USA TODAY Sports
A weekly hashing about potential trade targets and scenarios during the 2012 Run for the Title. This week: Ryan Anderson!
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 have just traded all of our less-than-essential pieces for Josh Smith this off-season, right?
Our own dear editor, the great J.R. Wilco himself, has said he 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 to report on any remotely and/or reasonably potential trade targets.
We Spurs fans are delighted to see our boys 19-7 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.
In this fifth installment of TTT, we peruse the greatness of Ryan Anderson. He is a 6'10, 240 lb. power forward, a 4 year league veteran out of Cal. This season, he is averaging 18.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and shooting 43% from downtown, compared with his career averages of 11.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 39% on threes. Needless to say, he's having a career season.
The only problem with his future in New Orleans is a guy named Anthony Davis. Neither Davis nor Anderson is fit to play the 5, and Monty Williams doesn't seem eager to experiment in that way, especially since Robin Lopez provides a viable option at center. It would be nice to be able to keep both Anderson and Davis, no doubt, but the Hornets likely know their long-term chances are slim to be able to pay both young power forwards enough to retain both their services, knowing only one of them will start.
Who to keep, then? I say Anderson draws the short stick. Therefore, as countless front office personnel, sports writers, and other fan bloggers around the country are doing, we try to figure out a way to trade for Ryan Anderson. He is really the consummate player we PtR faithful have been pining for for some time: a long, lean, athletic, defensively active power forward. The plus with this guy is he can shoot almost at a Red Rocket clip and can score in about a hundred more ways than Matty B.
San Antonio sends Stephen Jackson and his 10 million dollar expiring contract, Matt Bonner, a first round draft pick, and DeJuan Blair to New Orleans for Ryan Anderson, Roger Mason Jr. (he is, in fact, still in the league), and Darius Miller. The last two guys are just to make the money work, though Mason might be able to eat that proverbial pie and sweet talk Pop into seeing some garbage minutes, just for old times' sake.
Why It Will Fly:
New Orleans is a bad team with some talented players (the glass doll of Eric Gordon, Unibrow, and Anderson) who have had some tough luck (injuries and being run for awhile by the NBA) and are struggling to gel. Problem is, they don't have much financial wiggle room to keep getting better. As it stands, they are $5.4 million over the cap and only stand to clear about 6 million off the books at season's end, which will leave them without a small forward (which is about where they are now). Adding Cap'n Jack for the remainder of the year could give them a glimpse of what life could be like with a complete frontcourt, plus he would likely show Coach Monty decent respect (assuming he deleted his Twitter account).
Bonner would replace Anderson's threes in the offense for the next couple of years, and Blair would add a tough inside presence to spell Robin Lopez (way better than Jason Smith). Building through the draft is the way to go for teams in New Orleans' position, and if they can add another top-flight college player (maybe UCLA SF Shabazz Muhammed?) to team with the latter and Eric Gordon, they have a solid nucleus. Adding the Spurs' first round pick would just help stockpile talent, while Jackson's 10 million off the books next year would allow them a chance to sign a decent FA, such as a Tyreke Evans or a Shawn Marion.
From the Spurs' angle, they add a big who can potentially fill a missing playoff ingredient and help them push for another ring or two in Duncan's final years. In doing so, they get to keep their core of the Big 3 plus Ryan Anderson, Leonard, Green, Splitter, and Neal, plus a full bench in Diaw, Mills, De Colo, James Anderson, and Joseph, with Miller and Mason Jr rounding out the 15 man roster.
Why It Won't Even Get Off the Ground:
Anderson could prove to be more valuable to the Hornets in the here and now than adding cap room and a couple of vets. The league-wide demand for the power forward could be too great and the Spurs' offer too small. Also, they could be looking for different things in a potential trade, like a point guard. Regardless, they have a very valuable chip in Anderson, and it's certain they won't part with him lightly.
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A Moment of Extreme Weakness:
(In this section, we each have our roles to play: I pretend that PATFO has suddenly lost its collective senses; you wish you'd never had the following thought cross your mind...) Spurs send DeJuan Blair, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, Patty Mills, Nando De Colo, Matt Bonner, and Stephen Jackson to Hornets for Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Robin Lopez, Roger Mason Jr, Lance Thomas, Darius Miller, and Brian Roberts. Then we go sign Jerry Stackhouse, Jermaine O'Neal, and and Vladimir Radmanovich and beat everyone in the world. At the same time. But by now you've learned to excuse my ravings in this section, right? 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. .]