I generally don’t entertain trade speculation because I don’t find it all that fun as a parlor game. But there are enough reputable voices now suggesting that the Clippers are in serious conversations to acquire Zach Randolph for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley.
Randolph coming to the Clippers would be a colossal mistake. Let’s enumerate why:
- However you feel about Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley, their contracts have one extremely favorable feature: They expire the summer of 2010, when a slew of high profile free agents hit the market. When Thomas and Mobley come off the books, the Clippers will inherit a combined $16.27 million in cap space to pursue one of those prized free agents.
- Zach Randolph, on the other hand, stands to make $17.33 million in 2010-2011. Forget, for a second, that this is an exorbitant amount of money to pay a cancer like Randolph to play basketball. Even if you love Randolph’s game, his contract effectively takes the Clippers out of the 2010 sweepstakes.
- It isn’t as if the Clippers’ pressing need is frontcourt help. Right now, the Clippers are one of the league’s worst defensive teams, and they need some help on the wings. In Randolph, they’d be inheriting a player who would make that inexplicably poor defense ranking pretty damn explicable. In his seven-plus seasons in the NBA, Randolph has demonstrated neither a desire nor the aptitude to play defense. It’s also fair to say that Randolph doesn’t begin to address the team’s issues on the perimeter.
If Randolph is on his way in, does this mean Kaman is on his way out?
That’s the only possible rationale I can see for obtaining Randolph. The term of Kaman’s salary extends a year longer than Randolph’s, into 2011-2012 . If the Clippers truly believe that they’ll never win with Chris Kaman — and there are reasonable arguments that can be constructed to that effect — then I guess swapping him for, say, a Gerald Wallace, starts to at least make sense. Because a frontcourt rotation at the 4-5 of Kaman, Randolph, and Camby offers no logic, particularly when you consider the first two will make a combined $28.67 in 2010-11, the year you’d like to put a nice offer on the table for the services of someone like Chris Bosh.
ADDENDUM: Kelly Dwyer captures it perfectly in discussing the Knicks’ maneuvers: “If [the Knicks] can find some sucker to take Zach Randolph’s contract in exchange for expiring deals, that number goes down over $17 million.”
Who might that sucker be?