With Minnesota winning the second pick in last night's NBA Draft lottery, it creates a very interesting scenario for the Nets. ESPN has already reported that the Timberwolves are very interested in moving this pick, and looking at their roster and what will be on the board with the second pick - it makes a lot of sense to trade this pick for veteran players.
Minnesota is a young team with the majority of their roster having 2-3 years of NBA experience. The Timberwolves clearly are stocked at the PF position with Kevin Love and are pretty much locked into Darko at the Center position (thanks to David Kahn). And they have 2 former top 3 picks at the SF position in Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson. They also have backups under contract in the front court of Nikola Pekovic (Center), Anthony Randolph (F), Anthony Tolliver (PF) and Martell Webster (G/F).
Everyone loves to make fun of David Kahn about aquiring PGs (Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio and Ty Lawson) - yet the best of the three (Lawson) was traded away, and Rubio seems unlikely to ever play for the Timberwolves. Jonny Flynn has been a major disappointment and it seems like he may never live up to his draft status. Minnesota has Luke Ridnour under contract - but again he is nothing more than a stop gap PG in their system. They also have severe needs at the SG position, with just Wayne Ellington under contract as their SG next year.
At the second pick in the draft - you have to assume that Kyrie Irving will be off the board, and this will leave questionable PGs like Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight and SFs Derrick Williams and Kahwi Leonhard on the board. There are no SG prospects in the draft who can be in the conversation for the second pick. Minnesota also has the 20th pick in the draft (courtesy of Memphis) where there will be a number of talented SG prospects still on the board. However, Minnesota finds itself in a difficult situation with the second pick - and strategically their best decision would be to move this pick for veteran players (already David Kahn has already suggested as much) as they do not need a third top 3 pick at the SF position on their roster.
The Timberwolves ideally look to find a mixture of veteran players, future assets (ie. draft picks), and cash for the second pick in the draft. The Nets biggest need is two fold - they need to aggressively prove to Deron Williams that they are committed to improving the team and putting together a championship caliber roster while at the same time maintaining as much salary cap flexibility as possible as they will need to resign DWill, Hump, Brook and possibly make a run at Dwight Howard.
While the jury is still out on Damion James - SF is our weakest position on the floor, and having an athletic SF who can play defense, run the floor with DWill, provide rebounding and knock down the outside jumper would really solidify our starting 5. Unfortunately, the Nets thought they were getting this player with Outlaw last summer and that clearly has proven to be a huge mistake. However, these types of players don't come cheap, and command a premium in Free Agency (and there is really nobody of a starting caliber at the 3 this summer anyways who will justify his contract).
Minnesota winning the second pick (with Cleveland picking first) should have been an absolute wet dream for the Nets front office. Derrick Williams is PRECISELY the player that the Nets need to solidfy their front court, maximize their salary cap (space vs production), and his ability to play minutes at the PF position provides the Nets with the versatility Avery Johnson loves. He is a proven leader, has a huge heart, has improved every year in college and is a high character guy. And his ability to attack the boards, provides the Nets with another strong rebounder (for their position) to complement Brook Lopez. Brook is a great offensive center - but he is never going to be a dominant rebounder. His ceiling is most likely 8 rpg. Having Hump (10+) and Williams (8+) at the forward positions will inherently mask this weakness.
The Nets should be aggressively calling David Kahn on a daily basis leading up to the draft to inquire about trading for the second pick in the draft (to take Derrick Williams). The Nets will benefit from the overall weakness of this year's draft, the uncertainty surrounding the CBA and status of the 2011-2012 season and the expected strength/depth of the 2012 NBA Draft - as the combination of these factors will keep the price of this pick more affordable than it would be in a typical draft. And we have one of the few (perhaps only) owner's in basketball who are unfazed by the economic recession (it's been a long term commodities bull market) who will have no problem dropping a few million dollars as a cost of doing business.
My trade proposal would initially be to deal Jordan Farmar, the 27th pick in the draft, next year's second round pick and cash (the maximum cash allowed) to acquire this pick. Obviously, the trade can be tweaked to entice Minn but this is a good starting point. Correct me if I am wrong, but cash included in a trade DOES NOT count against the salary cap.
Farmar provides the Timberwolves with a quality young PG (who could start over Ridnour) with championship credentials, and the Wolves will still find rotation depth with the 27th pick in the draft and pick up a second round pick. If necessary, I would include this year's second round pick and the right to swap picks in 2012 (no reason for Minnesota to look for that provision though).
And by making this trade - the Nets signal to Deron Williams (and the rest of the league) that this is a new era in Nets basketball and that they will aggressively make moves to surround DWill with talent and are 100% committed to being a championship team. This trade provides the Nets with a significant upgrade to their SF position, makes sense from a salary cap perspective, and has the psychological impact of creating a WOW statement heading into the summer.
If the Nets get really lucky, and there is a 1 time amnesty clause in the new NBA CBA - we will be able to waive Travis Outlaw and not have his remaining $28 million count against the cap.
This would lead to a rotation (entering the summer) of:
PG - DWill/Gaines
SG - Morrow
SF - Derrick Williams/Damion James
PF - Hump (Nets will resign him)
C - Lopez/Petro
This is a very strong starting 5 - and the Nets will need to sign some veterans to provide rotation depth - but is a team that can be expected to make it into the second round of the playoffs, if not the Eastern Conference Finals (matchup dependent). Plus the Nets are keeping a large amount of salary cap flexibility - so that they can resign Hump, DWill and Brook and still be players in free agency.
And in a perfect world, DWill would convince Dwight Howard to sit tight for 1 more season in Orlando and then sign with the Nets as a free agent in the summer of 2012 (dependent of course on lack of franchise tag in new CBA). Depending on the cap, the Nets may be able to absorb the cost of Howard under the cap and move Lopez to PF with Howard the starting Center. Hump is the perfect backup big off the bench, with Petro available to provide 6 fouls a night.
And a starting lineup of DWill/Morrow/Derrick Williams/Lopez/Howard with a bench of Damion James and Hump is the start of a dynasty Year 1 of Brooklyn.
I hope the Nets aggressively pursue a trade for the second pick in the draft - as the opportunity to acquire Derrick Williams is something that they can not pass up if they are truly interested in winning multiple championships.