald Henderson, I start to wonder if this fanbase is a little overenthusiastic about trading Williams for anything that moves or shoots above 40%. Kind of like ‘that one guy’ in college who would go through a several month dry spell with members of the female persuasion and would hop on the first thing that moved/rolled/waddled on a Saturday night. Look, trading Derrick isn’t mandatory. There is value to keeping him, but there is potentially even more value to trading him if Kahn is willing to be picky and push for the right deal.
2. Unless it’s a top 3, MAYBE 4 pick, trade him for an experienced player. No more bloody draft picks. Some Wolves fans over the years have become completely smitten with draft picks. I was poking around on a Wolves forum the other day and a poster had devised an offseason plan that resulted in four rookies on the roster to start next season. Ridiculous. With a hall-of-fame coach on the sidelines who is highly unlikely to coach the team beyond his current contract (my opinion), and Love’s ETO looming, this team just doesn’t have time to play around with major player development any longer.
This is not to say I am against drafting a role player at #18 or perhaps fiddling around with our position in the middle of the first round, but it’s time to cash in and get some winning talent on this roster. It has been time for about 8 years. Aside from this past season, the last time the Wolves contended for a playoff spot, flatscreen TV’s were a thing of the future and Michael Jordan had just recently retired for the final time. The last thing we should do is upgrade our 2/3 spots with a prospect who may not reach his NBA stride until 2014. It’s time to move forward. The window is extraordinarily short and the assets will be officially dried up after this summer.
3. Without getting into win shares, advanced stats, and other mumbo-jumbo, when you hear the name of the player can you honestly see this player helping the Wolves make the leap? Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor would have been nice upgrades, but were they enough? Probably not.
4. The player ideally is a shooting guard or a small forward. Maybe a center. This player has a track record of NBA success and production. What the Wolves need at this point are solid players to eliminate some of the awful play we saw after D-Day, 2012 aka The Death of Ricky Rubio. However, point guard and power forwards need not apply. I could buy into getting a 3rd big/center who is a damn fine player.
So where does this leave us? Realistic or not, the players that seem to fit this criteria are: Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen (both are too old), Josh Smith, MAYBE Nic Batum (.0001% chance Portland doesn’t match any offer sheet), Rudy Gay, Tyreke Evans, Danny Granger, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Brian Scalabrine. I may have forgotten one or two. While the trade targets are all big names, Kahn could offer to trade some cap friendly contracts, absorb additional salary and throw in a first rounder and/or a crack at someone like Wayne Ellington. The point is, if Kahn wants to get something done, the opportunity is right in front of him. It has been for years. But if not for his pathological tendency to attempt and fail to discover his own gems, Kahn may have acquired the personnel years prior. The man is all talk, no walk, and if he has proven one thing these past few years it’s that he can’t get much done in his job.
The perfect scenario would be to acquire one of the aforementioned without giving up Derrick (or Pek for that matter). Kevin Martin seems to be the player on the list who would take the least to pry away. This wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Either way, I have a foreboding sense that the draft and offseason will yield disappointment for many Wolves fans. The problems are obvious and the opportunities are plentiful. Derrick Williams and cap room can get you deep into a lot of trade talks.
Can Kahn pull something off, finally?
I’m bracing myself for Jamal Crawford and little else.