Friday Trade Idea: Dealing Richard Hamilton and Kwame Brown to the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Howard and Matt Carroll

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 or one you suggest (e-mail me at [email protected] or leave a proposal in the comments).

Trade

Pistons receive:

  • Josh Howard (12.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.3 steals)
  • Matt Carroll (1.6 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.3 steals)

Mavericks receive:

  • Richard Hamilton (17.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.7 steals)
  • Kwame Brown (3.5 points, 3.5 rebounds,  0.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.3 steals)

Salaries

Pistons receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Josh Howard $10,890,000 $11,835,000 $0 $0
Matt Carroll $4,700,000 $4,300,000 $3,900,000 $3,500,000
Total $15,590,000 $16,135,000 $3,900,000 $3,500,000

Mavericks receive:

Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Richard Hamilton $11,625,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000
Kwame Brown $4,100,000 $0 $0 $0
Total $15,725,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000 $12,650,000

Player option

Team option

Pistons’ perspective

Joe Dumars doesn’t want just expiring contracts for Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. I think this deal offers more than that.

Before this season, Howard was an excellent player. He’s still good, but his production has fallen way off. If Dallas had to decide two years ago, Howard’s team option probably would have been picked up. But you can’t count on him for 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists and excellent defense every game anymore.

Hamilton’s play has picked up since returning from injury. He’s a better player than Howard right now. But Howard would give Detroit a few advantages to Hamilton.

Howard is 29, a couple years younger than Hamilton. Maybe a change in environment would do them both good.

Howard is also a better fit at small forward than Hamilton, which would free more minutes for Ben Gordon at shooting guard. Plus, Dumars seems keen on players who can play multiple positions.

Most importantly, Howard’s contract is not guaranteed past this season. This trade would shed $8,350,000 from the Pistons’ payroll this summer (assuming they decline the team option). But depending on where the cap is set, that might not give them much more to spend than the mid-level exception.

On one hand, that could give them a chance to pay a free agent more money than any team that’s over the cap. It’s would be a small advantage, but every dollar counts.

A better plan would likely be re-signing Howard for about $7 million per season (assuming he passes what would become a half-season audition) and using the mid-level exception on another player.

The Pistons would probably have room under the luxury tax threshold to do that and re-sign Will Bynum and Ben Wallace. Basically, the Pistons would be trading for Howard and another quality player (the free agent signed with the mid-level exception) or for a good, but not elite, free agent this summer (if they let Howard walk).

The trade also works without Kwame Brown and Matt Carroll, which would be a plus for the Pistons. But I think Dallas would insist both are included, so the financial hit of adding Hamilton isn’t as great.

Carroll wouldn’t be a total burden, though. His salary decreases ever year, and he could fill a role as a 3-point specialist.

Chad Ford (insider) recently analyzed five hypothetical trades. One of them was a three-way deal that included this trade (along with sending Prince to Utah for Boozer). Relevant portions:

But in any case, moving Hamilton for Howard, who has a nonguaranteed contract for 2010-11, would work well for the Pistons, for whom Hamilton’s contract has become an albatross. This trade would give them the opportunity to pursue a free agent this summer. And while they would be reluctant to swallow the three years remaining on Carroll’s contract, that’s also the length of Hamilton’s contract, which they would be shedding.

The Mavs would trade Howard, but they’d prefer to get someone younger than Hamilton in return. They’ve looked at Kevin Martin, Caron Butler and Andre Iguodala, but so far the Kings, Wizards and 76ers don’t want to give up those players for mere cap relief. But Dallas doesn’t have its first-round pick this year and owner Mark Cuban has said he’s not trading rookie point guard Rodrigue Beaubois — and the Mavs don’t have much else to offer in terms of inexpensive assets. So Hamilton might be the best they can do.

His contract is ugly — he has $34 million in guaranteed money owed to him over the next three seasons after this one. At the same time, the Mavs would be ridding themselves of the remaining $12 million due Carroll over the next three seasons. Looking at it that way, Dallas would be getting Hamilton for about $7.5 million per year for the next three seasons. While that’s not a bargain, he would help them offensively, stepping in as the starting 2-guard and providing another veteran shooter in the backcourt.

Mavericks’ perspective

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

Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game:

“Josh Howard’s inconsistent and uninspiring play has put the Mavs in a tough spot. If Howard plays up to the level that the Mavs know he’s capable of, he’d be a stellar complement to a Mavs core that could certainly use his scoring and perimeter defense. But at this point, Howard’s lows are so much of a downer that they negate any potential highs; any coach, any team, and an fan base can only take so many two of ten shooting nights before patience begins to wear thin.

The most infuriating thing about Howard’s decline is that it’s practically nonsensical. Josh played exceptionally well in last year’s first round series against the Spurs before being shut down for the second round match-up with the Nuggets. Since then, Josh has battled and recovered from a few different injuries, throwing the Mavs’ rotation for a bit of a loop in the process. But when Howard hits the court, his past injuries are hardly apparent; he has no noticeable limp, he doesn’t favor one side over another, and his movements, leaping, and shooting stroke all appear to be relatively normal. But his effort level? A bit lacking at times. His shot-selection? Getting better, but occasionally worrisome. His once heralded perimeter defense? Strong some nights, and gone the next. Dirk Nowitzki needs some consistent help, and the Mavs as a whole need a more active defender at the 2.

Enter Rip Hamilton. On the surface, he’s not an ideal fit; he’s older than the Mavs’ other rumored trade targets, his contract runs long and hits hard, and as a kicker, he’s having a bit of an off-year. But a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and I don’t think it’s terribly unreasonable to expect a slight pickup in Rip’s production if he was traded to a playoff-caliber team (and with his addition, hopefully more than just playoff-caliber).

The hardest sell on a Josh-Rip swap would be Mark Cuban. Hamilton is owed $37.5 million over the next three years, and while it could possibly make the Mavs better now, Rip will be a ghost of his former self by the time his deal runs out. Plus, with the new CBA due in 2011, it’s entirely possible that a player of Hamilton’s stature would (in the future) go on the free agent market for significantly less than $12.5 million per.
The Mavs’ other potential deals would need to fall through. Maybe Sacramento is clearly resolved to keep Kevin Martin, Phoenix pries away Andre Iguodala for Amar’e Stoudemire, and Houston (or per the latest rumor: Boston) nabs Caron Butler. The Mavs still would be looking to make a change to improve their roster, and while a Josh for Rip trade straight-up may not grab Mark Cuban’s attention, the inclusion of Kwame Brown (or more importantly, his expiring contract — the man is destined to be trade fodder) and Matt Carroll (or more importantly, his contract — the man is destined to be a bench-warmer in Dallas, but he’s due $11.7 million over the next three years). It wouldn’t exactly slide the Mavs under the cap or even under the luxury tax line, but scrapping Carroll’s deal could help persuade Cuban to take on a bigger financial commitment – like Richard Hamilton.”

My response

I think Hamilton’s production would go up more as a product of getting back in shape after an injury. But going to a contender certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.

Otherwise, I think Rob’s analysis is spot-on.

Verdict

The Pistons would say yes. The Mavericks would say yes if they haven’t found a better offer by the trade deadline.

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