With the Clippers losing 9 of their last 12 and sinking slowly, oh so slowly, in the West, talk of trading the Clips’ draft choice will likely heat up in the weeks leading up to the February 23 trade deadline. It’s the Nets’ best trade asset...along with the draft rights to Mile Ilic. While the Nets have shown no inclination to trade Ilic’s rights, they are willing to trade the Clippers’ pick…if the deal is right. And a player's age may be very much part of the calculation that goes into whether the deal IS right.
As reported by local basketball writers, the Rod Thorn has repeatedly offered to trade the Clippers' pick back to LA in return for Chris Wilcox, but have resisted giving it to Charlotte for Melvin Ely. Ely is having a much better year than Wilcox, averaging more than twice as many minutes played and points scored.
So why the willingness to deal the pick for Wilcox and the resistance to trade it for Ely? Here's one reason: an age difference of almost five years between the two on Draft Night 2006 when that pick will be exercised.
Wilcox will only be 23 on draft night 2006. Ely will be 28. Although both were drafted by the Clippers in June 2002, Wilcox at No. 8, Ely at No. 12, the two were as far apart in age as first round picks normally are.
The Nets’ analysis apparently goes like this: those players drafted in the late lottery or mid first round on Draft Night 2006 will not be much younger than Wilcox and it's doubtful any taken then will be better equipped for the NBA than Wilcox is now. Moreover, a few players taken that night might be older than Wilcox. Some were last year.
Wilcox is still younger than five decent players taken in last year's draft: Joey Graham, Hakim Warrick, Francisco Garcia, Robert Whaley, and Orien Green and only a few weeks to a year older than nine other players picked: Channing Frye, Ike Diogu, Fran Vasquez, Danny Granger, Jason Maxiell, Wayne Simien, David Lee, Salim Stoudemire and Ronny Turiaf.
He is only nine months older than Nenad Krstic, taken 16 players later in the 2002 draft.
Bottom line: getting a player with almost four years' NBA experience is a lot better bet than getting one of the same or comparable age with none.
On other hand, it's also understandable why the Nets won't give up that Clipper pick for Melvin Ely, who will be 28 on Draft Night 2006. He is two months older than Jason Collins. For the record, Steven Hunter, will be 24 that night.