Friday Trade Idea: Getting out Richard Hamilton’s and Jason Maxiell’s long-term contracts and getting immediate help

Every Friday (well, that’s the goal), I’ll analyze a potential Pistons trade. It might be a rumor, a deal I completely made up blindly (like this one) or one you suggest (e-mail me at [email protected] or leave a proposal in the comments).

Trade

Pistons receive:

  • Troy Murphy (14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.8 steals)
  • T.J. Ford (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals)

Pacers receive:

  • Richard Hamilton (18.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals)
  • Jason Maxiell (5.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.5 steals)

Salaries

Pistons receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 20012/13
Troy Murphy $11,047,619 $11,968,253 $0 $0
T.J. Ford $8,500,000 $8,500,000 $0 $0
TOTALS: $19,547,619 $20,468,253 $0 $0

Pacers receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 20012/13
Richard Hamilton $11,625,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000
Jason Maxiell $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $5,000,000
TOTALS: $16,625,000 $17,650,000 $17,650,000 $17,650,000

Player option

Pistons’ perspective

Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds and I spent a lot of time yesterday talking about a potential trade. The Pistons and Pacers have a lot of moving pieces, and we came up with a bunch of deals that both teams would have to consider. You could certainly come up with variations of this deal that include Kwame Brown, Mike Wilcox, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster and maybe even Roy Hibbert. But I think this is the most logical.

The Pacers get the best player in the trade, give up no players younger than 26, get cap relief this year and next year ($2,922,610 this year and $2,818,253 next year). That’s the type of deal that most teams make in a heartbeat.

But this is a little more complicated. The Pacers would be on the hook to pay Hamilton and Maxiell $17,650,000 the following two years, while the Pistons would owe Murphy and Ford nothing.

This would be a franchise-altering move for the Pistons. They’re at a crossroads. They can continue with their current core and hope to make the playoffs, or they can trade for the future.

This deal actually could do both, although I think it would lean toward the latter.

Murphy is actually a solid player and could help Detroit the next two years. He might be a little redundant with Charlie Villanueva, but Hamilton is similar to Ben Gordon. I’d rather have an overloaded front line than too many guards.

Ford has fallen out of favor with the Pacers, but I think he could have a role off the Pistons bench. As a true point guard, Ford would allow Rodney Stuckey to play more shooting guard, where he excels right now. And Ford, generously listed at 6-foot, seems to play better when his minutes are limited.

Of all the deals Jared and I discussed, I think this one exists in the small window where the Pistons would have room under the luxury tax to re-sign Will Bynum and Ben Wallace in the offseason and the Pacers get some cap relief.

Assuming the Pistons exercise their $2,767,126 option on Rodney Stuckey (a given) and Chris Wilcox picks up his $3 million option (a likelihood), Detroit will have about $55 million in committed salaries.

The luxury-tax line is projected to be $61.2 million next season. So, this would make it close. But I doubt it would be too hard to trade Chris Wilcox’s expiring contract to clear a little more room if necessary (like the Pistons did this summer with Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson).

The Pistons would go into next season with the expiring contracts of Murphy, Ford, Tayshaun Prince, Wilcox and Stuckey. All of a sudden, Detroit would have a lot of room to maneuver and, I think, a solid team.

Pacers’ perspective

For each trade, I will seek the analysis of the other team’s TrueHoop Network blogger.

Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds:

“It’s certainly something Larry Bird would have to consider. The Pacers backcourt is an absolute joke and Rip would not only be able to score immediately in Jim O’Brien’s jumpshot-happy offense, but he would be a welcome sight to many Indy fans who long for the days of Reggie Miller. Rip would immediately be in the top three or four offensive threats on the team and that’s with the realization that he has been decidedly below average this year.

Maxiell, too, brings some toughness and athleticism in the paint – both of which the Pacers lack. Then again, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster already do a lot of the same stuff that Jason does and at least Tyler will probably be here for the next three seasons at a minimum.

Neither T.J., who has totally fallen out of the rotation and has reportedly been on the trade block for a loooong time, nor Troy are a part of Larry Bird’s long-term plan, so giving these guys up shouldn’t be any major holdup.

But I don’t see Indy wanting to do this.

It would be essentially committing to a core of Granger, Rip, Hibbert, this year’s #1 pick, Maxiell and Hansbrough over the next four years since taking on the $17.5 million of those two guys wouldn’t leave a ton of cap flexibility. After you fill out the rotation with $1-$4 million players, the most they would have is MLE-level money to acquire anyone "marquee." And while that lineup isn’t terrible — presuming, ya know, Rip learns how to shoot again soon — it’s not any better than a 5 or 6 seed. And that’s also assuming that Hibbert develops into a borderline Rik Smits-level offensive talent, which is definitely possible but far from certain.

Mediocrity would be a vast improvement for the Pacers right now, don’t get me wrong, but there would be no real hope of exceeding mediocrity. Indiana would be essentially where Detroit is now and not even have a "cross our fingers and hope Stuckey becomes Dwyane Wade Lite" hope for a future. That team would have a clear ceiling and it would probably be the second round of the playoffs.

Around the Hoosier state, that seems to be something management is almost cool with these days, but I doubt they would commit to Rip, given his relative post-Billups era fall from grace, both as a scorer and as good chemistry guy.

My response

I think Hamilton’s shooting will pick up again. His leg strength wasn’t immediately there after his injury. But he’s clearly improving since his return.

Maybe I’m higher Roy Hibbert than Jared. I think he can be a star, and Granger already is. I think that’s a solid core. It might take getting lucky with the first-round pick, but not many title teams are built without a few lucky breaks.

I think one mistake many teams make is waiting for the dynamite move that will vault them into a championship contender. A good first step is becoming good. I think building a winning culture goes a long way. You don’t want to bring a bunch of young talent into dysfunction.

I admit this might leave the Pacers with too little flexibility, but they would be improved.

Verdict

I think the Pistons would do the deal if they were confident they could shed a couple million in salary if its necessary to have room to re-sign Bynum and Wallace. From the outside, I think they can, so I think they’d do it.

For the Pacers, I’ll leave it to Jared:

“If I was GM of the Indiana Pacers: Pass

What I think Larry Bird would do: Pass”

Previous

I realize I’m still one trade idea behind. I plan to post it Sunday night or Monday morning, and I’m still planning on posting another for next Friday.

Thanks to all of you who e-mailed trades. Sorry, if I haven’t responded yet. I will, but I wanted to talk to the other team’s TrueHoop bloggers about some of them first. Keep the ideas coming.

Tags: Jason Maxiell Richard Hamilton

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