Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE
A weekly hashing about potential trade targets and scenarios during the 2012 Run for the Title
Bring in an athletic, defensive-minded power forward to the Spurs. Erase the national debt, end all wars, and create perfect harmony in Washington, D.C. Do these all seem about the same likelihood of happening these days? Why couldn't we just trade all our less-than-essential pieces for Josh Smith this off-season, right?
Our own dear editor, the great J.R. Wilco himself, foresees a move during this season. So, he asked me to keep my bony finger as close to the pulse of the league as I can get it and report on any remotely and/or reasonably potential trade targets.
We Spurs fans are delighted to see our boys 4-0 and already making history this season. It's a harbinger of good things to come, but what if we could hasten those things along by shoring up any weakness that may exist? What if we could make a reasonable move to acquire a big man that would bring strong defense and athleticism to our front court rotation? For this cause, I write on.
First up, Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks. He is a 6'11, 235 lb. power forward. Drafted fifteenth overall in 2010 by Milwaukee, he has yet to pay real dividends on that pick. Though he led the Bucks in blocks last year and they exercised his fourth year option last month, he has been thought to be the odd man out in a front court that includes Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh, Drew Gooden, Joe Przybilla, and 2012 draft pick John Henson. Enter 2012. Through the first two games, Sanders is suddenly Super Sub. He is averaging 13.5 points, 7 boards, and 3 blocks per game while shooting .813 from the field, all in 26 minutes per game off the bench. He is bringing defensive intensity (albeit sometimes overly so, racking up 11 fouls through two games) and hyper-athletic energy off the bench to a Bucks team whose starting unit often leaves something to be desired.
His trade status, then, is up in the air. Might Milwaukee see him as a piece with upside with which they can acquire a more needed asset? Or will they see him as a possible integral part of their future and hold him? With the state of their franchise (Mike Dunleavy, Jr. is their most consistent offensive threat), I see them as possibly willing to move Sanders for the right price.
So what do the Bucks need? Their front court is fairly stocked, as mentioned above, though they could have a use for a floor-stretching redhead or an undersized blue collar type (we don't have any bigs that fit those roles, do we?). When Luc Richard Mbah a Moute returns from injury, they will be four-deep on the wing, with Ersan Ilyasova, Tobias Harris and Dunleavy holding things down. At guard, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are supposedly their backcourt of the future, but the experiment hasn't quite gone according to plan as of yet. Neither are excellent shooters, and neither seems to play particularly well with the other. I'm reminded of Sacramento's Tyreke Evans/Marcus Thornton faux pas. Behind the starters, the Bucks have former Spur Beno Udrih, who has played surprisingly well, Marquis Daniels, and rookie Doron Lamb.
Sanders is scheduled to make just under 2 million this year, then just over 7 million the next 2 years, but he is also a restricted free agent in 2014. If the Bucks don't see measured success early this season, they could be willing to take deals that are offered them just to shake things up in an attempt to appease the fan base.
The Proposal: (I guess I'll go ahead and throw one out there each week. You may feel free to shred it in the comments.)
Send Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair for Larry Sanders and a future second round draft pick. Or send Nando De Colo straight up for Sanders. Either one works on the infamous Trade Machine, and either one would be a pretty good deal for Milwaukee. De Colo is one of the top Euro imports and proved enough to join Pop's minions this year, so his worth as a true combo guard off the bench for the Bucks could be invaluable. A combo of Neal and Blair would be costly for the Spurs, but filling a need with a young player like Sanders would be worth it. Plus an eventual Milwaukee second round pick probably wouldn't be too far removed from late first round, so that would ease the pain of losing two seasoned role players.
A Moment of Weakness: Spurs send Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal, Nando De Colo, and Cory Joseph to the Bucks for Larry Sanders, Drew Gooden, and Doron Lamb. Yes, that trade was also successful on Trade Machine. I'm sorry.
Tune in next week for more shocking and thought-provoking madness.
Qualification: I am well aware that PATFO shall likely never make any transaction such as I mention above, but if they do, I am entitled to months of gloating and preening over my lucky guess. Thank you for your understanding.