Tuesday evening, a reported three team swap between the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz surfaced. The proposed trade is subject to some refinements, certainly, because there are unnamed players that could be added into the deal (ie: James Anderson, Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph). I know this because I put the deal into the Trade Machine and it didn't work. (I told you I was a genius right?) But just because it's supposedly being talked about, and might work as a legal deal, doesn't mean it would be a good thing, so I'm going to examine this potential deal one point at a time, from what we know right now.
In limited action, Tinsley has shown a propensity to be able to pass the ball effectively (above average assist rate). He's only played in 15 games so bear that in mind. With prodigious point guard Ricky Rubio out for the rest of theseason with an ACL injury, this could help them build some depth at the point, which we know GM David Kahn dearly loves to have.
Essentially, Utah would give up Miles (13.4 PER), Josh Howard (11.0 PER) and Tinsley (11.2 PER) for Ellington (8.7 PER) and Green (12.7 PER). They marginally improve their defense (25th in defensive efficiency) but, even so, I don't think this improves their team necessarily.
Spurs receive: Josh Howard
I'll be blunt: I absolutely HATE this deal for San Antonio. The Spurs are a team that is heavy at the wing positions, but in need of an athletic power forward that can protect the rim and guard the more athletic fours on the perimeter (This is the 1,115th time I casually mention Larry Sanders and it probably won't be the last). Trading Green for Howard doesn't solve the most prevalent need and actually weakens the team in more ways than one.
Green is a more efficient shooter than Howard and he's better defesivily. Green doesn't require the ball as much as Howard and he's a better passer and teammate. Ultimately, he fits the mold of the Spurs and his salary is lower. Yes, Green is going to be a restricted free agent next year. And yes, I understand the internal worry that some progressive team will snatch him from us and we'll be left with nothing. That is a very real possibility. In the end, though, I think PATFO will re-sign Green because his intrinsic value on the Spurs supersedes that of other teams. Plus, the inevitable departure of Anderson allows PATFO to be more aggressive with Green. If the Spurs were to trade Green, I wouldn't want to receive someone at the same position because a) that doesn't clarify the rotation b) the "new guy" wouldn't be very comfortable in the offense and c) the deal wouldn't tangibly improve the Spurs due to the more urgent need for a big. No thanks.
We like Green
Green is a prototypical Spur. He cares about defense and he's worked hard to get where he is now. You can make a legitimate claim that he was behind Anderson, Richard Jefferson and Kawhi Leonard on the depth chart. With Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal also manning the two guard spot, there were five guys on the team with the same skill set as Green but with the security of finite minutes. Green started showing signs against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 4 (eight points on 3-4 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks in 16 minutes). Three days later, He had his best showing of the entire season. The Spurs squeaked out a 121-117 victory over the Denver Nuggets largely because of his otstanding 24 point on 9-13 shooting (.692 FG%), seven rebound, two assist, two steal, two block performance. I felt sure we had a keeper after that.
He's a guy that always gives a conscience effort on both sides of the ball, doesn't complain and makes the most of a limited opportunities. Losing him for Howard wouldn't exactly brighten my spirits. Especially considering ...
We hate Howard
I'm a sports fan so I'm not immune to irrational behavior. In fact, I probably exhibit more of that behavior than most people. My initial hate for Howard stems from his decision to spurn the Spurs in the free agency market -- which actually turned out to be a good thing -- and the fact that his demeanor on the basketball court just asks for that amount of hatred -- he was a Dallas Maverick after all. But here's some empirical evidence just in case you need more reasons (credit to: http://www.aolnews.com/2008/04/25/josh-howards-weed-habit-suddenly-news/)
"I think a lot of people have that problem [smoking marijuana]," Howard said. "How that could stop me from getting drafted, though? How many guys in the lottery smoke pot? The weed thing, just about everybody smokes."
Yeah, not exactly a positive endorsement for Mr. Howard. And then, of course, there's this.
Look at the 0:38 mark for reference. (An aside: How in the name of Joey Crawford is that not a foul?). I wouldn't accuse Manu of flopping there; that was clearly a malicious play without any intent of blocking the ball. I don't know about you but I'd find it very hard to root for the guy. I suppose I could, albeit begrudgingly (and on the sole basis that he is adorning the Silver and Black) but I won't be too happy about it.
Trade speculations are pointless
I'm just as guilty of other Spurs fans of obsessive trade speculation. I'm a terrible person. The energy I put on finding potential deals will never pay off. And because of my proposals, it may seem like I give off the impression that I do not have a genuine love for the Spurs or that I'm not loyal. Believe me or not, but I do have a genuine passion for the Spurs. My incessant trade proposals are because I want the Spurs to improve, nothing more, nothing less.
That being said, I don't feel like this deal is one the Spurs would make. Could the Spurs be looking at an entirely different deal and have no real interest in this opportunity? Well, that precedent was set leading up to last year's draft, when the rumors mill was swirling with umpteen deals that included Tony Parker. But it all turned out to be a smoke screen when the Spurs traded up to the 15th pick in the Draft and not into the top seven like everyone speculated. If any franchise is savvy enough to deflect their actual trade intentions by "talking" about another deal, it would be the Spurs.
Besides, when was the last time the Spurs actually made a deal that everyone was expecting? I can't remember one. Has it ever happened? Feel free to speculate on potential deals with the Jazz and Timberwolves though.