Nothing Special, Really

Friday, March 21, 2008

Rooting For New Jersey

Wednesday night was one of the biggest games of the season for the Suns. And they weren't even playing in it.

I'm referring to New Jersey's victory over Atlanta.

The Nets win put them ahead of Atlanta for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and gives them a 3-1 edge for the season series, which is the first tiebreaker in determining playoffs seedings.

If you're a loyal Suns fan, you should already know why I'm mentioning this game, but for those that don't get it yet, let me explain.

The Suns have had a pattern recently of dumping first round draft picks. In 2004, we traded the No. 7 pick in the draft to Chicago, which ended up being the right to Luol Deng, for a 1st round pick the next year, which we used on Nate Robinson, who was traded to New York for Kurt Thomas, who was traded last year to the Sonics for Orlando's second round pick, except that we also had to throw in our own pick this year & our 2010 pick just so Seattle would pay Kurt's salary. And the only reason we traded the Deng pick in the first place was because the Suns didn't think Iguodala would be around, which he was. Think about the possibilities of our team:


Our team is Nash, JJ, Q-Rich, Marion & Amare with a young Barbosa, a rookie Iguodala (or even Luol Deng) & Jim Jackson & Steven Hunter coming off our bench. Maybe we win the championship, maybe we don't, but it's safe to say that a rookie Iguodala or Luol Deng would have contributed more than our rookie that year....Jackson Vroman.


Even with Iguodala or Deng on the team, we probably still trade Q-Rich to the Knicks for Kurt Thomas. We don't have the Bulls pick anymore, and we traded our own pick to the Spurs for LB, so for argument's sake, let's say that we give them a future 1st round pick, either 2006 or 2007. We also trade Joe Johnson because he's a whiny bitch to Atlanta for the same trade, and still sign Raja Bell. So now our team looks like this: Nash, Bell, Marion, Amare, KT, Iggy or Deng, LB, Diaw. We may or may not have traded for James Jones.


Let's consider that we trade the No. 7 pick in 2004 but instead of trading the Nate Robinson pick, we keep Robinson. Let's assume that we give up a 2006 pick for Kurt instead of a 2005 pick, since we have two in 2006. Think about it this way: We traded Quentin Richardson, the right to Nate Robinson & two future 1st round picks for the rights to Dijon Thompson & a second round pick from Seattle via Orlando (Rashard Lewis trade). So our team is Nash, Bell, Marion, Amare, Diaw, LB, KT, Nate Robinson, James Jones. The season probably has same outcome with Amare out due to microfracture surgery.


Back to scenario A. With Iguodala or Deng on the team, odds are that we don't sign Diaw to the huge extension, which is OK for 2006 because he's still under contract. If I recall, he would have only been a restricted FA after 06 anyways. In 2006, we drafted Rajon Rondo but sent him to the Celtics to take Grant's contract, and sent Sergio Rodriguez to Portland for $3 million. Of course, if we kept Rondo or Rodriguez over signing Marcus Banks, we would have saved money. So our lineup this year would have been Nash, Bell, Marion, Amare, Iggy or Deng, LB, Diaw, KT, Rondo or Rodriguez and maybe James Jones. Don't know if that gets us past the Spurs but maybe it does.


If we had kept Nate Robinson then we only have one pick in 2006, probably the lesser one. We probably still trade this pick to Portland to cover costs of LB & Diaw extensions andor the Tim Thomas resigning that (thankfully) never happened. So our lineup this year is still the same: Nash, Bell, Marion, Amare, Diaw, LB, KT, Nate Robinson, James Jones. Maybe Nate helps us past the Spurs, maybe not.


Considering all the assumptions from before, it's time to give Iggy (let's just assume we got Iguodala because they would have chosen him over Deng, that's been confirmed) an extension. This isn't too much of a problem because, knowing he was due an extension, we wouldn't have given Diaw an extension in 2006. In fact, considering his 2006 season, we probably don't extend him at all. So maybe Diaw is gone. But, rookies also have a 4th year option so maybe we just do that & take the option then give him an extension at the end of the year (like what happened with Philly this year). Either way, we probably still need a little bit of money so James Jones is probably gone too. Rondo or Rodriguez aren't due an extension until after next season. We have a 1st round pick, and if we don't take Tucker, then we probably draft a European to stow away overseas for a while. This is where it hurts that we're paying Piatkowski & Sean Marks. So, our lineup this year is: Nash, Bell, Marion, Amare, KT, Iguodala, LB, Rondo or Rodriguez, maybe Diaw. But, we also save our 2008 & 2010 draft picks because we don't have to trade KT.


We probably still take Alando Tucker in the draft, no big deal. But by having Nate Robinson instead of Marcus Banks, we're not that far over the cap, maybe a more manageable amount that Sarver is willing to pay. We probably don't make the Shaq deal since we still have Kurt Thomas. We still have two 1st round picks in 2008 & one in 2010 to use as trade bait. In fact, we probably could have traded Kurt Thomas, the two 1st round picks, and Nate Robinson to Memphis for Gasol. Nash, Bell, Marion, Amare, LB, Diaw, and Gasol. Maybe, who knows. The point is we still have the two 1st round picks we sent to Seattle with Kurt Thomas.

OK, so this post turned out being more about how trading the #7 pick in 04 to the Bulls was a HUGE mistake, but look at all the possibilities we have even with all the other draft picks, not to mention everything else that may have changed as a result. And that brings me back to why this post is called rooting for New Jersey.

If New Jersey makes the playoffs, that means Atlanta doesn't. Our only 1st round pick this year is Atlanta's from the Joe Johnson trade. It was almost ours last year, and we would have ended up with someone like Al Horford or Jeff Green, but this year's it ours no matter what. If Atlanta gets in the playoffs, we'll probably end up number 15.

But if they end up in the lottery, because the West is so deep this year, they'll pick around number 11-12 BUT that also means we have an ever-so-slight chance at getting into the lottery, possibly ending up with someone like Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose. It's a huge if, but at best, New Jersey in the playoffs means our pick is about 2-4 places higher.

So when you're not rooting for the Suns, start rooting for New Jersey. Hell, even Chicago, because they're not too far behind Atlanta & have two more games against them. Just starting rooting against Atlanta period. This might be our last chance in the lottery (because if we finish out of the Playoffs anytime soon, those picks are going to the Sonics), so let's hope we get there.