Yesterday, I broached the task ahead to acquire Chris Paul or another superstar player. It is becoming increasingly clear that Otis Smith has to do something to upgrade the roster and take steps toward winning a championship very very quickly.
Nobody is quite sure what they want or what they are willing to give up. But there are many characters to go over.
Obviously the Magic are after one of the stars. While they are probably receiving calls on Dwight Howard, they are not convinced Howard definitely wants out yet. The Magic, in that case, are looking to upgrade their roster. And, as Moore suggests in his post from last week about Paul, the Magic have to be willing to give up anyone on their roster, save for Howard, to make it happen. Failing to do so could have some serious repercussions — although I will continue to maintain that Howard’s preference is to stay in Orlando… winning is just more important to him.
The bad part is that they lack the young players, high draft picks or cheap contracts to make a legitimate move and satisfy what the teams with the superstar want. It likely means the Magic need to bring in a third team to satisfy what New Orleans or Golden State or whoever wants. And even then, the Magic don’t have the assets to satisfy both those teams for this kind of deal. It appears the player the Magic are after would have to want to come to Orlando really bad.
The Hornets are looking for anything of value in exchange for Paul so that they can restart. That means young players, short contracts and draft picks. Those are things the Magic don’t have. That makes getting a deal done with New Orleans extremely difficult. The Hornets likely have no interest in taking on Hedo Turkoglu and likely want a player who can take over some of the scoring load for the team.
Reportedly, talks between the Hornets and Warriors stalled over the Hornets’ insistence on acquiring Stephen Curry. Without Paul’s promise to sign an extension, many teams are going to be hesitant to give up a star. So the Hornets have to look for flexibility.
The other player in this equation might be the Warriors. Golden State has really made it no secret that they would like to free up Stephen Curry to play more off the ball and get more shots. Monta Ellis is hindering that somewhat as the ball-dominant scorer on that team. Plus, adding in Mark Jackson’s desire to add defense to the team. That could open a door for a third team to get in to help make this deal work… or not.
The intriguing player in this bit might be the Nets and Deron Williams. Williams and Howard have made it no secret they would like to play with each other. Both have made such statements to the press. Williams has gone the extra mile though saying publicly that he would sign an extension if the Nets acquired a star. That puts New Jersey on notice. With Orlando not looking to make a trade involving Howard right now, New Jersey and Orlando might be in detente or speaking some different language.
I imagine Billy King and Otis Smith conversations go something like this … and this is completely fabricated (can’t believe I have to say that):
King: “Hi, Otis feel like trading Dwight today?”
Otis: “You want to give us Deron Williams?”
King: “I thought we were talking about Dwight?”
Otis: “Who? He is not on my list of players that are available.”
King: “Never mind. Talk to you tomorrow, O.”
Yeah, that sounds about right. So what deals are out there for Orlando?
First, the straight up deal. The best package I could do to acquire Chris Paul straight up is Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick. Those salaries pretty much match up. Of course, the Magic would throw in draft picks and anything else. But that would hardly tantalize the Hornets enough to pull the trigger. Neither of those three are “stars” to rebuild a team around. New Orleans does not gain any salary cap relief in giving up Emeka Okafor (somthing they are probably desperate to do) or much of anything. To acquire a guy like Paul, the Magic are going to need some help.
The problem with this deal is that it lacks a true star. But what you can see from a deal like this is the beginning of who the Magic would have to throw into this kind of a deal. Jameer Nelson is a borderline All Star at his best with a reasonable contract for only two years. J.J. Redick is a solid role player with a front-loaded contract. And Ryan Anderson is an efficient stretch-4 on his rookie deal. The three of them together are not likely enough to get Paul on their own, but they certainly seem to be likely to be involved in a deal as the three players with a good chunk of value.
Acquiring Monta Ellis straight up might also require sending a package of Redick and Anderson along with Brandon Bass — Golden State is always in need of rebounding. And the Warriors, who seem to have big plans in mind with the way the team has gone after Paul so far, will probably want to include Andris Biedrins and his $9 million/year salary over the next three years in any deal.
A three-team deal seems like the most likely way to get this kind of a deal done. And to get that three-team deal done, the Magic have to be willing to take on some bad contracts, pay the tax and completely mortgage the future in hopes of doing enough to improve the team. It is going to be extremely difficult to make this deal and maintain flexibility. I am struggling to see a scenario where the third team gets someone of real star value, so it would have to be with a team that has some established players and would be willing to potentially bring Hedo Turkoglu or Emeka Okafor in the fold. Finding someone who believes those two players can still contribute at a high level might be extremely difficult (the most difficult part of that prospect).
Consider this potential deal between the Hornets, the Magic and the Warriors:
The thing that struck me as I tried to get this deal to work was that Orlando is the one having to give up a lot to get the star it wants. I would suspect most general managers realize this too and will do everything they can to gut the seemingly desperate Magic. A deal like the one above seems reasonable though. Golden State gets two nice young players in Bass and Trevor Ariza to free up Curry on the perimeter while getting a proven veteran in Hedo Turkoglu to handle the ball and allow Curry to stay off the ball at times. Golden State gets a solid star in Ellis and Ryan Anderson. The Magic get their man and take on Biedrins to sweeten the deal.
It is far from ideal though. Orlando would still have needs to fill and less money to do it.
So what about other three-team arrangements?
Adding in the 76ers to include Andre Iguodala, long rumored to want his way out of Philadelphia, would throw into play the $34 million over two years contract of Elton Brand. And Orlando is not likely to accept taking on that unless the team can rid of itself of either Gilbert Arenas or Hedo Turkoglu. I doubt the Warriors would take that on either. And, again, in either case, the Magic are going to be doing most of the work convincing teams to take on Turkoglu and sending away Anderson, Nelson, Redick and other young assets.
The possibility that might work is a sign-and-trade involving free agent forward David West. The Pacers and Nets are among the teams that have shown interest in West. Maybe there is a chance the Hornets could acquire a package that includes Danny Granger from Indiana in a trade that sends West to the Pacers. It seems though that the Pacers would not entertain such an idea where they would give up Granger without assurances of another player to build around.
For the Magic to find success in the trade market, they will have to find willing partners who can give the Hornets or the Warriors what they want. They have to be willing to take another huge risk and forsake depth for that star player they covet. It won’t be easy.
So, I want to open it up and leave it up to you readers. I have received some interesting trade proposals over the last few days and will publish them with thoughts on how a Magic trade to acquire a star could shape up. Please send me your trade ideas in the comments below (or in Part 1 of this series) or on Twitter @OMagicDaily.